Adobe CC user exploring options

Started Jan 22, 2018 | Discussions thread
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HatWearingFool Senior Member • Posts: 1,663
Adobe CC user exploring options

My Adobe CC subscription expires in a couple of months so I'm doing my annual check to see if there is anything I'd rather use. I will be updating this thread with my thoughts as I go along my journey.

Right now I'm focusing my efforts on a couple of pieces of software.

What I like about Adobe CC:

1) Lightroom for Mobile

This really is a great app for me. It works well to take photos and does a nice job of editing my phone and ILC photos on the go. Especially now that they've added the new auto functionality.

It's also a very nice way to make sure that my phone pics get synced back to my Lightroom library on my home computer. I used to forget about some photos and they got lost. Now all the good ones get synced through Lightroom for Mobile and dealt with at home.

The app also serves as a great way to show photos. I have most of my best\important stuff synced through collections and I can just open the app on my tablet or phone and show high quality photos without any thought about syncing.

Bonus: Another huge plus is that I can make collections public and share links to family and friends and never have to worry about people missing photos. For instance I have a collection with my sons photos. I create a new one each year and hand out the link to family and friends. Then I never have to worry about email, facebook, text messaging, etc to make sure everyone sees them. Everything gets added and synced seamlessly.

Bottom line: I can probably replace mobile editing, syncing, and online sharing with various pieces of software but I will need to cobble something together. I'm going to worry about replacing this functionality last. It is very nice but first I need to find better solutions to core functionality.

2) Photoshop

Not much to say here. It's an awesome piece of software. Over the years, I've ditched pretty much every other piece of software as I've become more proficient with Photoshop. I know some people don't see much use for photoshop but I would estimate that around %80 of my keepers go through photoshop. I just couldn't get along without it (or some other equivalent piece of software)

Bottom Line: I believe I could replace photoshop with Affinity Photo. I would lose a bit but I could manage without much hardship. But it's not that simple since I need to replace the entire package. See below for my thoughts about replacing photoshop with Affinity Photo.

3) Lightroom

As I've been using other pieces of software I've come to appreciate Lightroom even more as a raw editor. It just does a great job. It has issues for sure, but IMHO opinion it is really hard to beat. Most of it's biggest issues are addressed through integration with photoshop (like layers). This integration also means that it is doubtful Lightroom will ever grow in some directions (layers).

To be honest I don't really care about the DAM capabilities. Nice to have, but I can live without them easily enough.

Surprisingly I've also found that despite its reputation Lightroom is actually not all that slow especially compare to some of the alternatives I tried.

Bottom Line: Lightroom is really, really good. Despite some issues. It was surprising for me to discover the this is the toughest piece to replace. I explore why that is and how the search is going below. But for now my search is focused on raw developer replacements.

The Search:

1) Affinity Photo: I've been using and keeping an eye on this piece of software since the very first betas. I like it and it can do almost everything I use photoshop for. So photoshop alone isn't keeping me on subscription. Affinity's raw development capability frankly sucks (I know recent betas are better). It's really Lightroom and its integration with Photoshop that keeps me on CC.

Bottom Line: Recent betas move Affinity's raw from "sucks" to poor, but it's clear to leave CC I'd need a different raw processor. Yes, I could ditch Photoshop now, but why if I'm going to pay the monthly few either way.

2) DXO Photolab

I used to really like this software when I tried it in the past. But I was surprised to discover I'm not really a fan anymore. I find that it's starting point is really overcooked for my tastes.

I used to really like smart lighting and clear view but have discovered that since my skills have evolved I can replicate the effects fairly easily in my current software. Prime is nice but I'm not sure it's really any better than what I can get through Lightroom and Photoshop.

I used to think that Prime was amazing but now that I've gotten better with Lightroom and Photoshop I'm less impressed. It still does a good job, but it doesn't wow me like it did in the past.

The addition of control points from NIK is nice, but I stopped using Nik a while ago as I found I could get better selections in Photoshop. Nik is something I loved and payed full price for years ago, but once again as I became more proficient with photoshop and post processing in general I stopped using them. I actually installed them a while ago.

Finally I was surprised to find DXO Photolab actually seems to be kind of slow to me. It certainly didn't blow me away compared to Lightroom.

Bottom Line: I don't find Photolab to be a bad piece of software, but I just don't see any reason to consider it any further. To me, it doesn't compare Lightroom + Photoshop. It would allow me to justify affinity photo but that's not reason enough for me. I won't be testing any further.

3) Darktable

This just recently came onto my radar, largely thanks to threads here. I've been playing with it for a couple of weeks now and here are my current impressions.

First off it is really, really slow. A lot of click and waiting. I almost gave up with it early on because of the slowness. I use a late model 2015 27" iMac with 24 gigs of ram.

I'm finding the interface really tough to adjust too, although part of that is due to the slow responsiveness.

It's very a very complicated piece of software. I'm a software developer by day so this doesn't turn me off alone, but I would caution others to be prepared for a lot of learning before you can expect decent results.

It took two days before I got noise reduction working to what I would consider an acceptable level compared to Lightroom (which by comparison takes a couple of minutes of trial and error). Once you find something that works you'll be able to quickly just use those settings but the initial setup is long. Part of this is that every time I make a change to the settings I just "working" appear on my photo. When you have to wait to see the effect of every little change it takes a fair bit of patience to find the right settings for you.

Bottom Line: I've almost given up on this piece of software multiple times. But after a couple of weeks I'm starting to get intrigued. The programmer in me is really intrigued by the endless possibilities offered by tweaking. Although I haven't come close to matching Lightroom yet I'm hopefully and will continue to experiment. I would just caution people interested in Darktable to prepare for a lot of frustration and disappoint me early on, coupled with a lot of initial work to get decent results. It does seem once that initial work is done things will get a lot easier down the road. I will update my thoughts as I continue.

4) RPP (Raw Photo Processor)

I just discovered this and am interested to give it a try. They caution it is really slow but I doubt it can be any slower than darktable

Bottom Line: Just downloaded this yesterday, eager to play with it.

If there seems to be any interest in my journey I will update this thread as I continue along it.

Final note: I've tried a few things that I simply found awful, but I don't think it's constructive to just take a giant dump on something so I wont bother to discuss those unless asked directly and even then I will probably just say I didn't get along with it all.

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