Getting off the Adobe Creative Cloud

Sunday, August 30, 2015

As a photographer, I've been using Adobe Lightroom for several years. For the past two years I have been using it as part of the Adobe Photographers' Creative Cloud Subscription along with Photoshop CC. I primarily use Lightroom as a Digital Asset Management tool and my main photo editor. I rarely use Photoshop CC for photo editing, choosing to use Nik filters instead. However, from time to time, I use Photoshop for digital scrapbooking.

The Canadian dollar has taken quite a beating in the past few months. Our dollar has gone from being on par with the US dollar to now only being worth 75 cents. This has impacted the price of several of my online services billed in USD, causing them to go up by approx. 30% yet my salary hasn't gone up by the same amount!

The Adobe CC subscription has gone from $11.20 CDN per month to almost $15 CDN per month. The only alternative to "renting" Lightroom is to buy it outright. Again Adobe and the exchange rate have steadily increased the cost from approx. $89 to $198 CDN in the past handful of years. This wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't buying it on top of the $300 I've spent on renting the software in the past two years.

Sony A6000 - Camera of the Year 2014

When I recently purchased the Sony A6000 I noticed it came with Capture One Express for Sony. Capture One Pro (by Phase One) is a Lightroom competitor targeting professional photographers. As well as being a digital asset management system (DAM) it also allows you to modify photos directly in Capture One in the same way Lightroom does. On doing some further investigation into the software, I discovered that many photographers considered this software superior in both results and power to Lightroom. So I decided to give it a try by loading up my Lightroom catalog and experimenting.

First, I had some trouble loading my 70k photo Lightroom catalog into Capture One Express. The catalog loaded by the system was dreadfully slow and kept crashing my Mac. I created a 2nd catalog and this time imported my photos directly into the catalog without trying to convert the LR catalog file. This went much better. As I didn't want to lose my keywords, I first set Lightroom to embed the keywords into Jpgs and create XMP sidecar files for the RAW images. I then imported the files into Capture One Express. Note, while Capture One Express says it is for Sony, I noticed it opens my Panasonic and Olympus RAW files - although I haven't tried working with them yet. [Edited: I now notice it will not preview my DNG files.]

It's early days but so far I'm really enjoying it. I like that it has the concept of layers and masks which is far more intuitive to me than how Lightroom handles adjustments. Many of the tools are easier to use also. You can still round trip files to Photoshop/Elements/Nik etc for further adjustment.

The Pro version is available as a $50 USD upgrade and buys you the ability to tether shoot and customize your workspace, although I am waiting to see if I *need* to do this upgrade. At this point, I'd say the biggest feature I'll miss from Lightroom is the ability to load photos directly to Flickr. However, this is not a dealbreaker for me.

So if like me, you are looking to get off the Creative Cloud, there are other alternatives out there. You don't have to be locked into Lightroom.

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