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A replacement for Lightroom?

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I have Lightroom for photo management and "development", but I will not pay a subscription-based application. I am not a professional photographer.

Lightroom was an ideal program because:

- It is fast.

- It manages files quite nicely (including a "faces" recognition feature).

- Rendering is high quality.

- It is easy to use with great "automatic" adjustments (using artificial intelligence).

- It has all the tools I need, and the design and operation of them is just perfect.

 

Anyway, I have looked for alternatives. I would like to share my experiences here.

- Luminar 3 is an amateurish program. Too slow. Too many toy-tools, and it lacks several central tools Lightroom has. It is presented like "LR replacement", but it is not. The price is very low. 

- ON1 Raw is another amateurish program. Too many toy-tools but lacking several key tools.

- Affinity Photo is a replacement for Photoshop. Too complex and no file management capabilities.

- Apple Photos is OK, but it lacks features, it is Mac only and this app is liked to the operative system (you cannot download it separately). So for the last version you need the last OS. A shame Aperture support ended and Apple did not sell this software to another company.

- Capture One is too expensive and too complex. It lacks fast and easy operation for quick retouching. But it excels in any other field. Great program.

- DxO Photolab is the best alternative to LR in my opinion, but a little bit pricey. You have to pay extra price for special features: Film Pack, Perspective Control and Corrections. But the basic version is 95% of all I need. The rendering quality is the best, easy to use and fast. The only problem is camera support. They use a camera+lens "profiles" approach, so they are slow extending the list of cameras supported. For instance: no Leica M8 support and no support yet for M10-D or Leica CL. 

If you want, need, wish flee from LR: take a look at DxO Photolab or, maybe, Capture One.

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I understand and agree with your reluctance to support the subscription model - I use PSCS6 and refuse to move to subscription.  

You're likely to get more responses and views in the forum's Digital Post Processing subforum.

Pete.

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Alien Skin Exposure is promoted as a LR look-alike. I have noted it in case I am desperate in the future. Has anyone tried it recently? It is constantly being updated and can read LR catalogues.

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1 hour ago, wda said:

Alien Skin Exposure is promoted as a LR look-alike. I have noted it in case I am desperate in the future. Has anyone tried it recently? It is constantly being updated and can read LR catalogues.

Yes and I'd have to say it's more of a look-alike for Silver Effex Pro than LR, David.

Pete.

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I agree that Capture One is not cheap!  However, you can do quick retouches if you want, and once you take the time to learn it, it is a breeze to use.  They have great on line tutorials and webinars as well.  Here ends the not paid for advertisement!

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2 hours ago, Dan Bachmann said:

I've just had a look at the latest version. They've come a long way! https://www.alienskin.com/exposure/features/

I see what you mean, Dan, it's rather re-invented itself as a full pp package.  I haven't need to use it for a while and at that stage AlienSkin's forté was film emulation pre-sets.  I keep getting nag emails to upgrade but when I try to login they've apparently never heard of me so I haven't bothered.

Besides it lacks LAB colour space, which I wouldn't want to do without, so it's not something I can see myself switching to.

Pete.

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7 hours ago, farnz said:

I understand and agree with your reluctance to support the subscription model - I use PSCS6 and refuse to move to subscription.  

You're likely to get more responses and views in the forum's Digital Post Processing subforum.

Pete.

Thank you very much!

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My workflow is to cull/rank my files quickly in BreezeBrowser Pro, then any edits beyond auto-levels, automatic sharpening or automatic black & white conversion, I go to Affinity Photo. For repeated operations on multiple images, that is very time-consuming. So I've found myself looking at this thread. I also dislike the pricing on the subscription model for Lightroom, plus the way I work, the catalogue concept never really worked.

 

I've spent the night trialing Alien Skin Exposure 4, DxO PhotoLab 2 and Capture One. All of them were easy to get into. I remember Capture One being hard to understand a few years ago.

 

Alien Skin has a better native perspective, vignette, and filters than DxO. DxO has most of this in add-ons. It was decent with performance, but the slowest of the tools. It writes it's data like Capture One sessions, so an improvement over the catalogue for me. On my monitor, the UI wasn't bad, but it was the most clunky. It makes temp subfolders to hold the adjustments.

Capture One was the fastest in terms of response. The images also looked the best on my screen - I think it had  At some points, it was unclear if files were missing or they just needed thumbnails generated (they all appeared after a few minutes), which worried me a little. Using the session mode, I was fairly happy. It makes temp subfolders to hold the adjustments.

DxO PhotoLab was sort of between the two. I found it lacking some of the good keyboard short cuts of Capture One and is seemingly unflexible with layout control, but I eventually found it could do what I wanted even better than Capture One. For me, the best thing is that data is written to sidecar files, so as I move things around in the filesystem, these settings aren't lost.

BreezeBrowser remains lightning fast for browsing images above all of these. It can do this by not having to worry about adjustments. I don't see replacing it.

 

 

DxO and Capture One are very close for my needs, though with different pro-cons. DxO has much better file handling for me, much better ways to see the results of the changes being made with toggles (like RAW processing in Affinity Photo) and a lower price. Capture One had great looking portrait conversions (though I could get close by making a curve & saturation preset in DxO), is more snappy in performance (on my machine which has no GPU), has keyboard short cuts and better at comparing multiple images. I wonder if DxO will get a better rendering edge if they come out with profiles for my camera (M10).

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I have been test driving Luminar 3 for the past week.  I can see where the OP gets his initial assessment from, ("toy features ... slow") however I have found it has quite a lot of depth, certainly covering everything I use in LR.  It is slow, but if you clear your machine of all other apps so it has max memory and cycles, it gets a lot better.  The Luminar Looks can seem like toys but actually they are a quite sophisticated range of presets and more experienced users can tailor them for their own needs.

Many of the adjustments work in the same way as LR, even down to keyboard shortcuts.  Unlike Photolab, you don't have to buy extra programs and, more to the point, the tools are integrated so can be used in the one processing session on each picture. 

The maker Skylum has been around for 10 years and learned a lot in that time so I would guess they intend to be a player in the long term.  There is a Lightroom library converter in the works for this year.

If the OP is interested in Apple Photos, Raw Power from Gentlemen Coders is a good choice.  I have tried that one also.  For me it is a step down from Luminar, LR and Photolab in terms of sophistication, but it does allow useful additions to the raw processing you need to do beyond Photos itself.

PS @Dan Bachman, I used to love Breezebrowser Pro when I worked on a Windows machine.  Don't think there is a Mac version?

Edited by rob_w

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On 4/9/2019 at 2:30 PM, rob_w said:

PS @Dan Bachman, I used to love Breezebrowser Pro when I worked on a Windows machine.  Don't think there is a Mac version?

 

Yes, it is only for Windows. It has changed very little over the years so while other software gets more complex and computers get faster, performance is about the same. Relatively, BreezeBrowser Pro gets faster. Now that I'm used to the ranking system in DxO PhotoLab and Capture One, I can say they are good, but sluggish with (almost) every feature in comparison.

 

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For 10 bucks a month (Photoshop included),  I’m sticking with LR (Classic CC, without cloud storage).  It’s a minor cost compared to what I’ve always spent on post processing tools and materials, darkroom or digital. It’s just a hobby, but for me the editing and print components are just as important as the front end gear.

But if Adobe ever mandates cloud storage, I’ll also be seeking an alternative.  So it’s helpful to keep informed about the options.

Jeff

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That's my problem Jeff.  I don't trust Adobe.  Completely agree $10/month is trivial for this hobby, even if I don't use PS.  But I don't trust them.

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What has trust to with it? The moment you might dislike what they are doing, you can opt out.

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1 hour ago, jaapv said:

What has trust to with it? The moment you might dislike what they are doing, you can opt out.

Sure, but once you do, you lose all (or most) of your editing work; the sidecars, and even more the catalog, is largely unreadable with most other software.  Probably, one will want to re-edit really good shots anyhow to get the best out of them, but all the thousands of so-and-so record shots still remain part of your ´diary´, and to suddenly see them all in their virgin out-of-camera state again isn´t exactly what you want...

So, trust has a lot to do with it.  And I´ve NO trust in Adobe anymore...

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Posted (edited)

The day my LR 6.14 misbehaves on MacOS, ill simply import all my LR cat's into C1

 

 

Edited by frame-it

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, frame-it said:

The day my LR 6.14 misbehaves on MacOS, ill simply import all my LR cat's into C1

Exactly what I did just over a year ago, when I switched.  You´ll be surprised how much you´ll lose once you do, regardless of what they promise about easy transition.

Still, I´m happy with having it done and over with. Every month brings lots of new pictures that I now can process in C1 directly.

Edited by elgenper

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Alien Skin's Exposure claims to be able to read LR catalogues into a LR lookalike program. It has a video demonstration. 

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11 minutes ago, elgenper said:

Sure, but once you do, you lose all (or most) of your editing work; the sidecars, and even more the catalog, is largely unreadable with most other software.  Probably, one will want to re-edit really good shots anyhow to get the best out of them, but all the thousands of so-and-so record shots still remain part of your ´diary´, and to suddenly see them all in their virgin out-of-camera state again isn´t exactly what you want...

So, trust has a lot to do with it.  And I´ve NO trust in Adobe anymore...

Actually I sort my shots in unedited state. I have my own file system and don’t use the collections by LR/Bridge. Nor C1 for that matter. 

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1 hour ago, jaapv said:

Actually I sort my shots in unedited state. I have my own file system and don’t use the collections by LR/Bridge. Nor C1 for that matter. 

Yep, with raw files, they´re ALWAYS in "unedited state"; that´s one of the great advantages with raw.  Different edited versions are then represented by .xmp sidecars, or catalog entries, without taking up much space (of course you know all this).  In the early days, with cameras that didn´t allow for storing raws, I too had unedited and edited jpegs in different directories, but I see no reason for that nowadays.

But, trust in software... Every piece of software worth using extensively will induce one to invest a lot of work in it over the years; if it is suddenly discontinued or gets very uneconomical to keep, that work is lost.  It´s a bit like banks: you have to trust them before you give them your money to handle...

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