Tag Archives: Lightroom

How to eat your own foot.

I’ve been vocal about my dislike of Adobe. For me, it was an idealist as much as a quality thingy to switch from Lightroom 3 to CaptureOne 6. RAW processors, in case you wonder, which isn’t the point.

But let me look at the RAW processor market, as is, ca. 2012. You could just as well discuss video software, word processors, or kitchen appliances. The message is the same: If you need something, say, for supporting your beer habit or the cat or – gods forbid – a family, you’ll damn well make sure it will be around in the future and won’t push you into the Pony Level vendor lock-in. Unfortunately, just as a cook might need a replacement Kitchen Aid™ because there’s tons of specific add-ons in the drawer already, photographers may remain loyal to one platform. But there’s limits to loyalty, and the limit to end all limits is: will the bloody thing still be supported when I buy a new camera or computer?

Hasselblad releases one abomination after the other, and only gods know how long they’ll still support Phocus after bundling Lightroom with their bread-and-butter cameras. They’re primarily a hardware company, after all. Phase One might be idealists, but in the end, they too want to sell digital backs. MediaPro and CaptureOne are needed to push their hardware, to justify their “everything works with everything” approach. In the light of full-frame companies turning more and more into middle-format competitors, or other middle-format dudes besides Hasselblad bundling Lightroom, well. Where to invest your limited resources? And why, if you’ll make much more money from the 15 odd K for a new digital back than from a price/feature war on software?

Don’t get me started on Apple’s Aperture. Seriously, don’t. You’ll find all my answers to all possible “but …”s here, save the copious cussing.

And, well, then there was Lightroom 4. It’s bloated as hell, it’s from Adobe, but still: I want continuity, and I rather enjoy a non-destructive workflow. So here I am, foot-in-mouth firmly inserted.

Bugger this for a game of soldiers.

Bye, Adobe Lightroom.

So this is it. Early adopter, inofficial evangelist, part-time photographer is dropping Lightroom. Rather, deleting it from his workstations.

Who the eff cares? Well, I do, as I am abovementioned former inofficial evangelist. And I wonder what the bloody hell I was thinking. Hindsight is both gift and curse.

What Adobe did with Lightroom, if you stay objective:

  • More features. Some direly needed (like, support for your camera?), others more, like, what the hells? Yeah, I’m looking at you, Social Media Upload and Comments Download.
  • Selling said features as USPs to justify the hefty price-tag on upgrades. By now I’ve spent more than 400 quid on Lightroom, it’s upgrades, and plug-ins necessary until Adobe deemed stuff like output sharpening important enough for yet another full-price upgrade.
  • LR3 is slower and more cumbersome to use than LR2. But it has the better RAW render engine (which you can’t retrofit into LR2), so please upgrade, yes?
  • Said RAW render engine is identical to the one used in the current release of Photoshop Elements, which you can get bundled with your next scanner for free.
  • Also, depending on the cameras used, the engine is inferior to competitors’ or even open source solutions. In some cases (Leica M series comes to mind), it should be featured in Webster’s, under “What the flying fuck”.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Lightroom concept, I’m pretty happy with most of its results, it’s stable like a rock, and I’m used to the way it works (see above evangelist thing). But bloody hells, Flash galleries? Bug-fixing your RAW rendering engine equals a full-price upgrade? Support for fresh RAW formats one year from now = buy our upgrade? Even though the whole difference is in camera identification in the RAW header?

Lightroom was my favourite as it streamlined workflow issues. But: It’s becoming more and more muddled and complicated to use, while it doesn’t ensure plug-ins won’t crash the whole application just because they are coded poorly. I still find things I wrote off as “well, it’s a new application, you can’t expect that just yet” in 2006 that actually had been there from the beginning – but weren’t obvious or easily accessible. The worst thing for a workflow app is to hide things that might seriously influence or even change the way you look at your current, well, workflow.

It’s just sad. So much potential. Oh, well.

Software can’t read your mind, and RAW is not JPEG.

You like what you see on the cam’s display? Sure you do. Great colours! The contrast – w00t! You enjoy working with your camera, getting the shot right™ while framing it, hate the idea of post-processing. And anyways – them colours! Woah!

And then you switch to RAW because somebody told you that’s professional, JPEG isn’t. And then you wonder why this funky RAW software thingy you need to actually see what you’ve shot delivers such lame-ass pictures. No oomph. And what the hells, I made this picture in black and white! It’s in colour now! This software sucks!

No it doesn’t. You have to take RAW literally: it’s a collection of the raw information captured by your camera’s sensor. Without all that funky stuff happening inside your cam like Virtual Films or Art Filters. Or the less funky stuff that happens internally so you can actually look at a picture on the camera’s screen. Sometimes, RAW even ignores your choice of aspect ratio as the sensor captures everything anyways. The horror, the horror, etc.

It’s like the difference between getting photos developed and shooting negatives you develop yourself. Later on, in the dark-room with a bottle of Whisky nearby and the tingly sensation of chemicals on your skin. In this case, chemicals are replaced by (sometimes) expensive software while the booze remains the same, if hopefully of Irish provenance.

You like to control your pictures on-site? You don’t want to meddle with Burn, Dodge, different virtual “chemicals” and whatnot just to hold a decent picture in your alcohol-stained hands? Then shoot JPEG, save a lot of time, and stop complaining. The software can’t read your mind, and as long as camera manufacturers stick to proprietary RAW formats and settings, i.e. until the sun burns out, it also can’t know what “Vivid” or “Art Filter No.43” means.

Fine, you changed “Contrast” in your camera’s settings. And how exactly should third-party applications such as Lightroom or uvraw know what +2 Contrast in your camera relates to? The file might be readable, but the JPEG engine inside the cam that interprets +2 Contrast is a heavily guarded, copyrighted, and patented secret.

Get real. And take your pick. JPEG is perfectly fine if you like your camera’s results and won’t go all wonky colours later on. It’s neither more nor less “professional” than shooting in RAW. But please, baby Jesus please stop bitching about the status quo of RAW developing and stop expecting the impossible from manufacturers who don’t have full access to your camera makers’ intellectual property. Or, better choice, do something about that IP thingy by voting for the right™ parties next time round. Okay? Thanks.

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