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Archive 2013 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.
  
 
OntheRez
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p.1 #1 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


As I continue to struggle with my response to Adobe's "protection racket" (and yes, folks that's what it is), I'm looking for alternatives.

I've started to build a spreadsheet of description, features, price, platform, type of support and what it may lack when compared to Adobe products.

It's too big of a job for me to do alone and being OS X based I don't know much about what the Win platform options are.

It seems there are 5 separate but interwoven functions

(1) RAW interpretation
(2) Image database management
(3) Exif and keyword management
(4) An interface to do "minimal" editing, particularly for those of us who have 100's of shots and a fairly short deadline to meet. Ideally most images don' t need work past this level
(5) A tool that does the heavy lifting. Text, layers, complex selection, selective edits, and in many cases completely "new" image via compositing and altering.

On both platforms there are a number of excellent alternatives to ACR. I particularly like NoiseNinja and DXO depending on what the image needs.

Database management and probably directly integrated: keywording, exif, and all the things necessary to catalog and find images. LR and Aperture do this. I haven't used PhotoMechanix in a long time and don't know its current status. Past that? DXO's efforts are sketchy. I know CaptureOne exists on the Win side, but don't know its functionality and don't think it supports OS X.

The minimal edit/interpret tool: OS X has Aperture with its positive and negative features. On the Win side? I really don't know. I notice that ACDsee (which turned into a real turd when MS owned it - at least the Mac version) is being updated. What functions does it provide?

The heavy lifter: probably the biggest problem. For OS X I bought a $15 copy of Pixalmator. I'm impressed though I haven't done a lot with it. It does read PSD - though in some cases incorrectly and has layers. Selection is not as sophisticated as PS. Past that I haven't done much. Win has Paintshop Pro. As for GIMP, I haven't been near it in at least 5 years. Is it useable by photographers as opposed to Linux nerds and other command line devotees?

This really is an appeal for this community to catalog, organize, and enunciate Adobe alternatives - call the AA program We know that Adobe stopped "listening to its customers" some time ago. The only thing they will hear is fewer sales. How do we go about getting our job done while ensuring lower sales for Adobe?

Robert

(I live deep in the desert because there is only light and rarely a cloud. Hard to imaging buying a cloud uh, I guess that's just renting one.)



May 13, 2013 at 06:19 PM
burningheart
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p.1 #2 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Capture One is both Win and Mac and you can install on 2 machines irrelevant of OS. I have one running under OS-X Mountain Lion and the other under Windows 7.


May 13, 2013 at 07:19 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #3 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Burning heart,

Good to know. How would you compare its functionality to LR or Aperture?



May 13, 2013 at 08:35 PM
burningheart
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p.1 #4 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Can't help you on a comparison as I have never used Aperture, and my Lightroom experience was limited to tethering to get shots to calibrate my lenses.

I only started using a Macbook a couple of months ago and I have a dual boot Win 7/Mac. My plan is to move all PP to the Mac side I have the programs loaded on both sides and have dabbled a few times on the Mac side but I have to look at the issue of writable NTFS since all my external drives are NTFS that are shared with a Win7 desktop.





May 13, 2013 at 09:19 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #5 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Would have to do some digging as it has been a lot time since I dealt with DOS, but I know the OS X journaled FS will read/write to NTFS. There's a wiggle or two necessary and like I said, it's been way too long.

Robert



May 13, 2013 at 09:46 PM
DanBrown
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p.1 #6 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Mountain Lion 10.8.3 has native support for writing to NTFS drives. The write support is not enabled by default, however. There are various places on the web, such as this one, where you can obtain instructions for enabling write support. Alternatively, you can buy a third party option for NFTS write support - Paragon NFTS is probably the best option available.

Support for reading from NTFS drives has been available in all versions of OS X.



May 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM
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p.1 #7 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


I am an enthusiastic, hobbyist photographer with a relatively small catalog of imges (around 5000) using a Canon 5D Mark II and working in raw on a 21.5" iMac.
I have been a long-time user of Lightroom (since the original beta release) and for the most part I've been content with it, however, the recent events with Adobe have cast doubts on the long term availability of LR as I will not change to a subscription service.
Whilst Adobe's statements assure that LR5 will not be exclusively cloud based and that "there are no plans" for LR to be cloud only; they have said that the cloud based LR will have additional functionality.
This all creates doubt in my mind and of many others.
Adobe are also progressing towards a 12 month upgrade cycle for LR which means smaller, more frequent upgrades and costs.
LR5 does not contain any significant added functionality for me and so this would seem the time to consider the alternatives, namely Aperture and Capture One.
I already have Aperture (£55) and it is cheaper than Capture One (£228) and so has a head start in that respect.
One aspect that attracts me to Aperture is the ability to store the original images inside the library and via the Vault to keep them up to date. LR of course offers no means of backing up the original images other than on initial import, thereafter leaving the user to manage them. The same is true of Capture One. This is a major selling point for me with Aperture.
The negative side to Aperture has always been that I could not emulate the results I could achieve with LR in image development but in recent days I seem to be overcoming this, using "auto enhance" as a starting point and now feel that, with further understanding of, and practice with† Aperture, I can emulate my LR processing.
There are a few things which are not available in Aperture which I would miss, mainly the gradient tool. The lack of lens/perspective distortion could be overcome by using Canon DPP or the PTLens plugin, which would both require exporting the image to Tiff or jpg of course. Alternatively I could accomplish these corrections and apply a gradient mask etc in my external editor Pixelmator.
Capture One certainly has perspective correction via it's keystone tool and lens distortion correction though this is "greyed out" in my trial version. CO7 also has a gradient mask tool.
The DAM aspects of all three seem perfectly good in all three applications and will present me with† no real difficulties other than learning them.
There are other parts to all three applications such as Book creation, Geotagging, Web creation, Slideshow creation and publishing directly to Facbook etc. I don't need any of these functions and in fact in LR I just turn-off those modules and panels. I do not even use the print module in LR as I do not have a printer and if I do print images then I send them to a commercial print supplier, namely Peak Imaging.
Aperture allows me to round-trip to my chosen external editor (Pixelmator) which CO7 does not appear to do.
Finally I find myself preferring the "lighter" interface of Aperture rather than the darkness of CO7 and LR and I prefer the non-modular approach of Aperture and CO7 to that of LR.
All in all at this moment in time I am strongly favouring Aperture mainly because of the backup facility and the cost. That is not to say that I won't change my mind as Adobe seem to have thrown everything into a state of flux.
A statement of intent in respect of future additional functionality in Aperture and an indication of time-frame for the next major release from Apple would go a long way to consolidating my thoughts but I doubt this will be forthcoming. It would seem that this is a golden opportunity for Apple.
I hope this post may prove of interest.

regards
Ian



May 15, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Mr Mouse
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p.1 #8 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


There are no alternatives to Photoshop if you use all of Photoshop's. No one uses all of Photoshop features. So it depend of which features of Photoshop you depend on weither you need PS or not.

I would think that most the Photographer type users could do quite well with LightRoom and Photoshop Elements.

Some features found is Photoshop can be added or unlocked in Photoshop Elements. While you can not record, edit and fix actions in PSE you can use ones that are recorded in Photoshop that only use features available in PSE. Scripting can also be used in PSE though I do not know if the scriptlistner plugin is part of PSE. If it were you could more or less record actions in PSE.

I like playing with Photoshop automation scripting and actions. I have even read the GIMP automation is better then Photoshop. I do not find the to be true for me anyway. For I would have to install and learn to programs in perl, python and others which are not part of GIMP.

The thing most effected switching from Photoshop to something else is you have to change the work-flow that took you years to develop. And on occasions you will run into oh no that Photoshop feature is not available in PSE.

So LR + PSE is not an option for me. I also do not need Photoshop Extended and all those Oh hum feature that will be part of Photoshop CC June 17.

I don't feel any need for 3D modeling or animation. If I did. I don't think the Photoshop would be the product to use. A 3D application from the ground up would be better. A free easy to use one like Sketchup or the more powerful free GNU Blender download.

So like a great number of Photoshop users that have updated Photoshop many times in the past we will be using CS6 for the foreseeable future. Adobe will be loosing some if its install base revenue it gets from updates. If Photoshop CC has any stability problems like CS6 the number of user reverting to CS6 will also climb. Even the current creative cloud updates have adversely effected cloud users.

If you enter the cloud there may be no way out. For as Photoshop continues along on its changing path PSD file saved will more likely not be compatible with CS6. You will be in a very BAD place and have NO place to go.

While the PSD format may not change what can be save will have addition things possible.

Layers options have changed between CS5 and CS6. Right now you can save layered PSD file in CS6 that can not be open is CS5 without either discarding some of the layer's data or flatting.

If you flatten the composite looks like the layered CS6 version looks in CS6 but you lose all the work layers and can not modify the document the way you would like to. If you don't flatten you loose some thing. The composite does not look like the cs6 composite but you have layers and some of the layers are correct. You need to add what is missing in a way that CS5 can.

Addition to Photoshop will continue to be made. Photoshop was never forward compatible. Photoshop use to be backwards compatible. However there are options in Photoshop since CS4 that when use Photoshop operation is compromised. Adjustment layers may not be added correctly when actions and scripts that add adjustment layers is used by a user. Error messages can also stop their execution.



May 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #9 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Mr. Mouse,
(How's Minnie these days ) Sorry lousy joke to alleviate the discussion of an increasingly difficult subject. I believe you have targeted the exact juncture where the whole cloud thing comes apart at least when considered from the use level. (I'm ignoring the whole "protection racket" structure of Cloud participation for the moment.)

That juncture is "how much of Photoshop do you (or anyone) really use?" I'm on a limb here, but I'm willing to bet no one uses all of Photoshop's "features." I'd also stake everything on the belief that NO ONE uses ALL of the applications that Adobe has so generously made available via the new CC. Bloatware is an old concept (make famous by Microsoft's Office suite), but Adobe has lifted it to an absolute art form. After effects? InCopy? SpeedGrade?Media Encoder? Yes, there are people who use each of these products for their specialty work. The odds that anyone would ever encounter much less use them all seem vanishingly small. So we are offered a "hell of a deal on the Great Pink Elephant." As the former NYC mayor David Dinkins once remarked, "Two pink elephants for a dollar is only a deal if you happen to need pink elephants."

The fact that Adobe refuses to differentiate product grouping and reduce the price accordingly is yet another of the outrageous flaws in this plan. I use PS, Ai, Id in decreasing order. I occasionally make use of Acrobat and am currently using LR which is the easiest of their programs to replace. There are viable competitors.

But as you note the parts of PS that I actually use are either difficult or nigh onto impossible to do with other tools. Maybe GIMP can do some of it. Haven't looked in a long time. Pixelmator does some of it. Still my particular conjunction of tools and uses while undoubted shared by 10,000s of users is far less than the "whole enchilada" that Adobe has so graciously made available to us.

I keep trying to shake off the outrage as it adds nothing to the equation, but its hard to do. As a user who literally bought a copy of Photoshop, no version number, brand new idea that ran only on a "fat Mac" the callousness with which they enrage their user base is amazing. I read the DpReview with some VP droid who claimed that they expected more reaction from PS users because "so many were hobbyists." Odd words when every piece of every CC ad, web site info, etc., lists PS as the first application available.

I'm beginning to decide that the original premise of this post is premature. I'm starting to think, I'll stand pat at CS6 as it does more than I know how to do and wait. I can hear the scurrying of tiny mammals rushing to eat the dinosaur Adobe eggs.

Robert



May 16, 2013 at 06:19 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #10 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Robert,

With respect to LR vs Capture One: They are different, both in terms of workflow and output. I can't comment on workflow from a professional perspective as i am not a professional and i am probably the slowest person in the world at sorting and editing But having used LR much more that C1 in recent years i find the LR interface more intuitive. I don't have any big problems with C1, though i find the lack of a editing history list (like LR has) annoying.

In terms of output they are definitely different. LR has a more contrasty look, which i find suits landscapes and general day to day shots better. C1 seems to have less contrast through the midtones, and suits portraits much better. Also, i find the colours from C1 are much better compared to the as-supplied Adobe camera profiles. For portraits i just don't bother with LR anymore as i don't have to fight to get people the right colour like i seem to have to in LR (note that using a colorchecker passport in LR helps a lot with this). Colour editing/adjustment is different also. For subtle hue/saturation/luminance changes C1 is vastly better, but if you like pulling around the individual luminance and saturation sliders in LR to make big changes then C1 is definitely different, and maybe not as capable. For sure you need to learn a new way to do things. B&W conversion seems similar to me.

Tagging and sorting in C1 is pretty similar (stars and colours). The only big difference i find is that C1 seems to insist on generating previews for a whole folder as soon as you open it, rather than generating as you view images. On big folders this can take a long time and things really slow up while it does this. Also, previews are held in subfolders below where the images are stored rather than in a preview cache like Adobe. And they don't appear to get deleted after a certain length of time. Keywording in LR is massively better. I'm pretty sure that for DAM stuff Phase One want you to buy Media Pro in addition to C1.

Where C1 loses seriously to LR is the plugin ecosystem. I use the export to zenfolio plugin for managing my uploads, LR/Enfuse (not very often admittedly), LR/Mogrify and a couple of others. These just don't exist for C1. Similarly, there are thousands and thousands of processing presets available for LR, but not really so many for C1.

Finally, as an observation i find C1 deals much better with files from my Fuji X10 than ACR - i don't think Adobe's processing engine likes the EXR sensel layout very much. I don't know if this extends to other non-bayer cameras.



May 16, 2013 at 09:03 PM
 

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mshi
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p.1 #11 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


There are two ways to work with C1, and the right way for me is to avoid catalog mode and only use session mode. You can pick any image file folder(s) in session mode, and C1 will generate previews in a subfolder underneath the file folder structure. So this way you can move entire folder structure to backup drives for storage needs. Unlike C1, LR uses a crappy file-based database engine called SQLite, which can't handle more than 300 images efficiently in a catalog. It seems to me C1 has better handle on color, performance and scalability;but, there are NO 3rd-party plugins/filters (if you're a heavy consumer of those, you need to be aware). I've been playing with GIMP and feel it's not shabby but the learning curve is still there. My Plan B is to use Photoshop CS2, which is still available as free download from Adobe's site.


May 16, 2013 at 09:53 PM
James_N
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p.1 #12 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


OntheRez wrote:
<snip> I notice that ACDsee (which turned into a real turd when MS owned it - at least the Mac version) is being updated. What functions does it provide?

Robert

(I live deep in the desert because there is only light and rarely a cloud. Hard to imaging buying a cloud uh, I guess that's just renting one.)


When did Microsoft own ACDSee? I know that they acquired iView Multimedia which they marketed as Expression Media, then they sold the product to Phase One and it was renamed Media Pro. I also looked up the list of Microsoft acquisitions and divestitures and I don't see ACD Systems on this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Microsoft

Here's a list of Raw Conversion and Photo Management products; its a bit outdated but it can form a basis for what you're trying to do: http://www.impulseadventure.com/photo/flow-catalog-compare.html



May 16, 2013 at 10:54 PM
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p.1 #13 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Having tried Aperture I am convinced there are no great alternatives right now. But CS5 or CS6 will continue to work for a few more years and in that time new products will emerge.

Adobe is fully within its rights to abandon the majority of its customer base if that is what it takes to improve overall profitability. The good news here is that the majority of former Adobe customers were accustomed to spending some pretty serious cash on updates every year or so and will be looking for alternatives. New products are certain to emerge to fill that vacuum in the marketplace. We just need to be patient.



May 17, 2013 at 04:05 AM
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p.1 #14 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


the majority of former Adobe customers were accustomed to spending some pretty serious cash on updates every year or so

I don't think this is correct. In fact, I think Adobe decided on the subscription model precisely because many customers were NOT upgrading on a regular basis.

John



May 17, 2013 at 06:24 AM
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p.1 #15 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


mcbane wrote:
Having tried Aperture I am convinced there are no great alternatives right now. But CS5 or CS6 will continue to work for a few more years and in that time new products will emerge.

Adobe is fully within its rights to abandon the majority of its customer base if that is what it takes to improve overall profitability. The good news here is that the majority of former Adobe customers were accustomed to spending some pretty serious cash on updates every year or so and will be looking for alternatives. New products are certain to emerge to fill that vacuum in
...Show more

Are you sure you are talking about a majority of it's customer base or a vocal minority that upgraded only once in a while when Adobe pricing was right.



May 17, 2013 at 06:52 AM
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p.1 #16 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Adobe's own bloggers have noted that a significant percentage of customers were on the every other release update cycle. They cited that when they changed the update pricing policy to charge double for people who skipped one update and to exclude those who skipped two updates. I suspect that the punitive pricing on updates caused the overall update revenue to fall, leading to the subscription model.

Probably enough Adobe customers are businesses and will happily pay the subscription price to allow Adobe to write off those people who will only pay if the software is significantly updated.

For the record, I used to update every version but skipped the CS5.5 update because the only update in my Design Premium suite was an incremental update to an app that I didnt use. And when CS6 came out, I wasnt about to pay double to get some minor enhancements to PS and AI. I have since signed on to CC so that I could try out the video apps, but I intend to drop that subscription once the intro pricing runs ends.





May 17, 2013 at 04:01 PM
BluesWest
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p.1 #17 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


I suspect that the punitive pricing on updates caused the overall update revenue to fall, leading to the subscription model.

Probably enough Adobe customers are businesses and will happily pay the subscription price to allow Adobe to write off those people who will only pay if the software is significantly updated.


+1

It really is as simple as that: Adobe couldn't survive if they continued to sell perpetual licenses. There was simply not enough revenue with that sales model to keep the company solvent over the medium to long term.

John



May 17, 2013 at 04:32 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #18 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


Several thoughts and responses.

First, James_N, you're right. MS didn't have ACDSee. Confused with iView or whatever they changed the name to. I never took MS seriously in the "creative" software market. (Apparently they didn't either.)

McBane: Aperture is a direct competitor with LR and I think Capture One (haven't used it). Having been a very heavy user of Aperture and more recently (last 6 months) LR, I can say they are quite similar in outcome though different in interface and approach. I've frankly been a bit disappointed with LR as it certainly didn't provide a performance gain for me, and mostly its tools are clumsier. Personal opinion there. Still, both work and are adequate tools.

Also you note that "Adobe's own bloggers have noted that a significant percentage of customers were on the every other release update cycle." We all, of course, take anything Adobe's mouthpieces say with a heaping tablespoon of salt, but I'm willing to bet there is some truth here. While I've used PS literally since version one I never upgraded until either (a) something really useful was added or (b) there was a favorable upgrade price.

I have limited knowledge of what large design houses do, but my experience is that they are even slower to upgrade, not so much due to cost but because (a) roll-out difficulties, and even more important (b) training, updating user skill levels. One "creative director" I knew claimed that there was always a drop in productivity after a major upgrade sometimes for as long as 3 months. The IT guys, of course, hated a roll-out. If my limited experience is normative, I really wonder how large corporate users are going to respond to being forced into a "continuous" upgrade mode. Not well, I suspect.

I know that Adobe keeps saying no one will be forced to accept upgrades, but their terms of service directly deny this - at least in theory - and we have no clue what happens if say we don't allow their "improvements" to take place more than maybe once a year. The bean counter executives that control the creative people do have their lawyers read all terms of service and do take this into consideration.

Finally John, basic biz school theory points out that shrinking market size (and penetration) by charging a premium for a smaller (select) set of buyers is always a risky proposition. The corporate landscape is littered with the husks or barely breathing remains of corps that tried this.

A case close to photographers is Leica, once the world standard of cameras. While always expensive they were never orders of magnitude more costly than competitors. Currently Leica is a much smaller company than it once was and relies on "camera as fetish" for the wealthy and the collector. Sure, some working photogs still use Leica, but they are a fractional precent of the whole.

As for they "couldn't survive if they continued to sell perpetual licenses," if my memory is correct I think they had a gross profit of ~$1B USD last year. That's well above the survival level. Bluntly this move is driven by quarterly report effect on stock price not on ROI to the investors themselves. An all too typical approach these days.

Back to the original premise of this thread: I'm not finding a replacement for the "heavy lifting" I currently use PS for. Need to look at GIMP.

Robert



May 18, 2013 at 04:57 PM
BluesWest
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p.1 #19 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


basic biz school theory points out that shrinking market size (and penetration) by charging a premium for a smaller (select) set of buyers is always a risky proposition.

It may be risky, and it may ultimately fail. But frankly, if I was the Adobe CEO I would probably have decided on the same strategy, regardless of the risks. I don't think they could have survived over the long term by selling perpetual licenses.

However, I definitely would have rolled out the subscription model in a different way, with a longer transition period so as not to shock the customers.

John



May 18, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Peter Le
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p.1 #20 · Cloudy. A collective search for alternatives.


BluesWest wrote:
It may be risky, and it may ultimately fail. But frankly, if I was the Adobe CEO I would probably have decided on the same strategy, regardless of the risks. I don't think they could have survived over the long term by selling perpetual licenses.

However, I definitely would have rolled out the subscription model in a different way, with a longer transition period so as not to shock the customers.

John


Maybe your right about their survival .... I don't think so....but even so they definitely could survive with a mix of cc and a upgrade license. Let people get used to cc..... work out the bugs and above all come up with a way that after a certain amount of time renting you can drop out and still have some kind of non updating version of Photoshop so you can still access and work on the files you have stored.
This would probably be received very well with most people and companies that are now very irritated. But then this would be a well thought out plan.....something Bean counters are generally not good at. Regretfully I think Adobe is run by todays typically out of touch Bean counters......



May 18, 2013 at 10:24 PM





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