Life without Lightroom


Late in 2017 Adobe announced perpetual licenses for LR7 and beyond would not be offered. I’m not interested in subscription prices to use a software I’d normally only update every 3-4 years depending on what new features were offered. So I began a search for an alternative. While it didn’t take long to find a RAW processor that suits my needs, dealing with the lack of integration between the Library, Develop and Print modules is proving to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated.

The first thing I did was to look for an alternative to LR5s Develop module. Contenders were ON1 Photo RAW, Luminar 2018, Affinity and DxO PhotoLab. My first choice was Luminar 2018; I was excited about the promised new features and preordered the program. Unfortunately the company decided to release there first ever Windows version and I think underestimated how popular the two products would be. Their support team and process was just not up to the challenge of introducing a new platform and two product releases at the one time. After a few weeks I requested a refund, which I received immediately, and moved on to DxO PhotoLab.

DxO formerly offered DxO Optics 10 which is a powerful plugin for LR but lacked the ability to make local adjustments on an image. The new product DxO PhotoLab incorporated local adjustments and other features making it able to work independently as a RAW processor. Unlike other LR alternatives that rely heavily on applying filters to an image, PhotoLab continues the traditional approach of letting the photographer decide what adjustments are needed, an approach that suits me really well. The image on this post is one of my first processed in DxO PhotoLab. As you can see, I haven’t quite figured out how to export the image size I want.

Replacing the Library module is the next challenge. More accurately, file management is the next challenge. With LR5 I developed a detailed file structure that while a bit complex works well for me. But, if I’m leaving LR I have to find an alternative. My first trial was with ACDSee but I realized in just 15 mins that it would not work for my workflow. I need to be able to look at multiple images at the same time. I couldn’t find a way to do that with ACDSee. My next trial is with Photo Supreme. So far I like the program. I have just under a month to make a final decision.

My “takeaway” from this exercise is that leaving LR is much, much more than finding a RAW processor. My images folders now have .dxo and .xmp sidecars and for some reason I’m no longer able to get a preview of an image in Finder. Backups of RAW images won’t be automatic as it is with LR and getting a quick copy of a file isn’t as straight forward. I’ll figure all this out eventually but it will take time.