I’ve been using Lightroom since version 2 which I picked up back in 2009, I think. Lightroom – now Lightroom Classic – is currently on version 9.3. Along the way I’ve had my gripes and complaints. In the early days it was mostly to do with missing features. With more recent versions the big issue is speed – or the lack of it. I also did my share of complaining when Lightroom finally went all in with the subscription model, though I do find the intensity of the hostility that this move generated excessive. From time to time I have also experimented with Lightroom alternatives, but every time I come back to Lightroom.
Partly this is down to familiarity. I’ve been using Lightroom for more than a decade now. It’s second nature to me. The Lightroom alternatives, try as they might to replicate Lightroom visually, all have a steep learning curve to use to their full potential. I’m not sure I have the time or energy to for that.
Mostly, though, its down to the simple fact that there is only one viable Lightroom alternative. Over the years I’ve seen no end of articles purporting to introduce the next ‘Lightroom killer’. I’ve tried most of them and while the best are very good they still have some way to go until they can match Lightroom, while others aren’t even close. The only genuine alternative, in my view is Capture One.
I have downloaded the thirty day trial for almost every version of Capture One over the years and always been impressed but Capture One, precisely because it is so capable, has the steepest learning curve of all when transitioning (even though recent with more recent versions Phase One has tried to make the transition easier.) That it was also quite expensive also put me off. Last year, though, I got an email from Phase One offering the full version of Capture One Pro for $90 per year on subscription. Normally C1 is $20 per month or $300 for a perpetual licence so I signed up on the basis that I could use it for a full year then decide if I wanted to keep it. Better yet, a closer reading of the offer revealed that the $90 price was not just for one year but also applied to annual renewal. I was a little sceptical but this year my subscription renewed for $90. I have no idea how long this will last since I assume at some point Phase One will raise the standard price, but at least it means I can run Capture One alongside Lightroom without feeling I’m wasting money.
Despite slowly learning the ways of Capture One and appreciating some of it superb capabilities Lightroom remains my default choice and I don’t foresee that changing. Only if the price of either Lightroom or Capture One were to jump would I consider choosing between the two. Even then I would probably stick with Lighroom. For all the gripes it remains very reasonably priced at $120 per year bearing in mind that also include Photoshop and a handful of other Adobe products like Portfolio and Spark. Lightroom’s latest release has brought yet more capability to local adjustment with the option for localised hue adjustment. Used together with the colour range mask it is now possible to fine tune the hue of a specific colour in a localised selection. No other application I know of offers that degree of detailed control.
So what about the Fuji ‘worms’? If you are not a Fujifilm user you will probably never have heard of this; even if you are a Fujifilm user you may not have heard of this. Without going into detail some uses have an issue with how Lightroom renders RAW files from Fuji’s X-Trans sensor. I’m on of those Fujifilm users who has never seen this as an issue, which I think is the case for the great majority of users. If you are interested just take a deep breath and search for ‘Fujifilm worms’.