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Alternatives to Lightroom

Bruce MacPhail , Aug 05, 2013; 12:57 p.m.

I've been on the fence for years wondering whether Lightroom is for me. Yes I did try it out a few years ago, but still couldn't make up my mind.
I'm an amatuer, and probaly take around 200-400 images per month, probably about 10 - 20% of those are worth keeping.
I already use Photoshop CS6 and think its terrific. I was just hoping for something to keep my images organized.
So is Lightroom for me, or would something else be just as good for my situation ?


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Dave Collett , Aug 05, 2013; 02:02 p.m.

I can't speak to other software programs except for DPP, which I didn't like, but I'm an amateur too and I love Lightroom. It's perfect for me, but I'll start looking for alternatives if Adobe ever hides it in the Creative Cloud.

Wouter Willemse , Aug 05, 2013; 02:58 p.m.

If the main goal is to keep them organised... there are several programs that do only that; for example Phase One Media Pro or IDImager PhotoSupreme. They do not have the editing tools that Adobe have, and their integration with Photoshop might be less than Lightroom's, as LR and PS can work very tightly together being both from Adobe. But they're very powerful tools for keeping track of your images.
Lower end tools that can work quite well for organising images (which I take as keywording, sorting by date/keyword/EXIF data etc.) are Windows Live Photo Gallery, or on mac iPhoto. They do the trick, be it not as deep as the above mentioned tools.
And there is Adobe Bridge, part of Photoshop CS6 - since you already have it, I'd start with that to see if it can fulfill your needs.

If you want a tool that integrates both organising plus all the basic editing that covers 95% of the usual work, then Lightroom and CaptureOne are the prime candidates; but if you're fine with doing the editing already in Photoshop, then spending extra money for functionality you won't use could be a bit a waste.

Rich Simmons , Aug 05, 2013; 03:23 p.m.

If you're on a PC, then ACDSee is really good. It's what I used for years before jumping fully to a Mac. But like Wouter said, Adobe Bridge can help a lot. You can use keywords, but a lot of the basic organizing is still on you. If you're on a Mac, then Apple Aperture is also an option.

Jos van Eekelen , Aug 05, 2013; 03:32 p.m.

+1 for Lightroom. It never hurts to have other options to choose from, especially given Adobe's hunger for money AKA Creative Cloud: Darktable (Linux only), Picasa (Windows), Sagelight are a few that come to mind. A google search for Lightroom alternatives may yield lots of other options as well.
For the moment Adobe releases LR as stand alone version so you don't have to subscribe to Creative Cloud but I'm not sure about the future, that's why I keep an eye on alternatives.
Since I have not tried these programs in depth I'm not sure if and how they will work together with CS6.

Howard M , Aug 05, 2013; 03:48 p.m.

Dont take this the wrong way but if you're shooting 200-400 a month w a low 'keeper' percentage, you may want to consider slowing down a bit and being more 'deliberate' in your shutter pressing as to when the moment is right.

JDM von Weinberg , Aug 05, 2013; 04:18 p.m.

Photoshop CS6 and Bridge can be used to organize your images if you keep them in appropriate folders, if need be within folders, etc. Be sure to give you files descriptive names but include the date of shooting perhaps, as an additional guide.

For Macs, Aperture is an alternative for 'organizing' -

If you have Photoshop, you don't really need the picture 'editing' capabilities of Lightroom.

barry goldberg , Aug 05, 2013; 05:39 p.m.

Go with Lightroom. You cannot go wrong with it and you'll find that you can probably make most of your edits in LR instead of CS6.

Paul Duerinckx , Aug 05, 2013; 06:10 p.m.

Firstly, I use Lightroom and think it's excellent. Lightroom and Apple's Aperture are the two all-in-one solutions (database, library, process, book, print, export etc.) but many photographers prefer to separate out some of these functions. Press and photojournalists often use Photo Mechanic as the fastest way to sort, caption and output images, they would need Photoshop/Camera Raw (or similar) to do the image editing though.

One option - other than buying Lightroom - is to use Bridge/Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Photoshop in combination to do most of the sorting, editing and output you'd need. You can sort images in Bridge, open and batch process them in ACR (whether raw, jpeg, tiff etc.) and finish if necessary in Photoshop. The Camera Raw engine is pretty much the same as Lightroom. I prefer Lightroom for its userfriendliness and easy ability to catalogue all my images.

Richard Lanthier , Aug 05, 2013; 06:22 p.m.

You've tried LR for a few years and you still wonder if it's good for you? If you can't figure it out for yourself, how do you think we can help you?
LR and Photoshop are two very different software, It really depends on what you do. You could try Element. You won't have to learn a new software and you will be able to organize your pictures.
Good Luck

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