Alternatives to the Creative Cloud 1

Marloes, Pembrokeshire
Marloes, Pembrokeshire. I shot this image in 2009. Had I not added keywords that I could search on in Lightroom, I would have struggled to find it again.

I recently read that Adobe is withdrawing the traditional full purchase option from Lightroom and Photoshop and that only the CC versions would be available. This means you would need to pay a monthly subscription rather than make a one-off payment for a version of the software. Checking the Adobe site just now I can see that only Lightroom and Elements are available as a “traditional” purchase option.

Whilst I subscribe to Creative Cloud and am very happy to do so, I know a lot of people don’t like the subscription model. Given this, it’s my intention to share some alternatives over the coming weeks that you might want to consider if you don’t want to go down the Adobe CC route.

To set some expectations though, I won’t be covering every alternative and I won’t be looking at lots of alternatives in a single blog post. Instead I will be posting from time to time as new ideas come to light. I also won’t be doing a comprehensive review of software, I will leave you to do that with the trial versions that most software companies offer.

In this first blog post I would like to consider just what Creative Cloud provides from the photographer’s perspective. You to determine how important each aspect is to you, as everyone will be different.

Asset Management

This is the ability to tag and sort images as well as perform searches using a variety of criteria. Typically, you would need to be able to search quickly on variables across potentially hundreds of thousands of images to identify the one(s) you want.

This is provided by Lightroom and to some degree Bridge.

RAW Conversion

If you shoot in RAW format, as many photographers do, you will need to convert or develop the RAW file into an image format. This will typically involve applying adjustments to the images as part of the conversion process.

This is provided by Lightroom or in Photoshop through Camera RAW.

Image Adjustment

The ability to enhance or adjust an image. Adjustments may be as simple as changes to colour or tone. In some circumstances, we may need to make more complex changes such as remove an object or change its size, shape or the perspective of the image.

Lightroom provides a level of adjustment capability but in some respects, this can be quite limited. Photoshop is much more flexible and powerful.

Print Output

Creating prints from your images and the ability to go through a Soft Proofing process is in both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Other aspects of CC that might be important to you are things such as are they supported for Mac and Windows. Do you need support for 16 bit editing or even 32 bit editing? Is there full colour management support so you can select a colour space within which to work? Do you need to work in CMYK, RGB or even LAB? How important is overall workflow to you? Some people hate switching between applications and need a level of integration.

If you’re thinking of a move from CC or even just buying more software, I would strongly recommend working on a few images and making notes of the aspects and features you use. You might not realise these are important to you until they are gone.

Next time I will look at one or two possible alternatives to CC.

12 thoughts on “Alternatives to the Creative Cloud 1

  1. Hello Robin – What a thoughtful offer that I know will benefit many of us, like myself that don’t subscribe to the Adobe subscription service, but rather try to limp along with older versions of LR or PS. I personally have LR6.6 & CS5, which gives me most of what I need in terms of both asset management, editing & printing. But every now & then I see a feature in the cloud service that would be nice to have, like the perspective adjustments available for use in architectural photography. So I will look forward to what you have to offer! Cheers,


  2. All things considered I should prefer to buy, rather than rent, my software. But I do think it’s extremely important to put the cost of the Adobe CC subscription (around £10 per month) into context.

    Just browsing this one page, Robin, it appears that you have a Fuji XT2. A quick bit of research ( suggests that this costs around £1,400 (or £1,600 with a lens). You also have a Fuji 55-200 lens (£500) and a Sony RX10 (current model £1,400). Added to that a MacBook Pro (minimum £1,000) and a desktop Mac (minimum £1,000).

    You do realise that the cost of that equipment is about the same as 45 years (yes, forty-five years!) of Adobe CC subscription?

    My personal gripe is that I use Photoshop very little, so would prefer a Lightroom-only subscription at a lower price.

  3. Hello Robin, I read with interest your latest comments about the future lack of availability of Lightroom as a stand alone one off purchase. I have purchased LR since v2 and now have v6.
    Could I recommend as an alternative the latest version of ON 1 Photo RAW 2017.
    It includes layers and it’s cloning facility is much better than Lightroom’s. This photo editing software is well worth exploring.
    I enjoy your regular reports immensely. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Harry and thanks for the suggestion. On1 is on my list. I have used it for many years but mainly for editing rather than photo management. The 2017 release is a lot faster for browsing so makes a good option.

  4. My primary concern with the rental model is cost of ownership is that it doesn’t reflect the potential true cost of being locked into a specific software / hardware / OS infrastructure.

    One of the selling points of CC is continual additional functionality, but that in turn will inevitably place greater demand on processing power, which in turn could require a computer upgrade.

    If you’re running MS Windows, Intel and AMD’s latest family of processors will only run Win10 which has difficulty with certain legacy peripherals including tablets, graphic cards and storage etc. – a potential additional cost.

    So all in all it’s not just £10/month (subject to Adobe not raising the price or introducing ‘up-sell’ bolt-ons) but Win10 doesn’t have a clearly articulated future – will Win10 eventually go subscription or will adverts become even more intrusive with the result that the User becomes the product ?

  5. I am not altogether happy with the way Adobe has gone with the monthly subscription. I have had Photoshop since CS and Lightroom since I think version 3 all paid for and registered. I would much rather pay for something out right it is mine then. My subscription was due to renewal in February this year, I notified Adobe the end of last year that I would not be renewing my subscription, and within a couple of days they stopped me using Photoshop and Lightroom, I was very upset as to Adobe doing this, I had to renew my subscription again to get my programs back.

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