Help Me Choose Photo Editing Software

Back in the day, I used to shoot a lot of photos. And by back in the day, I mean the day when film was the only medium. I had a couple of Olympus OM-1 cameras, and several lenses. I used to carry a camera with me when I walked around New York City, where I lived at the time, and mostly shot black and white photos, with Tri-X Pan, with a 50mm lens.

I’ve been wanting to get back into shooting photos for a while. In the early digital days, good cameras were too expensive. I’ve been using my iPhone to take pictures for years, but I wanted something better. I bought an Olympus OM-D E-M10 (Amazon.com, Amazon UK).

Olympus em10

I chose this camera in part because of nostalgia; it looks pretty much like the OM-1, though it’s a bit smaller. I also wanted a camera with a viewfinder; I hate looking at a screen – which is hard to do in sunlight – and prefer the more visceral feel of looking through the camera. And it shoots RAW, has an easy-to-use manual mode, and the “pancake” lens is very compact.

So, now, I need to decide on which software to use. I’ve started with Apple’s Photos, which is, for the most part, a tool for organizing pictures. There are some interesting editing features, but it’s not enough, especially because I want to shoot RAW. I could use some advice. So far, I see the following options:

  • Adobe Lightroom. It has lots of features, and seems to be the Microsoft Office of photography (both in its feature-richness, and the fact that it’s the de facto standard). I’ve downloaded the demo version, and have started fiddling with it, but I hate Adobe interfaces.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ve tried the demo, but it seems to be too limited for what I want.
  • Affinity Photo. This new app is getting good reviews, but there’s no demo to try it out. (The developer told me on Twitter that there will be a demo available in a few weeks, but I think any app at this price should have one at launch.)
  • Pixelmator. This isn’t robust enough, and I can’t use it with RAW images.

The main advantage of using Lightroom is the fact that there are so many tutorials and books explaining how to work with it. As the de facto standard, it’s relatively easy to find information about it. But I hate subscription-based apps. Given my use of it – I don’t plan to shoot thousands of photos – it seems pretty expensive. (You can buy Lightroom, but it costs the same as a one-year subscription. Presumably, Adobe is moving to a subscription-only model.)

Am I missing anything? Am I condemned to paying Adobe a subscription fee and using Lightroom? Any comments would be welcome. (Also, your comments will help others who chance upon this article when pondering the same question.)

If you want to see some of what I’ve done so far, I’ve posted a few of my photos here, and I also set up a Flickr account to share the best pictures I take.

Update: Thanks for all the comments. I’ve been fiddling with Lightroom, and it does seem like a good solution. I’ve got 30 days to try it out; if I get to the end of that period, and can’t live without it, I’ll start a subscription.

64 thoughts on “Help Me Choose Photo Editing Software

  1. There is DarkTable, open source and capable. But not as polished as Lightroom. It works for my minimal needs, and can process RAW files.

  2. There is DarkTable, open source and capable. But not as polished as Lightroom. It works for my minimal needs, and can process RAW files.

  3. Affinity Photo has been available free in beta form for some months but you just missed it as it is now available to buy. Still at its intro price it may be the best out there. I use Affinity Designer and it’s excellent so expect Photo to be good also. The main cost is in learning the software. Not sure if it will handle Olympus RAW but you may be happy with the good JPEG file from camera.

  4. Affinity Photo has been available free in beta form for some months but you just missed it as it is now available to buy. Still at its intro price it may be the best out there. I use Affinity Designer and it’s excellent so expect Photo to be good also. The main cost is in learning the software. Not sure if it will handle Olympus RAW but you may be happy with the good JPEG file from camera.

  5. I recently signed up for the Adobe “Photography” plan, which gives you both Lightroom and also Photoshop CC. There’s a lot of 3rd party support, like interesting plugins, that you eventually might like to use, and which are probably not available for lesser-known apps. I see it is £8.78 a month in the UK. Adobe updates their Creative Cloud apps quite frequently (I had the full Creative Cloud collection for 2 years but never used most of it so switched to the Photography plan. You can install it on two computers.

    Speaking of plugins this is a nice collection. It might seem expensive at US $149 but before Google bought them the 6 or so apps were $200-$300 EACH from Nik software.
    https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

    I also think with a big name app like Lightroom there will alway be export filters/apps to upload your photos to just about any popular service. A few years down the road some of the other apps might be gone.

  6. I recently signed up for the Adobe “Photography” plan, which gives you both Lightroom and also Photoshop CC. There’s a lot of 3rd party support, like interesting plugins, that you eventually might like to use, and which are probably not available for lesser-known apps. I see it is £8.78 a month in the UK. Adobe updates their Creative Cloud apps quite frequently (I had the full Creative Cloud collection for 2 years but never used most of it so switched to the Photography plan. You can install it on two computers.

    Speaking of plugins this is a nice collection. It might seem expensive at US $149 but before Google bought them the 6 or so apps were $200-$300 EACH from Nik software.
    https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

    I also think with a big name app like Lightroom there will alway be export filters/apps to upload your photos to just about any popular service. A few years down the road some of the other apps might be gone.

  7. I highly recommend Lightroom. I have been using it for about two years. Yes, there is a serious learning curve but as you note there numerous online resources. I do not have a subscription and have gotten several free upgrades while I have owned it. You don’t need a subscription. The advantages of LR are that it is relatively easy to learn and use, compared to professional software such as Photoshop. It is also an end-to-end solution: You can download, organize, edit, print and publish photos. And again, compared to professional software, it is inexpensive. And you can get great results when you master it.

  8. I highly recommend Lightroom. I have been using it for about two years. Yes, there is a serious learning curve but as you note there numerous online resources. I do not have a subscription and have gotten several free upgrades while I have owned it. You don’t need a subscription. The advantages of LR are that it is relatively easy to learn and use, compared to professional software such as Photoshop. It is also an end-to-end solution: You can download, organize, edit, print and publish photos. And again, compared to professional software, it is inexpensive. And you can get great results when you master it.

  9. Affinity Photo would be good. I used the beta and bought the final version yesterday. I do a lot of dimensional cropping for newspaper publication and haven’t found a way yet to do that in Affinity. However, it is a good program if you work within it limits. Its probably more that you want to invest; however, Photo Mechanic is a good ingest and catalog and editing program. It is designed, primarily, for working pros in the news business. It doesn’t crop or correct but interfaces with other systems very well.

    • Dimensional cropping? Is that where you crop to a preset size? I use Acorn for basic image editing (for screenshots), and I can’t do that either.

      • Exactly. I usually crop to 2 or 3 column width and let the layout folks make the final determination as to what size they want to run it.

  10. Affinity Photo would be good. I used the beta and bought the final version yesterday. I do a lot of dimensional cropping for newspaper publication and haven’t found a way yet to do that in Affinity. However, it is a good program if you work within it limits. Its probably more that you want to invest; however, Photo Mechanic is a good ingest and catalog and editing program. It is designed, primarily, for working pros in the news business. It doesn’t crop or correct but interfaces with other systems very well.

    • Dimensional cropping? Is that where you crop to a preset size? I use Acorn for basic image editing (for screenshots), and I can’t do that either.

      • Exactly. I usually crop to 2 or 3 column width and let the layout folks make the final determination as to what size they want to run it.

  11. It’s Lightroom by a mile for me… get past the subscription model (not my ideal – but there are regular updates) and “Adobe Interface” (not an issue for me) and in conjunction with Photoshop because I much prefer the control on sharpening and any other image manipulation necessary, it’s the best I’ve found. Quite remarkable results can be got from sub-optimal input, stunning results from great input. I would strongly recommend working with a color profiled monitor for best results. And LR makes printing straightforward with user presets, once you have the right parameters established.

    I have the same camera as you – shooting RAW with it and post processing in LR / PS gives me great results, and because of that my much heavier D3x stays home a lot these days.

    • Thanks. I use a retina iMac, so the color profile should be known. I know that there are variations – I reviewed a device some years ago that you can use to calibrate a display – but I’m not that worried.

  12. It’s Lightroom by a mile for me… get past the subscription model (not my ideal – but there are regular updates) and “Adobe Interface” (not an issue for me) and in conjunction with Photoshop because I much prefer the control on sharpening and any other image manipulation necessary, it’s the best I’ve found. Quite remarkable results can be got from sub-optimal input, stunning results from great input. I would strongly recommend working with a color profiled monitor for best results. And LR makes printing straightforward with user presets, once you have the right parameters established.

    I have the same camera as you – shooting RAW with it and post processing in LR / PS gives me great results, and because of that my much heavier D3x stays home a lot these days.

    • Thanks. I use a retina iMac, so the color profile should be known. I know that there are variations – I reviewed a device some years ago that you can use to calibrate a display – but I’m not that worried.

  13. I have not used Affinity Photo, but I do use Affinity Designer and think it’s great – fresh UI, good functionality. And there seems to be a good team behind it. I’d take the risk and go with Affinity Photo. I know we all think software should cost $1 these days, but I think $40 is a good price for Affinity Photo.

    • I’m certainly not complaining about the price. I have, however, complained that there’s no demo version, which I think is essential for apps that price.

  14. I have not used Affinity Photo, but I do use Affinity Designer and think it’s great – fresh UI, good functionality. And there seems to be a good team behind it. I’d take the risk and go with Affinity Photo. I know we all think software should cost $1 these days, but I think $40 is a good price for Affinity Photo.

    • I’m certainly not complaining about the price. I have, however, complained that there’s no demo version, which I think is essential for apps that price.

  15. Lightroom! It’s a bit hard to get the hang of it in the beginning. (I suggest to read the manual twice and practice on only very few photos until you feel confident. Otherwise you will be reworking your photos again and again.)
    But once you have learned it, it’s so easy, that you will be wondering, how anybody could do it differently.
    I like the interface a lot, because I can adjust it exactly as I need it and I can switch off everything I don’t need.

    I don’t like subscribtion models like you. I won’t even upgrade to version 6 although this is still available as a normal version. And that’s not a problem for many years until you get a new camera.

  16. Lightroom! It’s a bit hard to get the hang of it in the beginning. (I suggest to read the manual twice and practice on only very few photos until you feel confident. Otherwise you will be reworking your photos again and again.)
    But once you have learned it, it’s so easy, that you will be wondering, how anybody could do it differently.
    I like the interface a lot, because I can adjust it exactly as I need it and I can switch off everything I don’t need.

    I don’t like subscribtion models like you. I won’t even upgrade to version 6 although this is still available as a normal version. And that’s not a problem for many years until you get a new camera.

  17. Another vote for LR, mainly because I find it reliable and fast. In particular it’s organisational tools let me import, tag and pick the images I want to keep after a shoot. Once I’ve decided which images I want to keep I can quickly make non destructive edits without having to use an external editor like Photoshop or Pixelmator. That’s a big time saver for me. In general I can get an image to where I want it in less than a minute.

    The most recent upgrade brought photomerge/panoramas, one of the few things I used to do in Photoshop. I still love the tactile feel of a printed image, so LR’s print controls are very helpful to me, but I realise most people don’t print many images these days.

    Once my edits are complete I can offload the images in to a watched folder for Photos import. While I feel Apple’s Photos organisational and editing tools are rather limited, the ability to have and find all my images on all my devices is very attractive.

    As you have already pointed out there is a wealth of 3rd party tools and learning material, the value of which can’t be underestimated. Due to LR’s popularity it also gets quick updates for new cameras and perhaps more importantly lens profiles developed with their manufacturers. These can be used to automatically correct for compromises and idiosyncrasies in the original lens design or deal to things like aggressive fisheye effects from ultra wide angle lenses.

    I would describe myself as an advanced amateur.

  18. Another vote for LR, mainly because I find it reliable and fast. In particular it’s organisational tools let me import, tag and pick the images I want to keep after a shoot. Once I’ve decided which images I want to keep I can quickly make non destructive edits without having to use an external editor like Photoshop or Pixelmator. That’s a big time saver for me. In general I can get an image to where I want it in less than a minute.

    The most recent upgrade brought photomerge/panoramas, one of the few things I used to do in Photoshop. I still love the tactile feel of a printed image, so LR’s print controls are very helpful to me, but I realise most people don’t print many images these days.

    Once my edits are complete I can offload the images in to a watched folder for Photos import. While I feel Apple’s Photos organisational and editing tools are rather limited, the ability to have and find all my images on all my devices is very attractive.

    As you have already pointed out there is a wealth of 3rd party tools and learning material, the value of which can’t be underestimated. Due to LR’s popularity it also gets quick updates for new cameras and perhaps more importantly lens profiles developed with their manufacturers. These can be used to automatically correct for compromises and idiosyncrasies in the original lens design or deal to things like aggressive fisheye effects from ultra wide angle lenses.

    I would describe myself as an advanced amateur.

  19. With Lightroom you get both the editing and the photo organizing features. With affinity you only get editing, not organizing. You may also try Phase One v8.3 ( both editing and catalouging), DxO and Photo Ninja (the latter two only organizing). The new Photos app with extenaions which is coming with El Capitan also seems interesting.

  20. With Lightroom you get both the editing and the photo organizing features. With affinity you only get editing, not organizing. You may also try Phase One v8.3 ( both editing and catalouging), DxO and Photo Ninja (the latter two only organizing). The new Photos app with extenaions which is coming with El Capitan also seems interesting.

  21. Hello, Kirk. I just consulted with the Inevitability Coucil regarding your query. It was their determination that–sooner or later–you will cast aside the alternatives as problematic, and make Lightroom your selection.

    There is a smidgen of free will remaining to you, and it is inherent in this: Which Should I Buy, Lightroom CC 2015 or Lightroom 6?

    Gleefully enough, advice on exactly that is available: http://laurashoe.com/2015/04/21/which-should-i-buy-lightroom-cc-2015-or-lightroom-6/

    Visit the page at that address to gain an understanding of the details which will help you calculate the value you may expect in exchange for the expense you elect to undergo. As a boon to get you started, I’ll lay out what you can expect to lay out:

    Lightroom 6 is available as a standalone, pay-for-it-once-and-you-own-it-forever application. It sells for £207.77 (incl. VAT) on the adobe.uk site. Its subscription-based form, Lightroom CC, is not available on an à la carte basis, but only as part of Adobe CC bundles. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, which comprises Lightroom CC and the full version of Photoshop CC, is the least expensive of these, and certainly is appropriate for your needs. The price is £8.57 per month, or £102.84 per year.

    • No, it’s £108 on Amazon. I don’t know what you’re seeing at that price, unless it’s a bundle with Photoshop.

      • £207.77 was a typo; my intention was to enter the amount as £107.77. I apologize for any confusion.

        • Lightroom started shipping on February 19, 2007. The US list price was $299 and the UK retail price was £199 … today you can get it from $49 to $146 for the PC Disc.

          You can still get Adobe Elements for as low as $17 depending on the version … 13 is $79 which is a heck of a deal.

          BTW : you should also take a look at Pixelmator, also an excellent package … http://www.graphic-design.com/photoshop/pixelmator

  22. Hello, Kirk. I just consulted with the Inevitability Coucil regarding your query. It was their determination that–sooner or later–you will cast aside the alternatives as problematic, and make Lightroom your selection.

    There is a smidgen of free will remaining to you, and it is inherent in this: Which Should I Buy, Lightroom CC 2015 or Lightroom 6?

    Gleefully enough, advice on exactly that is available: http://laurashoe.com/2015/04/21/which-should-i-buy-lightroom-cc-2015-or-lightroom-6/

    Visit the page at that address to gain an understanding of the details which will help you calculate the value you may expect in exchange for the expense you elect to undergo. As a boon to get you started, I’ll lay out what you can expect to lay out:

    Lightroom 6 is available as a standalone, pay-for-it-once-and-you-own-it-forever application. It sells for £207.77 (incl. VAT) on the adobe.uk site. Its subscription-based form, Lightroom CC, is not available on an à la carte basis, but only as part of Adobe CC bundles. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, which comprises Lightroom CC and the full version of Photoshop CC, is the least expensive of these, and certainly is appropriate for your needs. The price is £8.57 per month, or £102.84 per year.

    • No, it’s £108 on Amazon. I don’t know what you’re seeing at that price, unless it’s a bundle with Photoshop.

      • £207.77 was a typo; my intention was to enter the amount as £107.77. I apologize for any confusion.

        • Lightroom started shipping on February 19, 2007. The US list price was $299 and the UK retail price was £199 … today you can get it from $49 to $146 for the PC Disc.

          You can still get Adobe Elements for as low as $17 depending on the version … 13 is $79 which is a heck of a deal.

          BTW : you should also take a look at Pixelmator, also an excellent package … http://www.graphic-design.com/photoshop/pixelmator

  23. I’m really glad, Kirk, that you’ve asked this question and keenly interested in the answers.

    Used to be, I thought the whole business was well in hand with iPhoto and Aperture plus two good places for panos and PTLens for architecture. Alas, now it seems Apple has totally turned away — who’d ever have thought? (Sure, it’s great to have an iPhone in your pocket for snaps, used mine today, but that’s something else entirely.)

    As for Adobe, I agree with you. After spending a lot of time with Photoshop Elements and Barbara Brundage’s fine Missing Manual guides, I put Adobe aside as unsuitable for bears of small brain and/or little time. Really don’t want to go that way again.

  24. I’m really glad, Kirk, that you’ve asked this question and keenly interested in the answers.

    Used to be, I thought the whole business was well in hand with iPhoto and Aperture plus two good places for panos and PTLens for architecture. Alas, now it seems Apple has totally turned away — who’d ever have thought? (Sure, it’s great to have an iPhone in your pocket for snaps, used mine today, but that’s something else entirely.)

    As for Adobe, I agree with you. After spending a lot of time with Photoshop Elements and Barbara Brundage’s fine Missing Manual guides, I put Adobe aside as unsuitable for bears of small brain and/or little time. Really don’t want to go that way again.

  25. I use Adobe LR, which is my day to day software for all the reasons mentioned by others above and would really be my first choice for you if your photography does not require serious ‘surgery’ on an ongoing basis. I did suggest Affinity Photo above because it is probably the most capable, least expensive, non Adobe software. LR is really suited to the needs of photographers first and foremost, adjusting, cataloging, outputting. Affinity Photo, like Photoshop brings you into the world of heavy photo manipulation and Design.

  26. I use Adobe LR, which is my day to day software for all the reasons mentioned by others above and would really be my first choice for you if your photography does not require serious ‘surgery’ on an ongoing basis. I did suggest Affinity Photo above because it is probably the most capable, least expensive, non Adobe software. LR is really suited to the needs of photographers first and foremost, adjusting, cataloging, outputting. Affinity Photo, like Photoshop brings you into the world of heavy photo manipulation and Design.

  27. Did someone tell you LightRoom is the “de facto standard” ??? They must have just come around lately. Both Elements and Photoshop probably have a thousand times the installed base. Affinity is probably your best bet as a “beginner” . . . we’ve always said that only 2% of the graphic community uses more than 10% of Photoshop’s features and capabilities. All the rest of the 12+million users rely on under 10%, so they’re hauling around the other 90% in dead weight. (Sort of like taking a 40-foot tractor-trailer for a loaf of bread at the 7-11!) Both Elements and Affinity have all that 10% and a lot more as you grow. Both you can buy online and you’re done — no money bleed. In reality, I’m wondering why you didn’t mention GraphicsConverter? It’s shareware and very capable — plus does a hundred things NONE of the other titles you mentioned will do. However, if Lightroom has a single feature you cannot live without, then have at it! Keep us posted — always enjoy your column, and have mentioned it many times in my columns!

    Fred

  28. Did someone tell you LightRoom is the “de facto standard” ??? They must have just come around lately. Both Elements and Photoshop probably have a thousand times the installed base. Affinity is probably your best bet as a “beginner” . . . we’ve always said that only 2% of the graphic community uses more than 10% of Photoshop’s features and capabilities. All the rest of the 12+million users rely on under 10%, so they’re hauling around the other 90% in dead weight. (Sort of like taking a 40-foot tractor-trailer for a loaf of bread at the 7-11!) Both Elements and Affinity have all that 10% and a lot more as you grow. Both you can buy online and you’re done — no money bleed. In reality, I’m wondering why you didn’t mention GraphicsConverter? It’s shareware and very capable — plus does a hundred things NONE of the other titles you mentioned will do. However, if Lightroom has a single feature you cannot live without, then have at it! Keep us posted — always enjoy your column, and have mentioned it many times in my columns!

    Fred

  29. I’ve been using LR for over 8 years now. I agree that the UI is not all that great but you’ll get used to it (we all do). I really like LR for its capabilities to manage photos. You have a lot of control over where photos are located, organized, named, etc, although you can only have 1 catalog open at a time.

    I know the LR team at Adobe is not all that large anymore and that they cater primarily to needs of professional photographers such as Scott Kelby, so features more common to consumer photo-editing apps typically arrive more slowly with LR. For example, I’ve had to use Aperture for years to create slideshows with music overlays (I’d edit in LR and then export images for use with Aperture).

    Anyways, LR is the main game in town for folks using DSLRs to edit and manage their libraries. I would suggest new folks pick up George Jardine’s excellent video/DVD series on using Lightroom (he has series for both organization and editing).

  30. I’ve been using LR for over 8 years now. I agree that the UI is not all that great but you’ll get used to it (we all do). I really like LR for its capabilities to manage photos. You have a lot of control over where photos are located, organized, named, etc, although you can only have 1 catalog open at a time.

    I know the LR team at Adobe is not all that large anymore and that they cater primarily to needs of professional photographers such as Scott Kelby, so features more common to consumer photo-editing apps typically arrive more slowly with LR. For example, I’ve had to use Aperture for years to create slideshows with music overlays (I’d edit in LR and then export images for use with Aperture).

    Anyways, LR is the main game in town for folks using DSLRs to edit and manage their libraries. I would suggest new folks pick up George Jardine’s excellent video/DVD series on using Lightroom (he has series for both organization and editing).

  31. (Sorry if this shows up twice, I think I mistyped my credentials the first time. Darned cat.)

    It’s worth considering the editing and the cataloging separately, and giving cataloging priority. If the cataloging software is good, you can still jump out to a different editor as desired, but if you get stuck with a really poor cataloging solution, it’s harder to do anything about it. Most software is either an editor (pixelmator, affinity) or combines the two to various degrees (lightroom, iphoto). Photo Mechanic is possibly unique, an excellent metadada editor that does nothing else ($150).

    I’ve been trying to find a replacement for Aperture. I detest Adobe for many reasons, so even if I liked LR (and I don’t) it isn’t an option for me.

    My pick so far is Capture One, $300 (it’s easy to find 15% off coupons). Before choking on the price, remember that you’re probably going to be spending more time with the software than with the camera. If it turns out that you really like something expensive better than the cheaper compromises, it’s probably cheaper in both time and money go with it from the start if possible.

    Other options you might look at are Corel’s Aftershot Pro ($55, edit and catalog); ACDSee ($60, edit and catalog); Iridient Developer ($100, raw editing only); DxO Optics Pro ($130 or $200, excellent editing, but no cataloging to speak of)

    Capture One editing is great–better and often easier than Aperture. I’m not fond of the default interface, but some customization is possible. There are lots of tutorials, webinars, and active forums available, both at Phase One and on independent web sites.

    C1 is still somewhat lacking in metadata management, but they’re adding Aperture-like features and improving the metadata as fast as they can, and it’s now useable and still improving. For high powered metadata handling, it can work closely with Photo Mechanic, each telling the other about changes.

    I probably won’t pull the trigger to buy anything until yosemite (thus aperture) goes away, but I doubt I’ll change my choice at this point.

    Capture One:

    https://www.phaseone.com/en/Imaging-Software/Capture-One.aspx

    Their tutorials:

    https://www.phaseone.com/en/Imaging-Software/Capture-One/Tutorials.aspx

    Photo Mechanic:

    http://www.camerabits.com/

    “Aperture, Capture One and Lightroom Walk into a Bar”:

    https://photoapps.expert/tips/2015/3/13/aperture-capture-one-and-lightroom-walk-bar-part-1-2

    https://photoapps.expert/tips/2015/3/16/aperture-capture-one-and-lightroom-walk-bar-part-2-2

    Image Alchemist (a set of good introductory tutorials)

    http://imagealchemist.net/

    Have fun with the new toy! I love oly micro 4/3. If you have any interest in macro, run don’t walk to get the oly 60mm 2.8 macro lens, it’s outstanding.

  32. (Sorry if this shows up twice, I think I mistyped my credentials the first time. Darned cat.)

    It’s worth considering the editing and the cataloging separately, and giving cataloging priority. If the cataloging software is good, you can still jump out to a different editor as desired, but if you get stuck with a really poor cataloging solution, it’s harder to do anything about it. Most software is either an editor (pixelmator, affinity) or combines the two to various degrees (lightroom, iphoto). Photo Mechanic is possibly unique, an excellent metadada editor that does nothing else ($150).

    I’ve been trying to find a replacement for Aperture. I detest Adobe for many reasons, so even if I liked LR (and I don’t) it isn’t an option for me.

    My pick so far is Capture One, $300 (it’s easy to find 15% off coupons). Before choking on the price, remember that you’re probably going to be spending more time with the software than with the camera. If it turns out that you really like something expensive better than the cheaper compromises, it’s probably cheaper in both time and money go with it from the start if possible.

    Other options you might look at are Corel’s Aftershot Pro ($55, edit and catalog); ACDSee ($60, edit and catalog); Iridient Developer ($100, raw editing only); DxO Optics Pro ($130 or $200, excellent editing, but no cataloging to speak of)

    Capture One editing is great–better and often easier than Aperture. I’m not fond of the default interface, but some customization is possible. There are lots of tutorials, webinars, and active forums available, both at Phase One and on independent web sites.

    C1 is still somewhat lacking in metadata management, but they’re adding Aperture-like features and improving the metadata as fast as they can, and it’s now useable and still improving. For high powered metadata handling, it can work closely with Photo Mechanic, each telling the other about changes.

    I probably won’t pull the trigger to buy anything until yosemite (thus aperture) goes away, but I doubt I’ll change my choice at this point.

    Capture One:

    https://www.phaseone.com/en/Imaging-Software/Capture-One.aspx

    Their tutorials:

    https://www.phaseone.com/en/Imaging-Software/Capture-One/Tutorials.aspx

    Photo Mechanic:

    http://www.camerabits.com/

    “Aperture, Capture One and Lightroom Walk into a Bar”:

    https://photoapps.expert/tips/2015/3/13/aperture-capture-one-and-lightroom-walk-bar-part-1-2

    https://photoapps.expert/tips/2015/3/16/aperture-capture-one-and-lightroom-walk-bar-part-2-2

    Image Alchemist (a set of good introductory tutorials)

    http://imagealchemist.net/

    Have fun with the new toy! I love oly micro 4/3. If you have any interest in macro, run don’t walk to get the oly 60mm 2.8 macro lens, it’s outstanding.

  33. I’d say it depends a lot on what you plan to do with the software. Someone who believes photos are made mostly in the camera, and just needs to make a few tweaks and polish the camera shots a bit, will have different needs from someone who is combining multiple shots, using a lot of filters, and creating images on the computer that could never be created in the camera.

    I’m curious about your statement: “Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ve tried the demo, but it seems to be too limited for what I want.” What exactly were you truing to do that Elements would not allow?

    The last full version of Photoshop I used was PS 7, under Mac OS 8.something. Since then, I’ve been using Photoshop Elements (now version 10), and I’ve found it to be adequate for almost anything I want to do as a “tweak and polisher.”

    I share your distrust of Adobe, so I’ve been shopping around. I’ve paid for Affinity Photo (AP) – but until someone comes out with a good book, I’m lost. I’ve figured out how to do about 25% of what I want to do in AP, but it’s really hard to learn new image software. I do believe that AP has the potential to become a replacement for Elements for me – and to far exceed Elements abilities one day, but that process is going to take some time.

    Which software works best for you is probably also somewhat dependent on how you learn – whether you prefer tutorials, Help guides, YouTube videos, forums, or books. Mac users like to use the word “intuitive” a lot, but there is no way you are going to figure out how to use any advanced image software without a considerable amount of help. And a lot of time spent in study and research.

    For me, a good reference book is part of that process – and as a Mac user, it’s often something from “The Missing Manual” series by O’Reilly Press, especially if David Pogue’s name appears on the cover. However, for Photoshop Elements, the Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage (previously mentioned) is one I can NOT recommend.

    I found Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski’s approach to be a much more effective way to learn how to do practical editing in Elements.

    • I agree. I don’t even know the basic concepts of this type of software, or what the various tools are for, so something like the Affinity app is way above my head. Perhaps I need to learn on something like Elements, and then find what works better, to understand the tools and what they can do.

      • You might say the best image software is the one you know how how to use. I had two misconceptions about Elements when I bought it: I imagined that it was not very powerful, and that it would be easy to learn. Those statements are true only in comparison to the full version of Photoshop.

        I’ve been using Elements 10 for almost four years now, and there is still plenty I don’t know about it – but more importantly, I can now get the results I want.

        Photos at: http://garywright.smugmug.com/

        Hey, I’ll give you $100 for that cat on your Flicker page (Titus)!

        • Titus is not for sale! 🙂

          Very nice photos.

          Perhaps Elements would be enough. I don’t know; I’m frustrated now. I’ve just been using Apple’s Photos, which actually does have some advanced editing tools, all of which are pretty easy to understand.

  34. I’d say it depends a lot on what you plan to do with the software. Someone who believes photos are made mostly in the camera, and just needs to make a few tweaks and polish the camera shots a bit, will have different needs from someone who is combining multiple shots, using a lot of filters, and creating images on the computer that could never be created in the camera.

    I’m curious about your statement: “Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ve tried the demo, but it seems to be too limited for what I want.” What exactly were you truing to do that Elements would not allow?

    The last full version of Photoshop I used was PS 7, under Mac OS 8.something. Since then, I’ve been using Photoshop Elements (now version 10), and I’ve found it to be adequate for almost anything I want to do as a “tweak and polisher.”

    I share your distrust of Adobe, so I’ve been shopping around. I’ve paid for Affinity Photo (AP) – but until someone comes out with a good book, I’m lost. I’ve figured out how to do about 25% of what I want to do in AP, but it’s really hard to learn new image software. I do believe that AP has the potential to become a replacement for Elements for me – and to far exceed Elements abilities one day, but that process is going to take some time.

    Which software works best for you is probably also somewhat dependent on how you learn – whether you prefer tutorials, Help guides, YouTube videos, forums, or books. Mac users like to use the word “intuitive” a lot, but there is no way you are going to figure out how to use any advanced image software without a considerable amount of help. And a lot of time spent in study and research.

    For me, a good reference book is part of that process – and as a Mac user, it’s often something from “The Missing Manual” series by O’Reilly Press, especially if David Pogue’s name appears on the cover. However, for Photoshop Elements, the Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage (previously mentioned) is one I can NOT recommend.

    I found Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski’s approach to be a much more effective way to learn how to do practical editing in Elements.

    • I agree. I don’t even know the basic concepts of this type of software, or what the various tools are for, so something like the Affinity app is way above my head. Perhaps I need to learn on something like Elements, and then find what works better, to understand the tools and what they can do.

      • You might say the best image software is the one you know how how to use. I had two misconceptions about Elements when I bought it: I imagined that it was not very powerful, and that it would be easy to learn. Those statements are true only in comparison to the full version of Photoshop.

        I’ve been using Elements 10 for almost four years now, and there is still plenty I don’t know about it – but more importantly, I can now get the results I want.

        Photos at: http://garywright.smugmug.com/

        Hey, I’ll give you $100 for that cat on your Flicker page (Titus)!

        • Titus is not for sale! 🙂

          Very nice photos.

          Perhaps Elements would be enough. I don’t know; I’m frustrated now. I’ve just been using Apple’s Photos, which actually does have some advanced editing tools, all of which are pretty easy to understand.

  35. Hi Kirk & everyone else…

    I just stumbled upon this thread following Kirk’s posts – hope someone sees it 🙂

    I am generally anti-Adobe and anti-Micro$oft, so I have been searching for quite a while for something a) good,
    b) has lots of tutorials,
    c) handles RAW natively and easily.

    Last year I came across Capture One 8 Pro by PhaseOne (phaseone.com). Capture One was seemingly developped to handle their camera system, (high-end professional cameras), and shooting in RAW.
    Capture One certainly handles the RAWs from my Canons and Olympus (and the JPEGs too); also supports plug-ins (yay!). I mostly shoot astronomy photos and landscapes, lots of low-light shots.

    While the learning curve is steep as with all imaging software, there are a multitude of video tutorials, a searchable manual, and almost weekly free video conference/tutorial sessions, and a 30 day trial.

    While I still have Aperture on my system, (and scads of other photo software), I haven’t used it in a long time preferring to go with Capture One.

    I’ve tried PS Elements & Lightroom to compliment Aperture, but was not impressed. While they may be the de facto “standard”, Capture One is easier and a lot less “clunky”. The best part of using this software, is that when working with it on a photo from start to finish the tools and using them make sense, to me at least.

  36. Hi Kirk & everyone else…

    I just stumbled upon this thread following Kirk’s posts – hope someone sees it 🙂

    I am generally anti-Adobe and anti-Micro$oft, so I have been searching for quite a while for something a) good,
    b) has lots of tutorials,
    c) handles RAW natively and easily.

    Last year I came across Capture One 8 Pro by PhaseOne (phaseone.com). Capture One was seemingly developped to handle their camera system, (high-end professional cameras), and shooting in RAW.
    Capture One certainly handles the RAWs from my Canons and Olympus (and the JPEGs too); also supports plug-ins (yay!). I mostly shoot astronomy photos and landscapes, lots of low-light shots.

    While the learning curve is steep as with all imaging software, there are a multitude of video tutorials, a searchable manual, and almost weekly free video conference/tutorial sessions, and a 30 day trial.

    While I still have Aperture on my system, (and scads of other photo software), I haven’t used it in a long time preferring to go with Capture One.

    I’ve tried PS Elements & Lightroom to compliment Aperture, but was not impressed. While they may be the de facto “standard”, Capture One is easier and a lot less “clunky”. The best part of using this software, is that when working with it on a photo from start to finish the tools and using them make sense, to me at least.

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