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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Yorkshire, England

    Lightroom or alternative

    Ok guys, I have never purchased or even used any photo manipulating software before but it is the final piece of the digital puzzle I need to get right.
    Many years ago I used to shoot on Contax 35mm and a MPP mk8 5x4 and print in a darkroom using a Durst 138 which I understood.
    Having now quite recently returned to photography I find that things have changed somewhat so I have, to the bewilderment of my friends, decided that I still want to shoot film but print digitally. This has a lot to do with available space for a darkroom with running water and drainage which I don't have.
    My current set-up is:
    Fuji GF670 6x7
    Wilderness V 10x8
    Jobo CPE2
    Howtek D4500 running Aurora from a Powermac G4
    Epson SC-P800 running from Windows 10

    I guess that Lightroom is the obvious choice for negative processing but also that it is now moving to a subscription model for 10/month which is something I would prefer not to do.
    So, the options I seem to have are:
    - A retail copy of Lighroom 6 which I can buy for 110 but, I presume, will not be supported or upgraded in the future
    - Affinity at 49
    - ACDSEE from $60 upwards
    - Macphun Luminaire 53
    - Maybe a Silverfast product (any suggestions?) which I could possibly get bundled with Silverfast 6.6 and upgrade the scanner software at the same time but I think that would be Euro400 but there are quite a few choices

    Like I said, I have zero experience with any system so I am not tied to any system, and I don't own a digital camera so don't need any features that are specifically for digital.

    As always, your guidance and opinions are appreciated.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    With Photography, every link in the chain is important and most of them cost money. We generally get what we pay for.

    If you're willing and able to run a serious scanner, you're serious, patient, skilled and already appreciate the difference between adequate and excellent. I'd be surprised if you didn't find that Photoshop gives you greater control over your creative process than Lightroom.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Yorkshire, England

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    Hi Ken.,
    Thank-you for your comment.
    Having never owned a digital camera, ok I have used them at work for recording site visits etc., I don't even know the difference between PS & LR.
    I have it in my mind, however, that I want to do all the stuff that a darkroom and wet printing would allow but without the image 'corruption' that some embrace nowadays. My images may not be worthy of sale but I just want to do the best I can do. If I can make, for me, a good photo from what I see on the ground glass then I will be satisfied. If I am not satisfied it should drive me on to learn from my limitations and improve in the future.
    So, changing the contrast, tones, brightness and possibly colour of the image but not the shape, texture, or relative subject size or perspective. I have, for example, seen on an Affinity promo video where they stretch out the face of a clock to make it look Dali-esque; that is something i'm not bothered about.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Yorkshire, England

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    Hi Ari,
    So, something with the simplicity of LR but without the subscription model is what I seem to be looking for.
    You are correct that they all offer trials but, like I said, having no experience, I would find it difficult to judge.
    With physical things, like film format and scanner types, I can make a logical assessment of the performance against the cost, but with software it seems it is like deciding which novel is the best read and I ain't no literary expert! :-)


  5. #5
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Ottawa, Canada

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    I used Photoshop for a number of years, and never really got the hang of masks and such.
    Lightroom is intuitively easy to use, the dodging/burning is as precise as you want t make it, and doesn't force you to use masks or layers.
    Worth the investment, whatever that might be for you.
    I don't know much about the other software you mention, but if you can try out any or all of them before purchasing, that would be fantastic.

  6. #6
    Drew Saunders drew.saunders's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Palo Alto, CA

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    I'm using older versions of Photoshop (CS4) and Lightroom (4), so started testing some of the alternatives before I decide if I want to go with the subscription model or not. Here's what I found:

    On1 Photo Raw 2018 is quite promising as a one-stop Photoshop and Lightroom replacement, except it can't handle greyscale files! I've reported that as a "bug" but never heard back. I don't know why they don't support greyscale, but if they did, I'd probably buy it. I was able to open large RGB scanned images (~300Mb) and work on them, and it handled the files pretty well.

    MacPhun Luminar looks good, but when I opened a 200Mb greyscale 16-bit image (that even my old version of Photoshop handles fairly easily) and tried to use the smart healing tool to get rid of a dust spot, it crashed every time. I've tried on my older iMac and newer work MacBook Air, and it just flat out dies with large files. Too bad, because it also looks promising. I don't know if my Macs are just too old, but nothing else died with the same files.

    Affinity Photo just annoyed me with its interface, but at least it didn't crash.

    All 3 are available for a free trial period, so are worth testing if you're curious.

    Looks like I may end up paying the licence for PS/LR after all. I'll wait to see if On1 wants to fix their greyscale problem, but it doesn't look like that's important to them, which is too bad.
    Flickriver (to avoid Flickr's annoying new format):

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    southwest PA, USA

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    I've used older versions of On1 and it was fairly easy to pick up. I've been using Photoshop for years and like how it does layers and masks; I haven't used Lightroom as much and am not as good at it - I know people who love it, though. I've been using CS5 and LR5, not the subscription models. I've heard good things about Affinity, but haven't tried it myself.
    Bethe King

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Tucson AZ

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    In the end, nothing beats (or IMHO even comes close to) Photoshop. I'm not crazy about the subscription model, but so what - it's far from the most expensive piece of the chain from vision to print. So I just suck it up and pay the rent!!! (And I use a few additional Adobe apps, like Premiere Pro and InDesign so the rent is a bit higher, but so what. Compared to what some of the other software I use (like RealFlow and Cinema4D and Maxwell Render) go for, the Adobe suite is an incredible bargain!)

  9. #9

    Re: Lightroom or alternative


    Reading your requirement, it seems that LR would be an overkill solution in some places and non sufficient in others. In terms of organisation, it's made to help you sort hundred of thousends of pictures wich you may not need. When it comes to dusts... it might be a bit short handed. You can still buy LR6. If you go to the subscription model, well keep in mind that the main stream is to drive you to leave your pictures in their cloud. Read : one day there will be no other solution.

    There is alsoe a few other possibilities. DXO launched ther latest version DXO so, until november the 30th, they let you download for free the basic ancient version (wich is DXO11). It hasn't the catalogue capacities of LR But you do not mind and it is powerfull.
    The link to DXO download page : http://

    Photoshop is, in my mind, the best solution. All the effects included are probably alsoe overkill for your common practice. But, when it comes to dust... And, you can even use ACR with TIFF if you feel more confortable with it (witch is very logical).
    You cannot buy the last photshop edition anymore. But you can find used ones on e-bay.

    There was a time when Photoshop CS2 was the state of the art for photo editing. But, they changed some technologies for the next generation so they stoped any support for it. In exchange Adobe made it free for its user supposed to have it. For what you will mainly do on pictures, it is largely sufficient (more recent versions do have content aware selection and modification such as remove the electric wire pole) but, people did without it for years... Google Photoshop CS2 download and you should easily find the link to Adobe's download station.

    If you want to buy something new : you make look on Photoshop Elements 2018. It is not very expensive and largely enough in most of the cases. It is said to work in 8 bits only. That is partialy true. If your photos are B&W pictures, you do not really need 16 bits wich are devoted to color codification (some people argue that there is a lot more tonal graduation in a 16 bits B&W. I'm not convinced). Anyway, you can use most of the tools you will need in 16 bits at the cost of some tricks explained in this youtube link : Photoshop Elements Tutorial 16Bits/Channel

    To summarize :

    LR6 is still available as "box version" but may not be the finest software to do what you will want to do. It is "digital pictures" oriented.

    PS CS6 is the latest "box version" way to heavy for "digital pictures" (LR is a lot faster when it comes to the tenfold stream of pictures done with a digital camera) but probably the best solution for a picture extracted from an Howtek.


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    St. Simons Island, Georgia

    Re: Lightroom or alternative

    Phase One’s Capture One is well worth looking at. I think the raw converter and controls are easier to use than Lightroom’s. The company has lots of very good tutorial videos on YouTube.

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