Moving from Adobe: the story so far

Gloucester, UK
I'm done with Adobe.

Up until recently I defended them and their offerings, tolerated the bugs unfixed for years, put up with that distracting line around the full screen images in LR, worked through the constant changes to the UI necessitating me relearning where commons tools now were, spent time accommodating new, large LR catalogs rewritten every few updates, put up with changes under the hood that FUBAR'd my settings 'recipes' and ignored the unresponsive support. The recent Adobe 'ownership' announcement debacle and the ensuing mismanagement of the backlash were, for me, the final straw. So I'm well into a quest to rebuild my workflow by finding tools to replace LR/PS.

I'm a 'weekend' / family / amateur / hobby photographer so my needs are modest. I’m now entirely Mac based for photo and video management and processing. However, I'm fussy as heck and quite, er, particular about organisation: adding locations is a must have for me. Therefore, I want tools that do as I want in an efficient and effective manner without too much cost in terms of time, effort and money.

I'm perceiving less choice for Mac users than those using Windows but all is not lost for those of us who’ve bought into the Apple ecosystem.

Here's the story so far and please bear in mind these are first impressions.

ACDSee Photo Studio 10 for Mac
Excellent DAM, poor PP. I’ll use it for initial transfer / import and sorting of images & movies.

- ridiculously easy photo transfer / import from family iPhones via the simple, well thought out, free Mobile Sync app
- easy transfer of (some) LR catalog metadata
- simple but powerful renaming tools
- full, clear display of all metadata
- big ’n’ clear compare view that handles up to 4 images simultaneously with locked zooming & panning
- helpful folder display thumbnails
- once in the database, the Calendar view finds and displays images by year, month or day irrespective where the images are stored
- handles movie file organisation well
- useful, free, getting started videos
- even usefuller (sic), free tutorials available via YouTube
- generally fast operation (once everything is in the database and the folder thumbnails are generated)

- face detection & labelling = very buggy sometimes unusable. Frustratingly, when it works, it works well. This was one of the main reasons I bought ACDSee so I’m willing to persevere. In fairness this could be a newbie / operator error / Layer 8 Problem.
- so-so overall UI: some buttons too small/close together, not an intuitive layout
- pointless Media view mode
- weak PP tools: think what there was 10 years ago
- Save As (export) function is basic; no DNG export, no resizing
- locks away data in a proprietary database / catalog
- user forum (ACDSee Connect) only accessible via 'Mighty' app with non-standard UI that installs only on phones or tablets
- Mac version has none of the AI tools found in the Windows version.

ON1 Photo RAW 2024.5 (Mac)
On paper looks like a good all in one tool. In practice has a lot of quirks. Needs more thought and better PP. OK for sorting, labelling, finding. Currently I use this mainly for adding geolocation data.

- auto feature (Brilliance AI) isn’t too bad (see Cons)
- NoNoise works on all images not just RAW files
- quick and easy to add geolocation data
- clean import of LR metadata
- powerful export feature
- geolocation data written to sidecar file
- reasonable compare function: up to 4 images (ACDSee’s is faster and with a cleaner UI)
- handy time lapse movie creation
- well written PDF help manual (and it’s free)

- auto mode (Brilliance AI) sometimes produces weird colours and is frequently too aggressive
- other AI features aren’t that 'I'; portrait and face / age mode can be way off
- NoNoise AI default is too smooth
- forum type support is behind a paywall service called ON1 Plus (seriously, it costs almost 39GBP a year to ask fellow users for help though that does include access to training videos)
- poor, expensive paid for video tutorials (these are additional to the ON1 Plus content)
- takes a long time to catalog all existing photos (3 days for my 25K of images)
- no face detection
- mediocre PP tools
- annoying AI keyword function that adds irrelevant words (I’m having trouble editing keywords)
- crude panorama creation tool that is unforgiving: often ignores images that are only slightly out of alignment
- inconsistent speed of operation: sometimes 'hesitates’ (possibly due to my images being on an external drive?)

DxO PhotoLab 6/7
My all time favourite PP tool. Works well on (almost) every image I have. If DxO added some more half decent DAM tools this would be a real Adobe alternative.

Not much difference in main functions between 6 & 7 although 7 did introduce some hard core colour management features.

- fast display and operation
- PP that’s easy to get into but allows for some serious tweaking if needed
- excellent lens correction functions
- leading noise reduction
- no cataloging (thought there is an indexing function)

- no (serious) DAM features though more seem to be added with each annual release
- noise reduction works only with RAW files
- when processing, auto creation of projects that can’t be bulk deleted (in v6, not sure about v7); minor niggle of mine

I hope that might prove useful to fellow Mac users considering moving from Adobe. The main lesson here seems to be that there's no one product or even company to replace the LR/PS combo. Yet.