After having used PL5 for six months... Am I switching back to LRc?

Coming from LRc orginally I’ve been using PhotoLab 5 for more than six months now. And I wonder whether changing to PL was the right move for me.

No doubt: PL5 has some quite impressive features. Be it DeepPrime or the lens correction – both produce extraordinary results. However, even after half a year, I am still missing LRc and might return to Adobe soon – even at the cost of a subscription.

So, what is it, that drives me away from PL5? It is the time-consuming workflow!

It has been discussed here plenty of times, that PL is not the right tool for culling images and handling metadata. But these two steps are essential – at least for me. Using other tools like FastRAWViewer or PhotoSupreme might work for plenty of people but slows me down. By it’s roots PL is a RAW converter, not a DAM. And DXO might even not want to turn it in one. That is fine and a legit strategy. It only cuts me out as I need a tool that is a good DAM and a good RAW converter.

Additionally, it takes me more time to get to satisfactory results with PL compared to LRc (or C1). One example: Not having a dedicated white slider among the selective tone slider is a design flaw that leaves me puzzled. It forces me to use the tone curve, that lacks an underling histogram. But even the existing tone slider act in a way that turns me away. Unfortunately, the clever Smart Lighting interferes with the rest of the settings in a way that remains a mystery till today.

And finally I am constantly at war with the colour rendering, no matter what presets or profiles I use: The images do not match the colours I remember from the shooting. Often, they are too contrasty, over-saturated or quite the opposite: way to dull. Of course, I can and I have to adjust the settings, but it is pretty time consuming. I like Adobe’s out-of-the-box rendering better.

Adobe’s results might not be perfect. But they are more than usable even in a professional environment. And getting to these results is so much faster that it makes a difference in terms of business.

Most likely I will have a look at PL6 before a make a move. But I’m not too optimistic that PL6 will meet my needs.

Is it just me - or do others struggle with PL in a similar way?


If PhotoLab has two features that suit you, use them and do everything else in LrC.

Limit settings to optical corrections and denoising and export as .dng files. They handle nicely in LrC.

PhotoLab can’t replace LrC as of now, which means that either/or is kind of a poor decision strategy.


Well, we have proof that the work is in progress but it is a long road.

I guess this software does not exist yet.
That is why many of us use PL as the best RAW editor and something else as a DAM.
It is all about compromises.

Have a look here if you want to use ready made DCP profiles from Adobe.

PL is different from LR and it needs time to adapt.
It’s like going from Windows to Mac or Mac to Windows … similar but different.
It is up to our capacity to learn new things I guess.

It is just you - Did this solve your problem?

Perhaps PureRAW together with LR is an option

Pure RAW feels like an easy-to-use subset of PhotoLab…

If one already has DPL, it does not make sense to get DPR too.
Stick to DPL for DeepPRIME and optical corrections, all of which can be tuned. In DPR it’s just on or off.

I have used PL for a long time but cannot bring myself to ditch Lr. The results from PL can be great but I agree not so great as to render Lr redundant from both the editing and dam perspective. Lr’s masking alone is far better imo - I really do not see control points as the future. Sometimes I think PL is playing catch-up but is catching up to the past rather than the current. For all that I still love the software and maybe Pure Raw is the answer - but how long before Adobe catches up.

I personally see no problem in paying £9.98 a month to Adobe, and feel I get value for money. I use LrC as my DAM, but process most of my files in PL5 via the Lightroom plugin. More often than not, I can achieve the results I want in PL5, but if not, I see no problem in processing an image with LrC or Photoshop.



The biggest issue I had with Adobe’s subscription model is that as soon as you stop paying you lose functionality like not being able to process RAW files. I think the LR DAM still works though.

With PL you do not need to upgrade but you can continue to process your RAW files.


@KeithRJ has hit on an important point to note here.

LrC is 100% usable as a DAM without paying a cent to Adobe. I say this as someone who has done this for years. You only get the Library module working, but you can:

  • Import new images, delete existing, and move any images around
  • Add and edit all metadata
  • Read and write metadata from/to the files or sidecars
  • Export images with bespoke settings or presets (and create the presets)

I am currently in the midst of 1 year of paying Adobe (which is the bit I hate the most about their subscription model — always displayed as a per-month price, but the commitment is a year at a time) and I’m not sure if that will continue when the year is up. I paid up because I wanted to process some old photos that PhotoLab could not read. I have found the Map module to be useful as well, though I may end up getting an add-on GPS unit soon which would make that mostly useless. I really do not get on with the processing tools any more, though. I guess I have become used to PhotoLab’s. I never seem to be able to find things in LrC.

The only caveat to this ‘free use’ of LrC as a DAM is it will bug you every time you launch it, asking you to subscribe. You will even see wording suggesting that it will not work unless you pay up, but I can assure you, it will.


Still think Adobe is great value. It is not just Lr after all - there is the mobile stuff and of course Ps. If the extras are not of interest then yes the sub does start to look a bit iffy. But then why not just use Bridge - it is not a bad dam at all and it is free.

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Thanks a lot for your thoughts and hints. I’m happy to learn that others also struggle to get rid of LRc as it provides some functionality that isn’t (still) available with PL.

As @zkarj points out, LRc is still usable as a DAM even after having canceled the subscription. That helps. But it doesn’t solve the underlying problem: Switching between apps to perform a task from start to finish slows you down. It is acceptable with a couple of images, but returning with hundreds from a shooting turns a workflow that is split up into a nightmare: culling in app A, adding metadata in app B, applying lens correction in app C and editing in app D - who really wants that?

I think @m-photo therefore it right: The app some of us are looking for still doesn’t exist - and might even never exist…

On a side note:

Actually, I’ve been using the same dcp profile in PL5 and LRc since day one. However, the images look different on the same monitor within PL and LRc. In PL5 the skin tone looks always a bit greenish compared with LRc. Never got to the root of this issue…



  1. Get the best of PhotoLab (optical corrections and de-noising) for all images
  2. Use Lightroom for everything else.

Colours and tonalities hardly ever wander nicely between editors. This means that you don’t want to do colour and tonality in more than one app, same as keywording etc.

SPOD: Single Point Of Definition


A good suggestion by Platypus imo.

For my needs, I’d add Photo Mecahnic or Narrative Select at the start for culling.

Narrative Select - cull that source folder of 2000 down to the ones you’re presenting to the client (I’ve always found this incredibly slow when trying to do this with any raw editing app).
Photolab/PureRAW - for me I love editing in PL, but for others this may just involve DeepPrime noise reduction & the DxO lens corrections, and then export as DNG.
LR/C1 - DAM, keywording and editing

But I know that Photo Mechanic Plus can also keyword and act as a DAM, so I don’t know how that would work as a workflow.

Does C1 have a DAM?

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It is a great value, but it’s not for everyone. I was a user of Adobe products for years, but I am much happier now that my post processing tools are all DxO centric.


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IMO a basic one. A bit better than PL but not as elaborated as LR.

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I tried Bridge before I discovered that LrC could be used for free. It’s good, but it is not as good as LrC when it comes to keywords. This baffles me, but at least when I tried it a few years ago, there were certain (more advanced) features of LrC keywords that were simplified in Bridge to the point they weren’t going to work for me.

If LrC is good enough for metadata, is it not good enough for culling? Also, what lens correction are you referring to that cannot be done in the editor. Unless you are choosing LrC as your editor and want PL lens correction?

This seems to me that you may be over-complicating the task. Apart from the fact I don’t cull, but I do pick, I do all the ‘meta’ actions in LrC and then move to PL to do all the visual actions. More specifically:


  • Import
  • Add keywords (lots of hierarchy makes this quick)
  • Make an initial pick of which I want to work on and send them to PL


  • Everything else

Sometimes, once I have the images in PL and I am prodding and tweaking, I may make a decision not to develop an image, in which case I simply remove it from the project that was created by the LrC plugin.

I do also have a final step not listed above that has me going back to LrC, but most people won’t be as picky as me on this. PL does not know how to address LrC’s keyword hierarchy, so I do a proxy image export from LrC and these images are picked up by an automation that copies the keywords from them to the PL exports.

Note that for the most part, it doesn’t matter if I have two or two hundred images, I generally only visit LrC and PL the same number of times. I import all, keyword all, make my selections, then process them all, and finally export them all including my proxy trick. I do not bounce back and forth between the applications.

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Don’t agree. C1’s DAM is comparable to LR and much better than PL’s

The C1 dam is fine and very useable. I still think Lr has the edge though but that is just a personal opinion. Both are better than PL’s offering for sure. C1 is actually a very viable alternative but it is so expensive these days - the colour controls are astounding I reckon.

It’s definitely not an either/or proposition. Just use LR as your DAM, and send images to PL5 as needed via plug-in. You’ve already paid for PL5, and LR is cheap (I can’t for the life of me understand why people moan about paying $10/month - it still comes out way cheaper than DxO!).

Regarding color, I find that (for me) PL5 gives the most pleasing results with the least amount of effort. Of course this is totally subjective, but I personally love their film simulations (via Film Pack). But I also admit that I don’t subscribe (at all) to the idea of “accurate” color, or in trying to get a faithful reproduction of an image as I “remember it.”. I don’t go over-the-top with my color grading, mind you, but I do prioritize the aesthetics of the final image over any strict faithfulness to precise color accuracy.

That is correct, except for one caveat. You can choose to skip annual updates for PhotoLab and only upgrade when you need support for a new lens, camera or a particular new feature. You can update periodically, or not at all, and your current fully functional PhotoLab version will still continue to operate in perpetuity. If you stop your Lightroom subscription the editing functionality ceases to work, period. The Adobe suite is an absolute bargain only if you intend to keep paying for it every month for the rest of your life. Being locked in to a lifetime commitment is the issue for me, not the $10 per month. And besides that, I gave up on Lightroom because I can get faster and better results using PhotoLab. .