Looking for a Lightroom alternative

I just canceled my subscription to Lightroom due to Adobe’s ToS and I’m looking for an alternative.

I own Affinity Photo 2, but it has no feature to import and review photos and then edit them - you have to do that outside the program. It also has very poor (as far as I’ve found) auto photo enhancements like Lightroom has (just one click and done).

The workflow of culling thousands of photos from a baseball game I just shot and manually editing them sounds beyond tedious.

Does PhotoLab have similar features to Lightroom or is it like Affinity 2 and more like Photoshop?

It is more like Lightroom than it is like Affinity or Photoshop, but it is also different than Lightroom and you may or may not like those differences. Some people do and some don’t. It is best that you install the 30-day free trial to see if it meets your requirements and you like using it. Keep in mind that if you want the whole PhotoLab experience you also need licenses for Viewpoint and FilmPack as well as PhotoLab Elite. It is a pricy investment for everything.

If you decide you like it and want to purchase a license, be aware that version 8 of PhotoLab Elite should be released in 3 to 4 months. If you purchase PhotoLab 7 now and decide to upgrade when PhotoLab 8 is released you will have to spend more money for the upgrade. As a result, if you like it, once you finished with the trial I would wait a couple of months until PL 8 is released.



I back all that @mwsilvers wrote and add just a little thing here: If you have used Lightroom’s asset management and keywording including filters and search, you might find PhotoLab to be a bit malnourished. Also, Lightroom’s catalog maintenance is far more comprehensive than PhotoLab’s.

Culling thousands of photos can get tedious too. While LrC can use the built- in previews, PL will render all images in its Library view according your selection of defaults. It’s good practice to limit the number of images to a lower few hundred per folder. If your folders contain thousands of images,

As for Adobe’s new ToS, I find them to be within regulatory bounds as far as I dug into the ToS.

In my opinion, Affinity and DxO PL have their justification in parallel. DxO is much stronger for post-processing RAW files. The optical correction modules in DxO are also unbeatable. On the other hand, you can work in layers in Affinity. So you have to decide for yourself what you want to do with a photo and which is the most suitable tool for it. I use IMatch as a database for maintaining META data and keywords. For RAW post-processing I use DxO PL and in rare cases, when I need layer functions, I use Affinity Photo.

PhotoLab is much superior in every way to Affinity’s Develop persona, but the rest of Affinity is a great tool at a great price. Using PhotoLab as a front end for raw files and Affinity Photo as a back end for everything that can’t be accomplished in PhotoLab is an excellent combination and many use that combination rather then Lightroom and PhotoShop.



@platypus is correct on all points, However, when I was LIghtRoom user of the last perpetual version I did not use use LR’s asset management and keywording very much. As a result I absolutely detested the requirement to import all my files before I could start editing. Importing served no purpose for me and the import process, depending on the number images I had to import, took an annoyingly long time. PhotoLab does not have an import feature. You can just copy your images to a folder of your choice and start editing.


If they are available and working correctly, then yes. There are some downsides to them which I experienced and were part of the reasons I left Photolab unemployed on my drive:

  • Sometimes it can take long time after a new lens was released until PL is ready with the modules.
  • The modules are always combined camera body and lens, not lens alone and onboard corrections of the lens’ manufacturer will be ignored. So, if you have a combination supported by Photolab (you can check here, if your setup is supported) and buy a freshly released lens or body you might have to wait a while until it gets supported.
  • Sometimes camera manufacturers or lens manufacturers mess up with their descriptions/interpretations and PL confused repeatedly a 35/2 Sigma contemporary with a different Leica 35/2 Summicron. This happens within the L-Mount alliance club (Leica, Sigma, Panasonic) and is annoying because Sigma lenses bring their own software corrections which can be used for free if the app does allow that.
  • Rarities or exotic lenses might never be supported. Long teles, manual focus lenses some decades old, Laowa lenses (only one is supported by now).

For a combination of popular extra apps to get a viewer/browser/catalog software combination you can search the forum for “workflow” and tell us if you’re on PC or Mac as some apps are only available on one system. The need to additional DxO modules for a fully featured RAW converter (only) with a rather faint catalog module was another reason for me to stop using PL. I like to sort, organize, edit and export my RAWs in one single app without exporting the RAWs first as TIF.

If you’re happy with a trial and have already ended your Adobe subscription, you can of course wait until version 8 will be published – but there’s no guarantee that you also will continue to be happy on it. I’m still on version 5 as I couldn’t see the big benefit of 6 and 7, due to my need of a solid DAM part. Others are very happy with the improvements, so you need to find out for yourself.

for anybody who is interested in … 50% off until June 30th

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May I ask, why you don’t set up your camera to JPG or RAW+JPG? On some occasions I do that, else I shoot RAW only, but coming home with thousands of files and still have to process them could lead me to change my workflow as I guess, the images need to be delivered quickly?

@ JoJuJoachim
You are right, thank you for these details. I shoot with a Sony A77II (A-mount) with standard lenses and the optical modules are available and I don’t notice the gaps you described.
I’m also thinking of changing, less because of DxO but more because of Windows. MAC is not an alternative for me, but I am currently considering whether to switch completely to Linux. Currently I use IMatch as a DAM, DxO as a RAW converter and Affinity for playing around when I need layers. Any experience with RawTherapee for Linux?

I only use Affinity as a pixel editor.
I’m so frustrated with their development persona that I never use it.

All raw developments are done in PL which is inline with my personal workflow requirements.

This I can understand as I’m following bait the latest developments of Microsoft with there Windows 11. Horrible. I also would not necessarily recommend MacOS although it’s “my best system so far”, but Apple also comes up with things I really don’t like.

I’m a volunteer photographer for a local college summer baseball league. The images I take are mine to sell if folks want to buy them, but I give the team the images to use in their marketing and advertising. While there is no real time-frame or NEED to get them processed quickly, I typically like to get them done ASAP so I’m not sitting on them for days at a time, especially since I sometimes come home with over 2k images and they can play 4 or 5 games in a row.

The last couple games I have started using JPEGs as an experiment rather than compressed RAW (I have a Sony A1). The images coming out of the camera are pretty great in JPEG using the ST setting for images. But, I want the pictures to look punchy and colorful (i.e. appealing to the public and parents), so I would just import all the images into Lightroom, arrow through them, find ones that I liked, hit the auto enhance and see if I liked it, then crop if needed, hit the check mark, and move on to the next. From those thousands I’d typically cull down to a little over a hundred. Usually takes me an hour or so.

So I never used any keywording or anything - it was just easy to import all the photos from my card and scroll through them in Lightroom with each image ready to enhance and crop rather than having to launch a program every time I wanted to do so.

Here’s where I upload them so you can see what I’m going for - https://sampsonphotography83.pixieset.com/spudsbaseball2024/

I did download the trial of DxO to see how it worked and it seems a little aggressive for JPEGs out of the camera, especially if I pixel-peep. Skin tones seem to lose a lot of detail and have that “watercolor” effect. I might go back to cRAW for the next game and see how DxO works with the cRAW vs JPEGs.

Thanks to everyone for their input - you’ve given me valuable information on the capabilities of the program. :slight_smile:

PL won’t work on Linux and before you ask, no, there is no chance of there ever being a native Linux version of PL.

Similarly there is no native Linus version of Affinity Photo and Serif have always said it’s not something they will develop.

My workflow:

  • Transfer raw files to computer
  • Cull the raw files to reject obviously bad images, using any of Windows file explorer, XnView, IrfanView
  • develop raw images to tif or jpeg using Photolab with presets, without local corrections, without cropping, without perspective correction
  • stitch panoramas if any using Microsoft ICE
  • use Picture Window Pro 8 in batch mode for additional color balance, perspective correction, special effects, cropping, resizing, color curves, selective color corrections, blurring, additional sharpening, smudging, cloning, compositing
  • occasionally use Nik Collection or Photolab for editing individual images.

PWP 8 is very efficient, especially in batch mode, to process hundreds of images.

Well, that is simply not quite true, let me explain.

  • Lightroom Classic has an explicit import function.
    Unless you tell it to import, it ignores the images that it might “see”.
  • PhotoLab has an implicit import function.
    It imports metadata of any image it sees, whether you want or not.
  • In both cases, import means that metadata from the images are read
    and stored in a catalog.
  • In both cases, image files are not integrated into a monster database.
  • In both cases, the database or catalog is like e.g. a catalog of a Library.

Whatever one prefers, both apps need to copy metadata to a catalog,
be it explicitly or implicitly. Both have an import feature, period.

I accept that. However, unlike Lightroom, PhotoLab does not require a separate time consuming, user initiated, import step before editing can begin.


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…remember the posts about not using folders with thousands of images because PhotoLab takes a long time to calculate previews whether we like it or not?

Anyways, some people like explicit import, some like implicit import and we can leave it at that imo. YMMV.


To each their own. A lot of people don’t know how to copy files off of their SD cards to a specific location on their computers and they need an import program… Other people don’t seem to mind spending their time importing their pictures, but I do. I’ve always found the import requirements of LR to be a very significant annoyance.


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Photolab is a great raw convertor. Affinity is a great layer based pixel editor. Affinity has been promising a DAM module since Affinity came out but no sign of it so far. Photolab has been steadily improving its DAM but it is still only just about adequate.

If you really need a powerful DAM might I suggest Adobe Bridge? It is free and can be configured to send Raw files to Photolab and jpeg/tiffs to Affinity. And it is even more powerful as a DAM than lightroom IMHO.