Meanwhile PM goes subscription

I compare their licensing models and their differences when it comes how they look upon making updates and how they are doing it.

Camera Bits have never given us a new version upgrade during more than five years and if you don´t do that your sales is a one time revenue and then you are dependent om selling your product to an even broader group of customers year after year. I think most vendors likes to have a steady flow and that will be harder and harder to obtain over the years as the market after a while gets saturated.

Other examples are Hamrick Software that makes Vuescan that in fact is industry standard when it comes to scanner software but even a software like Vuescan might be a one-time purchase product you rarely upgrade. Like Camera Bits they pretty much own their niche but have no or a very small after market or upgrade market to lean on. Even a company like the Chinese EaseUS that makes backup programs and claims they have 5 miljon users are very big in their niche. All of them might run in to trouble when their market is saturated and they face diminishing revenues. All these companies sells mature products now with long lasting perpetual licenses. I have upgraded none of them,

Adobe has been selling license subscriptions on a yearly basis many years now and last year even Capture One started to do the same. We can still buy a perpetual license but a very limited one really since we won’t get any new features during the year like CO have offered before. Now they save all new features to an annual release and just give us bug fixes until next big release is released late in the year according to what I have read. The users that subscribe gets even new the features as they are ready to ship. That way they hope to convince users to choose the subscription instead.

I don´t think it was a coincidence that Adobe pretty much started the “subscription business model” because when that happened not very much happened with the development of Lightroom to convince people to upgrade. Lightroom had become mature and industry standard and they probably faced diminishing revenues at that time. With the subscription model you can maximize the profits at least for a few years by saving money on slowing R&D and introduce the subscription model. That model is a natural choice for mature, fat and lazy old IT-companies and over the years more and more companies will end up fulfilling that definition.

DXO on the other hand might have gained a few dropouts former Adobe users, but as more and more of the competition migrates to the subscription model there are less and less migrants moving to DXO and that will get more and more obvious when the other companies makes more money and can afford to invest in more R&D as Adobe clearly seem to have done the last years.

The pressure will increase on small companies like DXO to really deliver when they release a new version upgrade. They will stand and fall with their ability to deliver what their users are expecting them to deliver. In that respect DXO failed this time I think with version 7. We waited a whole year and got a few things that most people won´t see the use for like the new calibration tools and LUT and after one year they delivered a new Local Adjustment interface with some tools that obviously hasn´t been tested and debugged as they ought to have been. The local Color Wheel could have been a nice feature but it still lacks a Color Picker despite we have got several new versions and of some reason there is no Local Color Wheel layer created automatically either when the local Color Wheel is activated which is strange since many of the other tools work that way.

I don´t think the users of Photolab can expect DXO to survice eternally without having at least as stable and sustainable incomes as the competition especially when they fail to WOW us as they did with version 7. I would not be surprised if this is the last year with this licensing model of theirs.

I doubt that they should not be able to develop and generalize their Photo DAM to a general DAM. I think the problem might be more that it is a pretty small and specialized company. It´s a typical tech company that have got stuck with the nose in the tech. It has worked perfectly fine as the market was growing but when the newspapers and publishers are facing increasing problems, they have to look for other markets to survive like quite a fe others before them have had to do. .

Totally agree

if you say that they can evolve to become a competitor in a proper DAM area then I agree - I think there are few players @ level (of DAM) above LR level … they might capitalize on being a player on both ends from the edge (dude using PM with the photos he just took @ 2100 Olympic Games ) to the back-office of the entity that hired said dude ( that is of course if we still be using all that photo stuff @ 2100 Olympics , I think not )

I had a quick glance at it and if culling is the only thing you will do fine but XnView is far more competent when it comes to reading all sorts of metadata. FRW has a very rudimentary take on metadata. It´s almost just Label and Ratings and a possibility to se XMP/IPTC “Title”.

In XNView we have suport for a lot of EXIF, EXIF Tools, IPTC and XMP -elements and there is even support for GPS-mapping, batch updates etc. So XnView matches both PhotoMechanic and in fact even Photolab. There are houndreds of info elements under those tabs.

From what I can see XnView is a more competent alternative if you also are interested in seeing the metadata too. If it´s just about getting a fast tool for culling FRW might even be better or at least as good as XnView. Even XnView is free if you don´t use it professionally.

Including GPS maps

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indeed, for metadata you need to use something else… they do not target heavy metadata editors

I saw that it at least displays the Description when hoovering over a picture plus the file name. it might be sufficient for many.

Let’s set aside the discussion about alternative apps to view, manage and edit images and possibly other file formats for a moment.

What should/will DxO do in respect to licensing:

  • Should DxO stick to perpetual licensing forever?
  • Should DxO introduce subscription?
    → What should happen when one stops subscribing and how should that transition work iyo?

Yes. Always.

No. Never.


my bet is that subscription is inevitable , the standard phrase is - not if , but when ( how soon ) …

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Unfortunately. :frowning: that is why I switched to open source. At least - even if a project was stopped - I could update it and make it fit for new OS versions.

In any case, I find the idea of being able to use perpetual licenses forever quite funny. :sweat_smile: as soon as there are major changes in a new OS version one might come into trouble.

That’s very true. At that point you would probably have to buy an upgraded version of the software from the vendor. But in the meantime you may have gotten 10 years of usage without any additional expense, assuming the software continued to meet your requirements during that period.

There are still many people happily using earlier versions of PhotoLab and OpticsPro. Ten or more years of saved subscription expenses can add up to quite a bundle.

I tend to want to use the most updated versions of my favorite software, but many people are very content to do without the latest features. However, I do not want to be locked in to having to pay a annual subscription price for the rest of my life to be able to keep using my favorite software.



True. This is indeed the case. I have been using CS6 for ages until it no longer worked on macOS. So it is all depending on the OS developer. But this is fine.

A subscription for software is a personal no go for me. But this is my personal opinion. For this I usually do not use a software frequent enough.

The main driver for a switch to open source for me, was that I wanted to avoid a lock in into a certain ecosystem. I had issues with aperture and LR before. PL is much better in this respect though.


As always, the best solution is what works best for each of us .


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if subscription would be when you stop paying you’d no more update but can keep use what you got, but it’s not.

I would like that approach

That’s what Topaz do. They have regular updates if you “subscribe”.

And what happens when you stop subscribing? I assume it stops working at that point.


No. You keep what you’ve paid for.

That last line is what it all boils down to and it contains two questions really:

  1. What will happen if I stop subscribing
  2. How do I migrate

We also know that it is fairly easy to migrate to Photolab (at least if you are fine with a keyword vocabulary just built on the keywords you already have applied to your images) BUT if you expect either to be able to export your present PL-vocabulary or to import one from say Lightroom, there is no interface in Photolab for moves and needs like that.

We are several who have lifted this on several occasions but from my knowledge there are no tools for that. Last year when I had a total computer crash and tried to get PhotoMechanic on trac again I needed a vocabulary that at least would cover what I had used there for my images. In order to fix that I had to import all my images to a Capture One database so CO could build that keyword-list and the export that list to a text file that I then could import into PM (which also can both import and export TAB-separated text files - even in Lightrooms format)

So, I still think DXO have some job to do in order to release PL-users who need to migrate and increase the interoperability with other software. It is just not good enough with just the naked XMP-metadata. We need to be able to import and export keyword-vocabularies too in order to be able to make a swift and seamless migration to scale up to another more competent DAM or just another converter.