Photolab alternatives

With the current change in the release notes (see New Licensing in Preparation with PhotoLab 7.7?) I would like to find out what others are thinking about alternatives to PL.

I have PL5 and Nik 6 and I am on mac ventura. I am also at the end of my yearly LR/PS subscription and would like to move away from adobe. I was ready to invest in upgrading to PL 7 and FP, but then I read the above post.

I am comfortable to replace the DAM feature of LR with XnView. I am also ok with an upgrade of the NIK software on black friday later this year. I know that the NIK version 7 has the same issue with only available for max 37 days after lights out for DxO servers. But I have NIK 6 as a fallback. In addition I have Affinity Photo as well.

That leaves a gap for the raw processing part, where DxO would have been perfect. What I have looked at so far is:

  • ON1 and Skylum - I don’t like either of them as they seem to rely too heavy on AI and use of presets.
  • ACDSee on Mac is different from the above, but I don’t like it either.
  • Have never tested C1 but from a price perspective it is out of my range anyhow.
  • I dont’t want to go to open source RAWTherapee and Darktable - tested both of them, looking like they have a lot to offer. I fear that the learning curve is steep and I would have to invest time in managing the software instead of using it to process my images.
  • That leaves candidates like Nitro (mentioned elsewhere in this forum), downside is that it is a one man job and solutions like Darkroom or Photomator. Haven’t looked at the last two yet.

Does anyone have suggestions for a raw development app which cover the middle between XnView and Affinity Photo?

Thanks for your thoughts.

When people say they want to leave a software because the manufacturer have imposed a subscription model, the first I will ask them to do is to lift their heads and look around. Most companies in this business are mature and have been around a long time now - Adobe and Capture One for many decades by now.

Subscription is the natural end for companies like these that do not have especially revolutionary new features to offer anymore to pursuade people to upgrade every year. The money to sustain the business has to come from somewhere.

Personally I did not leave Lightroom and Adobe because the subscription model. I left it because the lousy preview quality and their sloppy security practices that made our credit card data leak to the Internet world wide. This was 10 years ago or so and I never have forgiven them for that. They just wrote oss a mail and urged us to change our passwords everywhere.

After that I have seen CO adopt the subscription model too and Camera Bits (PhotoMechanic Plus) has annuonced too that they also will start a subscription system when next version will hit the market.

What I’m saying is that it isn’t a very smart idea to jump to another software because of the licensing model. Soon there will be nowhere else to jump anyway. There is a great risk just finding yourselves running around in ever more confusing circles.

The only reason to migrare that I think is sound today is to do it of productivity reasons. All the converters I have been using that still are on the market (Lightroom, Capture One and Photolab) are so good today that I can live with any of them really when considering image quality output. Lightroom and Capture One have been very much improved last years to my great surprise because software under subscriptions not necessarily have incitaments for rapid R&D.

Capture One earlier known for it’s many advanced top of the line features but also for it’s steap learning curve has last years improved a lot on work flows, productivity and usability. Sorry to say Photolab has not and that have finally tipped the scale for me but still Photolab gives me the best image quality and it really takes a lot to trade that for something else. Still I have.

… and also consider this:
With a perpetual licence like the one for Photolab you have a full year for long awaited improvements and much needed new features. With Capture Ones subscription model I get new features whenever they are ready to release and I love that. The last on the fly upgrade I got a month ago had several substantial new features.

I have to say I like that far more than the waiting a hole year for Photolab version 7 and find that it still have all these uncorrected flaws and still lacks what I really was waiting for and worse: absolutely nothing has been made by DXO to fix all these well known problems we have reported since the release of version 7 in this forum.

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Nitro is not quite ready yet, but it will be further developed.
I use RAW Power and Photomator myself.
As far as I can tell RAW Power will be maintained but the development effort goes to Nitro.
In my experience Photomator is a very nice program but it lacks in the raw development department, areas where Nitro and RAW Power are better.

if you’re a fair user of nik, you do realized that features of filmpack are within nik collection right? perspective efex is viewpoint and with xnview and AP all you need is a raw editor to start with. the hardest part is to test drive software one by one.

Thanks @herman and @mikerofoto for your input.

@Stenis I dont get your post. I dont know why you post about users leaving software because of a subscription model and what that has to do with my question. I have been using adobe for a long time and the subscription is not the reason I am reviewing my options.

I’ve tried Luminar and On1 and I have to say On1 Raw is pretty good. You can ignore the presets and use it much like DXO as just a raw processor. Just consider the presets to be much like Filmpack. I think Luminar is much more reliant on presets. The On1 image management features don’t excite me but neither did DXO. That’s why I use Photo Supreme for my database. On1 has good Denise and sharpening features as well as decent masking. The also have the On1 Effects which could replace Nik. It even has a Portrait retouching feature I like. If I do leave DXO I would probably use On1.

I just read all of that - not very “fair”. I have purchased copies of PL3, 4, 5, and 6, and nowhere did it say there was a time limit.

If PL8 shows up with this time limit, no chance I will buy it. I spend months at a time in India, and often have terrible (or no) internet, and if PhotoLab will stop working because of my lack of internet connection, I would need to make other plans.

I’m already needing to learn DarkTable to help people in India install and use it (open source, no purchase price), and I guess I’ll have it all set up on my computer as well.

I hope this does not happen.

@manfred
Have you really read the link-reference you posted yourself when you started this tread? Read for example what Platypus is writing. Some people are afraid that this new licensing issue is the first step just to impose a subscription model. My reply was starting there because there seems to be a lot of people that always get upset when subscription is popping up.

There is also another parallell discussion about the present problem in Photolab for the users themselves to be able (like in Capture One) to manage their own licenses without having to get into contact with DXO support for these ought to be simple matters, that are not at all simple today.

Of cource this is a lot about some people discussing leaving Photolab and substitute it with something else let be of differrentr reasons. Most people here have used Photolab a long time and many have migrated just because they didn’t stand the subscription model Adobe imposed on them eralier. I think you might be the exception here when investigating if Photolab could be a substitute for Lightroom. We have along history discussiong these matters hera as you very well can see in the link you self added to your first post.

Hope you find what you are looking for elsewhere.

What has your opening sentence to do with my question? Was it just that you felt like giving your opinion to something you related to my question and thought it would be a good idea to hijack it right at the beginning?
Why didn’t you open your own thread if you felt like you have something which you wanted to talk about?

I didn’t say anywhere in my thread that I wanted to leave adobe because of the subscription model. I said that I am at the end of the yearly subscription which is something completely different.

Would be great if you spent some time reading a post before going off tangent.

And for you @manfred it would be wise to read the threads before you put a link to them into YOUR first post, clearly indicating that you’d like to find an alternative because of the need of internet connection for longer than only activation before you attack other users spending their time to help you. After all, it’s YOU who wants to get help from us.

@Stenis and @JoJu after a day of reflection, I want to apologize for my harsh words.

I am still thinking that my post has nothing to do with a subscription model. Yes, I have read the referenced post, I even made contributions to the discussion. But I also think it is to late to explain why …

So I will leave it at that.

Apologies again and all best.

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My understanding is that if you end your subscription to Photoshop/Lightroom, LIghtroom will continue to work as a catalog of your images, it’s just the adjustment of images will quick working. It would be nice to see that confirmed from someone that’s actually done it.

That has been confirmed many times over on the Lightroom Queen Forums, not forgetting of course that Adobe Bridge is also available and for free.

In addition to RawTheraphy there is a wonderful ART)

For Canon users there is Canon’s own, free, RAW converter, Digital Photo Professional (DPP). It’s big limitation though is it can only apply lens corrections for Canon lenses.

@genn1 did you test ART?

every brand has its own, but culling or batch processing is painful.

That is what happened to me. I used to buy a new version of Lightroom every few years, and now it’s a monthly charge. PhotoLab is back to buying a new version every few years.

I am all for open-source software, but I’m spoiled, first by Adobe and now by DxO.

Just in case everything goes topsy-turvy in the future, I want to re-learn DarkTable. These discussions have me concerned. I have licenses for PL 3, 4, 5, and 6. Joanna and Photojoseph were so excited about new features, I just had to have them. I didn’t see any reason to get version 7, and have no idea what version 8 will be. But I want assurances that once I load it up on my computer, it will run forever, with no “expiration date” and no need to log in to DxO every so often.

Too much going on right now to keep up, and as I get older, keeping up is more and more of a challenge. But for now, these are all rumors, so I’m not going to worry about them - yet.

yes, it’s like RT, only nicer)

Thank you, accepted. It’s sometimes hard to get the intention of the writer as reader and vice versa.