This is part three of my blog series trying to answer the question: “Is Lightroom worth it?” If you haven’t read the previous two blogs you should really do so before you read this one as we are building on what we looked in those posts.
The first blog post, call “The Four Lightrooms” can be found here: https://www.ians-studio.co.uk/2018/09/blog-16-sep-2018-the-four-lightrooms/ And the second “Questions to ask before buying Lightroom” can be found here: https://www.ians-studio.co.uk/2019/04/blog-10-apr-2019-questions-to-ask-before-buying-lightroom/
This time I want to share with you my own thoughts and advice regarding Lightroom. Again it’s not a simple case of yes it is worth it or no it’s not it depends on your own circumstances. The other thing to keep in mind, of course, is that these are my own views – you are at liberty to agree or disagree with them. Now having said all that let’s get started.
Compact Camera Users
Let me first of all address those of you reading this who are users of compact cameras – I know there are quite a few of you who read this blog and/or are on my mailing list.
There is nothing wrong with being a compact camera user, you can make great photos with them… and you can generate just as many images as someone with a bigger camera. Your biggest challenge is going to be organizing and finding your images in the future. Lightroom is a very powerful organizational tool giving you lots of different ways to file and search for them. It does, however, need you to be disciplined to enter the information in the first place.
The problem with LR as a solution for compact camera users is its cost at £10 per month it is probably a little high. Yes, it gives you editing tools and that subscription does include the full version of Photoshop. It ultimately comes down to how much information you want to store about your images. If you are the sort of person who wants to catalog each species of bird you photograph and you want to be able to search for the images by country then the subscription version may be worth it. For other compact camera users, you may want to think about a one of payment for LR6 or you may want to look at one of the alternatives to Lightroom that I shall talk about next time.
Camera Phone Users
Much of what I have said about compact cameras applies for you too. However if organization of your images is not a big deal for you and you want to do some edits to your images you might to think about the free version of LR for Mobile – it will give you the editing options but you won’t have Adobe’s cloud storage so backing up becomes something you need to think about. In the final instalment to this series, I will look at at least one alternative to editing in a mobile environment.
Anyone who shoots RAW or would like to shoot RAW
Next, I want to turn my attention to anyone who is shooting RAW. Lightroom is a good RAW processor but it is not the only one out there (see next blog). What I see is a lot of people put off shooting RAW because of the time to do the post-production. Yes, it takes time but a tool like Lightroom will guide you through the process and it will speed up your workflow (compared to dealing with a one image at a time workflow). I recently provided LR consultancy to a photographer who had been doing all her cropping by opening each image in turn in Photoshop – the simply doing that in LR speeding up her workflow no end. There are lots of other ways Lightroom can speed up your RAW processing workflow too. This isn’t the time to go into it and to be honest it can be different for each person. If you want to know more consider booking me to provide you with some consultancy – I can provide it face-to-face or via screen sharing software.
As I said earlier though, LR isn’t the only tool and some would argue other tools can produce better results too. But at £10 per month the entry-level price is quite low but over time it does mount up.
Pros, geeks and serious enthusiasts
I am going to assume that you are shooting RAW and that all I said above will, therefore, apply to you. However, above and beyond that you should have an image management system. You will need to be able to locate what you have shot and if it is client work you need to be able to find it quickly.
One of the biggest advantages that LR has over some of its competitors is the fact that you can get (or even write) plugins for it. You can extend the metadata schema – I’ve modified mine to handle specific data for my theatre clients and I’ve set up data views and export presents to match client naming standards for a commercial client. Additionally, I have plugins which automate my workflow with respect to publishing images to Zenfolio and another that automates the process of submitting stock images to Alamy. Lightroom is definitely a long way ahead of the competition when it comes to this sort of extensibility. And the time it saves me if easily worth more than £10 a month.
Having said all that if extensibility was not a big deal for me, I would definitely be looking at the competition. I don’t like paying month-on-month for software, especially when it costs me £50 a month as I need the full Adobe Creative Cloud for video editing and desktop publishing. Not only that, I with 270,000 images in my catalog, I am now starting to see a slowdown and Adobe’s promises of performance improvements never seem to fully materialise.
At the moment I think for me LR is the best option but I am keeping a very close eye on the competition these days.
In my final blog in this series, I’ll share with you my list of pros and cons for the alternatives to Lightroom.
Until next time, keep MAKING great images,
Do you find the information in these blog posts helpful?
Did you know that Academy members get a weekly Inspiration Sheet with loads more hints, tips and advice than I ever put in the newsletter? Also, each month Academy Members get a downloadable monthly PDF with all of that month’s blog posts in a magazine format that is easy to keep or print for future reference.
So what are you waiting for?
It only costs £6 per month or £60 for a year. Not only does The Academy provide you with regular photography advice, and discounts on training at the studio, but joining the academy helps me keep this blog and it’s associated free newsletter going.