Thoughts on Adobe Creative Cloud Photography

Well, I've finally made the leap. I've migrated from using AfterShot Pro and Photoshop Elements to using Adobe Creative Cloud Photography, which is composed of Lightroom and Photoshop. First, I'd gotten spoiled by the basic editing controls in the stripped-down version of Adobe Camera Raw that comes with Elements (which are the same controls found in Lightroom). I found myself using ACR more and more because those controls are just a lot more effective than the equivalent controls in AfterShot. Another problem was the dearth of third party plug-ins for AfterShot (although I loved that AfterShot plug-ins are non-destructive - that is one big advantage to AfterShot in my opinion). Most importantly, I was pretty dissatisfied with how slow Corel was to support FujiFilm X20 RAW files on AfterShot. They've recently added it to the new version of AfterShot, but it took them way too long. So when Adobe announced the $10 per month Photography package, I decided to make the move. I should point out that I was actually pretty happy with Elements, but since the Creative Cloud Photography package comes with the full version of Photoshop, I've upgraded to that as well which in the long run will offer a lot of benefits over Elements.

It's been a pretty easy transition because the tools are similar. I knew Photoshop would be a big step up, but I've been a little surprised about how much more robust Lightroom is than AfterShot. Lightroom is extremely mature in terms of capability and flexibility. It's obvious there's been a real focus on the needs of a professionals (or serious amateurs). There are so many thoughtful features designed to make dealing with large numbers of photos more efficient - things like Smart Collections, Compare and Survey views, Smart Previews, and ubiquitous presets. It's a great system and I'm glad I've made the move.

As an aside, and putting my product marketing hat on for a moment, Corel really dropped the ball when Apple ended development of Aperture. From a marketshare standpoint Aperture was the only real competition for Lightroom, and end-of-lifing that product created a huge void in the market. Corel should have made a marketing push to capture as many orphaned Aperture users as they possibly could. It was the best opportunity to gain marketshare that they will probably ever get and they did nothing really.  If I were their product manager, I would have: 1) Created campaigns with messaging that Aperture users have other options besides Adobe or the wait-and-see game with Apple; 2) Created some promotional pricing for Aperture users switching to AfterShot; 3) Built some automated tools to make the migration easier; and 4) Shored up some of the asset management feature gaps since Aperture was so strong in that particular area. Corel seems to be an expert at acquiring immature but promising products and then letting them die on the vine. [Update: Actually, it turns out that Corel did offer a pricing promotion to Aperture users and had some messaging about why AfterShot was a good alternative. From what I can gather, they didn't promote it nearly hard enough. You have to sing it from the top of the mountain for it to be effective. And it doesn't appear they did anything in the product to facilitate migrating photos from Aperture.]

Back to Lightroom and Photoshop... There's been a lot of handwringing over the subscription model of Creative Cloud. I get it. I really do. But the way I see it, the Photography package is a no-brainer. $10 a month - just skip a few trips to Starbucks every month and it's paid for. And here's the kicker: These are the same tools used by countless, successful pros. These aren't entry-level or also-ran products with immature feature sets that are "good for the price". These are the market-leading products that most of the pros we look up to - the guys who can afford to buy anything they want - are trusting with their work. I'm telling you, I've been in the business software world for a long time and there aren't that many high-end professional software packages out there in other industries that are so reasonably priced.