Looking for a Lightroom exit strategy

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Dear Adobe,

Your Lightroom strategy is morally reprehensible and completely unacceptable. Asking people to pay $120 a year just to access their photo library is extortion! 

You are forcing me to look for an alternative raw editor and digital archive management software. 

Your inconsiderate pursuit of short-term economic self interest, essentially pure greed, is forcing me to end a 20-year relationship of supporting your company and enthusiastically using your products. This has been a hard decision to make and it leaves me feeling deeply saddened. 

I was hoping a few years ago that you would offer some way out for people who have trusted you and invested all of their creative photography work (photo editing and organizational tagging) into your Lightroom system, for example, by creating a monthly access plan or selling a perpetual license exit copy of Lightroom, but you have done neither of these things. I cannot imagine paying $120 a year (or more) for the rest of my life just to keep my photo library intact and functional.

Sincerely,
Dexter
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Dexter

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  • betrayed and exploited

Posted 7 days ago

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Tim McMahon

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What version of Lightroom are you using?  Lightroom (mobile and cloud-based services) or Lightroom Classic?

I have chosen to use Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC(only) from the “photography plan”.

The way I look at it is that I have all my raw images, and any final-edit tiffs made for printing, safely stored on my computer and backups.  Should I decide at some stage that an image editing and printing application is better than Lightroom Classic/Photoshop CC, I have lost nothing other than the ability to edit further in Lightroom/Photoshop which, of course, I would not miss if I ever found something better.

For what it is worth, the alternative software I’ve ever looked at to date has not offered editing or printing functions that suit me better than the LR Classic/PS combo in the photography plan, and I’ve not found anything which, when regular updates are considered, costs less.

Good luck.


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Dexter

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Leaving Lightroom (whether "classic" desktop or web) means losing all of your edits and most of you metadata, which is just kept in the LR database. It pretty much means throwing out years of work and starting over. And if you convert to tiff, you still lose all of your adjusted raw files (because the adjustments don't transfer, they're part of Lightroom.) It's a complete lock-in by Adobe, $120 (or more) a year for as long as you live. Even if you just fiddle around with your photo library a few times each year.
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James Hess

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There is an excellent exit strategy. You can go to the library module and display all images and choose to highlight all images. After you do that you can choose to write changes to XMP, and you are free to do whatever you want with what ever other software you want. If you're using Lightroom Classic then all the images are stored somewhere on your computer. No hostage issue whatsoever.

In my opinion,  Suggesting that the Adobe plan is distortion is really not much different than suggesting that purchasing a smart phone for several hundred dollars that will last maybe three or four years and then having to pay a hefty monthly fee to even use it is extortion. But just about everyone is willing to do it.
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Dexter

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The adjustments you save to XMP are useless outside of Lightroom. That's why I wrote "you have to start over" with any other raw editor that you switch to. 
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Laura Shoe, Champion

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I understand how you feel, and I don't believe anything anyone writes is going to change your mind, and I am not going to try to do so. 

I do want to clarify one thing for other readers. The poster has written "$120 a year just to access their photo library" and "paying $120 a year (or more) for the rest of my life just to keep my photo library intact and functional."   In fact, after cancelling your subscription you can use Lightroom Classic for free to import photos, access and manage your photo library and create output with it. The only thing you can't do is make further edits. (I realize that this isn't sufficient for some; I just want to set the record straight.)

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Dexter

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Nowhere that I've seen does Adobe make this clear. And since it's "software as a service" the ongoing file access can be withdrawn at any time or the classic version of the program could simply be terminated. In spite of all that, if I wanted to make a few adjustments to a few photos every few years, I'd still have to pay $120 for the full year. That's why I suggested month activations, for let's say $20, the same as Adobe does for other programs.
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john beardsworth

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Try Google. See this post re Lightroom Classic:
https://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2014/07/what-happens-to-lightroom-after-my-membership-ends.... As others point out, it doesn't stop working, your photos aren't locked in, and you can still adjust, apply metadata, and output.
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Dexter

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What was true of LR 5.5 in 2014 is not necessarily still true of LR 8.3 in 2019.
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john beardsworth

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Very profound. But what was true of LR 5.5 in 2014 is not necessarily still true of LR 8.3 in 2019.
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Dan Hartford Photo

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Am I incorrect in my understanding of what happens if you stop paying rent on LR Classic?  When Adobe first released their rental model (then called LR CC), and everyone was thoroughly confused, I recall that if you stopped paying rent on LR CC (equivalent of LR/6 at that time), that you could still run the LR program, you could still see your images in the Library Module with all your edits, you could still change metadata such as start ratings, Title, Captions, You could still move images between folders, create collections and manage Publish Services.  You also could still use the print, slideshow, book and web modules as well as export images.  In fact, as I recall the only thing you could no longer do was use the Develop Module and I don't recall if Import was also disabled. 

Is that no longer the case?  Did I remember this incorrectly?


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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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You remember correctly. Everything still works except Develop, Map and Sync.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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In fact, you can even still make some basic edits, because the Quick Develop panel in the Library module keeps working (and you can also apply presets from this panel).
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Laura Shoe, Champion

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Thanks for the  clarifications, Victoria and Johan.
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Just Shot Me

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Select All, I mean ALL, RAW files and Export them as TIF files. All edits will be included on all files.
You are then Free to use whichever photo editing and cataloging program you like.

Or just buy Photoshop Elements.
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Dexter

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As I said earlier, if you do this you will lose all of the work (adjustments and edits) done to the original raw files (think crop, rotate, color balance, and tonal adjustments). There are also issues with image size, pixel depth, color space. The resulting tiff files are no longer the same as the edited raw files.
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David Converse

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You won't lose anything. You can always export images from Lightroom, your edits on disk won't be deleted, and a TIFF can be saved losslessly.

You can also always resubscribe and you'll be right where you left off.
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Kristian Karaneshev

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There are bundles every year on black friday for around 70-80 euros/dollar a year, that's less then 7 euros a month. 2 cups of coffee cost 7 euros. And you get lightroom, lightroom mobile, web, classic, photoshop, syncing between devices, unlimited cloud storage for smart previews which you can export in 3mp even from a linix web browser, so even if all the hdds have issues, you have backup, portfolio website, free updates, great support, etc. I think the pricing model is fair. 
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avpman

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ON1 RAW now has an import facility which will somewhat mimic adjustments made in LR while importing your LR catalog. It's still non destructive. It's been through two iterations so far. Likely will only get better. Might want to check it out.
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avpman

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ON1:
  • 1. You Can Transfer Lightroom® Settings

    No more fear in losing years of work in Lightroom. The new migration tool uses AI-powered algorithms to transfer Lightroom-edited photos, keep the non-destructive settings, and move them into ON1 Photo RAW 2019.6.


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Dexter

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Thank you. This option looks promising. It's a small company that claims to be created by and for photography enthusiasts. See https://www.on1.com/company/ 

And currently (as part of their Summer Sale) the software is being offered for $80 for a perpetual license. This shows how out of touch Adobe is with their pricing model!
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Rob Rippengale

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A small warning about the so-called perpetual licence - it is a licence to use the version you buy, not a licence to use the next version. There will be small updates included but eventually you will have to pay an upgrade fee. No one works for free. Also, the Adobe Photography Plan provides two fantastic programs. The Real Lightroom (now stupidly called Classic) and Photoshop, which is incredibly useful for finalizing and perfecting details. Have another look at the images ON1 uses on their main pages. I see some overenhanced scenes and too many have edge halo. You will easily be able to create these harsh results.
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dwbmb

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Also took a look at ON1 RAW. Tried trial being promised migration from Lightroom then... then I realized they are actually talking about Lightroom Classic. I really have no option to install plugin into Lightroom. So be warned, on ON1 website they are tepmting you to easy switch from Lightroom, but it is not true, works only with Lightroom Classic. And I am very sad, because I was looking for using On1 with my own OneDrive cloud that I already have 1TB on for free. But I gave no idea how to import my photos from Lightroom there.
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Roelof Moorlag

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I wrow a (dutch) review about the ON1 migration tool but it's is not very good yet. However it's promising that another brand can 'read' the XMP for the edit information.
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Cletus Lee

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If I recall correctly the Subscription version of Lightroom came about during the LR5 period.  The availability of the perpetual license ceased during the life of LR6.  Though Adobe no longer offers LR6 for sale, it is still available via third parties. If you choose to NEVER acquire a subscription then your relationship with Adobe would stop logically at version 6.   Eventually, technology will make even LR6 obsolete.  And it won't run on some future Operating System.  There is no guarantee that Adobe or Lightroom subscription will even be available 10 years from now.   Until LR4 there was an alternative raw editor and digital archive management software sold by Apple for MacOS.   You could have been an Aperture3 user.  Even a company as big as Apple left Aperture3 users with no viable alternative.  You always need an Exit strategy.  I am sorry that you are just now recognizing this fact.   The problem is not Adobe or even a Subscription, It is the future of technology. Microsoft has for sometime offered Office as a subscription.   But the perpetual license now seems to be ending https://www.engadget.com/2019/08/12/microsoft-subscription-home-use-program/.
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Dexter

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You misread the article about Microsoft Office; it concerns enterprise licensed companies allowing employees to take home fully licensed copies of the MS Office suite from work. The software is still available for individuals to purchase with a perpetual license for $150. See https://products.office.com/en-us/compare-all-microsoft-office-products
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Cletus Lee

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I don't think I misread anything.  The last sentence: "However, the company makes it clear that this is one move in its continuing efforts to nudge users over to a Office 365 subscription instead." I did not wish to infer that the Perpetual Office license has ended, but the handwriting is on the wall...
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Carlos Cardona

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With all of the teeth gnashing about being "locked into Lightroom's monthly plan", I don't see anyone discussing the option (in Catalog Settings/Metadata/"Automatically write settings into XMP". Doing this should theoretically allow you to import your photos WITH (most) EDITS into another editor. The Photo Taco podcast has an episode (June 11, 2018) on this preference, and how to use it to move out of Lightroom Classic. This is available on their website for downloading (https://phototacopodcast.com)

Of course, NONE of the other choices offer the robust cloud syncing features of Lightroom Classic, which is why I'm staying with it as a DAM. "There is nothing like a DAM, nothing, in the world!" SORRY!
(Edited)
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Robert Somrak, Champion

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Your edits will not be read and applied by another editor to give an exact match to the Lightroom edits.  On1 Photo Raw gets you part way there but it is not exact.
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Carlos Cardona

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No, but that is why I said “with (most) edits”. I haven’t tried this, Robert, have you? Is “most” good enough?
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Robert Somrak, Champion

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I agree that "most edits" is probably good enough for some photos and there are others that would only take minor fixes to restore.  Its better than nothing.  My preferred method would be to also export the "Final" edited photos as 16 bit TIFF at full resolution.  Any extra edits would still be feasible without quality loss on "most" of the TIFFs.  As to the OPs initial post on cost, I and most of my fellow Lr users think that 120 bucks a year for Lr and PS is a reasonable deal.  
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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I tried the conversion for a few images, just as a test. The results were absolutely useless. If I would ever leave Lightroom, I would simply let my subscription expire but keep all my existing work in Lightroom Classic. As said, Lightroom Classic will continue to function, you can do everything except using the Develop and Map modules. You can even still make some basic edits and apply presets via the Quick Develop panel in the Library module.

I would then import only my new images in the new editor, On1 Photo Raw or something else.
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Dexter

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My concluding thoughts on the nature of this problem:

While it may appear to many that the issue is all about money, “Adobe charges too much”, to me it's all about trust. I no longer trust Adobe to do the right thing, to actually serve me and the rest of humanity. Like Microsoft (and many other large, successful companies who have attained market dominance in certain areas), Adobe has become focused on rent seeking rather than adding value. Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of capitalism? Nevertheless, I no longer feel good about sending them money each month.

I'm not a cheapskate. I've paid Adobe more than $2,000 over the last 25 years, just to edit some image files! Am I going to pay $1,200 to continue enjoying that privilege for the next 10 years? I don't think so. It feels more like a hostage situation than a collaborative and creative partnership at this point.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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So what is your question? How to best leave Adobe and start using some other software? I think you’ve gotten some good suggestions already. Or do you simply want to rant?
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Dexter

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I wanted to give feedback to Adobe, and I was directed to this forum as the place to do so. This is the link which directed me here: https://www.adobe.com/products/wishform.html

For me, the URL of my post and this whole conversation starts with the word "feedback".
https://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/looking-for-a-lightroom-exit-strategy  Perhaps other people are seeing it differently?

You seem to think that there is a question somewhere waiting to be answered. I didn't come here with any questions. I came to share my experiences with Adobe and explain why I was looking for a Lightroom exit strategy. I also offered suggestions for how they could improve their Photography Plan and possibly retain/attract more people who felt the same way about using Lightroom as I do.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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”Looking for a Lightroom exit strategy” sounded like a question to me...
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Dan Hartford Photo

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I bought a new car 5 years ago, and would you believe  I have to pay to put gas in it every couple of weeks just to be able to continue using it !   :-)   

Seriously,  I do prefer the perpetual license model but as I was one who pretty much paid for an upgrade to both LR and PS at each new release, the economics of the rental model is about the same as the economics of the perpetual license model - just more consistent.    Now, the situation with MS/Office is quite different for me.  I'm still using PowerPoint, Word and Excel 2003 and Outlook 2013 because I can't stand the "improvements" they made.  And, the only reason upgraded Outlook from 2003 to 2013 was that 2003 would not run on my new computer.  So I will be really pissed if they force me to a rental model especially as it will contain versions I can't stand.