Why I switched back to Lightroom Classic

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I thought it would be useful to share here why I switched back to Lightroom Classic from Lightroom CC (desktop app). These are the abbreviated reasons I switched back from my recent blog post on the issue:

http://hikingwithcamera.com/2018/a-review-of-lightroom-cc/

I share these in hopes that they will help guide and influence the future development of Lightroom CC.


1. Reliability

I have had numerous syncing issues that had various consequences, some serious enough that I had to delete photos and re-import them, which retains (most of the time) edits and tags, but not the album associations they had.

JPEGs are highly problematic. When exporting original JPEGs, the edits inconsistently would not show up back in Lightroom Classic. It turns out, that for those photos, Lightroom CC was adding the AlreadyApplied=true metadata tag to those images, making Lightroom Classic think that all the metadata adjustments had been written to the pixel, even though they had noe. In my efforts to diagnose this, I ended up losing all edits on a couple hundred of my photos when I applied a tiny adjustment to the color noise on an album of 500 photos. The ones that were not properly showing up in Lightroom Desktop, then lost all of the adjustments I made in Lightroom CC when I pasted that adjustment to them.

2. Recoverability

Lightroom CC has very limited ability to recover errors. It does have a simplified edit history. And you can undo certain actions. But there are many actions that are not recoverable (deleting a photo, adding it to, or removing it from an album are a few examples). And it’s fairly easy to make some of these mistakes.

There is the Lightroom Downloader tool however, it requires constant closing and re-opening to keep downloading images. And remember the sync reliability issues I mentioned above? As I’m writing this, there are two images in my Lightroom CC library that have had a sync issue for the past couple weeks and still have not been able to be downloaded by the Lightroom CC Downloader.

3. Portability

And lastly, I have concerns about the portability of my data. While the first two concerns I think can and eventually will be addressed. I’m not confident that anyone is considering addressing this issue.

The problem with the Lightroom CC workflow is that my organization of my photos is stuck in a proprietary LR format. Whenever I look at software for my files, especially my images, I am also thinking about what it would look like if I chose to or was forced to leave that software. I’ve used four digital asset management (DAM) tools over the course of my photography. From iPhoto to Aperture, and eventually to Lightroom Classic and then Lightroom CC. Software is not permanent. It gets discontinued, it gets updated, and sometimes we choose or are forced to switch. So if and when that happens, I want to know how I’m going to do that. In a worst case scenario, I should be able to export my images to folders that will allow me to find them. In Lightroom CC, the default structure is by date, which has no relevance for me. I don’t know what happened on Dec 1, 204. I don’t know what pictures I’ll find there. Nor do I know what date, or even what year, I went to Jade Lake. Even worse, there is not even a way to export images arranged into folders of any kind from Lightroom CC without doing it manually, album by album.

In Classic, all my images are already in folders. From there, I can always select all photos with edits, and export a JPEG or TIFF with the same file name, append something like -lredit to the end, and save them in the folder, right next to the original image. So in a worst case scenario, I can take my photos anywhere, without the need for photo software.

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Jon Anscher

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Posted 2 weeks ago

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Antoine Hlmn

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Thanks for the feedback, Jon :) Reading your experience conforts me in my choice of staying with Classic, synced(-ish) with iPad, even though it's far for being optimal.
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Jon Anscher

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Glad my experience was helpful for you. Yeah, the sync experience with Classic is still isn’t ideal. I’m going to seriously miss having access to my entire Lightroom Library on my iPad. But it just wasn’t worth the risks for me. It was fun to give Lightroom CC a try. But I’m glad I kept my lifeboat back to Classic.
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Antoine Hlmn

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Actually, you can (/could...) have your entire catalog on iPad, but you have to create a collection for each folder you have. The drawback is you have to remember to manually add each created folder to that list. Too bad you can't sync folders or even worse, smart collections.
The good this is it doesn't use the 20 Go of space.

The difficult part is to juggle with the files "synced" from classic and the ones imported on the iPad.
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Jon Anscher

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Yeah, but any folder hierarchy you create in Lightroom Classic will be flattened when it syncs to LR Mobile. With hundreds if not thousands of nested folders, while I “could” sync them, it would make LR Mobile almost entirely unusable.

Additionally, that would only sync Smart Previews. I still couldn’t export those images or do anything with them on my iPad, because the originals are stuck in Lightroom Classic.

Luckily you can at least create your folder structure as a collection set to start, but as you mentioned, you still needs to manually turn sync on for each collection.
(Edited)
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Antoine Hlmn

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True, there is no way to manage complicated folder structure. And the opposite is true: when you upload pictures on your iPad, the collection is synced back, but not the folder sou you have to create the folder manually... but it’s better than nothing, I guess...

Indeed, it only syncs smart previews, but it’s rather a fair compromise as there is no file limit. I wish I could choose which to keep in full, though. Or keep the X last imported images in full, for example. That’s the main reason why I import my pictures on iPad, but the I have to recreate the right folder on desktop.

All this makes me think it’s totally overpriced -for a non pro- and they want to push us as much as possible towards what you call a non-portable solution (which tends to be, ironically, totally non pro too, unfortunately !). It’s way too obvious. When my free year of CC expires, I’ll definitely have a look at other softs.
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TangCanada

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Lightroom CC is a kid's toy. Its for newbies with a tablet to mess around and fool themselves they are editing. I tried with it and found it useless for anything more than scratching the surface.

I tried the sync from my desktop Classic to laptop Classic.... the issue with the one catalog sync is confusion as I am editing multiple catalogs at the same time between home and studio.

I make a new catalog for each shoot - dont ask why, my experience with one catalog is a sloooow nitemare.

Each time I switch machines I have to confim switching catalog. If I am not careful and keep my workflow in my head between home and studio I will end up with same images in multiple catalogs where they dont belong simply because LR will add to the now synced catalog any edits from another catalog downloading smart previews etc, total confusion and made an unholy mess.
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Antoine Hlmn

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And in a few releases, I’m fairly confident it will be 90% of what I need. Unfortunately, I think the data portability is likely to continue to be an issue.

I totally agree. And portability is certainly what will hold me back from full cloud services for looooong.

I also don’t think Classic is on hold. In fact it just got the ability to merge Pano HDR photos in one step, which is pretty cool, although perhaps a fringe feature. It’s just on the hold when it comes to sync and a mobile workflow. Which I agree is really unfortunate. In the end, that may be the reason I leave Adobe entirely. We’ll see what others do in that realm.
There are, indeed, some new features, and HDR pano (and other features) is great, BUT I have the feeling those updates are mainly to keep Classic users "calm and happy" while dev is switched to cloud-CC. That's why I have the feeling Classic is on hold.
On the other hand, I like the idea of rewriting LR from scratch, but I'm affraid the big blocking points will remain.
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Jon Anscher

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I don't get that sense at all from Adobe. They seem pretty serious about keeping Lightroom Classic development going along with Lightroom CC. And they have said that they will continue developing Classic. I guess only time will tell for sure, but they so far, they are not standing still with Classic.
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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"They seem pretty serious about keeping Lightroom Classic development going along with Lightroom CC."  

We are. 
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Antoine Hlmn

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Glad to hear it. I look forward to seeing the next update :) I've already mentioned it, and I know it won't happen, but publishing a roadmap would be great ;-)
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TangCanada

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If they seem serious about Classic development, they should first scale back the dev part and deal with the slow sloth that LR has become.

I have four SSD's, two in raid format for OS only (win7 on desktop)
Third is strictly for LR and catalogs.
Fourth is scratch disk for PS and LR cache
32GB ram /12 core processor
2 Geforce cards 4gb mem each
4 Monitors 27" 2560x1440
I consider my box to be above average power, speed etc.

Photoshop is somewhat quick except for a few operations I know are processor intensive.

LR Classic ??
Import is somewhat OK speedwise, building 1-1 previews takes a while but not that ridiculous for me to complain.
BUT.... I just need to do a few brush strokes for a few images and everything starts to lag and crawl to a stop with blinking white screens.

I make new catalog for each shoot and optimize catalogs frequently.... dont even try convince me to use one catalog, started with LR3 and the sloth got steadily worse that I decided that multiple catalogs is my way forward.

I shoot strictly .dng (Pentax shooter here) else I would have ditched this behemoth and jumped over to Capture One without a blink.... ACDSee does a good job of editing and does cataloging too and I am leaning heavily to switching over.
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scott moore

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I first installed Lightroom CC because I was confused when they changed the name from Lightroom CC to Lightroom Classic CC in an attempt to make Lightroom CC the default. Since then I've tried to stay away from Lightroom CC. I've also seen other photographers who ask me for advice get confused about why the tools changed in Lightroom CC, not knowing the program itself had changed. 

I have since tried CC while traveling, thinking I could only take my iPad with me on a trip and upload the photos each day and edit them. What I found was that Lightroom CC is a mess with the iPad. You have to first import the photos into your photo album, then upload them to Lightroom CC from there, creating duplicates, and the need to then erase the raw files from the photo album and put back only edited files. 

In doing all this I accidentally deleted some files. I now have duplicates and deletions, and frankly I absolutely hated the experience. The only reason I would use Lightroom CC given the fact that it's lacking so many tools is when I'm traveling without a laptop, but given the workflow with the iPad/MAC, I wouldn't do it again. The whole experience left me realizing I need to find a new method for cataloging and managing my photos. The whole thing is just a logistic mess, and now after 10 years or more with LR, I'm looking for a replacement. I absolutely hate LR now. I'm stuck in a proprietary format with a decade or more of photos, a new forced interface that I don't like, and work flows that cause me new problems.