I’m worried for Aperture – it’s ageing, slow to get RAW support updates, does some nasty, funky shit with colours in NEFs, and can’t do some fundamental corrections (like geometric distortion).

So I finally decided to download Lightroom and give it a shot.  Thoughts on this:

  1. Adobe requires you make some stupid user account in order to download the “free” trial.  Humorously, my first attempt failed because the email address “” is already registered.  So is “”.  I had to mash in some random extra digits before I finally got a unique variation.
  2. Lightroom can’t import from Aperture.  At all.  From Googling around I believe there’s some tedious process involving exporting from Aperture (to my magical additional hard drive with all that free space I’d need for the duplicates), but… no.  It can see files that are  managed as “external” references by Aperture, but like most people I use those for older photos.  I like to compare new software using modern data.  Nope.  Lightroom doesn’t just refuse to import from the main Aperture / iPhoto library, it won’t even show them in its file browser.  (Sidenote:  Nikon’s ViewNX and CaptureNX have the same problem.  WTF, people, WTF?)
  3. Its “Auto” white balance suggestions are god-awful.  I’m not sure what on earth it thinks it’s doing.  Thankfully it doesn’t apply them by default – preferring “As Shot”, whatever that really means – but I like Aperture’s auto-white-balance button, and use it a fair bit.
  4. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to actually edit a photo.  Not just the rudimentary stuff in the right-hand sidebar, but correct things like distortions and whatever else.  It doesn’t appear that I can edit the sidebar.  When I click the “Develop” tablike-button-thingy (Adobe’s half-custom GUI elements are a little tacky) it says “No photo selected”.  WTF?  What the hell was I just looking at then?

    Note:  I did actually get it to work once, by going first to Map mode and then to Develop.  But it’s not reproducible, and switching to another application while I was editing threw it back to the “No photo selected”.  ZOMG WTF.
  5. All the keyboard shortcuts are different.  All of them.  Not surprising, per se, but a pain in the arse.  Some do at least seem more sensible than Aperture’s (e.g. “v” to toggle view modes vs Lightroom’s “g” to go back to grid view; the latter is just more intuitive, even if the former is technically logical).
  6. No sliders on image adjustments.  Instead just plus/minus buttons, essentially, with no reference point, and very coarse granularity.  Umm… WTF?
  7. It’s slower than Aperture for editing photos.  Simple adjustments like exposure take a noticeable length of time to actually apply.  Though on an absolute scale both programs are pretty crap – there’s plenty of adjustments in Aperture which take O(seconds) to show results.  Lightroom does seem to be vaguely faster when browsing, but I’ve never had a big issue with that in Aperture (which appears to be solely luck; I know others for which Aperture is dog slow, and there’s no apparent reason why).
  8. I just don’t like the GUI.  It’s unintuitive.  Awkward.  It’s way more complex than it needs to be.  It’s very busy.  There’s a lot of key functionality that’s completely inaccessible from any discoverable part of the UI (e.g. the menubar & contextual menus).  For example, where the #@!% is the “Select” button that I apparently need to invoke in order to be able to actually edit an image?

I was actually looking forward to trying Lightroom.  It took all of about two minutes for my gut to figure out that this is not for me.  I spent another half an hour screwing around with it, but my brain couldn’t make a case for it.

I suppose next on the list is Darktable.  But since I believe it’s modelled after Lightroom, I’m pessimistic it’ll fix any of Lightroom’s mistakes.

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