5 Reasons I'm Sticking With Lightroom. For Now.

I have been writing about RAW processors a lot in the last week. Luminar is nearly upon us. The Photo RAW pre-release is about to drop. And we have our "old guard" choices of Lightroom, Capture One and macOS Photos. I've played with them all. They're all very good.

I'm sticking with Lightroom. For now. Why? Mostly because of Lightroom's asset management features. Read on.

  1. Smart Collections & Filters: I love my metadata and Lightroom lets me search and sort on just about any type of metadata there is. The Library Filter is great and I use it a lot. Smart collections are central to my asset management workflow. In my world, managing my assets is equally as important as my post processing. I can augment post processing shortcomings with plug-ins and external tools.

  2. Virtual Copies: If you don't know what a virtual copy is, in brief it's a version of a master photo in your catalog. Most non-destructive editors apply a set of "processing instructions" to a photo, leaving the original photo unmodified. You can have many different sets of "instructions" rendered against the same original. As a photo educator, I use virtual copies in Lightroom to show before/after treatments to images. Or to show poor processing choices vs. good ones. Personally, I also use them for various treatments to a photo, or for different crops.

  3. GPS Tagging: I said I like metadata, right? I enjoy browsing my catalog from a map view. Other than my iPhone, I don't have GPS tagging built into my camera. I do use Geotag Photos Pro to create GPX track logs and it's a breeze to have Lightroom pair up photos with a track log.

  4. Panorama Stitching: I don't shoot a lot of panoramas. However, it is a shooting style I continue to explore. It's a bonus that Lightroom has panorama stitching built in.

  5. Hierarchical Keywords: Yup... more metadata. Keywords are very important to my workflow. I've invested the time to create meaningful hierarchies - and leverage keyword synonyms, too. Applying keywords doesn't take me very long and each keyword I apply is more like adding 5 or 6 because of the hierarchy. A bonus? They keywords I apply and the ones above it in the hierarchy are included in exports. Great for search engines and stock photo sites.


Will I always be in Lightroom? I don't see a change on the horizon. The inertia grows and cost of changing tools rises with each passing week. My catalog of photos isn't static. I've done a migration once from Aperture to Lightroom. Painful. Doable, but painful. There needs to be a return.

Photo RAW has the most potential to entice me away. There are a couple of reasons for that. First is many of my finished photos are touched by ON1 tools in some way, usually ON1 Effects. Second is the speed. I've been lucky to tinker with an early build of Photo RAW - it is bloody fast.

The first two items are must haves. I need my Swiss-army knife filtering and virtual copies are important for teaching. I could live with GPS tagging in an external program since that's a once-per-shoot operation. I don't shoot a ton of panoramas and if I really get into panos, I'll need more than Lightroom's built-in merge. Hierarchical keywords I'm really torn on. I use these a lot for searches