Lightroom is undoubtedly the world’s leading raw photography workflow application. But why does it dominate the market when competing products can produce better results?
Firstly it’s made by Adobe who have led the graphics software market for over 25 years. Adobe’s software has been entrenched in the majority of creatives workflows, formal education, work experience and required skill set for decades. With that comes a legacy of training material and resources including videos, books, blogs, classes and face-to-face training. Invest in Lightroom and you will have no problem finding options to learn how to use it.
It’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Adobe market Lightroom as part of the Photoshop family to cash in on the fame of it’s older sibling. Everyone knows Photoshop, so much so it’s part of our vernacular.
If you need to take an image from your raw photo processor to Photoshop, say to combine two or more images, then no other application does better roundtrip editing than Lightroom. Photoshop can read any adjustments you have made to the raw image in Lightroom, and vice versa. Photoshop uses the same Adobe Camera Raw engine as Lightroom.
For better or worse Adobe do dominate graphics and their competitors are far behind them. The same as Microsoft, Google and Apple dominate their markets. You can very easily choose a competing product but it makes it more difficult to collaborate.
Part of Adobe Creative Cloud
Chances are if you’re a creative you subscribe to Creative Cloud and Lightroom is included in your subscription. So you already have a copy of Lightroom. Interestingly Lightroom never expires. Even if you stop your Adobe subscription your image edits are not held hostage and you can still use Lightroom – just the Develop module and Maps are disabled.
If you hate the subscription model then you can still buy a traditional, perpetual license for Lightroom.
Adobe is a company that’s long been driven by engineers – not marketers. For most software companies sales are the motivating factor and I’ve worked closely many of the largest. At Adobe decisions on software development starts with the developers. The benefit for us is those decisions are based squarely on how it will affect current, past and future users.
This is the main reason that I stick with Lightroom. Adobe won’t make new features active unless it has legacy support. I’ve seen too many software and hardware vendors abandon users older files in order to support the latest, cool features. For any photographer who cares whether their images can be accessed in the future this is essential. Those images could be your archive of professional work or your family photos.