I'm Falling Out of Love with Adobe and the Creative Cloud: Part 2

I'm Falling Out of Love with Adobe and the Creative Cloud: Part 2

Late last month I did a post on my ongoing problems with Adobe and the Creative Cloud software and apps. I sometimes find Photoshop unreliable, as well as Bridge. I've also had numerous crashes with the Creative Cloud app too. There were a lot of good comments on my piece, and I also attracted some of the good folks at Adobe who were anxious to weigh in on my experience, which I welcomed.I first heard from Mark Little, a Senior Product Manager at Adobe. He suggested a conference call with some of the support team, and I readily accepted. First thing we looked at was an old install of Bridge which I had uninstalled and it could not be eliminated from my Mac Pro. The call included support people who suggested I try some things, and they weren't able to delete the old app because it was "in use". They tried some of the same things I have tried over the months, but they could not get rid of it. They're going to work on this and get back to me. It's some zombie process and it has us all scratching our heads. 

They were aware of the odd blank white screen I sometimes see when Bridge launches. They've seen it before, they think they know what is causing it, and hope to have it solved in a future update. They were intrigued by my Creative Cloud menu bar app that keeps announcing it is damaged and then offers to repair itself. I'm logging what that app is doing and hope to capture the failure.

I've also heard from Roman Skuratovskiy, Group Manager, PR, Creative Cloud. He's been most helpful at addressing some of my other thoughts about how Adobe could improve. On the conference call I mentioned that the Creative Cloud app takes too many resources, and is used for marketing. When I open the app, I'm not ever shopping for Stock Photos, and simply wish I could see which apps need updating. Adobe agrees, and has had similar feedback from many other photographers. The word from Adobe is "We can’t comment on timing for the CC app update other than you’ll start getting improvements in the next few months.” Good enough. 

My impression is that they know the Creative Cloud app is not popular with professionals or serious users. I'm certain changes are coming. I think the marketing pages on the app will be reduced or eliminated. At least, in a future update, you'll be able to decide what page comes up when you access it.

I also complained in my last post and to Adobe about their support crew in India being hard to hear and understand. In fact during the Monday conference call Adobe support was asking me questions (from India I presume), and as usual I had trouble understanding what was being said.

Adobe says they get few complaints about their support, but they added “our support needs to be better, and we have prioritized new initiatives to launch better customer forums, direct real-time chat with support agents, and more. Stay tuned.” OK, I'll stay tuned, but if real time chat means typing into a window I can't think of a more inefficient way to communicate. 

I also talked to Adobe about the stability of Photoshop on the Mac OS platform. Skuratovskiy wrote me that "our data shows that we have actually reduced the crash rate in Photoshop by 29% in the past year. An overwhelming majority of Photoshop users experience zero crashes in a month. That said, we are always looking for ways to reduce crashes further." I'm sending Adobe logs to see what they can discern.

My impression after talking with Adobe is they take the complaints seriously. I don't think they'll ever move North American support to North America, but they can find better communicators wherever they are calling from.

While crashes are reduced according to Adobe, there are still too many crashes and bugs. In my own use, and talking to other photographers, it really can't be blamed on the Mac OS, as our other photo apps run quite well. I sense Adobe is aware of this and working on it. I doubt Apple is completely blameless, but I'm sure Adobe and Apple have each other's phone numbers. 

I was gratified Adobe contacted me, and it shows that these software companies follow us here on Fstoppers. I'm not ready to jump the Adobe ship just yet, but I'm keeping my life preserver nearby, while hoping things improve.  I applaud Adobe for listening to our readers' issues and working to formulate a plan to improve. 

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Previous comments
Mel Martin's picture

Nope. I wrote the article because a lot of photographers I know have had similar problems. I wanted to discuss those issues, and suggest some solutions to Adobe. They were good enough to respond, and I think they are working to clean up the Creative Cloud app. I doubt anything will be done with their inferior customer support from India or wherever it is, Some of the bugs I mentioned were known to them, but as of today remain unfixed. The article was written for the community of photographers who come to Fstoppers.

And as I stated clearly in the article, we'll wait and see what Adobe does. I'm hopeful some of these things will get fixed. For everyone. Bugs in software are nothing new. It's the speed of the fix that is important.

I don't consider the Creative Cloud app a bug, just something that needs to go away and stop marketing to me.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

> I wanted to discuss those issues, and suggest some solutions to Adobe.
Let's recap: You pay for Adobes product, You're forced to update. Now you features crashes. YOU try to provide a solution to Adobe?

Maybe I'm wrong, but it's not my understanding of support....

I have always stuck up for Adobe and their CC subscription (mainly because I work in film, photography, and publishing, so I need 3/4 of their apps). I am also a Windows evangelist for filmmaking with the current state of the Mac Pro. So I’m on Windows if they end up reading this.

This year, I made a movie that is premiering at Tribeca Film Festival in 2 weeks. Working on the post-production of this film in Adobe Premiere was the single most frustrating experience I’ve ever had with a piece of software. I seem to have encountered ALL of the major bugs at once, wasting weeks of my time.

I shot the film in 8K RED Raw, so I expected pain in post, but even with proxies attached, the edit would usually devolve into a series of “low-level exceptions” until the program was too unstable to continue. The program would have to be force-quit and then reloaded (which takes 10 minutes for this file).

Premiere still does not have a reliable way to export detailed timelines to ProTools for my sound designer. It’s trial and error and required days of changes, checks, and balances, even without the use of any audio effects.

Once I got into color and finishing things really fell apart. There were three particularly nasty bugs. I’d take the Raw 8k into Resolve, color, render out as 4K 444 DNX files, then bring those back into Premiere for a final pass of noise reduction, stabilizing, and re-graining (understandably too intensive to do these things in Resolve at 8K raw). The movie’s color drives are exFAT formatted in case they need to be connected to a Mac at any point (as Mac is still king in filmmaking for some reason). There was a known bug that DNX / ProRes footage does not play back correctly off of an exFAT drive. It’s maddening. It skips backwards and stutters all over the place. But I really don’t have any other codec I can render into as these are the only ones suitable for this quality film.

Second bug was that the render window just freezes when you go to change the filename/location of the render. It does this 50% of the time. It freezes and I have to force-quit and wait 10 minutes for the file to reopen so it can freeze again. I’d sometimes waste 40 minutes just trying to pick a file path for a render.

Third bug is the interaction between Premiere and temporal effects. Neat Video will sometimes be fed the wrong frames and no single fix can reliably guarantee working results. I had similar issues with free trials of other noise reduction plugins. I cannot tell you how many 2-3 hour renders would result in glitchy frames. We are talking days and days of re-rendering over the last 2 months. Nesting clips, using Neat Video SR, not splicing clips, they’d still result in glitches. My eventual solution for these shots was to render out individual ProRes 4444 files for ever single shot in any scene that required noise reduction, as the program was glitchiest with DNX (the only file type Resolve exports on Windows). This was a very time consuming bandaid that also put those shots through a generation loss that I shouldn’t have had to lose when using “Pro” software on a feature film.

Premiere made this final stretch on the most important project of my life absolute agony. Watching days tick by as I just try to get my movie out of the program without glitches. At one point I even took my entire computer apart over the course of 2 days, rebuilt it, replaced the power supply and so on, positive that the GPU was not getting adequate power to cause these skips with footage that I was not getting with the more intensive RAW footage.

On the LAST day of post-production they released an update that supposedly fixes the exFAT playback. I installed it but was greeted by a ton “Red Importer” warnings on the bottom right. If they did fix exFAT playback I don’t know because they clearly created other bugs that I was too afraid to experience on the day the movie was due. I had spent two months creating ways to work around the existing bugs and do not have 2 months to figure out how to work around the new ones.

It is time to stop adding new features and stabilize the features that are there.

One of the last BIG releases added an entire audio panel with dynamic noise reduction etc. But when I tried adding that to scenes in my earlier rough cuts (to just temporarily clean things up for people watching to give notes), all sound would lose sync by several frames, even when rendered. Just a small bug like that ate DAYS of my life. Because I took a week off to come back with fresh eyes. Saw sound sync issues all over the place and resynced audio by eye for at least a day before realizing it was the noise reduction. I then had to UNDO all the manual syncing I had done! I forgot about that nightmare because there’s been so many new nightmares since.

My wife and I were joking about how we should’ve filmed a behind the scenes doc just to show the insane amount of problem solving needed in post-production. Most of which I shouldn’t have had to go through.

Alec Kinnear's picture

Great story. I had my own miserable Adobe Premiere experience many moons ago on a feature film and went down the original FCP trail from v1.

Switching between all the programs is asking a lot of not very play-friendly-with-others vendors. This kind of post-production hell is exactly what BlackMagic is trying to eliminate with Davinci Resolve: editor and grade in a single application, decent audio tools (I expect parts of the audio would be more easily done in another app, like ProTools, but perhaps it would just be the SFX and then mixed back in in Resolve).

Ironically Apple's FCP 7 did eliminate post-production hell about a decade ago before the not play well with others and feature limited FCP X hit the scenes. Recent version of FCP X do many things adequately (finally) but still would struggle with complex post-production like your case.

On a side note to my massive post on Premiere bugs... would it kill Adobe to give Premiere a decent h.264 encoder?! Their encoder has been soft and awful for a decade. Anything I render with film grain pulses every second or so with a frame where the grain loses all detail, even when rendered at an extremely high CBR.

I get far, far sharper and cleaner results at half the bitrate in ANY other encoder.

Christian, that wasn't a post - that was an article that should be in Post. Congrats on your success and all your fortitude with the post production.

Adobe Photoshop, now with 29% less crashes! 🙄 And now for some levity.


Ted Mercede's picture

Lol, nice. Good use of Tumbler, I forgot that I even had an account with them.

user-231517's picture

My LR catalog was on a removable Samsung T3 SSD to use on my desktop and my laptop, talways worked fine, suddenly my system crashed and it was a big one. It cost me a couple of days to figure out what the reason was, Adobe could not handle USB devices anymore.

At the moment my LR setup seems to work again with the Samsung T3, but I work most of the time with Capture One and DaVinci Resolve and use Lightroom as an "on the road" solution only on my Laptop and Surface Pro 6.

The last 3 month I use Exposure X4, which is the easiest and fasted at the moment.

user-206807's picture

I am on Mac an I am an intensive user of Adobe products, for photos and graphic design. I have no problem except a strange message alert (but completely innocuous) appearing when I launch Illustrator.
I am not a big fan of Adobe, their products are not perfect but still a must for my work.

My continuing saga of Capture One versus Lightroom.

Okay, I left Lightroom a couple years ago due to poor performance. Culling was drudgery and moving between files in the Develp module took seconds each time, let alone making changes to the sliders.... lots of waiting, lots of wasted time. A few seconds per image may not seem like much, but multiply that by the hundreds we as wedding photographers edit and... yeah, it sucks.

Lately, Capture One has been irking me. Little things mostly, but the other day, when I was about to export an entire wedding, I realized some images were missing! Things I distinctly remembered including. Well, they were there, but not where they should be.

Turns out I was using an old system in Capture One. Sessions.... using that, you have to physically move the files to a different folder to work on them. I never liked this as what if I changed my mind and wanted the fourth iteration of that family shot instead of the third.... the one I tagged? Pain to find the other file, bring it in, etc.

I am currently on day 2 of a 7 day Trial of Adobe Lightroom. At first, I immediately was drawn to some of it's features. Breaking up the exposure into 5 sliders instead of 3 like C1. That... loved that. HSL is simpler and in some ways more effective than the color tools in C1, especially the "put it on the image and drag" thing. Awesome.

Culling.... OMG. It sucked. Aside from waiting hours to build previews and import (this happens in about 45 minutes in C1, but you can work while it makes previews), the delay when moving between images was just too much. I decided to give Photo Mechanic a try.

I'm impressed with Photo Mechanic. It's super fast, easy to use and does as intended. I could label or rate my images and that carried over to Lightroom (or Capture One for that matter). The price though... $140? Seriously?

More testing.... I tried to move some culled images to LightRoom and a strange thing happened. When I use the internal "Edit in" function of Photo Mechanic... LR would keep trying to import the images, even when they are already there. Had to shut down both programs and restart LR so I could see they were indeed there and labelled properly. Not a deal breaker but weird and... suspicious.

Oddly enough, I could just drag the files into Capture One and it happily chugged away, all the images available to use in about 30 seconds, albeit, previews were 45 minutes in the making. If you try using an image without a preview, it has to make the preview on the fly, talking a few seconds. LightRoom becomes damn near unusable when making previews....

Then I tried using the files in LR.... in the Develop Module, as if I were actually working on a wedding (which I was) and... it was sluggish, moving sliders didn't seem to happen quickly at all. I tried different sized previews to no avail (which makes sense since they are only good in Library anyway), and then tried using "Smart Previews" for editing. I changed caches, I altered everything..... still slow.

For Sh**s and Giggles I loaded up Capture One again. I tried doing a bit of culling using a catalog of the same images. It was as fast as Photo Mechanic!

I started editing some photos.... nearly instant results.

Then.... I realized what I missed from LR, the simplicity, so I changed my Capture One layout to be more like LR.

I also realized that some of the tools in LR, were actually in C1 too, just using different means, like Levels instead of the whites and blacks sliders....

Now I'm playing with the color tools to simulate the simplicity of the HSL sliders in LR.

Seems I've gone full circle.... again.

Alec Kinnear's picture

PhotoMechanic is an amazing tool for handling metadata (IPTC fields) with templates and semi-automatic adding of tags. That's what the $140 is for: pro sports shooters use it in the field to send to photo wire services.

If you are just looking for really fast culling in a lightweight but very capable application, FastRawViewer (it works well with RAW + jpeg as well or even just jpegs despite the name) is just $15 and almost bulletproof (it uses XMP sidecars and leverages the OS file system, rather than using a database).

Campbell Sinclair's picture

I found their desk top lightroom to be far snappier than the always on line CC version. It takes forever to load photos and export photos compared to the older desktop versions.

This is a generic problem with fat code. Most of today’s developers don’t write for performance, but write for features. cc is undoubtedly a collection of code modules that has long since been architected so new people come into add new functionality don’t have a full understanding of all the interaction. As a result, software demons result. While US code developers “crank” out code then go through a fix cycle, this is why you get. You can see this in “apps” that release updates every two weeks. The old saying, good, fast, cheap pick two applies. Problem is cheap and fast are used up...

Not surprising Adobe would offer help in response to a large article on a popular website. After years of using CC I gave up recently... too buggy, ridiculous inconsistency across apps, slow, bloated, yes, things many others have pointed put. The recent price increase was the last straw. Got Affinity Photo and Designer, haven’t looked back.

I have been using Photoshop for 20+ years. Adobe Photoshop support has always been very poor. Bugs are reported and are acknowledge as bugs by Adobe some get fixed some do not get fixed. Bugs remain in Photoshop release after release and the number of known bugs increases. When press get bad Adobe will claim they are addressing the support problem. However, Adobe track record shows their support continues to be poor. If you want to use Photoshop and automate some processing you will need to work around known bugs and any new bug you discover. You can not rely on Adobe fixing reported bugs. Photoshop is still very powerful and has more feature the other image editing application.

I've used Adobe for years on the Mac and PC and have had few crashes on either. Stability is not my problem bloat is. Launching Lightroom and Photoshop without Creative Cloud would be great, but with it my machine overall is significantly slower.

Richard Fought's picture

I primarily use LR on Win 10. I avoided CC for a long time because I prefer stability and owning my software. Finally through a discount deal I decided to give LR Classic CC a try, and it absolutely would not launch. The process just kept crashing before it even got started. I tried uninstalling everything Adobe, using the cleaner tool, re-downloading, etc. I started a support case with Adobe and they wanted me to run a bunch of tools to get my system info, and I decided I had wasted enough time on it already and just re-installed my copy of LR 6. That whole experience told me everything I needed to know about CC.

MEL have you made ACTUAL CONTACT with the mother ship???!!!! Can you PLEASE ask them to add a decent spell and Grammar checker to Illustrator, akin to InDesign!?. I myself and many others have been asking Adobe for this feature for years, with the only reply being 5 years ago which was "we are working on it". Subscribers are hanging for this feature!!! As you have made contact, do you think you could slip this one by them!?

I agree with the abysmal Adobe phone support out of India. The wait times are unworkable and when I was desperate enough to wait it out I got a person presumably in India who knew less about Lightroom than I do and I had to get on with a supervisor. I have much better experience with support from Apple which really is superlative and all US based. Even Epson is better on the phone. Adobe is the worst of the worst on support which is a surprise given how much effort they put in to keeping their software top notch.

These Adobe issues arent just happening on Mac's. And their tech support IF you can get someone is hard to hear and hard to understand. I had issues where for sone reason no knows my art in Illustrator started multiplying to the point the file was too big to support and deleted all my work. It was more than 8 months before it was rectified and. My files were accessible. But that time was crucial in momentum and cost.

John Skinner's picture

Their UN-installers have always been very very bad. They would owe me money if I had charged them by the hour for the days upon days working to UN-install and then try to RE-install a product that for whatever reason... failed.

I have a CC2017? Installed now -- won't take any updates and for the 'bridge' portion of the flow... Yea, gave up on that one years and years ago. I use Photo Mechanic for the culling and sorting. But we all knew this whole thing about download once and BoooM -- you're magic! Was just a lie.

We had CC then 2017, 2018, 2019..... all full installs independent of each other (more or less). When the selling feature is 'download the core app' and we'll update you. L I E. So, as much as I depend on Ps.. I will not support the current business model or company. And I can feel the writer's pain.

Stephen Nielson's picture

Thank you to everyone who has been providing feedback here. There are several Photoshop team members who have gone through and read every one of your comments. We appreciate the good and the bad. Please know that there is a team of people who REALLY care about the product we build, and we are always trying to do the right thing for our customers.

To those who feel unheard by Adobe (and specifically the Photoshop team, who I represent), I would encourage you to spend some time on feedback.photoshop.com. You can suggest ideas or report bugs there, and also add your "vote" if you see a feature you want or a bug that is happening for you as well. We spend a lot of time interacting with our customers there, and it is the most direct way for everyone and anyone to give feedback directly to the team. The Lightroom teams also use this same site.

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'm very excited about our upcoming releases of Photoshop :)

You think the crashing is bad. Try having the account fail its own payment system monthly for no reason. Each month having to spend multiple hours with support trying to resolve. Each month a new apology explaining it won't happen again. Last month it knocked my team down for almost a full day of me paying them to sit there and wait. Eventually the support had to delete my account. Then when they didn't reactivate a new one and I contacted them again. They answered with "but you don't have an account sir". Looking into suing to recoup my lost wages etc. I would rather buy the software or use something else if there were a viable option.
The support is absolutely atrocious.

Adobe Serfdom Suite

We're all permanently renting the right to access our past creations from a corporation.

Marshall Cant's picture

I finally gave up on Adobe over a year ago for all the same reasons you stated in your first post as well as this one. I had used Photoshop for close to 20 years followed by Lightroom and then the Creative Suite. MANY thousands were invested over that time to keep the Adobe balls in the air.

I have found many worthy replacements for the Creative Suite. Affinity Photo tops the list for a Photoshop killer. For organizing and 'bulk' processing I now use Exposure X4 but On1, DXO etc are also excellent. For video I use Blackmagic Design Resolve. (Why anyone would continue with Adobe Premiere and the constant flow of bugs is beyond me). I have found that the learning curve of the software I now use to be far easier than Adobe's products. My systems run clean and fast compared to when they were loaded down with Adobe's Creative Suite.

Believe it or not the hardest replacement to find was for Acrobat. I know, not really 'related' to the discussion here, but as part of the Creative Suite I relied on it to communicate with "non-Adobe" customers. My final choice was Nitro Pro. Good but not "excellent". It serves the purpose.

Absolutely no regrets since dropping Adobe Creative Suite. Now, if I could just figure out how to do the same with Google... ;)

vincent photography's picture

When does Adobe products start using the resources of Mac to the fullest? Other vendors can and do it?

When does Adobe finally brings PhotoShop for the iPad Pro which was announced so big when the new iPad Pro came out last year, or will it die just like Apples AirPower.....

Affinity which is a much smaller company shows that it can be done....

Come on Adobe

vincent photography's picture

When does Adobe products start using the resources of Mac to the fullest? Other vendors can and do it?

When does Adobe finally brings PhotoShop for the iPad Pro which was announced so big when the new iPad Pro came out last year, or will it die just like Apples AirPower.....

Affinity which is a much smaller company shows that it can be done....

Come on Adobe

Leigh Miller's picture

I feel your pain...but that situation exists with everything. From day one the center console in the Jag crashed at random and only a complete power down and turn off fixes it...130K car and the info panel crashes at random.

I'm no big lover of Adobe but I'm happy they fixed the black artifacts with their PS Liquify tool on Mac Platforms...

Colin Robertson's picture

As someone who like's having the latest & greatest software, I still think the Photography plan is a fantastic deal, even when I wasn't getting paid to do photography. Now that I do, it's a no brainer. Both Lightroom and Photoshop are so ingrained in my workflow that it would be a giant headache moving to another solution, and for the most part, they still work great for me.

That said, neither are perfect—Photoshop lately has been loosing it's keyboard shortcuts while I use it, all I need to do is save, quit and re-launch to fix, but it's infuriating when you're trying to get something done.

Lightroom still has major issues with just being slow and feeling "sticky" feeling at times. It's incredibly annoying when my mouse button 'up-click' doesn't register in LR—causing unintentional dragging. I've thought about just switching to using bridge and keep my "catalog" in Apple Photos... But, I really like Lightroom CC on my iPhone and iPad, so maybe that can serve as a replacement for Classic for me one day. Tough to believe that day will be anytime soon though—I really use a lot of the features in Classic that aren't in CC yet.

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