I'm Falling out of Love With Adobe and the Creative Cloud

I'm Falling out of Love With Adobe and the Creative Cloud

Photoshop and I go way back. I had the first version in 1990, and it has served me well as a photo editor for both my landscape and deep sky work. Over the last couple of years, though, every time I use Photoshop or Lightroom in their Creative Cloud versions I can't help thinking something is wrong.

The software is increasingly buggy, and new versions fix some things and break others. If you'd have asked me 5 years ago if I could live without Adobe's photo editors I would have said no. Today, I'm rethinking the value proposition of both Photoshop and Lightroom, and new editors like On1 and products from Skylum have forced me to rethink my marriage to the Adobe ecosystem. 

Let me start with bugs. There are lot's of them, at least on the Mac side, which is, after all, the original platform Adobe wrote their software for. About a year ago I was having problems with plug-ins. Sometimes, after a Photoshop update they simply vanished. I called Adobe and they responded that plug-ins weren't their responsibility and that I should call the plug-in developers. But then, magically, a new PS update fixed the plug-ins. It was Adobe, not the plug-in developers. I sense Adobe has made several changes to their plug-in architecture.

Using Adobe Bridge pops up a big blank window when it launches. It sits there and then goes away. Maybe it's an error message that never forms. Maybe it's an invitation to go play golf. Who knows? It shouldn't be there, and I've has been through several updates and the blank window remains. Photoshop randomly slows down with even simple tasks and no other applications s open. Lately, I have gotten several warnings that the Creative Cloud app is "broken" and needs to repair itself. These kinds of issues stop my workflow cold, and for years Photoshop and Lightroom were stable and not something I had to worry about. Now it's click and pray. 

Here's another example of complete frustration. I noticed an old copy of Adobe Bridge on my Mac, pre CC days. I put it in the trash, and now can't delete it because it's "in use". I tried the Adobe uninstaller, (no dice) and every terminal trick I knew (nada). I can't get rid of it, so every time I empty my trash it's still there like some persistent zombie. 

That brings me to support. You can still call Adobe and get a real person. That's a good thing. But in the last few years I've never gotten a native English speaker. I'm all for full employment, but I have to ask these people 2-3 times to repeat themselves so I can understand them. I'm having some issues with Photoshop now, but I'll be damned if I'll call and struggle to understand what I'm hearing, and be forced to go through an irrelevant script of actions that don't relate to the problem I'm having. This just isn't working for me. I don't care what country the support people are in, or their nationality, but they really need to speak English clearly. I know it's cheap for Adobe to farm out support overseas. Likewise, it will be cheaper for me if I drop my CC subscription. Cost savings work both ways.

I'm also a little aggravated about some little things. In 2016 Adobe demonstrated what looked like a terrific sky replacement feature.

It was greeted with much praise and applause. Here's a video link to the demo. The feature never arrived. There have been more things shown over the years which we are still waiting for, but I won't bore you with a long list. It's OK to not go on to develop a feature. How about an Adobe web page that gives us the status of these things?

The Adobe Creative Cloud app itself is buggy and intrusive, and sucks down computer resources. It's always running in the background. Worse, Adobe uses it to market stuff to me, The app serves no real purpose with the way i work. Individual apps should update on their own. They don't need another app supervising updates and the app just creates more problems and frustrations.

Speaking of marketing, since Adobe has my name and email I'm getting a lot of spam from them (they probably don't consider it spam) along with pitches for Adobe products I don't want. I'm sure there's a way to stop the barrage but I'm afraid I'll miss some important message I'd like to read. 

For many years, Adobe had no competition. That's no longer the case. I'm slowly evolving to On1 for cataloging and raw processing. It's not perfect, but it seems to be moving faster in adding new features and its been quite stable. I'm using Skylum's Aurora for HDR work, and Luminar when I need some light effects editing. At some point soon, it's likely I will kiss Adobe goodbye, but I'd rather Adobe stop the slide.

I appreciate all the many contributions Adobe has made to the art and science of image editing. I don't find the subscription price for the photography package exorbitant in any way, but Adobe could raise the pricing at any time, and they likely will. 

So that's my Adobe rant. I'm glad to see meaningful competition appearing, like the aforementioned On1 and Skylum products. Other editors, like Affinity. On the Mac side there is also Acorn and Pixelmator Pro. On the Windows side there is tne suite of photo editing tools from Corel and more. No, at this point they aren't true Adobe competitors in all aspects and feature lists, but they are getting there. The reality is I can get the same results I've been getting from Photoshop/Lightroom in my workflow using On1 and the Skylum apps when needed. Even better, these apps have some features Adobe doesn't offer.

Adobe must be worried about their position, and that's healthy. In the last couple of months I've had some surveys from them about my Lightroom experience and Adobe overall.

If Adobe really wanted my opinion, I'd strongly suggest:

  • Clean up Photoshop. It's buggy, slow at times, and new changes seem to break older features. To a lesser degree, Lightroom has some issues as well
  • Get rid of that horrible Creative Cloud app. It adds nothing to the experience of using the software. Links to tutorials and the marketing of products could be better handled oin an adobe web page
  • Deliver on features you show at the Adobe events or explain why they have been killed
  • Fix support... immediately. If I call you from New Delhi I'd expect a native Indian support person. If I call from North America I expect the same. Native English support or at least near perfect English. I should never have to strain to understand what is being said, and support people should get off the scripts quickly and actually listen to the customer.

Make no mistake, Adobe has been, deservedly, the leader in digital imaging for a long time. It may be working great for you, but for this everyday photographer and editor I'm seeing far too many issues. 

I'm hoping Adobe will clean these things up, or soon I'll be moving on. I'm sure there will be many comments pro and con and I'll be interested in reading them.

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Previous comments
Daniel Medley's picture

I don't see them resting on their laurels at all. They are doing just fine. That being said, if a better alternative came along, of course I would jump on it. But, all things considered, it hasn't happened yet.

And again, as far as stability is concerned, haven't had that issue. And my PS and LR are, dare I say, almost snappy. Let me guess, you're using a Mac?

I'm not dissing Mac, but it just seems that there's a pattern here.

Read their comment again at the end. They said they are on Windows 10 and a pretty good setup at that.
I am also a Windows user who has had a steady stream of trouble with PS - one of my PCs, pretty new, I don't even bother to open the CC suite on it. Just giving you some other perspective since youre thinking it's just Mac. No, it's Adobe. The funny thing is I've been considering switching to Mac thinking it would be a better experience. Then I come across this post. It even made me make this account !

Moral of the story is Adobe needs to do better by all it's platforms.

Tim Gallo's picture

i am on mac. never experienced bugs you describing, have my own set of bugs though. photoshop cc keeps resetting my wacom settings in 2019 ver. i am still on 2018. bridge and photoshop. everything is smooth, i bother only to update raw. wont go to 2019 ver till it get more polished.
also bridge 2019 killed my favorite feature. adobe mistakes show that they lack a proper visionary leader for a long time. they need to change how the interact with customer. they nead to clean up their board, seems to many greedy decision overwhelms they actual potential for innovation, in the end pushing customer away towards other softwares.

i lean more towards capture one now, that somehow keeps getting better with every update ( thougnyou have to pay fot new ver.). still bridge 2018 is intuitive as finder and my best app for selection. i wish my bridge would interact with my lightroom icloud base... lightroom sucks. useful on ipad, but i find out that it cant even export file in highest quality without doing something to them that makes them worse ( have you tried to puting an jpg file, and than export it again without any changes from ios lightroom and compare the difference? it seems that jpg engine in ios version is different than original lightroom cc.)

also, its stupid to fall in love with any software.

Matt Bennett's picture

I have enjoyed the creative cloud for a while and have accepted that there are going to be flaws in the software but the flaws are becoming more frequent and more impactful (at least on Mac.)

For instance, I updated all the apps this week to the latest version, which installed the most recent Adobe Camera Raw. Now I can't open any form of RAW file from network drives. All other software (Capture One ... even Lightroom Classic) can open the files but try to get Photoshop involved (and by extension, Camera Raw) and it says the file doesn't exist. I have to copy files from my NAS onto the system disk then it works flawlessly. Software should become more capable, not less.

If things stay like this Adobe will lose dominance.

Tim Gallo's picture

yeah, i had that with raw for a moment. i recommend to downgrade to 2018 and live happy, that is unless there is soemthing you reaaaally need in 2019 cc.

i feel you on cloud. but than are there more stable alternatives?

Ian Oliver's picture

C1 Pro and Affinity for me.

I should perhaps have considered moving to a PC instead but I do like C1 Pro's tethering.

My biggest issue with both is the lack of tutorials. There are gobs of tutorials on a variety of topics from beginner to advanced from a gob of different people and perspectives for Adobe products.

Jean Calvino's picture

I can't speak for affinity but I hope you are aware of capture one learning hub and their live free webseminars... They are truly amazing
You can learn to use cp1 to is full potential :)

Thomas H's picture

Actually Capture One has a ton of videos and learning material! My problem with C1 is lack of support to numerous cameras. Mayne of my LR catalogs imported to C1 show as much as 1000 missing images due to some early Leica / Lumix models whose raw file format is not supported in C1.

Gil N's picture

C1 Pro and Ps for me. The later C1 pro version came with a lot of improvements requested by the users, it's way too early to say for sure but it could evolve to become the only software you'll need in a couple of years. On PC Ps works like a charm, zero major issue for me . Illustrator on the other end...

Jen Photographs's picture

A part of the issue is Adobe has made a big push to focus on their enterprise side of things. They bought Marketo (a major marketing tool) and Magento and a number of other companies. To be clear, I'm not saying this is a new effort, by any means. They've had an enterprise side for years. Rather, I suspect they're shifting more of their focus into that side.

I read an article fairly recently that suggested that Adobe has gotten too big, and that it needs to be broken up, in a similar manner to Bell. I don't know that I agree with it -- I haven't researched the company's business side of things -- but it's an interesting idea. Anyhoo, for anyone else curious, here's the article. https://tedium.co/2019/03/12/adobe-history-antitrust-concerns/

Daris Fox's picture

I'm like yourself, I've been with Adobe for 25 years, I started with Ps 3 or 3.5 can't remember exactly. Adobe lost me when they went subscription. Adobe had been lazy before they went down this route, and was only released incrementally better features which lead to the Version + 1 purchase policy many people used. I'm lucky Windows will continue to support CS 6 but Apple users are out of luck. I predicted Adobe would get worse for laziness with the constant drip feed from subscriptions giving them no incentive to innovate or fix their damned s/w,

Then there's the increasing resentment in I see in the creative community about the perceived inequality. Why should photographers get treated any different from designers? What am I talking about? Simple photographers get Ps and Lr for 10 bucks a month, whereas soon as you step out of that artificial constraint you jump to 50-70 to get any other app. A lot people dislike this model as they feel they're being forced to offset the losses the photographers bring to the table.

Before you could buy a suite that roughly meet your needs, but now it's all or pretty much nothing if you need InDesign and Illustrator you need the full suite costing you 700 a year which for many small design shops is crippling.

In addition Adobe hasn't done anything to take advantage of the Puck tech MS released three years ago let alone touch displays they promised four-five years ago. Other companies have and embraced those techs to great effect, the final nail is the absolute lack of awareness of handling multi-core systems that's on the market for the last decade. They may have made up a small percentage of systems 10 years ago, but today almost all new systems will likely have 6-12+ cores (12C/24T) by the end of the year.so again they are likely to miss the boat on that. CaptureOne already takes advantage of my hardware, you can hear and see the system actually work as does Resolve so why can't Adobe?

Przemek Lodej's picture

Agreed, Adobe is quite pathetic with its utilization of multi core CPUs. Actually is laughable.

Sean Milburn's picture

I really don't see how 700 a year is crippling if you are actually doing any amount a business. 1. It's write off and business expense 2. Even if you are completely lowballing your rate you should be able to cover the years subscription in 1-3 jobs.
I am not saying they could not be pushing new tech/innovation more, but that subscription cost isn't a big burden. Remember when you had to upgrade your suit every year for that some cost or more? I remember buying my FCP suite and looking at adobe suite before the subscription model FCP was 1400 with a student discount, Adobe suite was 1200-1400 if remember correctly. For professionals who are working a decent amount who need to stay up to date to work with other Facilities the subscription model is actually more cost effective.

But again the point of subscription is to be able to offer a more stable/innovative product which adobe is currently dropping the ball on.

Daris Fox's picture

It is if it's *every* year, yes you can write it down but if you're a small designer bringing in a side income (which a lot are) or doing branding then it's hard to justify. Yes, it's two or three jobs (or more realistically 6-7 depending on the part of the world) but if you think photography is hard to make an income graphics design is a lot more harder as jobs are often given to sweatshops or to bigger companies so freelancing has become a mugs game. Plus 700 a year compared to 100 year for a photographer, when all you need is Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign paying everything is a rip off which is why graphics designers are p****d. That's not cost effective, that's Adobe screwing us over and no amount of justification can support that.

I paid around ~600 in upgrade fees every three years, so I'm down 500 a year straight away with subscription and my files are locked into the latest version that if I wanted to open I need to pay the subscription/ransom to view them again not just necessarily edit them.

I totally agree with you.
I wish they would invest 2-3 releases in the basics.

- Making Photoshop leaner and faster.
- Move more things to the GPU.
- Solve bugs.
- Raise QA quality.
- Remove bloatware (I want Photoshop only, no other background processes).

we no longer use adobe at our home, on any device. were done with adobe.

excellent alternatives to adobe products

all I see on fb groups is people asking help with errors with adobe products.

I had too many issues with adobe.

I switched to Capture One from Lightroom. Much better especially after I also switched from Canon 5dmk3 to Sony A7III.

Greg Wilson's picture

I wonder why FS repeatedly ignores Capture One? Which is an outstandingly superior RAW processor.
1. Capture One
2. Adobe Lightroom
3. Everything else

With all the respect ON1 is still too buggy, slow and has poor colour science to be a part of a pro workflow.

Johnny Rico's picture

Been using C1 for years, but there is a learning curve to it.

Thomas H's picture

Similarly PaintShop Pro is almost never being mentioned as a replacement for Photoshop.

Alec Kinnear's picture

I get much better results much faster with DxO PhotoLab but certainly C1 is powerful software with great colour capabilities. Both take a photographer off of a lifetime of subscription payments and improve his or her RAW development. A photographer still needs a pixel editor to match the Adobe bundle. On Mac, Affinity Photo is a Photoshop peer which does some actions more sensibly (be sure to check documentation before saying something doesn't exist or doesn't work - often it's just a bit different than in Photoshop and much more sensibly done, as Affinity Photo is a modern app and doesn't have a thirty year tradition of doing it wrong).

user-206807's picture

I am falling…
I am on Mac. I am an every day intensive user of Lightroom and Photoshop, and I never had any of the described problems…

Felix Wu's picture

Adobe Ps+Lr combo is very affordable at under $10 Australian dollars a month but I pretty much only use photoshop and have to spend extra on C1 for raw processing. It’s adds a lot more cost but it’s wioryh it.

Paolo Lubrano's picture

Any one should try Affinity £ 50 no subscriptions no as good as photoshop but very very close

Jose A De Leon's picture

I have Affinity Photo and now they've released a beta which looks very promising. No fees and upgrades are free.

Tony Northrup's picture

Premiere Pro got so bad we completely switched from PCs to Macs so that we could use Final Cut Pro X instead. Every new update added new bugs, often serious, work-stopping bugs. At some point we decided to stop installing the updates (defeating the entire purpose of CC) but PP was still just too unreliable for us to depend on it for video production.

Annoyingly, we still have to pay the CC tax indefinitely to allow us to open our old PP projects. That's part of the brilliance of their business model; you can never stop paying them, even if you stop using their products, because no good migration tools exist.

Adobe has been and still is a long-time partner of ours. We still use LR & PS for our photography. I just think Adobe needs to slow down the frequency of updates in favor of improving the reliability.

We are seeing the law of diminishing returns in Adobe's photography application development efforts. That's just the natural course of any technology's life cycle. They are chasing smaller and smaller improvements which make less and less difference in photographic processing results. Sales of stand-alone applications decline as a result and profits take a dive. Software companies embrace the software license rental business model because it ensures an income stream despite the inevitability of less and less benefit to the users.

Daniel J. Cox's picture

I gave up on Adobe five years ago. Support was just one of the major reasons. Today it's Mylio and DXO PhotoLab to manage and process my image library of 1.2 million pictures. Mylio is absolutely hands down the best tool for having access to all your pictures at any time with speed no other program even comes close to. Not many people know of Mylio. It's truly a sleeper product.

Alec Kinnear's picture

Mylio is another $10/month subscription app. Ouch. FastRawViewer will do all your triage and culling for a lifetime for $15 up front. Agree about DxO PhotoLab. Life changing software for a low light shooter. Canon 5DS R ISO 6400 files look ISO 400.

I'm really baffled by the problems outlined in this article and many of the responses. I simply don't encounter them and I'm a professional and use PSCC and Bridge every day (LR drives me bonkers and I won't use it). I'm using an old Mac Pro (2012) and Bridge and PSCC (2019) never crash - maybe I'm just lucky or don't use the tools that cause them to crash. I just processed almost 1,000 images for the National Park Service and never experienced a single hickup. Again, maybe I'm just lucky.

My main gripe with Adobe relates to updates. Some are brilliant - like the content sensitive replace - saves me hours. At other times, however, they seem to feel obligated to fix things that aren't broken. For example, the crop tool. It always worked and I have no idea why it had to be "fixed". But now, unless I want to maintain the proportions when I crop, I have to hold the shift key when cropping. Previously, it was the opposite. Yes, I know there's a way to reset it to the old method, but why did it have to change in the first place? Another gripe, like the author's, relates to plug-ins that disappear with updates.

While it doesn't happen often, occasionally the tools panel and my Workspace just change, or disappear - Poof - they're gone. I suspect that it's me accidentally hitting some keyboard shortcut, but there's no undo for it and I have no idea what causes it. Restarting PSCC usually fixes the problem, but when it happens, it's annoying. Fortunately, this is rare.

I don't use ACR, so I can't comment on that - my RAW conversion tool is DXO and I find that I have to do much less to an image after DXO converts it than if I use ACR. Admitedly, I haven't tried ACR in a while, but I'm stubborn and once something is working, I'm reticent to change. HDR images are created in Photomatix or Aurora, depending on subject. I use Topaz Gigapixel AI to resize and the results are amazing - MUCH better than the tool in PS. But, for everything else, PSCC just seems to work.

Some of the author's comments make me suspect that there are some settings in his Mac that aren't optimal, or he's got a bug somewhere. I find that PS speed is consistant - I don't experience slowdowns. I never get the blank screen he mentions when Bridge opens and it pops open almost instantly and I'm running the latest version. Adobe Creative Cloud is completely unobtrusive and I rarely get solicitation email from Adobe.

One point where I completely agree with the author is the problem understanding people on the help line, and Adobe is far from alone with that problem. I'm hearing impaired and that makes it worse for me, but when I call many of the companies whose products I use, I simply can not understand what the agent is saying because of a thick accent. I'm a member of both Canon and Olympus pro groups and when I call them with a question, the person I'm speaking to is obvously in the US and speaks clear and perfect English. If they can do that, so can Adobe, but, again, Adobe is far from alone in this area.

The problem of understanding the help line personnel aside, I suspect that anyone who is experiencing the speed and stability problems described on a Mac, should check their settings, memory allocation, etc., because IMHO that isn't normal.

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