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.