5 Changes Adobe Needs to Make to Lightroom Before They Start Bleeding Customers

5 Changes Adobe Needs to Make to Lightroom Before They Start Bleeding Customers

While Adobe continues to spend its time and resources on useless updates such as the texture slider and the fragmented Lightroom CC vs CC Classic, there remains to be an abundant amount of changes that users actually want to see.  

Being a long-time user of Adobe Lightroom, I find it difficult to even consider the possibility of changing to a competing software. But being as difficult as it may seem, I recently downloaded a trial version of Capture One Pro 12 to see what the fuss was all about. While I haven't made a full-fledged change, the trial has made me realize just how far behind Lightroom really is. Below are five features that I feel Lightroom needs to implement before their customers start fleeing their dreaded software rental for much greener pastures.  

Customizable Workspace

Like most editing software, not every user is going to need or want the same things. While Adobe has done what they can to organize things in a meaningful way, there is just no way to please every single person. In recent updates, they have even given you the ability to reorganize the order of the editing panels if you see fit. But this simple customization is a drop in the ocean when compared to the customization options of Capture One Pro. Similar to Adobe Photoshop, users have the ability to hide, show, and move almost every aspect of the software.

If a tool is grouped into a certain panel and you want to move it to another panel, you can. You want a tool to float in a constant location and be ever-present, you can do that too. Want to completely remove everything you don't use, you got it! You can even set up, customize, and save your workspace for different situations. Save a workspace specifically designed for culling and then have a totally different workspace for editing. Seeing as this ability is very similar to that found in Adobe Photoshop, it makes you wonder why after all these years, there is nothing like this available for Lightroom.

The only thing you can do with Lightroom is change the order for the main panels

In Capture One, you can move panels from one tab to another, have panels float, remove tools and panels you don't need, and even change where on the screen the filmstrip is.


When I first saw the ability to have layers with masks, I didn't think it would offer much more then what was already possible with the local adjustments in Lightroom. After all, in Lightroom, I can already use one of three local adjustments to selectively apply certain adjustments similar to what you can do with layers. I can limit these adjustments based on tone or color. I can even use the brush tool to fine-tune a gradient and I can add and erase parts of the masks that control these adjustments. 

The reality though, is the difference between the local adjustments of Lightroom and the layers of Capture One Pro are night and day. Where Lightroom gives you a small subset of adjustments to choose from, Capture one gives you everything. From curves adjustments to color adjustments. You can selectively apply a hue, saturation, and luminance adjustment to a small portion of an image or you can have different curves adjustments for different parts of the frame. Something that is 100% impossible to do in Lightroom. 

Not only do you get more adjustments when using Layers in Capture One, but you also get more masking options. From luminance masks to color masks and even an option for refine edge. Applying adjustments to an image in Capture One Pro is like using a chefs knife compared to the sledgehammer that is Lightroom. Accept Capture One gives you the option to use the Sledgehammer option if you still want it.       


In Lightroom, you have the ability to control hue/saturation/luminance for a set of specific colors. You can also globally and locally adjust things like white balance and saturation. We already talked about not being able to locally adjust the hue/saturation/luminance for a specific part of an image with Lightroom, but you also cant adjust hue/saturation/luminance of a specific color outside of the predefined colors that Lightroom has given you. With Capture One Pro, you can basically adjust the hue/saturation/luminance of any color independently from every other color. Not only that, but you can even adjust the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows of any color independently from one another. This means that you can change the hue and saturation of a green leaf in sunlight without effecting the green of the grass in the shade.    

The options you get with Lightroom

Numerous options for adjusting colors in Capture One Pro

Skin Color

While the ability to adjust and manipulate color in Capture One Pro is obviously superior to anything possible in Lightroom, they take things a step further when it comes to skin tones. Outside the normal color editor, there is a tab specifically designated for skin tone. Here you can sample a persons skin tone and then use a set of sliders to make the hue/saturation/luminance more uniform. This gives you an easy way to get perfect and uniform skin tones without going near any complex and time-consuming retouching options. This is something not even on the Lightroom map.   

Shortcut Keys

I recently wrote a review for the Loupedeck+ and talked about how bad the customization options in Lightroom really are. With Capture One Pro, you get a significant upgrade in your ability to customize shortcuts. Again, this comes back around to not every user being the same. If I have a set of shortcuts I constantly want to use, it only makes sense that I should be able to assign those shortcuts to the easiest keyboard keys for me to use. Even these keys can vary from user to user. Some people may want to use keys on the left side of the keyboard while others on the right. If you have the option for keyboard shortcuts, it should be common sense that they should be editable. 

Unfortunately, Capture One Pro does share one fault with Lightroom when it comes to shortcuts. Neither gives you the option to assign a shortcut key to a preset (or style if you are in Capture One). Thankfully you have the ability to work around this with the use of the Loupedeck+, but I think this should be a must-have option for both pieces of software. 

Capture One Pro also seems to be missing the option to use some keyboard shortcuts that can be found in Lightroom. Things like "reset crop" don't seem to be present and there is no way to "Paste from previous" as you can in Lightroom. Instead, you have to first copy the settings and then paste those settings to the next image. If I do make the switch to Capture One, this "paste from previous" button would be sorely missed. 


These are five things I feel Adobe Lightroom needs to change before they start drastically losing customers. More and more Lightroom users are making the switch to Capture One Pro because these changes are not new requests. These holdbacks along with the forced subscription model are causing users to explore new options. As companies like DVLOP also get ready to launch support for Capture One Pro, making the change will only become easier and easier. 

What changes would you like to see made to Adobe Lightroom?  


Jason Vinson's picture

Jason Vinson is a wedding and portrait photographer for Vinson Images based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. Ranked one of the Top 100 Wedding photographers in the World, he has a passion for educating and sharing his craft.

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The process of applying global adjustments across an entire set of images is the only thing I dislike about Capture One. Otherwise, I think it processes my images a bit cleaner than Lightroom but that's just my personal eye test. Lightroom seems to muddy everything up when I try to add even a little contrast.

It's clunky in spots for sure.

HDR/panorama would be nice too

Do the copy paste functions not work for what you are looking for?

Just not as smooth as it is in LR.

Ya if I make the switch, I would definitely will the "paste from previous" function!

Before they add any of that have them fix the basics. On their own website the request you edit in a certain order with their tools to keep the program from crawling. How stupid is that? Every new update is some new tool that they recommend you not use too much or the program will start crawling. Huh? They say if you need to do more, use Photoshop, which Capture one and others don't have so that I agree on. I start in Lightroom, make a few adjustments, send it to Photoshop, retouch and composite and then back to Lightroom for color grading.

They need to stop building bloatware and just rebuild the program from scratch. If the new announcement was "Now it's finally fast" I'd be more excited than a new adjustment tool they recommend I don't use.

Then why is Lightroom CC so much less then Lightroom classic? What does Lightroom CC do that is an improvement over classic?

Years ago, Adobe decided they needed to rewrite the Premiere code base. The rewrite was called Premiere Pro and it was a step backward in terms of the feature set, at least at first. It eventually moved past the capabilities of Premiere. The same thing will happen with LR CC. The difference is that LR Classic is available concurrently in the interim.

No I think CC is a way for them to try and push everyone to the cloud so they have all your files there so you can pay or get locked out of your own pics.

Not bothered about all those things really. LR does all I need and more. If not, I just r-click - edit in - PS.
Failing that, I send it to my photo editor.

Exactly. There is nothing broken in Adobe software in terms of features (I do find it a little slow, as do most) These repetitive "things that Adobe need to fix" articles are written by people who need a different tool than LR/PS combo. It is like buying a small hatchback car and writing to the manufacturer that they need to fix the fact it doesn't drive offroad very well.

Just use the right tool for your work.

Lightroom is artificially kept stupid to sell more Photoshop. Or you could argue Photoshop is artificially kept stupid to create one more product called Lightroom. Frankly you can do anything much better and faster in Photoshop than Lightroom — Except for the management part. So there you go. Btw even with C1 I still use Photoshop for much better gradiant effects due to the simplicity of masking subjects very quickly using the RGB Channels. How little photographers use the Channels as a form to create more subtle masks is mind boggling...

The newest luminosity masking panels from Lumenzia, ADP Pro, and TK Actions are even more flexible than using channels and the end result is not just a more sophisticated mask but a smaller file size as well.

Interesting. Do they allow for Automated Actions and have Droplets for mass processing or do you have to go through image by image? I can run through hundreds of actions in Photoshop per image and have hundreds of images running through those while I’m out shooting — and so far I haven’t found a single piece of software that allows me to do that ... but admittedly last time I checked was a few years back

One more thing in Photoshop you can fine tune the channels with calculations - multiply, screen, overlay etc. and of course you can re-calculate these again as many times as you want. I wonder if the result really is much different if you know photoshop well or if it’s simply just personal preference. However if those software you mention do have automations and droplets I will take a closer look

I would welcome customizable workspaces as I could then setup Lightroom like Bridge. I just have the hardest time getting used to Lightroom as I'm so used to Bridge.

Well, I'm sure the people that aren't satisfied with LR have left by now. If they haven't, then it's their own fault. Frankly, LR is serving me well, so I'm good. And if CP1 is your choice for editing, then more power to ya.

Having LrCC and Lr Classic is confusing and stupid. If LrCC isn't ready for primetime, call it beta until it can replace Lr Classic. Lightroom Classic reminds me of Coca-cola Classic.

Did the switch almost 2-3 years ago when LR was becoming only subscription platform, and here I am, see all the advantages you just pointed out working seamlessly in my work. There is no rule which one suites more to others but to me CP1 does things easier and better then LR did, and I can compare images from years I used it so there is a reason why I keep CP1 and left Adobe CC platform completely. For more tweaks I need I use Affinity Photo or PS CS5 which was the last hard copy soft I bought from Adobe and sadly it will stop working with the next OS X system :(... Thank you Apple and Adobe for sneaking a hidden agreement to stop supporting it , this was a handy peace of soft we paid for and due to your subscription CC platform you do not mind to leave your customers behind if we do not go with CC rip off scheme :)... Happy shooting everyone one :)

I understand that when C1 has upgrades they are paid upgrades. Is that true or do you get free upgrades for life?

C1 like any other software has paid upgrades from version to version, like adobe had from PS1 to PS CS6 as their last standalone version. I had C1 v10 and skipped vs 11 and upgraded to C1 v12 last year. That is fine with me, but idea of having paying for cloud access and having my images somewhere saved apart from my chosen environment is no go for me :) Hope this makes sense Happy shooting.

Why not simply switch to Capture One? I did, and I have no regrets. I really love named layers for local adjusments. When I return to a previously edited photos I can see directly what I did to it. No more searching for small dot from LR's local tools.

Now when Adobe want to move us to the more profitable cloud bases version I don't expect Lightroom Classic to get much attention. Just look where they have put LR Classic in the Creative Cloud app. It's been moved down to position 17 in my stack, below Spark, Behance, and Adobe Color.


Adobe has a lock on this market like no other company and they will make improvements on their own schedule, not ours.

I've been using LR since day one and there isn't a company yet able to challenge them for the majority of this market.

They have a lock on the market and that is exactly why they don't have to change and improve. No one has been able to challenge them so they don't have a need to spend money on developing updates. But as they lay idle, photographers crave more and more and companies like Capture One are innovating and taking claim to the users that are tired of waiting. Pretty soon this will be like Sony and Canon. Lightroom subscribers will be dropping like flies so they can get a taste of real and current innovations.

I detest Adobe but C1 is not exactly a bastion of innovation so I'm not sure comparing them to Sony really works. Yes, C1 does some things better but fails in other, very basic areas like the lack of a History Panel or the ability to stack image sets. In other areas, LR is significantly more sophisticated, whether we're talking about basic functionality like vignetting or more sophisticated things like alt-clicking when sharpening to see the masking as you adjust it. Adobe deserves all the grief it gets but C1 deserves its share as well.

I've never in my entire career needed the history panel, so not sure I see that as a useful feature. I also much prefer a painted in vignette with the brush tool or radial gradiant.

Well that really sums your article up in a nutshell doesn't it? You've cherry-picked five things that you personally would like to see in Lightroom and turned that into an article based on a premise that really doesn't hold up. I don't need nor demand a customizable workspace. I never use keyboard shortcuts. I rarely need layers and if I do I just hop over to software that does that job perfectly well. None of those things would make me walk away from Lightroom.

I do however use the history panel, and I use it often. And the Lightroom Publish Services are the cornerstone of my workflow. I finish editing, drag the images to the appropriate folder and they upload or export in the exact resolutions I need exactly where I need them to go. I can upload directly to galleries on my website, I can upload directly to facebook and instagram, I can export at the exact colour-space that the print-shop I uses use, simply by dragging and clicking.

Your mistake is assuming what you need in an editing software is something that everyone needs. Lightroom isn't a tool designed for the more specific editing requirements that you need. It is however an outstanding image management tool that allows me to do almost every edit that I personally need to do. There are many reasons why Lightroom could start "bleeding customers." But it won't be for any of the reasons listed in the article.

It's only my mistake if you assume my opinion is in the minority and yours is in the majority... Which evidence doesn't really support.

What on earth are you talking about? There is no evidence to support the article you wrote. There is nothing to support your headline. Nothing to support your opening paragraph or the conclusion you wrote.

Your article was as evidence-free as you could possibly get. Do you have anything to support that consumers are demanding the features you listed in the article? Or that people have abandoned Lightroom (in significant numbers) because it didn't have customizable workspaces? What are the numbers?

The thing is I haven't claimed my opinion was in the majority. It doesn't matter if I'm in the minority or the majority because it is merely my opinion: as is everything you wrote in your article. Which was percisely my point. The fact that "never in (your) entire career needed the history panel" is as relevant as your desire for "layers". Neither is anything except your personal opinion.

They used to have lock, I do not think they are in that position anymore as they used to. Shareholders of their corporate business strategy took away from them non biased future :) just my opinion :) Happy shooting...

I love these PR pieces for Capture One.

This isn't a sponsored post. This is my real opinion after trying capture one after waiting and waiting for lightroom to change or offer any relevant updates.

Not a PR peice. This is my honest opinion.

So if you've moved on, then why are you complaining about what Adobe needs to do with LR? Just write what you like about CP1 and let Adobe succumb to their own doom (according to everyone who used to use LR and have been waiting for an alternative, but now have one, but yet still find the need to complain about LR). I get it, people love CP1, but people also love LR, so why can't they just both co-exist for their respective audiences?

I explain this in the second paragraph. I'm tired of LR but it's hard to switch from something you know and have used for years. But the thought of switching is getting easier and easier!

He does it for the clicks.

I shoot Fuji, and C1 definitely handles my raw files better than LR. Having said that, I still use LR 90% of the time because it is much better for my workflow. Typically, after a shoot, I will upload all of my files to LR on my laptop, let it sync, then I can grab an iPad or even my phone and relax on the couch while I do basic exposure and crop edits. Then, if I need to, I'll jump back on the laptop to do any deep edits in PS. I haven't found this flexibility in any other editing programs so far.


I went over to Capture One for a while. The learning curve was a little complex and I had the picture that it was a lot of bells and whistles but under the dash, a little weak. I stuck it for over a year until a wedding got stuck inside it for nearly six days. The initially very helpful support rushed to my aid for one day, and then just vanished. I had to pay a techie to unblock my photos, sh__ting bricks that the files weren't corrupted. Some were, not a lot, but some. I was able to complete the job (in LR) and luckily, the clients never knew.

It made me think a lot of Wacom.... everything is really great, until it's not. New versions crash and don't seem compatible with Windows updates quite often., The response from both is to "delete uncompatable" software. Wacom actually suggested once that I delete (not close) my anti-virus for a "few days" to see if that made a difference. Brilliant. Both programs, as far as I am concerned have probably the lousiest drivers imaginable.

I have the impression that the updates in both and new versions are a mad rush to stay ahead of everyone else (Look what WE can offer you!!!!) .... but under the hood, they still have a lot of work to do to make things right.

LR has a big lag at present, but you couldn't pay me to go back to Capture One.

I love C1, but still edit weddings in LR because of quality presets. (way better in LR than all I tried in C1).
The super stupid interface where I have to click every tab vertically to open and close them instead of scrolling doesn't help either. You know what I mean.

For studio work and opera photos, C1 is my favourite.

Preset support is getting better with C1. DVLOP is currently working on a full offering!

I suppose it depends on what you want, how you want to do it, and what your flow is. The things you mentioned are available when taking Photoshop into consideration. Typically I will open and organize in LR, make global adjustments, and then move it over to PS for the "real" edit."

I don't know how many people do it that way, but I imagine a fair number do. For those of us who do, your issues are not our issues.

But, as always, the more relevant competition the better for consumers.

Definitely an option and I do take a handful of inages into photoshop when needed. But the ability that layers offer in C1 will almost completely remove that need. The less time I can spend loading and saving files, the better!

It seems like Adobe hasn't been improving lightroom quickly enough. Ive only been using lightroom for a year, and even to me the software just feels a bit dated and it has various quirks that need to be cleaned up. And I agree its ridiculous that LR doesnt have local HSL adjustment capability. I wouldn't be surprised if they haven't implemented it because it will make LR run even slower. LR doesnt seem to behave great when you start doing lots of local adjustments, which is kind of lame.

I like the Adobe environment, lightroom is a great organizational tool, and think paying 10 bucks a month is reasonable for photoshop/lightroom cloud access, but they really need to step up their game given all of the really good non subscription alternatives that are out now.

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