I'm the first to admit I love Lightroom. Sure, it has its issues, like occasionally slow performance on good hardware and an admittedly aging interface, but I'm comfortable with it. There are a number of tasks, though, that you just shouldn't be using Lightroom for. Want to know what they are?
One that I most recently noticed, when working on a number of architectural photos, was Lightroom's lackluster support for transform/upright corrections. Sure, you can make these corrections, but between Lightroom's slower rendering performance and lack of options for rescaling, I was always disappointed. I found that I was losing the edges of my frame, without any way to fix it. Bringing these photos over to Photoshop made things much easier. I could rescale my canvas to avoid losing the edges, fill in small gaps with content aware fill, and iterate through the process more quickly. Now, the best solution would just be to buy a tilt-shift lens, but until then, I'll do my architectural corrections in Photoshop.
It's not just photos of buildings, but photos of people. While accurate skin tones are a whole new issue, let's talk about retouching first. Lightroom is lacking support for significant retouching capabilities, which is understandable. What I'm sad to see is just how bad the basic retouching and cloning situation is.
Lightroom is fine for cloning one or two dust spots out of a sky, but for anything more, the spot tool is not up to the task. With many corrections, it slows to a crawl (noticing a theme?), while for large corrections, it lacks the control and versatility of the healing brush, clone stamp, content aware fill, and the patch tool. Furthermore, if you're a skilled retouching artist and are trying to work with frequency separation, Lightroom has nothing of relevance to offer. For anything more than a lone dust spot or errant zit, you'll want to bring your images over to Photoshop for any retouching.
The brush and gradient mask tools, right near the spot healing tool, are another example of Lightroom's skin deep feature set. Luminosity and color masking were added a while ago, but are far from the complete package. Both are relatively slow to preview, without much possibility of refinement. Compared to a dedicated panel or plugin in Photoshop, they too are only good for small adjustments.
Another example of Lightroom's half-measured support falling short is panorama stitching. While I love the idea of Lightroom retaining all your raw information throughout the stitch, Lightroom only supports a very narrow use case. Essentially, you need to be shooting a textbook panorama. Perfect rotation around the nodal point, no moving elements, no parallax issues; if you have something even slightly off, you'll spend a minute waiting on a progress bar, just to see an error message.
I've had much more success editing one file, syncing the changes across, and exporting to stitch in a dedicated program. While I lose some of the flexibility of the raw files, the much better stitching performance makes up for it. Lightroom still doesn't make this workflow easy, since you have to make sure to set a custom white balance and lens corrections to avoid inconsistencies in the stitched shot. Whether you're using Hugin, PTGui, or just Photoshop, you'll appreciate the greater control over your stitch.
Color adjustments, particularly for studio or portraiture work, have always been a strength of Capture One. While I haven't had the opportunity to work extensively with Capture One, its features and reputation make it the clear choice for this kind of work. Support for intensive color matching, via the Xrite ColorChecker Passport, goes far beyond Lightroom's HSL and white balance tools. Additionally, Capture One supports dedicated panels for skin tone adjustments, making it a better tool for tweaking the color of portraits. While my work doesn't typically involve these tools, I've seen other photographers use them to great effect.
Beyond working with raw color, many users just prefer the default look of other raw processing software. Past testing has shown that you can generate an almost identical look with any program, but for many users, getting to that desired look with the fewest steps is preferred. I didn't have a strong position on this issue in the past, but Lightroom appears to interact weirdly with some settings on my Z 7. Besides locking some of the profile corrections on, I find that my raw files don't appear to be as neutral, requiring either changes to the default settings or profile. While I've since worked out a default profile I like, I don't enjoy how Adobe approached this change.
One of the classic differentiators for Lightroom has been layer support, or lack thereof. While this was fine five years ago, times have changed. Lightroom's competition, like Capture One and Affinity Photo, have brought layer support to the party. Other tools, like Skylum Luminar, also offer some form of layer support, although not to the same extent as Photoshop.
As I've come to rely more on layers and as my workflow has evolved over the years, the lack of layer support is really starting to stick out. I'd love to see an implementation of layers into Lightroom's non-destructive editing style, but I dread to think of the performance impact it would bring. Until then, it seems Control+E is going to still be my friend.
The roundtrip workflow between Lightroom and Photoshop has been fine, but doesn't feel as efficient as it could be. Having to jump over to Photoshop just to use layers feels unnecessary, since an increasing number of tools have come over to Lightroom, at least in some form. The left side panel in the Develop module feels like a natural fit for a layers menu. It already includes history and preset support. Layers, along with better masking support, could go a long way to cutting down my need for Photoshop.
Lightroom can't do everything for every type of photographer. If you're a dedicated studio shooter, you're probably already tethering with Capture One. If you're unhappy with the pricing model, maybe you've given an alternative product a try. If you're like me, having used Lightroom for years, you've grown used to some of the peculiarities. I definitely still see value in Lightroom, however. Particularly as part of the photography plan, Photoshop and Lightroom can cover photographers of every skill level and style, even if you have to rely on both apps for the complete picture.
I've used it for years, for both personal and professional work, and haven't been too unhappy with it. I love the dedicated catalog and ability to go back to refine a years-old shot at any time. I've gotten comfortable with the interface and quirks from years of working with it. Combined with my catalog going back years, I've got quite a bit of lock-in. Features like keywording, GPS support, and the wide (if a bit shallow) variety of editing tools means I can do 90% of my work in Lightroom. For that last 10%, however, I'm relying more on external tools, and it seems that 10% is only growing, despite Lightroom's updates.
Speaking of updates, Adobe has recently introduced an update for ACR and Lightroom that provides improved performance and GPU processing support for a number of tools. In my preliminary testing, things have gotten a bit snappier. I'd still like to see a number of feature updates, but I agree with Adobe's path in addressing performance first.