The Relentless March of Technology and Image Editing Software

Editor’s Note: This post appeared verbatim in the July 15, 2014, newsletter. It is being posted here by request.

One thing is certain when it comes to image editing software: Change is inevitable. Most changes are incremental. Photoshop CC 2014 added a couple of new features for photographers but Photoshop CC 2014 isn’t “all new.” This means I don’t have to learn a whole new program, just a few new features. However, if a company decides that their technology is old or not profitable, they may decide to simply cease development and that leaves you with some pretty serious issues.

Many photographers are currently being forced to create new workflows because the authors of their favorite image editing applications, Nikon Capture NX 2 and Apple’s Aperture and iPhoto, have decided to cease development. NX 2, Aperture, and iPhoto are still available but support and development will soon end. NX 2 will be replaced by Nikon Capture NX-D and Aperture and iPhoto with Photos for Mac OS X and the iCloud Photo Library. However, these applications and services are not the equivalent of the applications they are replacing except for the replacement of iPhoto with Photos.

While you may use neither, there are or were many Nikonians that love Capture NX-2. There is also a legion of faithful Aperture users. While the currently available versions of these applications will continue to work on current operating systems, there is no guarantee that they will in future operating systems or that any bugs will be fixed in the future. So, you have some decisions to make and it is better to make them now rather than later and to get started implementing them now as well.

Depending on your current workflow, switching image editing applications poses some serious compatibility and other issues. (I am not going to address the change from iPhoto to Photos for Mac here because, if you are reading this newsletter, you are probably using something other than iPhoto.) Here are just a few…

  • Edits in NX 2 and Aperture will not translate into Lightroom or other programs
  • Keywords and other metadata may or may not transfer to Lightroom or other programs
  • Lightroom or any other image editing program will require you to learn another application and that takes time
  • Your workflow may need to change to reflect the different capabilities of the new application
  • There will be a cost to the transfer, e.g., buying a license or subscription to a new application
  • If you are a Mac user, do you upgrade your operating system this fall and risk breaking something (I suggest you wait and check the online forums. The early adopters will tell you whether NX 2 (possibly but maybe not) or Aperture (very doubtful) break.

There is also another downside if you are a professional or enthusiast with a large number of images. You really only have, in my opinion, a couple of options: Lightroom or Capture One with Media Pro. Of those two, the only real option for most will be Lightroom. I know that some will disagree with my conclusion but for simplicity of workflow, you can’t beat Lightroom. Also, it is only $149 for a perpetual license, which is much cheaper than the $299 for Capture One, and an extensive number of plugins are available for expanding Lightroom that simply aren’t there for Capture One.

So, if you are a NX 2 or Aperture user, now is the time to start thinking about the transition to a new workflow. You have some work to do before the end of the year.

Editor’s Note: The School of Creative Photography will hold a two-day class on September 20 and 21, 2014, on Lightroom. The class cover organizing, editing, and printing your images from Lightroom.