Moving from the Creative Cloud

Alternatives to Adobe Creative Cloud Applications (Podcast 672)

It's time for me to move away from most of Adobe's Creative Cloud suite, and today I explain my reasoning and share which applications I'm moving to.

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Roger Walton
    Posted at 23:07h, 14 August Reply

    I too was a long-term user of the full suite but the “crunch” for me was when Muse was effectively discontinued and all the Muse sites I’d made for people (including my own) became useless almost overnight. The result was Adobe lost a lot of money as I switched to the Photographer’s Plan only. I also now use Affinity Publisher and get a long with it well though I’m not as comfortable there as I was with InDesign. Audition was a loss but I can cope with Audacity instead. I wouldn’t want to desert Lightroom though as, in my mind, it is the best DAM solution out there.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:45h, 15 August Reply

      Hi Roger,

      Ooh! That stings! I wasn’t aware that they did that, as I never used Muse, but just taking stuff away like that is hard to bear, especially when you were creating sites for others as well.

      That’s interesting that you were more comfortable in InDesign. I guess you must have been a lot more comfortable in InDesign than I ever got, despite the training I did. I just did not find it intuitive, yet Affinity Publisher has pretty much everything right where I’d expect it to be. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised a few miles from the Affinity Serif offices. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am really enjoying Audacity, although Audition is a better all-round solution. My problem is that it’s not really possible to apply lots of plugin effects in Audacity, so I’m having to round-trip out of Audicity to another application to use filters etc. to remove the sound of my air conditioning etc. Yesterday I actually found what I think it my best option yet, although it takes a bit longer to export the file. For my music production I use Ableton Live, and I created a template project with all of the filters that I need to run on the audio in an Effects Rack, so now I just have to drop the audio into one track, and the effects/filters are already in place. My intro and outro music are on a second track and I can easily drag them around to align the ending. Unfortunately, Ableton only outputs MP3 audio at 320 kbps, so I have to output a WAV and take that back into Audicity, then output my 190 kbps podcast file. It’s a few extra steps but I can live with that, and there is plenty to do while the export is running.

      I agree that Lightroom is the best DAM solution. I had to break my single Lightroom catalog into multiple catalogs when I moved to Capture One Pro.


      • Hans Knikman
        Posted at 14:08h, 15 August Reply

        Also dropped LR for CO a couple of years ago. DAM wise LR is top but CO has become better with the latest main releases. I have all images in one catalogue without any problems at this momen. Looking forward to a DAM solution of affinity though.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 14:10h, 15 August Reply

          That’s interesting Hans. How many files are you managing in one catalog?

          It might be worth me trying again, although I do have my workflow working pretty well at the moment. Certainly worth revisitng though if Capture One Pro can now handle it.


          • Hans knikman
            Posted at 14:24h, 15 August Reply

            I have 180k+ files in one catalogue. Moving them from LR did take a lo of time, mainly because of the previews generation. But when that was finished it was ok

            • Martin Bailey
              Posted at 12:05h, 17 August Reply

              Thanks, Hans. It’s definitely improved then. When I tried to import my entire catalog, which was probably around 280k images at the time, it did not complete. I left it for many hours, and the process just kept crashing.

              I’m not sure that I need to go back to having everything in one catalog, but I’ll certainly try merging a few and see how Capture One Pro handles it now.

              Thanks for the pointer!


      • Daniel
        Posted at 03:17h, 16 August Reply

        Not a podcaster here but I have heard good things about REAPER (65โ‚ฌ, trial available) with the Ultraschall plugin. (Free –

        UI is in English but all FAQ and tutorials are German only.

        Maybe not the best solution due to the missing englisch documentation and a steep learning curve but certainly worth a look. Auphonic support, StudioLink and Skype support, chapter marks, and many more things a podcaster needs are build in.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 12:19h, 17 August Reply

          Hi Daniel,

          I have actually trialled REAPER as a DAW, because it apparently has really good MPE support. I found it difficult to work with, but I have to admit I did not give it much time.

          UltraSchall looks great though, so I’ll give both UltraSchall and REPEATER another try when I get some time. I’ve just downloaded them to my desktop as a reminder. Lack of English might be a problem if it’s really difficult to use, but hopefully I’ll be able to figure it out.

          Oh, BTW, I don’t qualify for the 65 Euro license for REPEAPER, so I’ll have to spring the 225 if I decide to go this route. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Thanks for the pointer Daniel!


  • Hans Knikman
    Posted at 01:05h, 15 August Reply

    Way cheaper than final cut and more powerful is davinci resolve. There also is a free version available. All a filmmaker can wish. You might want have a look at it!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:58h, 15 August Reply

      Hi Hans,

      Thanks for pointing out DaVinci Resolve! I just took a look and downloaded the free version. I’m not sure I need any of the paid version features, so this may be fine. I see that the paid version is $299, the same price as Final Cut Pro, so if I do need to upgrade, it will be difficult to decide which way to go, as working with industry standards is often better for sharing projects etc. Most people I’ve worked with on video projects are either Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X.

      Having said that, I do like the look of DaVince Resolve, and I don’t collaborate that often, so you never know. Thanks again!


      • Hans knikman
        Posted at 13:58h, 15 August Reply

        Hi Martin, as a professional documentary maker I worked with avid media composer, the standard in the film industry and television world but changed to DaVinci. All software and a modern interface, way cheaper and most important… it has it all in one package. The free version probably is all you need. I can do 99% of the work in it. ( no ties with the firm here ๐Ÿ˜Š) good luck!

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 14:05h, 15 August Reply

          Hi Hans,

          A recommendation from someone with your background is certainly worth a lot. The features in the paid version don’t seem necessary to me at this point, so I agree that the free version will probably be enough.

          To be honest, I don’t really like free. I’d prefer it if there was a basic version for say $100 and the full version for $299. I always feel as though I’m taking advantage of a company by using free products. But, if that’s their business model, I’ll certainly give DaVinci a good run for its, erm, money. :/

          Thanks again for your recommendation. I’d literally never heard of DaVinci, but I’m looking forward to checking it out now.


          • Hans knikman
            Posted at 14:18h, 15 August Reply

            DaVinci is a big name in the film industry for professionalcolor correction for years. They started in the editing business by building the app from scratch like Serif with affinity (which Apps I am using too, except for printing with the canon tool). It is free because of that while wiggling their way into a already saturated small professional market

  • Tim L
    Posted at 06:10h, 15 August Reply

    I’m not sure what you mean by “stand alone Lightroom”. Perhaps you are referring to the Classic version. If you’re referring to the perpetual license version, Adobe eliminated that option quite a while ago (October 2017, IIRC) when they introduced what would have been version Lr 7.

    Unlike you, I have always viewed Adobe’s transition to their rental scheme as a move that primarily benefitted Adobe’s shareholders to the detriment of most customers (and I would argue that history has largely borne that out) but it is actually Apple that will keep me paying monthly rental fees to Adobe. The power of the latest iPad Pros, combined with Apple’s decision to open up iOS 13 to external drives and even mouse support, make the iPad Pro ideal for travel. Affinity Photo on iPad is a great alternative to Photoshop on iPad (assuming it becomes reality at some point) but I’m unaware of any alternative to Lr on mobile. I don’t see C1 being interested in competing in the mobile space.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:05h, 15 August Reply

      Hi Tim,

      Yes, by standalone I meant non-cloud, as in Classic. I just have a hard time with the word Classic with regards to a piece of software that I used to love.

      I would love to be able to travel with just an iPad Pro and would trade-in my current one for the latest model if only Capture One Pro was also available for iOS, but I agree, the chances of that happening are probably very slim, so I think I’m stuck with my MacBook Pro for travel. I actually always take the iPad Pro as well, but a reduction in baggage weight is always welcome.


  • Ian M Butterfield
    Posted at 00:31h, 16 August Reply

    Hi Martin,
    Just listened to this podcast and your comments echo almost exactly my own thoughts. Affinity Publisher was the game changer for me – once that was available and I used it during the Beta phase I knew it was way better than InDesign and that meant I was almost at the point of ditching Adobe CC. Video is important to me and that was a sticking point – I am a Windows user FCP was not an option. I thin stumbled on DaVinci resolve and after a quick tryout, I was more than happy to pay $299 for it…. EXCEPT… that I still haven’t found anything that I can’t do in the free version! And that includes greenscreen Multicam and ‘after-effects style’ titles. As soon as I do find something I need the paid-for version I am happy to pay.

    LR/PS, however, I’m the opposite way round to you – I can quite happily dump PS for Affinity Photo, but I have so many plugins that I use in LR that I can’t easily drop LR. Many of them I can work around – but I use custom metadata extensively and no other Workflow/DAM tool will allow me to define my own metadata fields. But as soon as Capture One or On1 will let me… then it is bye-bye LR. Like you, I feel like’Classic’ is being sidelined.

    Thanks for the podcast – it is reassuring to hear another photographer putting into words what I have been feeling for some time.
    PS. Do give DaVinci Resolve some serious consideratoin for your video work – I’m reading about more and more video pros switching to it from Premiere.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:36h, 17 August Reply

      Hi Ian,

      It’s great to hear that we have followed pretty much the same paths. I’ve been watching the Affinity suite with interest, but with the first half of my year being like a whirlwind, I didn’t notice the beta of Publisher. It was the release announcement that caught my eye, and I’m glad it did!

      I will certainly give DaVinci Resolve a try. I was thinking of Final Cut Pro because I didn’t have an alternative, but now that you and Hans have told me about DaVinci, I’m pretty much sold. Thanks!


    • Brian Witter
      Posted at 05:04h, 23 August Reply

      Look into IMatch. It is very powerful, the community forums are helpful, and the developer is very responsive. I just asked a few days ago why my .exr files weren’t showing thumbnails, and yesterday a new build was released that solved it. It follows metadata standards and doesn’t lock you in, For custom metadata, look into categories and/or attributes. LR as a DAM was no longer working for me, it wasn’t finding files even though the metadata was there. It is also very limited in what it will track. Capture One Pro is so much better at processing for me I can overlook the weak DAM, I just set it to read xmp so I can search the metadata that I create with IMatch.

      • Ian M Butterfield
        Posted at 05:31h, 23 August Reply

        Hi Brian,
        I’m familiar with IMatch – I was user for many years. I agree it is a good product but I have some reservations. It is owned and developed by just one person which is a big concern for me. I’ve used software before that has a single developer product which has left me high and dry when they lost interest or were unable to continue developing the product.

        Something like that *almost* happened with IMatch when I was using it, Marcus(?) was developing IMatch NG (Next Generation) but it took about three years it began to look as though it was never going to arrive. The old version of IMatch that we were using wasn’t coping or keeping up with what I and many others needed. Eventual the new version did arrive but not until many of us had jumped ship and were working with a new all singing all dancing piece of software called “Lightroom” (yes that’s how long ago this was!).

        IMatch has come a long way since then and I’ve not ruled out a return. Even though I know it is possible to extract the data from it, I am still fearful of single owner products.

        • Brian Witter
          Posted at 10:00h, 23 August Reply

          I hear you, I had the same concerns until I thought about the all the times Autodesk, Adobe, Google, Microsoft, Apple …. abandoned programs. Autodesk did it three times with programs that did the same thing (Effect/Paint, Combustion, and Toxic) How often are those big companies going to have a fix in days that only one guy was asking for? Mario is a smart guy, so I’m sure he knows I’m not really the only one who will appreciate it, but still. There just isn’t a safety net other than can you easily get out all the data you put in. I don’t think there is a more powerful DAM at the consumer level I think it will be a while before Phase One puts any real effort into DAM, the old users just don’t seem to care. I don’t see much effort from On1 on the DAM front either I had their plus plan from the beginning until last Dec. I can’t say if IMatch is the best choice for you. I had the same concerns I’ve seen you and others bring up while looking to leave LR, in the year and half since I switched I have no regrets.

  • Mark Casebeer
    Posted at 23:47h, 19 August Reply

    I totally agree with your post about Adobe products. To be honest I really don’t think they care about the individual (professional or amateur). They are all about the corporate world.

    If you’re are Lightroom/Photoshop user like me then the photographers’ plan makes sense. Anything else is just stupidly expensive.

    I’ve migrated to Affinity Designer and Publisher. Love paying upfront for a program, I get to choose if a major update is worth the price. I also use Affinity Photo that really integrates with Publisher very well. (for me it’s no Photoshop). I find both these programs far easier to learn and use than any of the Adobe products. I’m able to do things in Designer than I could never master in Illustrator.

    I ditched Dreamweaver and have used Blocs for my website work. Again far more easy than Adobe.

    I do disagree that Adobe will price themselves out of the market, just look at 2018 earning,
    “Adobe achieved record revenue of greater than $9 billion and delivered outstanding earnings performance in fiscal 2018,” said Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO, Adobe. “In 2018 we made significant investments across our product portfolio, entered new markets, and made strategic acquisitions which we believe will fuel continued top and bottom-line performance.”

    It’s nice that we now have choices that don’t break the bank. Great post, enjoyed reading it. Thanks for changing some of the viewers’ settings, it’s a better user experience.


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:58h, 20 August Reply

      Hi Mark,

      I would think that Adobe doesn’t care as much about the individual as we’d like to think, but non-corporate sales have to still be a large enough slice of their bottom line that we’re still important to them. It would be good to see the proportions of corporate vs non-corporate sales. There are a few hints in this document, but the “feeling” I get is closer in line with your view than mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I didn’t really mean that Adobe would price themselves out of the Market. I’m thinking more about product and marketing strategies that “may” harm them as a company, similar to, for example, Apple making the decision to kill off Aperture. It’s very similar to Adobe making Lightroom “Classic”, which to me means it’s on its way out. I know people are arguing against this theory, and I hope they are right, but naming something Classic is not a good sign, in my opinion.

      Of course, Apple probably don’t miss Aperture, and these (both Adobe and Apple) are folks that know what they are doing, so I was just speculating, but my point was, I was always confident that Adobe would be around, like, forever. But now I’m not so sure. The other major part of this, of course, is companies like Serif that make the Affinity products. If they can continue to make products that we both agree are in many ways head and shoulders over their comparative Adobe Products, and with a more palatable licensing model, it’s eventually going to take its toll on Adobe, so their future may not be as safe as I’d have imagined a few years ago, although I do agree, that it probably won’t kill them off completely. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the great and thought-provoking comment Mark. It’s always good to discuss these topics.


  • Mark Hopgood
    Posted at 21:23h, 21 August Reply

    I enjoyed this podcast Martin and fully agree. I never transitioned to the subscription model especially as the exchange rate in Australia is not very favourable.
    I still have PS CS6 but don’t use it often. I use C1 and Affinity Photo. The plugin compatibility is a bit of an issue and I have had to find work arounds as I used TK Action Panel for luminosity masking. I now have some macros that do a basic job in this regard. I also use DaVinci Resolve and the other Affinity products.

    I have a 2010 Mac Pro so I tend to have smaller catalogues which can be a bit of a pain. Perhaps when I finally update my computer I can combine a few. On that subject I use Photo Mechanic to ingest my images. This is mainly to do with the speed and that I can ingest two cards at once plus have them backed up to another drive. Keywords on import is important as well. The workflow for rating and culling images could not be faster. Once I have gone through this process I import the remaining images into a C1 catalogue. The ratings, colour codes and keywords are also transferred across. I know they are working on a DAM as a paid upgrade to PM6. I would say it would be able to handle a very large catalogue given their history. How you could integrate that with a separate C1 catalogue is an unknown. I’m thinking the PM DAM to find an image which will then point you to the various C1 catalogues. Just a thought.

    I enjoy your work.

    Cheers Mark

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 00:19h, 29 August Reply

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Have you tried the new Luminosity Mask feature built into Capture One Pro 12? That was what it took to get me into doing any kind of luminosity masking, and may well be an alternative to your TK Action Panel, and macros.

      I used Davinci Resolve for the first time briefly last week, to create the video that I embedded into the post after this one. I like it a lot, so I’m pleased everyone let me know about it.

      On my machines, Capture One Pro can do everything that you mentioned you do with Photo Mechanic except keywords on import. I used to do that with Lightroom, so I do miss that, but because I’m doing fine with Capture One as a DAM and I am really happy with the speed of the rating process in Capture One Pro, I have just gotten used to doing my keywording after import. Personally, for me, it would take more than the keywording to make me add a second application to my workflow.

      It will be interesting to see how your workflow shapes up though, with the upcoming PM DAM and Capture One catalog integration. Keep me in the loop if you come up with anything that works well.


      • Mark Hopgood
        Posted at 14:40h, 29 August Reply

        Hi Martin

        Yes I have and it was the main feature why I upgraded C1. It is mainly for any compositing work or artistic interpretations that I use Affinity Photo and therefore would like to have Luminosity masks. Having said that their blend options feature is quite good. I just have to get better at using it.

        Another point that I had intended to mention but forgot was C1’s new plugin feature. I imagine that you are not the only photographer to use Canon’s Print Studio Pro. Perhaps a request to either may see it as a plugin for C1. That way you would be free from Adobe.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 18:13h, 29 August Reply

          Hi Mark,

          OK, I see. If you’re compositing, it’s definitely out of Capture One Pro territory.

          It would certainly be nice to see Canon’s Print Studio Pro as a Capture One plugin. The developer at Canon that did the Mac version of the Accounting Manager application that comes with large format printers told me that he did it just because I asked for it, so maybe I’ll try my luck again. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Thanks for mentioning it. I probably woudn’t have thought of that otherwise. Fingers crossed!


  • Ulysses Ashton
    Posted at 21:19h, 28 August Reply

    Thank you for this, Martin. I actually read the article from top to bottom rather than listen to the podcast. I seemed to have had a Safari browser issue with loading the podcast at the top of the page. By the time I’d gotten midway through the article, the podcast was loaded; however, I was already invested in the written words. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As the comments prove, your tale resonates with quite a number of us. I was one of the first generation to voice dissatisfaction with Adobe when in May 2013 they announced their software rental scheme via their Creative Cloud products. It was never about the money. Many of us were quite vocal about the fact that Adobe no longer offered options for a perpetual license of their software. When it was clear that they were not listening to their users โ€” at least not the niche of small-business customers โ€” I knew the writing was on the wall. I was going to need to find other software to replace my Adobe options.

    At that point I began taking a much closer look at the software I used in my workflow. I was stunned to realize just how mired in an Adobe workflow our studio had become. More specifically, I relied upon a system of plug-ins that required Adobe products. Over the years, I’d paid a ton of money to the larger corporation as well as to smaller satellite companies in the Adobe ecosphere. And yet there was neither any respect for customer feedback nor loyalty to the customer.

    So I set about on a long-term plan to investigate other options โ€” specifically for Photoshop and Lightroom since those were my workhorse applications. Because I’m rather methodical about this sort of thing, and there was a lack of free time, I’d previously been using Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5, but was gradually running into issues with their lack of support for newer camera raw formats. Purchasing Lightroom 6, the final version with a perpetual license, softened the urgency of leaving Adobe while I took my time to research and test other options.

    This is when I found Affinity Photo, perhaps four of five years ago. I knew fairly instantly that it was a powerful piece of software. Transition from a Photoshop workflow was relatively easy because there was a fair amount of parity between their respective interfaces and even their keyboard shortcuts. Over time, I found that some operations were actually easier, quicker, and more intuitive than within Photoshop (for example, the Frequency Separation tool). I transitioned from testing Affinity Photo to making it a permanent part of my workflow. It got to the point that I actually began to forget how to do certain things in Photoshop, wondering why certain tools were “missing!”

    Lightroom was easily supplanted by Capture One Pro. Although I was familiar with COP for years and even owned it, I never invested the time to learn it. Its interface seemed intimidating and difficult, not very user friendly. However, Capture One Pro version 10 changed all of that, with a number of improvements that made COP much more approachable. I was highly motivated to look into their very deep knowledge base and tutorials, and was finally able to overcome the fear factor of moving away from Lightroom. I’m a much happier photographer for the effort.

    As for my former set of many plug-ins for Photoshop and Lightroom, some of the more important ones work along with Affinity Photo. And the ones that don’t work at all, I find I don’t actually miss them that much. What I’ve gained in enjoying my work and in $$$ savings offsets saying goodbye to those plug-ins.

    Additionally, Serif listens to customer feedback. Some of my own suggestions have been implemented as additional features and fixes in their desktop and mobile products. This is thrilling!

    Ultimately, I feel more in control of my own decisions, rather than those decisions being controlled by a large corporation that has zero interest in my studio. So go ahead and make a clean break, Martin (and others sitting on the Adobe fence!) In my case, it wasn’t good enough to simply reduce the amount of money I was paying to Adobe. I was motivated enough to make a clean break from their photography and design products. Any upset to my studio workflow has been temporary.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 00:43h, 29 August Reply

      Hi Ulysses,

      Sorry to hear that you had problems with the audio player. Occasionally it can take a while to display, due to the cache software settings, but usually, if it’s not there pretty quickly, try refreshing the page. I’ve actually not noticed it getting stuck for a while, and thought I had the settings down, so maybe you could try flushing your browser cache. You may have some old code that is getting in the way.

      You have a great story of your transition, which I enjoyed reading. It is actually cheaper for me to keep Photoshop for this year, as it was going to cost me $333 to cancel my Creative Cloud subscription, and it only cost me $121 to switch to the Photoshop subscription, so I’m ahead of the game now.

      I have relayed the main plugins that I would love for Affinity Photo to support to the Serif team. If they support my requested plugins before next June, I will be able to cut the cord on the Creative Cloud completely. Right now, Photoshop is still required as a plugin host, unfortunately.

      I was actually never against the Creative Cloud, as it worked out cheaper for me than buying the Master Suite upgrades, at least until they started to creep the price up. It was these stealth price increases that really got me thinking. I had already moved to Capture One Pro in 2016, to version 9, so Lightroom was no longer part of the equation for me.

      I was also reliant on Adobe for too many other products until Serif covered Illustrator and InDesign as well as Photoshop. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next, but now that everyone has told me about Davinci Resolve for video, I’m not so desperate for Serif to release an alternative, although I’ll certainly take a look if they do, as they have done everything else they do so well!

      Anyway, it was great to see your story and compare notes. Thanks again for taking the time to share it here.


  • Hans
    Posted at 15:19h, 29 August Reply

    I also did a plugin request at PhaseOne for a printing path from CO to Canon Print Studio Pro. Guess how more users do this the better ๐Ÿ™‚

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