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Adobe: The Gang Who Couldn’t Import Straight

November 24, 2015

And practically useless on dates.
– Final line of a limerick inappropriate for the entirety of this audience…


I’ve railed against Adobe a time or two on this blog regarding their current CC (Cash Cow, er, Creative Cloud) subscription model.  Beyond not wanting to rent my software, I have raised concern about adding features to software people are using and the opportunity to break their workflow.

While the blog was on hiatus, though not too long ago, it happened.

I reluctantly purchased Lightroom 6 early in the summer for reasons I may describe later.  I hated giving them money, but there was really no choice in the matter.  Thankfully, Lightroom is still available under a traditional purchase model (which Adobe refers to as a Perpetual License).  Probably the reason that they do is there is a viable alternative to Lightroom (Capture One Pro from Phase One to name the most popular) whereas there isn’t a viable alternative to Photoshop (yet).

So things were going reasonably great until they, without much warning, changed the way photos are imported into Lightroom.  For the uninitiated, in Lightroom to work on a photo you import it (and usually the rest of the folder) into Lightroom, perform your adjustments and labeling, and then export individual images out.  For me, Lightroom is my tool for coarse adjustments and labeling and then I export it to Photoshop to do the fine adjustments and then store it where I want it.  With Lightroom, your originals are never touched in a process called non-destructive editing–the import just makes it available to the program.

Importing images can be intimidating for new users.  It doesn’t feel intuitive because frankly it is a different way of doing things.  The Import module can be mighty, mighty powerful and for many there are too many options available and that is confusing.  Sort of like the joke made I believe by Bill Cosby about his father or grandfather’s old Philco radio that had 287 knobs and only two of them seemed to do anything.

So Adobe, without speaking (or listening) to their core audience, released version 6.2 of Lightroom which completely revamped the import process.  And by revamped I mean dumbed down.  It removed options that professional and serious hobbyist photographers used with no workarounds.  Dumbed it down so much that you could not longer import more than one folder at a time.  Of course, defeating part of my point and disgust with Adobe, they extended this new import scheme to the perpetual license folks, too.  And I got caught up in the mess.

At first the folks at Adobe were indignant.  We did this to help all users.  But as the screams got louder, they relented, half-heartedly apologized, announced they’d undo what they did in the next numbered version, and disgruntled users using the perpetual license could downgrade back to 6.1 and get their old workflows back.  True to their word (this time), version 6.3 resolved the problem and fixed some lingering bugs.

Moral of my story remains:  When you’re renting software, you are at the mercy of the folks you’re renting it from.  In Adobe’s case, the CC folks had no choice when the upgrade came down.Whether it be in your fixed costs or in how the software behaves, you don’t have any control because you don’t own it (or a license to it).  And when you change workflows, you have to relearn all over again costing time that you could spend processing images effectively and being out in the field.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2015 12:53 pm

    Very interesting. I wouldn’t be able to comment without actually experiencing the new import, but I do find the current one in version 5 too complicated. But I plan on sticking with 5 unless I get a new camera that is not supported. Have a good Thanksgiving!

    • November 24, 2015 4:08 pm

      Importing is very complicated if you’re not constantly using it. The right way to fix it would have been to offer both a reduced set of options along with the normal/more complicated set of options. I own a license to version 5, but I never installed it because I didn’t want to mess with my workflow. I didn’t have a choice due to a purchase I made this summer and had to go straight to 6. I’ll blog about that soon.

      Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!


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