Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Lightroom Alternative

Alan_Baseley Avatar
6 Aug 2019 12:13PM
I've been looking for an alternative to Lightroom for a while now and while there are plenty about that can do the processing functions of Lightroom, the difficulty comes in finding an alternative that not only has the processing and cataloguing functions but will also read and use the Lightroom/Bridge keywords and read the edits done in Lightroom without having to start again.
Yesterday I came across digiKam ( ) which can import and use images with Lightroom edits and the Lightroom/Bridge keywords. It doesn't, however, appear to recognize the labels allocated in Lightroom/Bridge.
The real bonus is that it's free (or contributions if you wish).
I've downloaded it and installed it and am trying out in the hope I can finally break free of Adobe.
First impressions are good, the cataloguing seems to work well, as do the keywords and there is a myriad of processing functions that, on first use, make it appear to be a very good alternative to Lightroom.
I've posted this comment for anyone else who may be looking for something that could save and use the edits done in Lightroom.
Looks like this may be the answer.
Alan_Baseley Avatar
6 Aug 2019 2:34PM
How about a review EPZ? SmileSmileSmile Please.
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2019 2:55PM
Hi Alan, it looks interesting, I'd be interested in what you think, and whether you find it a suitable replacement for Lightroom.
Alan_Baseley Avatar
6 Aug 2019 3:54PM
Will do Josh, but it's also nice to hear what others think, particularly the pros.
Alan_Baseley Avatar
7 Aug 2019 10:32AM
I've had a bit of a play around with digiKam over the last day. observations so far.
1. It does seem to recognize edits on RAW files done in Lightroom/ACR provided the XMP option had been enabled in Lightroom.
2. It will import images from a camera and apply auto adjustments, if you wish.
3. A batch processing facility that works well.
4. Editing functions work OK. It's easy to compare edited with original.
5. It seems to have a Versions facility as Lightroom, although I've not properly investigated this yet.
6. Has the facility to send an images to a chosen image editor i.e Photoshop, Affinity etc., etc.
7. UI is OK and easy to use.
8. A good cataloguing application.
9. It has it's own Rubbish/Trash Bin. Probably makes it harder to permanently delete files by mistake.
10. It's free

1. The editing facilities don't appear as comprehensive as Lightroom/ACR. However an external editor Affinity, Photoshop, Elements etc., etc. can be used.

I'll keep trying it out and reporting back

seahawk Avatar
seahawk 16 1.4k United Kingdom
7 Aug 2019 10:54AM
Also try LightZone (now revived and open-source freeware). Picktorial is free but the free version doesn't do RAW editing and the Pro version is subscription-ware like Adobe so I have abandoned that. I have trialled Capture One and though the results are excellent, and it's fast, it's also too expensive. I'm most impressed with Luminar; it's a little slow (but no worse than LR) but it produces good results and it's quite cheap. The developers continue to make improvements and Version 4 comes out this autumn; it has great potential.
I'm a Mac user so I'm not able to comment on PC versions of any of these. Apple's Photos application is pretty good now (though not as good as Aperture was) and it's free.
I'm going to try digiKam, I wasn't aware of it until I read Alan's original post above. Like him I'm looking for a LR alternative as I refuse to go down the subscription route.
Alan_Baseley Avatar
7 Aug 2019 11:26AM
I've tried Capture One, Luminar, and On1 Photo Raw and while they are all excellent packages the problem I've got (as have many others I assume) is that I've thousands of photos going back to the dawn of the digital age (photographically speaking) a large proportion of which have been keyworded and edited in Lightroom or ACR and non of those apps recognize the keywords or the edits done in Lightroom/ACR whereas digiKam does.
It, therefore, potentially makes all the work done in Lightroom/Bridge/ACR in the past not a total waste of time.
It wasn't too bad when Adobe let Bridge be used for free but I understand (maybe incorrectly) that the latest version is only available to CC subscribers.
Even if digiKam is not as good as Lightroom/ACR for processing photos I've found Affinity Photo with plugins to be more than adequate for my editing needs.

JJGEE Avatar
JJGEE 18 8.1k 18 England
7 Aug 2019 11:57AM

Quote:....recognize the keywords or the edits done in Lightroom/ACR whereas digiKam does.

In terms of edits, surely that can only be the case if digiKam has the same processing engine as Lightroom ?

I have not tried it but Phase One are quite open in stating that importing a LR catalog into Capture One Pro may not produce exactly the same results due to the processing engine interpretation.

Alan_Baseley Avatar
7 Aug 2019 12:33PM
apparently digiKam is one of very few apps that uses xmp metadata files to record edits of the original files. It also reads the xmp files of other apps i.e Lightroom (if it has been set to record the edits in xmp files). As to whether it uses the settings in exactly the same way, i don't know. I would have thought that there must be some difference as I haven't found a Highlight/Shadows slider (yet) in digiKam
Looking at previews in Bridge and in digiKam there doesn't appear to be much, if any, difference. it seems to me the previews are good enough to judge the images without any further editing, whereas if you open a RAW image in most apps you get the original photo without any edits and that can significantly different from a Lightroom/ACR edited image.

Alan_Baseley Avatar
11 Aug 2019 10:34AM
After a few more days of using digiKam I thought I'd post another update, second impressions, if you like.
As a photo catalogue application it is easy to use, and comprehensive. It imports keywords, Lightroom/ACR edits and seems to show them much the same as Lightroom does. It does not seem to import colour labels from Bridge/Lightroom but it has it's own, more comprehensive colour labels. Editing and moving (in the tag tree) of tags/keywords seems to me to be easier than both Bridge and Lightroom. IMO, so far, it is better than both Bridge and Lightroom as a catalogue application.
As a piece of processing/editing software it has more features and options than I first thought and it seems to work well, but is taking me a bit of time to get used to it. However it gives the option of opening an images in any suitable software.
Batch processing of numerous features seems to work very well, at least on the few files and features I've used..
Search options are very comprehensive and work extremely well.
Final thought, until I've used it a bit more, it seems to me to be a much more than adequate replacement for Bridge and also for Lightroom particularly since it's £100/annum cheaper.
Has anyone else out there tried it? If so, what do you think?
chavender Avatar
chavender Plus
12 578 2 France
11 Aug 2019 10:26PM
Downloaded and installed it this evening and will have a look over the next few days or so after I have checked out any online tutorials.
As a long time lightroom user (since version 1) it seems a bit strange at first glance.
Alan_Baseley Avatar
12 Aug 2019 9:06AM

Quote:.............................................. it seems a bit strange at first glance.

Those were my thoughts initially Bill, but Im getting used to it now,

StartedWithABrownie127 Avatar

Quote:Downloaded and installed it this evening and will have a look over the next few days or so after I have checked out any online tutorials.
As a long time lightroom user (since version 1) it seems a bit strange at first glance.

I'm getting frustrated with lightroom.
How did you get on with it? How do you bring catalogue info from lightroom?
chavender Avatar
chavender Plus
12 578 2 France
29 Jul 2020 11:27AM

Quote:I'm getting frustrated with lightroom.
How did you get on with it? How do you bring catalogue info from lightroom?

After a good look, I decided to stay with lightroom.

Alan_Baseley Avatar
29 Jul 2020 12:08PM
After using digiKam for about a year, I thought I'd report back.
I'm still using it for cataloguing, and occasionally for processing and editing images and wouldn't want to switch back to either Lightroom or Bridge. I've recently scanned a lot of old slides and negatives and am in the process of incorporating those into digiKam.
I can't see any benefit to me paying £100+ per annum for Lightroom/Bridge when I can do what I need or want to for considerably less with digiKam and Affinity plus the odd plug-in.


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