warning, long frustrated rant follows....
I have been using Bibble and then AfterShot since 2005 and have been one of the core beta testers. It was the oldest independent raw converter and the first to show a decent work-flow concept.
Previous incantations of Lightroom never held my interest as they did not deliver any significant advance in image quality and the UI was always unappealing.
But now Corel is successfully turning AfterShot into a Zombie (no camera updates since the fired the original developers last summer) and the image quality of LR 4 has made a huge leap to the front.
I sometimes prefer the Capture One colors, but functionality wise, LR has more to offer.
So I started to look at LR again.
After a few weeks with Lightroom, I wonder how one can design such a counter-productive UI.
Looking at LR from a work-flow perspective, it is full of inconsistencies and deficiencies.
If it where not for the quality of the raw conversion and tonal control (which finally with v4 got to a very good state), I really would not want to deal with this showpiece of UI torture.
Looking at a standard work-flow starting with downloading from the CF card, there is already the first issue. Why does LR impose a policy on naming the directories? Why can't I have a decent structure with job names in the directory names instead of just an anonymous date?
So I either need to use another application for downloading or go through manual renaming to get to my usual structure (which has been working fine for me for a decade now):
Looks like Adobe thinks everyone still sits at an old 4:3 screen instead of the currently commonplace wide formats. Or why I can't I have a vertical thumb strip instead of wasting precious vertical screen height?
Next is going through the images for first culling. While I do like the SHIFT-X functionality, the use of P and X - which are wide apart on the keyboard - for Pick and Reject makes it impossible to work efficiently with the keyboard. Pick and reject keys should be next to each other so that one does not need to move the hand.
Speaking of hotkeys, they are generally quite inconsistent, and references to them in menus are sometimes shown and sometimes not. If there is a hotkey for a menu item it should always be shown in the menu. No matter whether that function is reached by a context popup in any of the modules or via the top menu bar. (for example the rotate function CTRL-[ and CTRL-], which do not even work on my German keyboard...)
And why do we have to endure a fixed keyboard layout instead of user definable hotkeys to fit the users needs? Especially as this is linked to a US keyboard layout which only a subset of users have anyway.
The keys do not follow any discernible logical scheme, so they have to be memorized explicitly.
Give the user a choice to set them up according the user's needs...
So Adobe thinks it is good to force everyone to use a library. Wouldn't be so bad if the library where functional complete.
But selections seem to miss simple things like NOT (ever tried to select a monstrous list and then exclude one entry, not really efficient).
How can I find all shots of Lions that where made neither in Tanzania nor Namibia?
Or things like scripting to automate tasks and a private metadata name space for metadata that is for internal use in contrast to the exported meta information (See iMatch hierarchical categories for example).
And why do we have the module switching on an extra wasteful bar at the top instead of in the top menu bar. Even folded away, it takes up valuable pixels of screen estate for no real gain.
The copy previous is quite useful as well as the sync functions, but why is there no simple copy&paste of image settings, only selective copy?
Yet another additional mouse movement and click or a move to the enter key.
And why do I have to press the shift key to paste image settings?
When adjusting sliders, why do I have to click on a slider to enable the mouse wheel? Just hovering should be enough. Yet another useless interaction requirement that slows the user down (if you do not hit the slider control precisely but somewhere on the slider, the setting jumps there, so the mouse needs to be positioned quite precisely, before the mouse wheel can be used)
And where are the thresholds for the auto functions defined?
Most of the time this function gives me extremes on the bright or contrasty side.
And if one follows the recommendation to work the sliders from top to bottom any clarity adjustment after auto will usually result in clipped blacks (D700 NEFs)
This whole artificial separation of Library and Develop module seems to serve only one purpose, to annoy the user.
Thumbs have different information and buttons depending on the mode instead of
being consistently configurable according to the users needs.
Of course, the actions that work on thumbs are also not consistent. Why?!
The left-hand panel should be consistent across all modules and the metadata management is just additional tools for the right hand panel.
Then the whole confusion would be gone.
When looking at things like the compare view it becomes even more ridiculous. Why can I look at two images in comparison, but there is now way to edit one of them? (unless I have a second monitor which hopefully close enough in color to the prime screen to make comparisons meaningful)
Why is the image name only shown when the thumb strip is active?
How about using the window title bar? It already displays the module name, why not the image name?
After having read Jeff Schewe's book (highly recommended!!) it looks like I have to blame him for the crop panning madness ;-)
Why break existing UI paradigms for a crop tool? For people who routinely use a wide range of applications, this is an extreme slowdown as one constantly has to mentally switch the tool behavior.
And why is there no hotkey to directly activate the straightening tool?
Why no auto correct after a straighten adjustment? The auto adjustment of the crop works at the first use of the straighten tool, why not when one adjusts it?
ALT-Space N is disabled, so what is the alternative under Windows to iconify the app quickly?
Why can't regional adjustments be toggled on or off?
And why do I still need to branch out to an external editor when I want to clone out parts. Currently the clone facility is not even sufficient to effectively correct some of the more extreme sensor dust-bunnies that refuse to be contained in small spots let alone serious cloning out of distractions.
While some of the dual-screen functions are useful, being able to move all panels over as needed would help quite a bit to make it more efficient.
The setup of Capture One work-spaces is a much better example on structuring UI parts for multiple screens.
And when I finally want to generate output, why do I have to go through a hierarchy of menus instead of just hitting a hotkey for my desired output target?
And why do I have to buy a plug-in to generate output on a mirror path?
How hard is it to have some path name variables for the output definition?
Or when I prepare for print, why can't I soft-proof to CMYK? Which also brings up the question about the Blurb book module. Why is this castrated to sRGB? After all, Blurb does support proper PDFs with CMYK images.
Or the DPI settings for the printers, those are easily calculated values for the printers, that have been discussed on LuLa often enough, why not default to the appropriate values, after all, LR thinks it already knows how to sharpen appropriately with the available settings?