RT is more of an experiment box for interested image algorithm developers and digital photography interested users rather than a fast to learn efficient production tool.
Personally I find it to be a great tool for artistic low volume work and I do all my medium format landscape work in it (with some aid of other post-processing tools when needed), but I fire up Lightroom when I have 1500 images from the latest sports shoot to deal with.
We in the developer group know about the issue that RT allows to do things in multiple ways, RT is not at all as user-friendly as Lightroom. We do strive to make it more user-friendly and take one step at a time, but it will never be as stream-lined as say Lightroom. Developers come and go based on time and interest, each developer has typically interest in some smaller subset functionality and put an effort into that.
Simply put we don't have the resources and continuity to make it a streamlined application as user-friendly as the commercial apps.
I also find it quite interesting from an educational perspective to for example have four different curve types. Few actually know how a contrast curve affects color, but RT can demonstrate this really well. We have standard RGB curve (ie Capture One way), we have Adobe's film-like curve (close but not same to RGB), a more color-neutral weigthed curve and the theoretically neutral luminance curve (but will actually produce a perceptually desaturated result). Likewise we allow selecting different demosaicers, which in a streamlined user-friendly app would be an auto-choice of course.
So if you ask me I actually prefer if we don't make it too user-friendly but instead leave options for the user to experiment with various processing methods. User-friendly means cutting away all but one tool for making a specific task, reduce slider ranges to not include "crazy range", and make many settings automatic. While this would make it more competitive with Lightroom and C1, it would also rob the user of understanding of how digital photography works. RT is "rawer", while commercial tools try to immitate film behaviour.
That said RT can be used quite efficiently, with your own custom profiles and reducing the number of tools you use.
My own pet hate of RT is the default profile which enables auto-levels ("auto tone"), typically works well for high contrast landscape images but sucks for everything else (there's an ongoing debate of replacing it). You can replace that default profile with your own though, which is what I have done, with just a DCP and a curve.
As a Lightroom and C1 owner I enjoy the possibilty to use both Lightroom DCPs and C1 ICCs in RT. For my MF back I use a custom DCP, but when I casually process files from my compact I generally use ICCs from C1 (which I think has better color than Adobe). Note that C1 ICC are designed to be used with a standard (RGB) curve, and Lightroom DCPs with a film-curve if you want to replicate their looks.
Thanks for your comments Torger--I hope my comments did not appear too critical. I've only been using RT for about a month (many hours each night after work!) and I love it because it does things no other tool does, and in some areas does them better than any other tool can. I wouldn't trade all the features/benefits you mention above so that RT becomes a LR or C1 clone. FWIW I haven't used Aperture or C1 much recently...RT is pretty cool!
My interest in RT began upon hearing the news about Aperture. I bought a copy of C1 and downloaded RT within a week of hearing the news.
For the record, I definitely appreciate the opportunity to use a tool like RT, which (due to it's non-commercial status) doesn't need to be "a product" with all the baggage that that entails. Your description that RT is an "experiment" for image processing enthusiasts makes me appreciate it even more--it doesn't feel like one
Regarding my comments about "gouging my eyes out" trying to duplicate in RT what I did in another tool...Now that I've been able to sleep on it I think my outburst can be distilled to this:
For some of my RAW 5D3 files RT seems to render a yellow/orange or orange/magenta cast that is very difficult for me to eliminate...it's not just color temp/tint... Strangely, this may be coupled with a general "flatness" or lack of contrast/punch between tones. Generally speaking, I always zero out the Neutral profile for the reasons you state above, and agree with your "pet hate"
To tackle flatness I have been using both tone curves in the Exposure set, the Lab Lightness curve, Lab CH, and Lab CL curves, as well as Contrast by Level.
To tackle the color cast I have been using RGB curves, and the assorted Lab Chromaticity/Hue related curves.
As you can see, this particular image has me in futzing with just about every curve and curve type in RT
I have three UI suggestions that I believe will make a big difference:
1. Eliminate the Flat tone curve in all curve drop downs. Instead, make one of the various curve types the default (doesn't matter which) and make the curve flat. This will eliminate two mouse clicks anytime someone wants to work with a curve. If people want to save their curve settings they can save a history snapshot.
2. Consolidate RGB/HSV type adjustments into a single control, perhaps similar to C1's neat little color wheel or Aperture's Color adjustment block. These UI's enable someone to pick a color and then adjust hue, saturation, level, and range all in one spot. This does not mean I want to eliminate RGB curves...
3. RT, LR, C1, DarkTable...all these tools offer some form of a tabbed interface for organizing adjustments like exposure, color, sharpness/noise, etc. IMO these UI's are horrible because the user has no way of seeing all the adjustments that have been made to an image. In addition, while this categorical "workflow-driven" interface makes sense on paper (...get your exposure right, then do sharpen/noise...then do color...etc) this disciplined workflow paradigm breaks down in practice, and the user is constantly switching back and forth between different tabs to "get it right." If they haven't already, I highly suggest that the RT UI team take a look at how Aperture does this, which provides a single tab for all adjustments...which only need be exposed within the UI if they are actually being used. Note in the attached image all "adjustments" are centralized under one tab. Scrolling through a list of adjustments is far easier than clicking, scrolling, collapsing...etc.
Anyways--thanks for your contributions to the project and for compiling the latest for us Mac users; I appreciate it!