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Shai Yamannee on Apple Photos Alternatives

Hi Allison, Steve, and the Nosillacastaways. Shai here, on the road with the Farewell Tour of the Broadway production of Mamma Mia!

Recently a request for alternatives to Apple Photos was made on the Nosillacastaway Facebook page, and I have a few that I wanted to let you know about. I know many of you cried out in anguish when Apple decided to put Aperture out to pasture.

It seemed that the only alternative was Lightroom, and I know that many didn’t want to jump into the Adobe ecosystem.
Before we start though, I have to say that I am a Lightroom user. It works well for my professional workflow, but I am constantly on the lookout for alternatives. If it wasn’t for the fact that I know Lightroom so well, I might have been tempted to move to these other apps myself.

So the alternatives I am familiar with are:

  • Exposure X2 – by Alienskin
  • On1 Photo RAW – by OnOne Software
  • Capture One Pro – Phase One

These apps range from easy to use to pro level. So, let me give you a very brief overview of each.

Exposure X2

I have used Alienskin plugins for years, and they are excellent. Exposure X2 is no exception. It is sleek, fast, and has most of the sliders and adjustments that Lightroom has, and a few more such as Overlays and Bokeh. The layout is very similar to Lightroom with menus that can be hidden on all four sides of the screen. You have the ability to do selective brushing on of adjustments, healing and cloning, so you are able to do edits that are independent of each other. These you can adjust later on to your hearts content.

It also has full metadata and filtering abilities. But, the reason that I use Exposure X2 is for the wonderful film emulation presets.
They are simply stunning, and are the go to for many portrait photographers in the industry.
They match my favorite plugins, which are VSCO and Mastin Labs, for film emulation quality, but you don’t need Lightroom to run them.

Overall, an excellent piece of software, and one that Lightroom and Aperture users should find very easy to use. Price starts at US $149 at alienskin.com/…

On1 Photo Raw

On1 Photo Raw – by OnOne Software is a fairly new player to the game. The company has been around for years, and I have used their plugins in the past, but the Photo Raw app has emerged only recently to challenge Lightroom as a way to manage your images.

Photo Raw feels a lot like Lightroom to me. Once again, you have menus on all sides of the screen, and a plethora of adjustments and filters. You also have access to the huge range of effects that On1 are known for. The On1 group have really worked on getting RAW processing speeds up. This is something that Lightroom suffers in doing.

It is fast, and sleek, and can handle pretty much what you need to throw at it. On1 Photo Raw can be bought outright, or by subscription. To buy it outright it is US$119.99 at on1.com/…. Subscriptions start at US $59.99 a year.

Capture 1 Pro

This is an industry standard for professional photographers. If you are looking for the best at RAW image processing, editing capabilities, as well as a fast and stable tethering solution, then this is one of the leaders in the pack.

This software is developed by Phase One, the makers of the expensive Medium Format cameras that take ridiculously huge files, and by huge, I mean up to 100 Megapixel images. With files of this size, they needed software that could handle them, so they developed their own app.

Although the layout of the app is completely customizable, it is a lot more technical than other apps. You will see menus and adjustments here that would make a NASA engineer weep for joy, and a newbie photographer weep in fear.

But, fear not. Although it can be daunting at first, you soon learn to love the capabilities that this software has to offer.
In many ways, this app is so capable that you can get away with never having to export out to photoshop.

Another reason to use this app is for tethering. That is the process of taking images with the camera attached to a computer. This gives you remote shooting capabilities, as well as being able to show the images to a team, or client, in real time, and have them tag and do minor adjustments on the fly. You can also have the image show under an overlay, so teams that make magazine covers, or the like, are able to see how the image fits under all the text and effects in real time. There is no other app that comes close to the capabilities that Capture 1 has with tethering.

Overall, this is the height of professional editing. It is probably overkill for most people, but it really does show what is capable in image manipulation.

Capture 1 Pro can be paid for via subscription, or outright at phaseone.com/…. The subscription starts around $20/ Euros a month. To buy it outright, it is US $299/ EUR 279

I’m sure that there are other photo managers out there, so, it is still worth doing a bit of searching yourself if you are looking to move from Apple Photos.

Even though I use Lightroom for the majority of my image management, I still find myself using Apple Photos for all my iPhone images. The capability for the auto syncing just makes that side of my photography life so much easier.

I hope these suggestions help give you an idea of alternative management apps.

Thanks again to Allison and Steve for putting together such a great podcast. Wishing you all the best until next time.

2 thoughts on “Shai Yamannee on Apple Photos Alternatives

  1. Allister - July 25, 2017

    Hi Shai. You refer to “photo managers” but your comments on each of the applications refers to their photo processing/editing qualities. For me, the role Lightroom plays that I really care about is the management of my 30,000+ frame photo library. As Allison will attest, I’ve gone quite extreme on keywording, but I also often use LR’s filters to find shots taken with specific equipment, in specific time ranges, of specific file types, and more.

    I reckon I could adapt to just about any RAW processing engine, but any replacement for LR (I’d like one!) would have to make the grade on the management tasks. How do the above applications compare in this respect? I know a lot of “Adobe replacements” I’ve read about in other articles are in fact not Digital Asset Managers (DAMs) at all.

  2. Shai Yammanee - July 25, 2017

    Hi Allister,

    I tended to focus more on the editing capabilites mainly because I was approaching the review from the standpoint of an Apple Photos replacement. When it comes to metadata and tagging, it is tough to compare with the pro level software out there.
    There is a reason that I use Lightroom as my primary management software. I have a similar process to you, and keywording in Lightroom has become second nature to me. Flags, Colour Tagging, and Star Ratings, are vital my workflow as well.

    Exposure 2 has these capabilities, but I haven’t found a way of adding keywords.
    It might be there, but I couldn’t find it.
    What it does have is quite an extensive search capability for things such as f-stop, lens type, date of shoot ….
    I do feel like this software focuses on the film emulation quality first, and management second. It is brilliant at what it does, but there is a reason that I use it as a lightroom extension rather than my primary management software.
    Unlike the other apps, Exposure 2 doesn’t have a catalogue based system. It puts a file with all the edit data in the original location of the images. Makes it quite quick to edit images as soon as they are imported. Also, quite convenient when backing up.

    On1 Photo Raw is a lot closer to Lightroom.
    It even has a way of importing your photos, metadata and catalogues from Lightroom into it.
    It has keywording, labeling, ratings, filters, tags, albums, and smart album capabilities.
    It runs via a catalogue system that can be locally based, or even cloud based.
    It also handles all file types including DNG and PSD files.
    I haven’t had a chance to use this as much as I would like, but they are doing a lot of work in making this a Lightroom alternative.

    Capture One Pro has pretty much every capability that you would want from professional software.
    It is the most full featured piece of software that I have used. Hence, the possibility of it becoming overwhelming.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t handle DNG files, but I don’t use that format very often.
    The main thing that I find that it lacks is quick comparison capabilities that Lightroom excels in. That is my primary reason for not switching. Saying that, they do seem to listen to what photographers have complained about, and have hinted that this will be improved in future updates.
    It is a catalogue based system, which is pretty much standard for these type of apps. It is also designed to handle extremely large image libraries as well as large file sizes.
    It works quite differently to Lightroom, so there will be a bit of getting used to the UI. But everything is there.
    Unfortunately, these capabilities do come with the highest price tag.

    All in all, Capture One Pro is the gold standard in software, but On1 Photo Raw is working very hard in becoming an attractive Lightroom replacement.
    I would definitely recommend downloading their trial and giving it a go. It is still new software, but they are updating very consistently and have a good team of people working on it.

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