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Editing images on Lightroom

Lightroom is a comprehensive photo editing and image management software. It allows photographers to complete their photography workflow such as importing, processing, and exporting images. But how much is Lightroom? Is it worth the price? Although Lig ...



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How Many Real Estate Photographers Use Non-Adobe Photo-Editing Applications?

Published: 21/07/2016
Peggy is struggling with what photo editing application to use for real estate photography. She says:

Are there any real estate photographers looking at Aftershot Pro 3 as a contender for Lightroom? I am not a big fan of having to work outside of my existing file structure.  I am just starting out in RE Photography, so it is likely easier for someone like me to consider than someone who has been working in LR for years.

I have been on the ASP3 forum, but it is mainly participated in by Corel developers, or so it seems.  I would be interested in any thoughts or to talk to others who use or have tried ASP3.

As you can see from a poll we did some years ago the majority of PFRE readers use either Photoshop, Lightroom or Photoshop Elements or a combination. About 3% of readers use one of the non-Adobe applications. It's time to take another look at this subject.

Since the last poll, Adobe has moved to a subscription based payment model which has caused some photographers to move away from Lightroom and Photoshop. However, the fact remains that the $9.99/mo photographers subscription is a great deal and Lightroom and Photoshop I believe, are the most used photo editing applications by real estate photographers.

[polldaddy poll=9474095]

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

The other factor in deciding what photo editing applications to use is training. There is a huge number of training resources for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements. For example,,, and many other sites have great training. Nowhere near as much exists for other photo editors.

But in the end, you should use what you are most comfortable with and something that fits your budget. There is no one way to do real estate photography. If it works for you use it.

Everyone, please take the poll above. Which non-Adobe photo-editing applications are you using?

Larry Lohrman

19 comments on “How Many Real Estate Photographers Use Non-Adobe Photo-Editing Applications?”

  1. It's true that the Creative Cloud subscription is the best deal running. I don't understand why anyone would want to move away from LR & Photoshop because of it - I spent at least 125 bucks a year on Lightroom alone and had an extremely old copy of Photoshop I never wanted to pay to upgrade. Now I have both of them, always up to date and ready to go.

    As for other applications for editing photos, I use a small stand-alone application called Irfanview ( for lightweight editing tasks, batch resizing and renaming because it is handy and easy to use. Check it out, it's a great photo utility!

  2. Best deal? If you don't mind paying a monthly ransom forever. And what happens if there's a hiccup in the 'phone home' servers?

    I paid north of $500 for Photoshop CS6 and it will serve me well until I can't activate it.

    There's a joke among video editors:
    Why is Adobe the standard?
    Because everyone uses it.
    Why does everyone use it?
    Because it's the standard.

  3. I may be the only vote, but I've used PaintShop Pro since the early JASC days (1994 or so). I have upgraded to new versions every 3 or 4 years for about $60 -- This, when others were paying $600 for Photoshop. I have not found anything I need to do that Photoshop does that I cannot do with PaintShop Pro. I also use Topaz add-ins, Photomatix, and LightZone.

  4. Hi,
    You can use Lightroom and NOT use their catalog/file structure. This is what I do because I don't want my images and file structure tied to one program. Programs come and go.

    I see a lot of photographers who are starting to use Capture One. I've downloaded the trial and can't say I like the interface but I've been using Photoshop since 1999 and LR since it came out. I'm just very comfortable with them.

  5. I use Lightroom 5.7 currently, I don't use the CC subscription because I don't like the whole rent a software model. At least I know my copy will work without relying on payment or webservers. I had an very old version of Photoshop that finally ceased working due to Adobe shutting down the older license servers. Right now I'm testing Affinity Photo/Designer, which is in Beta for the Windows platform. It seems a robust alternative to Photoshop, and would be cheaper.

    Lightroom handles pretty much everything I need it to. I've also experimented with GIMP for anything outside of what LR can handle.

  6. Bonjour, je suis photographe professionnel et certifié Google streetview trusted in Le Mans France et j'utilise dans l'odre ACDSEE pour l'éditing, DXPRO11 pour le traitement des fichiers RAW et JPEG puis si besoin Photoshop 6 voir lightroom; Pour les panos Autopano Giga et Panotour, pour les HDR photomatix.
    Mais je n'ai recours à Adoble QUE si un autre logiciel plus performant sur une fonction et plus productif n'a pas réussi à répondre à mes besoins. Photoshop étant pour moi pas assez productif, trop compliqué et il m'est impossible de facturer des heures de post-production à mes clients; beaucoup d'autres logiciels sont plus rapides et performants que Adobe

    Translation: Hello, I am a professional photographer and certified Google street view trusted in Le Mans France and I use in ACDSEE for editing, DXPRO11 for processing RAW and JPEG files and if need Photoshop lightroom see 6; For panoramas Autopano Giga and Panotour for HDR Photomatix.
    But I did use Adobe ONLY if a more powerful software based on a more productive and failed to meet my needs. Photoshop is for me not productive enough, too complicated and it is impossible to charge post-production hours to my clients; many other programs are faster and powerful than Adobe

  7. I am pretty new to real estate photography. I got into it almost 2 years ago somewhat by accident. I do hobbyist landscape stuff for fun, shot a house for a friend and, 2 years later, it's now a small business. I have been "lurking" on this site for some time and appreciate all I have learned here. Maybe this comment will give a little back.

    When I started, I used LR and Photomatix (I had used LR for years and NIK HDR and Color Efex for landscape work but those don't do batch processing needed for RE work). Then (mainly because of what I read on this site) I tried Enfuse for a bit. I've done trials of so many programs I have lost count. What I didn't like about the LR/Px/En work was how slow they all are with processing bracketed RE work and, at the end, I found that LR is about the worst for resizing for final "web-ready" photos. Also, (like Ben above) I don't want to be tied to the "rent-a-program" model.

    Then, about 3 months ago, I tried an obscure HDR program called "Machinery HDR". Simply put, it's great! It processes my Sony RAW files directly (unlike LR/En which, behind the scene, is making TIFFs first, then processing, etc), is great for large batch file processing, and it's pretty fast. Plus, all the basic and HDR adjustments you can make (and the ability to save all the presets you want) are quite versatile.

    Once Machinery has done its work, I import those files into Capture 1 Pro 9 (Sony only version is very reasonably priced). The "import" is practically instantaneous vs LR. C1P9 is a VERY versatile program and I use for final touch-ups. Then I use it to do my final re-size export and it excels at that.

    I also sometimes use On 1 Photo 10 for some of the work. Its instant access to files (vs LR's "import") is great and it is a also a real "up and coming" alternative to LR for serious photo work and file management. I'm slowly transitioning to O1P10 as my LR replacement and using C1P9 as a super "2nd step" processor for RE work.

    I hope these possibilities offer some real alternatives for the shooters here to consider. It may be time to think about edging out of the "Lightroom Rut".

  8. You are not forced into any type of file structure with LightRoom. LightRoom has defaults when importing, but these are easily changed and overridden.

    You can also physically put you files anyplace you care to in the Windows Browser, as you always do, and then add from a specific location. This leaves the files where they are and adds them to LightRoom.

  9. How interesting to hear from a French photographer where real estate photography is not as valued as it is in the US. If you want to translate his post copy and paste it into Google Translate.

    The questionnaire above has many options but not one that addresses my combination of tools. I use Photoshop with its Bridge attached software to view and sort, give stars and use to convert my finished post images into different file sizes for MLS and HiRes images for my clients (using Photoshop's linked "image processor") to use on websites as well as print ads and brochures. But before I get to actually using Photoshop, I run my images through Photomatix for interiors and now Aurora HDR Pro for exteriors. I am an oddball I know. But like Peggy, both my filing system and my work flow was well established long before Lightroom was first introduced and try as I might, I never get enough time to finish's tutorials let alone develop any mastery of LR, so I am just fine working with PS & Bridge. Plus, I really hate having to organize my photos through LR. I prefer to have my changes sitting as a file alongside the image file I have worked on that can then be moved without having to do it through LR. I do use LR to rename my images with the property address which helps my clients.

    I signed up for the CC version of PS & LR since I needed to keep using a current version of PS that would be supported by Adobe and kept up to date as I replace my Canon bodies and the image files are changed. LR just seemed like an added value that has not added much value as it has worked out. But if I was starting out without years of previous photo work flow, I would definitely recommend new photographers to start out with PS & LR combo. If you price out the cost of updating the previous method of buying the software each time a new upgrade came down the road and had to buy the updates for PS & LR, I think the CC version is pretty competitive. And your software and files are all on your own computer system, something I did not quite understand before I made the change.

    So in short, I use PS, Bridge, Photomatix and Aurora HDR Pro for every shoot. I then use to deliver the images, the paid version, since then the images stay up for those clients who loose or forget to download the images within 10 days. Also lets graphic designers or publication access the files for ads and/or brochures without having to trouble the agent. It also allows clients to send you large files, if necessary, through your subscription. And since my DropBox was hacked, I don't much trust it to send files and possibly viruses to my clients.

    As long as any software does the job and you feel comfortable with it, I would recommend sticking with it. But if you are starting for the first time, I would definitely recommend PS & LR without question.

  10. Peggy,
    I started my business 1 year ago and I chose Capture One Pro 8 for Sony.
    I bought an A6000 and there was a "light" version of the software that was free with the camera. the Pro version was only $50.00 so I bought it. I have never looked back. It is quite simply the best software for me and in my view, for real estate photography in general.
    First of all is the price. the pro version is $300.00. If you are like me and have a Sony A series camera and you choose to use Capture One, the upgrade to from 8 to 9 is $100.00.
    You can opt to "subscribe" or just pay the price for the software. Now for the reasons.
    Window pulls are a snap. If you need to bring in the light from the outside, all you do is paint the window. the window briefly turns read to show the area you painted. this would be a layer. from that point you can adjust the color temp, exposer, highlight, shadows etc. when done, you use the eraser to remove the layer from areas you don't want it . Your layers appear for you to see in the most intuitive way you won't believe it. The gradient filter is also you friend should you need to fill in some light or add more structure to the photo in a certain area.

    There are some things the Capture One cannot (will not) do that Adobe can. There is no cut and paste. That being said, you can still make a gray sky blue if you need to but it's a good idea to use Adobe Elements as a back up should you not achieve the desired results.
    You are in a perfect position to try this system out right now as you don't know how to use any system. Once you buy into a system, you're pretty much locked in with it as any system you pick, including Capture One, will take time to figure out. And once you learn a system, it's tough to switch to another. Capture One is not for the faint of hart, it takes time to master and I still don't use all that it can do but I LOVE IT.
    I am constantly told how beautiful my shots are. Take a look for yourself at

    lastly, I am philosophically opposed to Adobe CS because of the subscriber based system which does not work the same if you miss a payment. I believe it to be greed based I don't care for that.
    I recommend you download a trial of Capture One Pro for 30 days. If you have a Sony camera, there is a "special Sony version" available. This version has been tweaked for Sony cameras to the extent that the software knows the features and limitations of the Sony camera your using.

    That's my 2 cents worth, I hope you find it useful.


  11. Four years in, and STILL there are photographers clinging to the belief that if you aren't on a live internet connection, you can't use CC.

    And STILL we hear the griping about "ransom" etc. over a business model (subscriptions) that has been around for decades. Do these people feel ripped off by magazines and newspapers? Are they bitter that the magazine stops delivering the product if the customer stops paying for it? Do they go off on rants when the hotel they booked wants them to leave if they stop paying for the room? Do they truly believe that they'll be using the same software 5 years from now? And that even if that were possible, it would be a good thing?

    Weird. For something that is so integral to most photographers' process that they would not be able to deliver a usable photo without it, there sure is a lot of ignorance about how it works, and an astonishing amount of pushback over paying for it. Many of these same people are (virtually) lined up waiting to buy the latest $3000+ camera the day it goes on the market.

  12. I also have Lightroom and Photoshop but use Bridge in conjunction with Photoshop as I just don't care for Lightroom. Bridge does the small amount of file handling I need and feeds to Photoshop.
    I'm retired though so not doing volumes of photos like weddings and events. For large volumes I would also go to Lightroom.

  13. What Scott said is almost on target.
    When you subscribe to a newspaper or magazine you get information you can use. If you can't use it anymore, you drop it.
    A better analogy would be Microsoft Office. What you get with that subscription are auto upgrades or updates for your $99.99 per year. What you don't know is what the upgrades will be. What if they are useless to you? why should you pay for them?
    Yes, you pay more if your don't subscribe to Office but so what? At least you don't loose the ability to use the software fully. How did we do it before subscriptions? We waited until the software was meaningfully altered with features we needed.


  14. I have to admit, up to a year or so ago, I was put off by the CC Adobe Lr/Ps. When Scott H. made a comment about the reality of the product, I figured it was time to at least give it a shot, at the very least I could just roll back to the last copy I had if it did not work out.

    Well, I am a convert, it makes sense to have the latest software for the production of my business at all times, rather than work with outdated versions that just slow the post production down and cost me time and money.

    That said, I find the Lr slowing down quite a bit of late and it is very frustrating to be 5 steps ahead of the program.....

    Why someone would insist on using a "wanna be" program instead of the industry standard is beyond me, but then I am in it to make a living, not buck the system.....

  15. A little late to the subject but after a flight you Europe yesterday that was so bad the airline is giving every passenger a certificate, I was totally exhausted, not seeing the subject until this AM. Fully agree with what Scott said about $9.99 the best deal going, however in reality, it is $49.99 as eventually you will need one of the following: Premiere Pro (and it's sub programs- After Effects, Speedgrade etc), Dreamweaver or the easy/lightweight Muse for web, and while there are viable affordable substitutes for Illustrator, there is nothing for InDesign (MS Publisher doesn't cut it and one of the three excluded MS Office programs in the Apple version). My goal now, as noted later, is how to get back to $9.99 or eliminate totally.

    During amateur years started with the shareware version of PaintShop (pre-"Pro") then advance every second version through JASC and Corel, but now have almost fully transitioned to Apple, and no dedicated Apple version. About 10 years ago when turned pro shifted to Photoshop and later, Lightroom which is quite a time saver. Getting Aftershot Pro 3 free as an 'extra' with Corel's Paint program, it is not substitute for Lightroom in RE work with vertical correction totally missing.

    Just turning 65 this month, retiring (or unwinding) from the demands of RE photography will be in the next few years with a shift to other genre of Photography. Paying $49.99/mo isn't bad but is also tax deductible which won't have in retirement. Using that same $49.99 for Medicare Part D (prescription plan) will probably be of more value. The other issue are these upgrades where don't have a choice to skip with subscriptions and they invariably, even with minor upgrades, change workflow. Examples are Adobe pushing their cloud photo that I don't use but greeted with every program launch requiring extra steps just to open a project. Likewise, their last one a month ago trashed plug-ins and had to re-install Enfuse, NIK and others just so Lightroom/Photoshop would recognize as available. It is the little stuff that grinds on you. Thus, I have a continual quest to find substitutes that are not subscription and free up my monthly cashflow with retirement. FCPX for Premier Pro was easy. Adobe upgrade helped with that as not only did the menu change, but some features, such as stabilization, seemed to degrade, plus some sharpening effect didn't hold on rendering. InDesign is the one with on viable substitute with Affinity's program continually delayed/rumored but if it meets their Photo/Design (Photoshop/Illustrator substitute) could be quite viable. One thing considering for retirement is creating e-books (InDesign supports all formats) with active links to website for purchase of photos in the e-book. For photography, was planning on reverting back to PaintShop Pro - but not with Apple unless run in Parallels. Affinity's Photo/Design and Capture One appear promising, but with unique limits supporting total drop of Adobe. May have to maintain the $9.99 Lightroom/Photoshop or revert down to Elements. Actually, you can thank PaintShop Pro for the existence of Elements as it forced Adobe's hand to hit that pricepoint without totally stripping the features.

  16. I think Adobe CC is fantastic. We produce real estate videos in addition to real estate photography, and CC includes everything we need. Lightroom, Photoshop, Premier, Audition (I narrate some of our videos) and occasionally AfterEffects. I even use Illustrator sometimes. That is what I designed my logo in, Illustrator. It is a very complete suite of tools for visual arts.

  17. Wow!! Thank you for the feedback. I have opted to go with Lightroom CC over Aftershot Pro at this time. Primarily because of their lack of support and user created guides that LR has in abundance. I did get the Enfuse Plug in and like it's affects thus far for Real Estate. I will likely do as most of you and explore options over time out of curiosity, if nothing else. I have found a good workflow after reading the Lightroom with Enfuse Hand Blending book. While I use off camera flashes after reading Scott Hargis's book, I do find that I am not good enough at off camera yet to not need blended shots.

    My issue hasn't been so much that I mind the leasing of the program because this is going to be a business, not a hobby. At first glance I felt my work would be "held hostage" in lightroom. The reality is, if I know what my presets are, or my metadata, then I can always recreate. I do find myself using the following file structure:
    Real Estate

    I simply export my merged to my file then export my finals after enfuse editing. This way, its an extra step, but I feel like I have complete control. I also don't use catalogs in lightroom at all. It keeps the system running faster. Once I am done with my project, I export it to my file structure and don't store the catalog.

    I am quite excited as I work in a vacation rental hot spot. I have been told by numerous realtors, and even the HOA management company for which I work that there is great opportunity here. Having been a builder/designer, I am excited that I might bring a different perspective than the average Joe. With MUCH practice, of course. Now - off to finish that website!

    Thanks for you help, I think I am finding my way, even if slowly. 🙂

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