Simple comparison of LightRoom 4, Corel AfterShot Pro, DarkTable

I understand that I should upgrade from my basic workflow (mostly Picasa + some Cyberlink PhotoDirector).


The basic of what I’m looking into is a step-up, single stop (if possible!) solution to:

  1. keep my large library organized
  2. enhance my pics (mostly jpg*) with a fair balance of feature vs. easy-of-use
  3. local enhancements

    • I’ll be trying to shot more raw as soon as I realize that, with the appropriate tool, the result is worth it over in-camera jpg conversion

I’m quite satisfied with Picasa as a catalogue, definitely not for any photo processing other thank a quick saturation and sharpening bumb, but without local edits it does not work all the time.

I’m looking into the following:

(I do not have a mac so Aperture is not an option)

I’m wondering whether somebody has been able to test them all (or most!) and provide a first-person feedback on which features stand up / are lacking in comparison, plus any additional experience advise in comparing these software. I do know that lightroom is great and that you don’t get wrong with that ;-) , and that I could test drive all of them. My experience though is that it takes way more than 30 days to discover the real features AND limitations of this kind of software.

Price is of course an element of the comparison, but only at an equal feature point.

There is more than just the features; for instance I hear color management on Linux is hard – I don’t want to launch an off-topic discussion about it, but if there’s a very strong agreement on such a point it will be an issue against DarkTable(edit: i investigated and it’s actually false).

I understand there might be some subjectiveness into this, please let me know with comments if there’s any interest in making the answer a collaborative wiki.

4 Responses to “Simple comparison of LightRoom 4, Corel AfterShot Pro, DarkTable”

  1. bwalk2895 says:

    I have been using Lightroom for a couple of years (both version 3 and 4) and it has some nice features and some quirks.

    • Importing, I can set the categories for all the photos I want to import, and have it “pre-touch up” my photos. This saves a lot of time later.
    • Non-destructive editing, I can always revert back to the original picture.
    • The auto correct feature (especially in version 4) is very nice. I still have to make some minor adjustments afterwards, but more often than not it does a good job. For example if I had something underexposed, it would set the right exposure (better with DNG or RAW files)
    • They are constantly updating it, even minor versions (4.1, 4.2 etc) adds some nice functionality.
    • Publish to your favorite photo hosting site is a snap. I use both flickr and smugmug and it has those plug-ins built in.
    • Using keywords (their version of tags) I can create smart collections to organize my files.

    That being said there are a few things I don’t like about it.

    • Some features are unneeded, like the album and video editing modules (not my cup of tea)
    • It is really handy to touch up pictures, adjust the exposure, change a color here and there. But if I want to do something like add clouds to a picture, then I have to use another tool like Photoshop.
    • Touching up a picture and organizing pictures are in two separate modules (Develop and Library), can require a lot of clicking back and forth.
  2. Francesco says:

    I have been using Darktable and Aftershot. I cannot comment on Lightroom since it doesn’t run in my Operating System.

    I prefer Darktable, it has lot of plugins and features and allows for a quality of pictures.

    PS: You could also check photivo: it is a good solution, too.

  3. DetlevCM says:

    If Corel’s Paint ShopPro is an indicator, I wouldn’t touch any of their software unless I was desperate and it came free… (have it at university and it is horribly slow – pretty much useless for RAW editing, but on JPEGs you might live with it.)

    Lightroom 4 is very nice – but the performance is bad… I bought a new computer to edit RAW files on it, because while my laptop with CS4 (and CameraRAW 5.7) was fine, Lightroom 4 was torture… (4.1 was a bit better, but still not good).
    Again, for JPEGs you won’t be that affected, but it is worth mentioning.

    I think a part of your decision should be long term planning:
    If you want to stick with photography, then Lightroom is possibly the way to go because it is the most widely used, has lots of support and the price for Lightroom 4 is fair in relation to other photo editors. (Lightroom 3 and earlier was just overpriced – unless you bought it once for 10 years of use or so…)
    Having said that, I would be careful on depending on a catalogue – I can tell you I don’t use the Lightroom catalogue and tell it to write .xmp files. You move a photo outside of Lightroom to another folder and Lightroom removes it from the catalogue… if it is a folder that is still watched by Lightroom I think it will recognize it as a new photo. XMP sidecar files stay with the image and will work in Lightroom (including earlier and later versions) as well as Photoshop.

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