Adjusting and Organizing Photos

As of today I have 22,113 photos and 750 videos occupying ~250GB. I have been using Aperture for photos and iMovie for videos. With most of the videos being shot on iPhone or my camera, I hardly used iMovie and all videos started residing in Aperture. Before choosing Aperture I tried with Lightroom (LR 2, I believe) , but decided to go with Aperture,  as I found its organization and speed was much superior. With LR kept gaining more and more features and Aperture getting stuck, I went to LR few times to give it a try, but  limited its use edit photos I mainly wanted to print or the photos I shoot for others.

Finally Apple pulled the plug on Aperture, so went to LR again, but still can’t stand the clunkiness of the import and slowness of edit. So decided to use Photos. I really loved its organization and speed. I am not a commercial photographer, though I shoot sometimes for friends and family events, which I keep them  LR and kept Photos only for personal use.  After using Photos for more than a year, I started missing many of the capability of advanced photo edits. So decided to choose a new tool.

I read many reviews of different tools, the problem is each of the reviewer’s need is so unique and their skills are so varying, none of the review felt it addressed my needs. If I choose a tool, I probably would be using that for next five to 10 years, so decided to spend some time before making a selection.

Style of Editing

I prefer not  to manage photos in file system by my self with folders and such,  so want auto organization during import. Easy way to pick the few I want to keep and publish.  Basically most of my edits are to recover highlights and shadows, little bit of contrast and sharpening.  Brushes for  sharpening, skin softening, white balance and exposure and occasional Photoshop use.


  1. Photos
  2. Lightroom
  3. Capture One Pro 9
  4. DXO Optics Pro 11

Selection Based on Edit’s

Initially I kept the goal simple. Choose a tool with the least amount of time for edits to get desired results. I asked my friends and family to recommend photos based on the tool it was edited. They said they all looked the same. What?, how can they all look similar, they are so different. Then I looked the images on my iPhone, iPad and my windows laptop. Oh! Crap! even I can’t find out which is what.

Here are the images :

Then I realized unless you look the images in on 27″ iMac which is regularly calibrated with something like x.rite, there is not going to be much of difference, and if I look at one output from one tool I could easily similar results in others.

Selection based on Organization

Then I realized out of 500+ photos from a trip, I actually edit less than 50 of them. Most of time is spend on choosing which 50 out of the 500.  So decided to independently work on each of the tool and check the process and outcome.

1) Photos

Other than the fact it is free, I really liked  its grouping of  photos automatically based on time and location from iPhone photos. Just import and done, nothing to select nothing to enter.  Super fast way to browse and select, and extremely quick response on edit. On top of it I liked the iCloud sync with iMac, iPhones , iPad, Macbook.  The problem is its lack of brushed edits, not only that, the edits available is also not that great. So waited for some plugins to solve this, unfortunately DxO plug-in is literally handicapped and Photos gained no way to hide photos.

May be Photos will gain all these functions when iPad pro is capable of editing 50MP Raw smoothly. Till then I don’t see Apple giving much attention to Photos.

2) DXO Optics Pro 11

Next started with DxO, I really liked its lens correction, for long lenses though subtle it totally corrects the lenses flaw in faces.  Image adjustments are so easy, and the defaults like ClearView , clarity etc.. makes edit really a breeze.  It has so many great presets, though it makes some images looks awesome, it alters the mood I want to preserve.

It has no organization capability, and I felt the changes alters the mood of the image I captured, so decided to try the next two.

3) Lightroom and Capture One Pro 9 

Step 1: Organization

Since I was very familiar with LR adjustments, organization and shortcuts I wanted to give it one more try.  So imported some 500+ pictures from my recent trip to Alberta into both LR and Capture One. Tried to organize , select and edit them. I expected to get around 30 photos.

So started with Capture One Pro,  the organization of photos feels so intuitive, considering the fact that I never used it before. A quick way to mark images for deletion, quickly go back and forth between images , zoom in to select the right one, and want to do a quick edit to decide if to keep the image with recovered highlight or the one with the brightened shadows, easy to filter the ones.

Halfway through, went to LR to get to the other half of images. Still not easy to work with, has to go back forth between develop and library module. Filtering is also not easy. I went back and forth between LR and Capture One to select the images I want to keep, delete, mark for sharing and mark for printing.

It literally took more than twice the time I spent on Capture One to get the images.

Step 2: Adjustments

Started with Capture One, though I missed many adjustments I had in LR, I got similar or better result with the fewer controls.  The controls are much snappier, no lag between preview and adjustments.  Went to LR to edit the some more photos, the newer version is definitely faster during edits and when switching between develop and library modules. It took little longer to get the results I want, I felt some images are better in LR and some are better in Capture One.

But the LR started showing its sluggishness after using for some time, the adjustments are not responsive , my iMac fan started running. Which I never heard till I started using LR for some time. Though my iMac is not the current one, it is just the version before 4k, with the processor speed and graphics card maxed to spec. If LR is slower even in this iMac, there is no way I can use it my macbook.

The main problem I felt capture one is no quick way to do Before/After comparison, though I use a new variant it doesn’t copy the ratings. So I have to disable filter or remove filters change the rating for new variant and then enable filter.

In fairness to LR, I really liked its tight integration with Photoshop, the ability to do HDR inside, ability to add number of plug-ins like DxO, and very quick update from Adobe for Raw support.

Decision Time

I decide to go with Capture One, mainly for its efficient organizing and its tighter integration with the development during organization.  And the fact that it felt so natural with just one day of use, I could never get that “comfiness”  with Lightroom even after so many years of use.

Though Capture One has some quirkiness like “enter” key not doing what you would expect it to do, the fact that I got so much done with its first day, I am sure I will easily learn the “Capture One” way of editing. The Image Quality results are also very similar or better than LR with fewer, quicker adjustments.

If Adobe had updated their LR software much earlier to its current responsiveness I might have never tried Capture One. But after spending a day with it, I fell I am glad I gave it a try.

Here are same photos from both the tools.. You decide which one you like.



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