Whilst I was vocal in my condemnation of Adobe’s attempts to kidnap users of their product range into the Creative Cloud, I very soon found out - the hard way - that I really couldn’t do without it.
It all began in the simple, innocuous way that these things normally do; a colleague asked me to work on some RAW files from his new Nikon D7100. I loaded them on to my Mac and then found that I was unable to view them in Bridge or open them with Adobe Camera RAW.
That should be simple I reassured myself - all I need is the latest Camera RAW plugin from Adobe. After ten minutes hunting around their web site I discovered the unpalatable truth; my fully paid for, licenced versions of Photoshop CS5.5 are not compatible with the latest Camera RAW plugins - I would have to upgrade to Photoshop CS6.
To do this would cost me around £200 per licence. Now on one hand one could argue that this would bring me bang up-to-date with the latest version of Photoshop, which is quite true, whilst on the other hand an equally compelling argument suggests that all I am doing is buying myself a little extra time until the day comes when the next iteration of Camera RAW arrives that is no longer compatible with anything that I own.
I reassured myself that at least I had a fully licenced version of Lightroom 4 which used the same plugin, so things weren’t quite as bad as they could be. The trouble was that I don’t like to use Lightroom for my initial metadata inputs or my image adjustments - that’s a task I feel more comfortable with in Bridge. What was I to do?
I was drawn back to Adobe’s Creative Cloud and after much soul searching decided to join the Cloud with a licence for Photoshop CC only, at around £16.00 a month. This allowed my to have the latest version on two computers - my iMac and my MacBook Pro - for around £190 a year. Whilst expensive, it was half the price of buying two legitimate upgrades and meant that I would always be up-to-date.
I had bitten the lure and was now being reeled in by the fisherman. However much I wriggled I could not get off the hook. Every month, if I had not logged my MacBook Pro on to the internet, I would get a warning telling me that unless I connected with the Creative Cloud I would lose the use of my software. OK, so I still had Photoshop CS4 and CS5.5 and Lightroom 4 to fall back on if push came to shove, but it didn’t really inspire a feeling of comfort or of loyalty that having fully paid for, works anywhere, any time software gives.
And then I discovered that I could ‘upgrade’ my package to include Lightroom 5 - for half the price. I circled back into the pond, grabbed the lure and was hooked all over again. Now, for less than £10.00 a month I have Photoshop CC 2018 and Lightroom Classic. They are brilliant products - there is no doubt - and I use them all the time on my two Macs licenced to run the software. I still get the shot fired across my bows when using the MacBook Pro away from an internet connection, to forcibly remind me that I am beholden to Adobe for every hour, of every day, of every month, of every year for the rest of my working life. With the way things are economically today that could be quite a long time. That’s around £120.00 per annum. You could argue that it’s less than half my car insurance, or a fraction of my car servicing costs, or half my road fund licence, or 5% of my council tax - and you’d be right. But you’d also be missing the point.
When I spend good money on my Nikons I don’t expect to pay for an annual use ‘key’ for each body to allow me to keep shooting. When I switch on my Macs I don’t have to pay an annual fee to allow me to use the basic functions and when I use Photoshop CS5.5, or InDesign CS5 or, God forbid, Microsoft Office I don’t have to put cash in the meter each time I want to use the programs. I still have the freedom to decide if I want to pay an annual service fee for my Nikon bodies; I still have a choice of when to service my car and how much I want done; I can still shop around for my car and home insurance. In other words I still have a choice.
Come on Adobe - offer alternatives before another competitor comes along and usurps your position. That’s the nature of competition, where you can only keep loyal customers for so long before they discover that someone, somewhere else is actually delivering what customers want.
Get On My (Adobe Creative) Cloud! Part 2