July 15, 2016 at 9:29 pm #18062Austin VinarParticipant
In what ways is a expensive program like Photoshop or Lightroom better than a free one like Gimp or Rawtherapee?July 18, 2016 at 8:58 pm #18102Ezra MorleyModerator
Well, that’s not a very simple question to answer! 🙂
- You get reliable software that has been coded by a team of professionals and rigorously tested for bugs.
Now don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of bugs in commercial software. But as a whole, companies are usually pretty good at trying to iron out all the bugs before releasing their software. I don’t mean to discredit the free open source software developers either, but they are usually unpaid, and fewer in number, so they simply don’t have the resources to devote to maturing software that mega companies like Adobe has. What’s amazing to me is that a few hard working people can create software that can compete with these big corporations! The free software developers rely on us, the users, to help them test their software and point out bugs and improvements that need to be made.
FOSS (Free, Open Source Software, like GIMP and RAWTherapee) usually has 2 different “branches”, the development branch, and the stable branch. The development branch is the latest, “bleeding edge” version of the software with all the latest tweaks and bugfixes and possibly new features. All this tweaking and patching can introduce new bugs, so it’s not uncommon for the development versions to crash pretty easily.
A “stable” release is the culmination of dozens of patches and bug-fixes that make the software a lot more reliable. Basically, they iron all the bugs out of the development versions, and roll them all together into a “Stable” version.
With a big company like Adobe, common users never see the “development” branch. All the testing and development is internal, and once it’s completed, the stable software is released.
- You generally get better support from the companies behind paid software.
This is actually not as cut-and-dried as it may seem though. Note that there are different kinds of support. The kind I was referring to above is “answers to questions users might have about a product”. You can usually get “instant” support for paid products via phone or live chat.
On the other hand, Free open source software generally has pretty good support as well, it’s just not instantaneous. What’s nice about OS (open source) software is that you can often directly ask the developers your question, and get an answer. The downside is that the devs are usually extremely busy, so their answers are quite brief. Another advantage to OS software support, and being able to directly contact the developer is that you can get fixes for bugs in mere hours or days, instead of weeks or months like with huge corporations. I have seen people ask for features in free software, and they received an update with the desired feature the same day! You’re doing good to get a bugfix for commercial software in weeks or months!
- You get extensive documentation and tutorials.
This is one area where Lightroom has a huge advantage over RAWTherapee. There are probably thousands of tutorials for Lightroom, including videos made by Adobe themselves! RAWTherapee, on the other hand has a very sad dearth of documentation and tutorials. I have not ever seen a RAWTherapee tutorial that I could recommend to a beginner. That’s why I made my own, here: RAWTherapee Video Tutorial There is somewhat exhaustive documentation for RAWTherapee here on RawPedia. Since RAWTherapee is still being developed, a lot of the documention made just a year or two ago is out of date, which further compounds the problem.
- You get software designed to be easy to use.
- FOSS (Free Open Source Software) usually has a steeper learning curve.
This is related to the previous point, and it’s both a pro and a con. (The lack of good high-quality documentation automatically makes the learning curve steeper) The Pro? Lightroom is much easier to use than RAWTherapee (in my opinion). But if you compare raw (not RAW) processing power and capabilities, RT is much more powerful. If there’s something that can’t be done to a RAW file with RAWTherapee, it can’t be done at all! (That last sentence might have been a bit of exaggeration…) 🙂
Since RT is built for power instead of looks and ease-of-use, it can be harder to use. On the other hand, if you know what you’re doing, you should theoretically be able to get better results with RT, because it gives you finer control over the processing of your RAW file.
Actually, in addition to being easy to use, LR makes it easy to get good results. It’s very easy to get lost in RT with all the myriads of processing options, many of which are closely related to each other or overlapping. LR is designed to give good results with a minimum of fussing.
To quote myself from this thread: https://www.lenspiration.com/forums/topic/rawtherapee-vs-adobe-lightroom/
One of the main differences is that Lightroom is made to be easy to use. It’s tools are all laid out in a sequential way, in the order that most people would use them.
RAWTherapee on the other hand aims to cover all the bases. There is often more than one way to do certain edits. Different algorithms give different results, depending on the situation. Consequently, RT has every tool they can think of. While that’s great, it does make it very confusing for a new user who is trying to figure out how to do a basic adjustment to a RAW file.
Well, I’m sure there are more differences, but I can’t think of them right now. Maybe I’ll think of some more later. 🙂
July 18, 2016 at 9:43 pm #18104Austin VinarParticipant
- This reply was modified 51 years, 2 months ago by .
Wow, Thanks a lot @buddingphotographer, thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down. That helps a lot to know that. I’m still open to any thoughts that anyone might have. =)July 19, 2016 at 9:10 pm #18125
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