Adobe’s Swift Support of New Camera RAW Profiles Has Spoiled Me

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Adobe’s swift support for camera RAW profiles has made it difficult to go look anywhere else for a reasonable alternative. For now, most pro-oriented roads still lead to ACR.

Adobe has had a rough go of it lately and as a result, more photographers have been asking what legitimate options exist that can replace Photoshop and Lightroom. I’ve been testing a few and while they’re all capable performance-wise, I’m left feeling spoiled by Adobe’s absurdly fast support for new camera RAW profiles.

Over the past several years, Adobe has gone from “pretty fast” to outright “ludicrous speed” when it comes to supporting new RAW profiles. When the X100VI was announced in February, I expected to wait at least until launch to get the ability to edit my RAWs, but Adobe pushed an Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) update that arrived while I was sitting in the Haneda Airport in Japan — mere days after the camera’s announcement and well ahead of public availability.

The Panasonic S9 and GH7 took a bit longer but were similar stories: I’ve been able to comfortably edit RAWs from both now for a while, and the latter isn’t even shipping to customers yet.

Conversely, Photomator and Affinity leave something to be desired. I was trying to work on a file Chris Niccolls sent me that he shot on his OM-1 Mark II last week and I was shocked to find that both Pixelmator and Photomator didn’t support it yet. After speaking to Pixelmator, I learned that it relies pretty heavily on Apple’s RAW support and while it does its best to expand on it as quickly as possible, that can take a while.

For example, I was told that an update to Photomator and Pixelmator coming by the end of July would bring RAW support to a bunch more cameras, but I was shocked at the list:

  • Sony a6700
  • Sony a7CR
  • Sony a7C II
  • Fujifilm X-A20
  • Olympus TG-5
  • Olympus TG-6
  • OM System TG-7
  • OM System OM-5
  • Olympus E-M1 Mark II
  • Olympus E-M1 Mark III
  • Olympus OM-1 Mark II
  • Olympus E-M10 Mark IIIS
  • Sony A9 III
  • GoPro HERO10
  • Panasonic DC-G100D
  • Fujifilm X-T50

Seeing the X-T50 on there is great — that’s pretty swift support. But seeing the Sony a6700, the a7CR, the a7C II, and the OM System TG-6, OM-5, and E-M1 Mark II on the list is downright baffling. That list of Sony cameras is almost a year old and the OM System E-M1 Mark II came out in 2016.

I know that as a camera reviewer, I’m going to have my hands on new hardware a lot sooner than a vast majority of photographers will, so I get not seeing a camera added immediately. But six months? A year? Eight years? There has to be a line of reasonable expectation and it’s sooner than that.

Serif Affinity Photo is better, although not by much. It only added support for the Panasonic G9 Mark II, GH6, and Nikon Z8 at the end of February. That update also brought support for a swath of Sony cameras including the a7C II, a7CR, a7R V, and a9 III. Again, the a9 III I get, but not seeing the a7C II, Nikon Z8, or the GH6 sooner feels like a big miss. The Lumix GH6 came out two years ago.

From what we can see, the company coming closest to Adobe is DxO, which seems to be pumping out camera support pretty quickly. The Lumix S9, for example, is already supported. All of the egregious examples above are supported, too, but the Panasonic GH7 still isn’t, to give an example of how far ahead Adobe is with updating ACR.

Capture One, which has fallen out of favor with many photographers due to its pricing shift (and visible instability), has pretty quick support, too, although it notably isn’t allowing you to edit the RAWs from a Lumix S9 or GH7 yet. It does, at least, allow photographers to edit Z6 III files, though. DxO doesn’t yet.

There is some give and take between the top two alternatives in DxO and Capture one, but Adobe overlaps both and provides more functionality with its software — good luck editing a GH7 photo file and then turning it into a graphic design if you’re only using DxO or Capture One. If you want to do more than just edit a photo, Photoshop is light years ahead of the competition.

Obviously, Adobe is working directly with camera manufacturers to source RAW profiles early. In the past, I and other PetaPixel editors have worked with Adobe to get access to RAW profiles even earlier through a beta version of ACR, showing that Adobe is even further ahead than its public releases indicate.

Look, I’m not a big fan of some of the things Adobe has said and done over the years and have been a vocal critic for the better part of a decade. I’m nowhere near an Adobe shill, but I have to give them credit here: to actually do work with photos and produce the content we have to, there really is not a viable alternative to Photoshop right now — and that stinks.