Monday, June 2, 2008

Review: Lightroom 1.4 (a.k.a. Bibble vs Lightroom)

Today I got an e-mail with the subject, "Your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom trial is about to end."

I guess it's time to do my Lightroom review now, huh.

Actually, I'm already under some pressure because I've got 100+ baseball photos I need to get edited and on CD in the next week. And before I can do that, I need to decide which software (Lightroom or Bibble) I'll go with.

So this is less of a Lightroom review and more of a Lightroom v1.4 and Bibble 4.9 Pro comparison. For your reference, there are some other comparisons out there. I've also completed a Bibble 4.9 Pro review.

Really, I think I'd be happy with either piece of software. Both are very usable, both have very similar editing capability (head and shoulders above Picasa 2 and RawShooter Pro), and both do what I need: RAW conversion.

Ultimately, it comes down to a subjective assessment. The 10,000 ft view is that Lightroom focuses on the library and keywording aspects while Bibble focuses on streamlining the workflow. Also, related to above, Lightroom is library based (NOT based on file location on the disk) while Bibble is disk-based.

So, some pros and cons for each:

Where Lightroom is better:

  • Much better keywording and tagging. While, admittedly, I haven't used Bibble in this way, Lightroom is designed to make tagging easy. Both include IPTC support, but I think the Lightroom UI is much better.
  • Cheaper for me ($100 w/ academic discount (normally $300) to $130 for Bibble Pro).
  • Beautiful to look at. Let's face it... Bibble has a relatively ugly interface.
  • The crop/rotate interface is awesome to use. The Bibble interface is just annoying, especially rotation.
  • Multi-level undo. I didn't realize how much I used it until I didn't have it in Bibble.
  • Much better highlight recovery. In Bibble I didn't notice much a difference, but in Lightroom, I used highlight recovery all the time.
  • Library-based organization. Having multiple libraries independent of the location of things on the disk opens up some options for organization.
  • Better slideshow/web page generation options.
Where Bibble is better:
  • Better grouping interface (called Work Queues in Bibble). Lightroom seems a bit awkward to me.
  • Faster. I haven't used Bibble in a while, but I don't remember being annoyed by the speed. In Lightroom, it seems to swap a lot to the disk even with 3GB of memory, so there's some lag flipping between images, and a lot of lag getting the high-res rendering on the screen. Conversion and importing is also much faster in Bibble.
  • Highly customizable. Seems like everything has a hotkey or you can assign one.
  • Disk-based organization. While separate libraries are nice, I usually organize based on the disk, so disk-based organization appeals to me.
  • Very streamlined conversion options. I love the batch processing options in Bibble, while in Lightroom, batch processing images for output is almost an afterthought. Seriously. It took me a while to figure out how to do it and it doesn't have nearly as many options.
  • Powerful filenaming mechanism. You can pretty much name things however you like, including file/image specific fields right in the filename, automatically. Lightroom has some options, but most don't suit my style so I have to edit the output directory manually.
  • Better noise reduction. While I'm not unhappy with Lightroom, I have to assume Noise Ninja produces better results than whatever Lightroom uses.
  • Lens distortion corrections and the ability to apply a vignette around the crop (letting me save a post-processing step with vignettes on all images at the same time).

Ok, so I've been pondering over this decision for a week, and I've 95% decided to go with... Bibble. While I love the Lightroom interface and the cheap price, usability and speed in converting images is still way more important than a pretty interface and better keywording capabilities.

But, I may not have to decide right now. I just realized that Bibble 4.10 Pro has been released. If I can install it and get a new trial period (or request an extension on my evaluation period) I'll process the baseball shots this week and think a little more before I commit my cash.

Update 6/3/08: The kind folks at Bibble Labs extended my evaluation another two weeks. All I had to do was ask!

I've started to get used to Bibble again, but let me tell you, the interface is pretty rough to get used to, even after I've used it before. Lightroom is so much more intuitive to use. But, the Bibble interface is substantially faster, especially any time you view a 100% crop. I'm going to work on getting Bibble customized so it works just like I like it.

The biggest things I miss in Bibble are the undo options (Bibble only does large-scale undos to revert to original settings) and the crop/rotation interface. It especially bugs me that cropped images always show the crop on the full image -- I'd rather it cleaned up the view by displaying only the cropped/rotated part.

I'm still leaning toward Bibble for speed alone. The preview of v5.0 (v5.0 will be a free upgrade with purchase of 4.10+) looks very much like Lightroom, although there are a few things (notably layers) which are completely new.


Anonymous said...

Bibble 5 will have multi-level undo, and your desired functionality for cropping.


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