I know, I know. What has an article about Adobe got to do with Nikon reviews?
Bear with me, because it DOES.
Although Nikon photography is my life, Adobe software is my livelihood, whether I like it or not. 80% Of my day is spent between Photoshop, Illustrator, DreamWeaver, Fireworks and Acrobat.
For the last 4 years I have been actively pushing Acrobat to my clients as the multi-os-multi-format-multi-extension document management platform they need to get their documents out there, and I am still a “believer”.
However, as an active and very much paying member of the Adobe community, I have been greatly disappointed more than once over the last couple of years, and even if they have (admittedly) made some minor efforts to mend my broken hart, I can't help thinking they have completely lost contact with their customer's needs and wants.
A little perspective.
When Adobe bought Macromedia, I wondered why the US Anti-Trust Committee had not stepped in. Let’s face it, the only competition the Adobe Dinosaur had left after either pushing out or buying up, were Macromedia.
True, Freehand was in diapers compared to Illustrator, and I’m glad to be rid of it.
However: GoLife wasn’t even close to DreamWeaver, ImageReady a joke compared to FireWorks, and Adobe did not have anything even remotely close to Flash or ColdFusion, which, btw, was a pretty nifty idea until PHP became massive.
I’m not entirely sure how Adobe managed to get the Macromedia assets at a garage sale, but miraculously, they did.
Sure, they had a few things going for them; mostly their sustain and milk-cow Photoshop – which has not nearly seen the kind of evolution of the digital camera industry; Illustrator, which is state-of the-art, from where I’m standing; InDesign, which they improved from PageMaker; but - most of all - Acrobat, which I believe they do not appreciate half as much as they ought to.
Today, all people talk about on the Net is Flash, but funny enough, and even though I suspect they bought MM for Flash alone, it is not the “killer-app” they thought it was going to be.
I used to use it a lot only 3 years ago, but today, client demand for Flash has dropped to virtually zero, and it just sits there on the quick-launch bar hoping to get launched.
The total lack of competition has had a clear impact on Adobe's creativity, which is by now as entirely absent as Microsoft's.
As MS, they missed the boat completely with Internet, and had to make up for that by buying their last competitor, or what was left of it.
They then went on to expand on their MS-akin Suite scheme, while at the same time adding more and more bloat, and less and less substance. Admittedly, they improved on PageMaker after they bought it and Aldus, bringing their extensive typographical knowledge to bare on what was, doubtlessly, the program's greatest weakness.
But after relaunching it as InDesign in 2001, I - from a users perspective - have not seen any other substantial improvements, apart from PDF integration. Supposing it is there somewhere, it must be so deeply hidden that I cannot take advantage of it.
The same goes for Photoshop. I cannot, do not see any substantial improvements there either, and the only way they have managed to keep me upgrading is by doing NOT instead of doing.
When I bought the D40, I found that both Nikon Capture 4.4.x and Adobe Camera RAW CS1 did not support the D40 NEF RAW-format, literally muscling me into an upgrade to CS3.
Obviously, I expected the latter to come with some mayor improvements compared to CS1, but it did not, with the sole exception of Bridge which - although far from a revolutionary idea - does a good job at program integration and has Exif management pretty much nailed down. The rest is bloat.
What do they NOT?
The first - very obvious - omission in CS3 Design Premium was leaving out Fireworks, which they later remedied with CS DP3.3; the second that they threw in Dreamweaver as was (absolutely nothing new compared to Macromedia Studio MX).
The same is true for Fireworks CS3.3, and - as a very casual user of Flash - if they made any improvements there, I am totally unaware of them. That program has by now grown way beyond my comprehension, which is no big deal because, as said, I hardly need it anymore.
Maybe I lack vision, but I think that Flash – as an animation platform – has not much of a future; it has gone more and more in the direction of object oriented programming, where I have no use for it.
However, their biggest NOT is Photoshop, where I have not seen any substantial improvements for the best part of the decade.
The list of filters in CS4 is exactly the the same as in CS1, they still do not give us a decent HDR solution, there is no app that would let us control our cameras from the computer, Camera RAW basically only improves by adding supported cameras, LightRoom should be a part of PS, but is not, and in their desperation of giving us at least something, we got 3D with Photoshop Extented as of CS3; at an extended price, of course.
I, for one, have not found any use for it, mostly because it's implementation is extremely awkward, even though this appears to have improved slightly in CS4.
Finally getting 64 bits support in CS4 is nice, but definitely not enough to convince me to shell out 200 bucks for this upgrade, until my next new Nikon literally forces me to do so. I might even be so lucky to forget about CS4 altogether, and jump straight to CS5...
Adobe have not given us anything revolutionary since correction layers, way back in PS 6 or was it 7?; heck, I can't even remember.
The only addition I really liked in CS1 is the shadow/highlight filter, but apart of that, it appears that the digital revolution of the camera has completely gone them by, and that the only way they can keep pimping the old PS-tart is by NOT supporting new cameras in the Camera RAW plug-in for “legacy” Photoshop.
For example: people who buy the Nikon D3X are out of luck, and must upgrade to PS CS4/ACR 5.3; but they can afford it, right?
OK, so how about the people who bought the D40 (who had to get or upgrade to CS3) or, most likely, the people who now buy the D5000? The latest Camera RAW 5.3 (CS4 only) update does not even mention that camera yet, so you can betya that that's another one you have to get CS4 for.
For all these happy Nikonians, Photoshop full will cost as much or more than their cameras and an upgrade a third or half that.
Nikon also keep ripping us off with memory-hog Capture, with Picture Project as the only (free) alternative. This sorry excuse of a program is OK for JPG, but a total joke for RAW processing, leaving many a Nikon user out in the cold, with no decent, economical solution for their RAW work-flow. The only reason I can think of to explain this, is the complete lack of competition.
Being a monopoly and thus lacking any incentive to make an effort, Adobe just sat their fat ass on the laurels, and keep milking the cow.
The milking has become so embarrassing, that they had to post this pathetic excuse on their website.
Continued support for Nikon cameras? Sure, as long as you shell out for Photoshop every time you buy a new camera. In other words: the price of a new Nikon has gone up by at least $200, because Nikon Capture licenses/upgrades come with more or less the same price-tag...
My latest Adobe frustration...
Today I installed my very much paid-for Acrobat 9 Pro copy on a laptop with MS office 2003. A clean install, I can finally put Acro Pro 9 to good purpose, I said to myself.
Went on to convert a 50 Megs PowerPoint to PDF, only to have it stalling at 50%.
I did that 3 times over, thinking it was a glitch, as Acrobat launches every time without a dialogue, warning, pop-up, nag-screen or whatever else they usually throw at you.
Finally, for no obvious reason, a nag-screen DID turn up: "You cannot activate this software, because it is already installed on 2 other systems". So, I went into the activation help menu checking the box that supposedly makes it work for 30 days without activation, while solving the problem.
No such luck. No nag-screens, no info whatsoever, just that stall. Now I have to call them AGAIN on a really expensive long distance call (“Please hold”: they make you wait, wait and wait) because the Adobe support website exec does not give me any other solution than a call to some “Activation Support” number: a real hit in the pocket - much like their software.
True, I HAD installed Pro 9 on 2 other systems, and then had to go through an outrageously complicated, bug-ridden uninstall – because Adobe, without any previous warning to the user, and in clear collusion with MS – decided in it’s divine wisdom that Office 2000 ought not be compatible with Acrobat Pro 9.
So, I had to roll back on v.8 which was a TOTAL pain.
In other words: paying for Acro 9, but "NO, thank you very much" for MS Office 2003, 2007 or whatever, means I cannot not use Acro 9 in any useful way, that is: beyond what v.8 already did. Thank you so very, very much for paying for our useless software...
DAMN Adobe, DAMN their lack of innovation, of consideration for their customers, their muscle marketing and their activation scheme. Most of all: DAMN their programmers, who apparently are incapable of coming up with automatic deactivation during or after uninstall.
Because, how hard can that be, considering that automatic activation is a breeze??
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