Computers and the Software That Makes Them Go -- Bah Humbug . . .

I hate Adobe. At the moment, I’m not really happy with Apple, either.

This is going to be a long rant about the lack of backwards compatibility in computers and software. You’ve been warned.

When I received my brand new Nikon Z7ii camera body in December of 2020 (not even a year ago as of this writing), it was so new that the version of Adobe Lightroom I was running at the time would not support the camera. Knowing Adobe would come out with a new version that would, I purchased the camera anyway. I love this camera, and now Nikon has come out with another new one — the Z9 — that is a proverbial game changer.

This kind of thing happens all the time, with all cameras from all manufacturers — the photo processing software needs to be upgraded to support the new cameras, regardless of who makes the cameras. Just a fact of life. Doesn’t have to be, but we’ll get into that in a minute.

Likewise, when any of the software makers upgrades their software, they put in new features that make using the software better in some way. This is very cool.

But when Adobe released the new version of Lightroom last year, it wasn’t just a new version, it was a whole new build, and lo and behold, it would not run on my computer.

My computer is an old Mac Pro from 2010. It runs great. Lots of RAM, lots of ports to support all of my peripherals, lots of hard drive space that is completely upgradeable. I have two monitors, including a 32” BenQ that I use specifically for editing photos. I love this thing. It is, hands down, the single best computer I’ve ever owned. But . . .

The reason the new version 10 of Lightroom would not run in it was because at that time I was running Mac OS High Sierra, and the new Lightroom needed a minimum of Mac OS Mojave.

But I could not upgrade to that without replacing the computer’s video card with a metal capable card. I don’t even know what “metal capable” means.

Regardless, I needed to upgrade to the newest Lightroom in order to process images from the new Z7ii camera, so it wasn’t a question — I had to upgrade the computer.

I found a new “metal capable” video card that met Apple’s specs for running Mojave, forked out the necessary several hundred dollars, and replaced the one I had (which was working perfectly fine), just so I could upgrade the old OS to the new OS.

Except for the need to replace a perfectly fine working video card in the computer (and the necessary expense of doing so), everything went just fine. It’s still a killer computer. Still the best computer I’ve ever owned.

Fast forward just under 11 months. ELEVEN MONTHS — and Adobe has come out with another new full version of Lightroom. Not an incremental upgrade (I.e., 10.1 to 10.2). Another full new version.

Which will not run in Mac OS Mojave. It requires at least Mac OS Catalina.

Yes, I understand that even if I upgraded to Catalina, I’d still be several versions of the Mac OS behind the current version. But I don’t need the new “features” in the newer operating systems, and everything runs just fine as is. Even my 2016 MacBook Pro works great on Mojave.

The problem?

The 2010 Mac Pro cannot be upgraded to Catalina. Everything I’ve read says that if I try to install Catalina on it, I could brick it. I found things that said there are workarounds, but there have been situations where USB ports and Wi-fi quit working and were not repairable.

But without Catalina, I cannot run (or even install) this latest version of Lightroom. Which means I’ll never be able to upgrade my cameras to newer models, ever again, because Adobe will not add the new cameras to the older versions (I could explain why they COULD, but that would excessively extend this already too long diatribe. Perhaps another time.)

So I’m stuck. I can’t afford a new Mac Pro (base price in excess of $5,000.00) and the new iMacs are not expandable enough (you can’t upgrade RAM, drive space, or anything else), and I don’t need a new monitor — iMacs are built into a monitor. Take the new monitor or no new computer.

I’ve looked into changing to Capture One as my main photo editing software, and the current version will run, not only on Mojave, but according to Capture One, it’ll run on the even older OS, High Sierra, as well. This tells me that Adobe could have made the new Lightroom so that it would run on the older operating systems, but just chose not to. (BTW, the latest version of Photoshop WILL run on Mojave, it’s just Lightroom that won’t.)

So why don’t I switch to Capture One? I have YEARS of time and energy invested in Lightroom. My Lightroom catalog has over a quarter million images in it. That would take the rest of my life to recreate in something new. Additionally, there are new features in the new Lightroom that look interesting, and would make my life easier. Does Capture One do any of those things? I don’t know enough about Capture One to even know if it has cataloging features, or if it’s just an image processor.

And I don’t know what would happen to Capture One when they add new cameras. Nikon has just released the Z9, and while I don’t have plans to get one of those in the immediate future, if I ever do, I’ll need software to process the images it produces. Will a new version of Capture One that supports that camera be able to work on my computer? I don’t know, and won’t until Capture One releases a version that supports it.

On top of that, I would still need Photoshop, which is part of the Adobe Lightroom subscription model. There are just too many things I need that only Photoshop does. So in addition to everything else, to move to Capture One and away from Lightroom also means I’d be into TWO yearly subscription fees, doubling my expense there. (It is true that Capture One as a perpetual license alternative, but it doesn’t include the major updates to the software, only minor ones.)

Notice I haven’t even mentioned the need to LEARN how to use Capture One and how long that will take . . .

All of this is to say that in the 30 or so years I’ve owned computers, I have had to throw away more perfectly good, perfectly working pieces of hardware than I can count, simply because software manufacturers refuse to make things backwards compatible. The cost in dollars and cents is, for me, astronomical. Probably in the tens of thousands of dollars. Money that could have been spent on much better things, but because the new software, which is necessary to continue to do even the most basic things, requires new hardware, I had no choice.

Apple makes their new operating systems so they are not backwards compatible with older hardware specifically to force people to buy new computers. They do it because they do not care about their customers.

I don’t know why Adobe insists on doing the same. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks it could be that they are in collusion with the hardware manufacturers. I don’t know that, so I can’t accuse anyone of such appalling behavior. All I know is that if I am to continue to move forward, I am going to be forced to either abandon software I have years of time invested in, or buy a new computer I can’t afford and don’t want. The money that would have to go to a new computer would, for me, be better spent on new lenses.

Or travel. Or something.

I love what computers are capable of. I have come to have a huge distaste for the people who make them and the software we use on them. It’s exhausting.

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