How much do we depend of NLP - future proofing Lightroom Catalogue

I’m thinking about the (far) future of my Lightroom catalogue and how these hundreds of thousands of images will look like in 20-30 years from now. Are they gonna change slightly (or drastically) due to the software changes, or they will look exactly the same as I edited them. I’m talking about DNGs here, not TIFFs and JPGs.

I use several 3rd party profiles, including NLP, and I’m wondering, what would happen when NLP doesn’t exist anymore and when it’s not updated anymore, even though Adobe continues to update Lightroom. Is there a danger that somewhere down the road, our conversions with NLP will be useless and we’ll have to convert them manually again. For example, in 20 yeas I cannot find the right profile anywhere and I have 60,000 photos embedded with that profile. Or simply Lightroom changes so much that they don’t support profiles as we know them today, and since NLP doesn’t exists anymore, there’s nobody to update to the new version.

Just thinking….

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We never know what will hit us in the long term. The safest bet is to store photos in a well known format instead of a recipe stored in a database in an application that might go away at some point in time.

For electronic storage, this format is probably TIFF, which has been around for a long time. And how about a good old print? Not practical if we want to safeguard our umpty-thousand images…but allows us to see images without batteries or power supply.

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Technology moves very quickly, for instance desktop computers are being displaced by tablets and/or phones and look at the way hardware has changed over the last 20 years - SCSI, Firewire, USB, USB2, USB3, Lightning etc. One wonders how long cameras can continue to be made profitably now that everyone is using their phones. You mention your Lightroom Catalogue, I’m still using Lightroom 6.14 Perpetual because I know that I can run it on my computers for as long as I need to, I own it in effect. ‘Upgrading’ to the subscription service means that catalogues are upgraded and if I were to choose to stop the subscription I’d be left pretty high and dry. Yes, you can continue to use the Library, but that’s not a lot of consolation, could you export the images as tiffs after you stop the subscription? I don’t know the answer to that.

I wonder how long Adobe will continue to support LR Classic, you have to know what you’re looking for to find it on their site, you are pushed instead towards the dumbed-down Cloud-based version with its hosting options.

So I agree, tiffs seem like the best option for longevity, or indeed prints. However practical long-time preservation of digital images, through generations, passing down through your family perhaps, it seems pretty unviable. I have my grandfather’s negatives and prints, some over 100 years old, I don’t see that working with digital.

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The Adobe CC manager just offered to update Lr 11 to Lightroom version 12.
Note: This is an update with a major release number change and you might want to backup your catalog for fallback, should you need it.

A bit puzzled by your question. Changes to your software and file formats will be incremental; as changes are introduced, you will update your software and apply any format changes as they evolve.
Adobe’s official preference for long term archiving of files is to use TIFF, in spite of the fact that they actually created PSD. Adobe also pioneered DNG, and it is their expectation that this, too, will become an ISO recognised file format. As it is, it is a de-facto ISO format, a technical difference more than anything.
Rest assured that there will be something which will manage your files in the future; for example Photoshop (a single function software) dates from 1987 and survives. Some of us remember Apple’s Aperture, which likely inspired Adobe to invest heavily into Lightroom. As they have a monopoly on this dual function software at the moment, it’s hard to imagine that changing in the future. If Adobe are stupid enough to continue to push people to use their crappy Lightroom Cloud version, someone will no doubt develop a LR C replacement.

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Long term archiving usually requires a migration to newer technologies every nn years. I’ts not just about the image files themselves, but also about metadata. Keeping the image files should be a lesser issue than keeping metadata, development settings etc. Also, the data carrier can age or die. Staying on top of these things requires some thought, preparation and action.

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Just to answer my own question, it seems that you can. You can’t use Develop or Maps but you can use Quick Develop from the Library. You can continue to import and export and you can edit (presumably as a 16-bit tiff or psd) in a third-party program and the result comes back in to the Lightroom catalogue. If you are importing RAW files then that camera would have to be supported by that version of Lightroom and its associated Adobe Camera Raw. Not a CC subscriber so just going from what I’ve seen on the web. Official Adobe guidance here.

“You can continue to access all your photos on your local hard drive through Lightroom for the desktop. You can continue to import and organize photos and output your edited photos through Export, Publish, Print, Web, or Slideshow. Access to the Develop & Map modules and Lightroom for mobile is not available after your membership ends.”

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Will NLP still work after the lightroom classic subscription expires?

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My expectation would be that NLP makes extensive use of the Develop module through the API and so would no longer work, even though as a plug-in it can be accessed from the Library module. Though on the other hand apparently you can still use Quick Develop from the Library module. I’ve no way of checking for sure unfortunately.

When you run Negative Lab Pro through the Library module, it uses the Library module APIs, so the changes are basically happening through Quick Develop (which is why the updates happen so much slower than when working from the Develop module). So in theory at least, it’s possible that it would work in the Library module even if you are no longer subscribed. I’m not sure of a good way to test this though, so perhaps someone who has an expired Adobe CC subscription could give it a go!

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Looked into it. No easy way. We’d need an expired subscription indeed.

I was going to let mine expire in an April as i don’t use LR for anything else. I use other tools with my camera

I used heavily Luminance Range masks in Lightroom in the past. Many of my photos from around 2016-2020 has these masks.

Now, it seems that Lightroom changed something in the masks rendering, because when I open these photos in Develop module, they turns completely black. It’s useless, and I had to delete all these masks.

I don’t care about these photos. My editing style changed a bit and I don’t use these masks anyway, so I’ll re-edit them again, but this just shows me that relying on this non-destructive softwares is a potential threat in the future if they change the way it works/looks, and all these changes will be applied to our old work, which won’t be necessarily always good.

Update: I figured out that usng Dehaze, even in the slightest amount in the combination with masks caused this issue. I don’t know if this is a bug, or a permanent change. If I reset Dehaze to 0, the photo would return to normal. Here’s one example.

I don’t want this topic to go into direction of solving Lightroom masks problem, I’m just showing the example of what was my concern when I started this topic.


Adobe’s two softwares don’t really have the monopoly.
In parallel to Lr I use DXO’s Photolab which is pretty good, powerful and dual function like Lr. Its main default is that it is quite dedicated to native digital and that the Save function is a bit painstaking.
Up to now NLP hasn’t done any plugin for them.
Wish it did.

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Seems like it’s not as incremental as we would like it to be. All of my photos that has Dehaze slider even slightly are completely black. And it’s not just me, I googled the issue, and there are many topics regarding this issue. I don’t know if this is the bug, or something has changed in the way of rending, but I had to reset Dehaze on all photos in my Library.

Of course not all of them uses Dehaze, but there’s no way for me to know, other than opening each photo or generating all previews for the whole library and then scrolling through tens of thousands photos. Not worth my time, so I just reset it for all photos.

This is just one example where a minor change could affect our entire library, or life’s work, if left in a non-destructive formats with all existing edits. Fortunately, this was the easy fix, and I don’t use dehaze heavily, but it just confirms my concerns that things like this can happen to us.