Reviews

Who writes reviews? Me for one; maybe you for another? Some are done by the average Joe user, others by the expert.

I’ve been in the market for some software to edit my photos. For the last 4 years I’ve used Lightroom. It took a bit of getting used to and I still don’t know all its features, but it works for me and I am generally pleased with the results.

The problem is that Adobe has gone to subscription based charging and I don’t like that. I would rather purchase the software outright and upgrade when I need new features or can afford it. So I’ve been looking at alternatives.

The choice is top notch professional applications, lower cost Lightroom competitors or free applications. It’s easy to narrow down or dismiss some of the choices based on cost or usability etc. Then get down to a number of alternatives to make a final choice. This is where reviews come in.

I don’t have to rely on reviews, I could download free trials and see for myself, but it takes me ages to get used to new applications and 14 or 30 days is not enough to do it justice. So I turn to the reviews.

I read one review and think “this is it, it sounds perfect”. Then I read a review of the next application and think “this may actually be better”. And so on. After some more reading I finally settle on what I think might be the best one for me.

Then I start to read more reviews for the chosen app and the next reviewer has a different opinion from the first and thinks my chosen app is rubbish. And worse still, they make a convincing argument.

So I look at the rest again and choose another application. To find the same thing happens. What one person thinks is great, another person is unimpressed with.

Is it a genuine review or has someone a grudge? Are they being paid to review the application with a heavy dose of bias or is it based on real use? How do you tell the difference?

After changing my mind four times, I am no further forward.

So I download the software for each and start trying them out for myself. I’m obviously unfamiliar with each of the new applications and almost certainly don’t get the best from them. I edit a photo in Lightroom (my familiar one) and do the same in the new app and compare results. On each occasion Lightroom looked the best but I realise that might just be me not understanding how to get the best from the new application. So now what do I do?

I’ve just spent four days messing about and am no wiser.

I have to make a choice; my old Lightroom won’t work with my new camera.

So this is what I do; I go on gut instinct and laziness.

I can’t really be bothered learning new software. I’m 62, I’ve only got another 30 years plus left at best. I can’t be spending time learning new software when I should be out enjoying myself. I sign up to Lightroom. What made it easier to stomach is that I saved £1.50 per month via a Black Friday deal, so I feel a little happier.

A review is a guide based on one person’s opinion. If there are 243 reviews, there are 243 opinions. What matters most to me is my opinion. If 243 folks give it 5 stars, that’s a good pointer; likewise 243 one star reviews. But how many of us have watched a two star film to think it is wonderful or a five star film that is rubbish? How many reviews of products have we read that are about a different product or about delivery or about getting a refund i.e. nothing to do with the product itself but gets included with the star rating.

A review is a starting point, an idea to consider alongside all other considerations. It is not the sum total of all I need to know. At best it’s helpful, at worst it’s misleading. For me, they can be confusing.

At the end of the day, I chose Lightroom. I’m happy with it and I will add my review alongside others. But it’s only my opinion and mine will different from yours. I’m not sure if I will help the next reader or mislead them, but that’s for them to ultimately decide.

I enjoy researching a new product to buy, but when I am left with only confusion and indecision, something has failed. At that point, I just go with my instincts. That doesn’t always work out well, but at least I’ve made a decision, and that’s progress.

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