Lessons Learned from China

Well, I have been back from China for a couple of months and here is a followup post on how things went.  If you didn't see the last blog post, on my recent trip to China I made these changes to my workflow:

  1. I only brought a Micro 4/3rds camera (as apposed to also bringing a full frame)
  2. Tried to select and edit with Lightroom CC (instead of Lightroom CC classic)

What I have found is that I am not ready to fully transition over to either of these becase there are still some cases where I need my full frame and Lightroom CC classic. However, I am going to be using my full frame camera and lightroom CC classic much less going forward.

Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame

I have decided that I am not going to sell my full frame camera just yet.  I found at low ISO, the quality of the GH9 is really in distinguishable from my full frame Nikon and I got some shots I love with the GH9 on the trip like this one.

Classic Scene from Donghu Lake

However, when I was out shooting at night and needed higher ISO, I was missing my larger sensor.  With the GH9 I found anything over 1600 ISO was too noisy to clean up in post processing.  Where with my full frame, I can normally clean up a 3200 ISO shot in post. Here is a shot with the GH9 at 3200 ISO that would look better with a full frame sensor (but still not that bad).

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I was really impressed with the low light landscape shots I took with my GH9 on a tripod.  I found the quality much better than with my old GH4, here is an example.

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So, going forward I see myself using my Nikon full frame less and less often but I will take it along if weight is not a factor like when I am traveling by car.  However, if weight is a factor like when taking multiple planes or hiking I wouldn't hesitate to just go with my GH9 and leave the full frame at home, just knowing that I may need to deal with a bit more noise after blue hour.

Lightroom CC vs. Lightroom CC Classic

Lightroom CC did not end up working well for me but I do still see the value in it.  The main problem I had with using CC was the speed of my Internet connection but it is also missing some key features, and is buggy, it crashed multiple times on my Windows laptop.

I wanted to upload the photos with my laptop  then do selections on the go with my tablet.  However, rather than uploading all the previews first, then uploading the RAW files after, Lightroom CC does the files one at a time, which meant that it took days for one days photos to move over to my tablet.  In addition, even though Lightroom CC Classic works very fast on my laptop, Lightroom CC was unusably slow when it was uploading, and often crashed.  I found that disabling the sync made it more stable but would have expected it to better manage my processor so I could do both at the same time.

Lastly, I use compare view and survey view in Lightroom CC Classic to find my favorite that I will process and post online.  I really missed these views in Lightroom CC and needed to go back to Lightroom for selections.  However, once my selections were made, I found I was able to process my photos in Lightroom CC without missing any features because I do heavy editing in Photoshop which works well with Lightroom CC.  However, the main portion of my workflow that I wanted to do with my tablet was the selections so this was a big disappointment.  

That being said, I loved having all my photos in the cloud and everything in sync between my laptop, desktop and tablet.  As a result, I have purchased a 1 TB creative could plan from Adobe and have adapted the following new workflow:

  1. Upload photos in Lightroom CC, this put the full RAW files in the cloud and makes them accessible from all devices and Lightroom Classic 
  2. Start up Lightroom Classic and the photos will sync in automatically, then do selections in Lightroom Classic
  3. Process the photos in either Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC.  If I am at my desktop then I still use classic for processing photos, but if I am not then I use Lightroom CC on my tablet or laptop

I have been doing this since China and it works well.  The one downside is that the RAW files are stored twice on my desktop, once for Lightroom CC and once for classic.  However, my home desktop has 7 hard drives that in total hold 21 TB of data so it isn't really an issue because I have the room.

In Conclusion

Overall, a very successful experiment, I can see how a couple of years from now I will only be using Lightroom CC but it just isn't there yet. However, I do think I will always need a large and small sensor camera.  The are just some limitations with the small Micro four thirds sensor size in low light that can only be resolved with a large sensor, but for 90% of my photos, the smaller sensor is all I need. 

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