For a month or two now, during which time we've seen the demise of Agfa's film arm and Nikon's virtual cessation of film camera production, there have also been question marks over Photoshop's dominance of digital photography. Two new programs, Apple's Aperture and now Adobe's Lightroom, have been generating a lot of digital photographic heat. Scott Bourne writes Have the Reviewers Got It Wrong About Aperture?:

I have heard from countless photographers who ask me how to make Aperture do this or that like Photoshop does. Well folks, you have to understand that Aperture was not conceived as a Photoshop replacement. It is designed to complement Photoshop. Aperture is about workflow, not pushing pixels. Apple's goal was to improve the entire post-capture experience. It wasn't trying to replace Photoshop. I remember when photography conventions were about photography. Now what are they about? Photoshop. The fact that training at conventions and workshops is dominated by Photoshop gurus doesn't reflect the goals of the photographic community.

Also see this Lightroom thread Why not part of Photoshop? with contributions from George Jardine, Pro Photography Evangelist at Adobe, and Jeff Schewe:

Photoshop is a pixel based editing tool that is particularly well suited to the editing of actual pixels. Photoshop, without Camera Raw can't even open RAW images…there is no current method in Photoshop/Camera Raw to apply the exact same edits to RAW and tiff/jpgs. The RAW controls of Camera Raw can't easily be applied by using Photoshop's image adjustment controls.

Lightroom is designed for doing things that photographers need done…Photoshop is designed for things that digital imaging artists need done. There is a HUGE difference. Lightroom will never be the image compositing/retouching tool that Photoshop is and Photoshop, because of it's [sic] size and feature set can never be the workflow tool that Lightroom can be.

Lightroom, as simple as it may look now, is potentially _FAR_ more but for a smaller segment of the user base that is served by Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Digital imaging artists, retouchers, web artists, graphic designers, video artists, digital illustrators, prepress pros-all the groups that make up Photoshop's user base may not have any use for Lightroom. That's fine…Photoshop will continue and serve all of those groups.

Digital photographers - those people dealing with hundreds or thousands of digital captures - however may find that Lightroom serves their purposes perfectly.

Just a guess at Photoshop sales by platform, estimated from number of posts to Adobe's Bridge forums I point out both of these discussions because in neither case is Scott Bourne's photographic community talking about artistic merit output quality, all the talk's about saving you from drowning in pixels. Nor do I buy into this idea that the volume raw processing tool has got to be a separate application because you're dealing in instruction set processing rather than pixels. What after all is Bridge's Dr Brown's Image Processor or the Save button in Adobe Camera Raw?

The volume issues, the organisation and management of your images, do indeed belong outside the digital darkroom - to the realm of databases and cataloguing programs like the iView and Portfolio. But that's not the case with the processing of raw images, their conversion, adjustment, and printing, in whatever volume. Like a lot of photographers, I think, I experience periods of wanting the production line workflow of an Aperture or a Lightroom, and others of dealing with individual images. Just like I want my car to handle well in crosstown traffic and when I head out on the highway, I don't want my raw image processing to printing workflow to be split into two programs dependent on the volume. But hell, they're not letting us PC users have a say anyway.