As to the original question, I think the usage of zooms isn't to be able to get 36mm, 37mm, 38mm, 39mm, etc. as much as it is to just carry a 24-85 instead of carrying a 24, 35, 50, and 85. If I had time to swap lenses between every shot, I would shoot nothing but primes for the speed. I rarely can't foot zoom all I need with a 28mm prime attached. It is just getting it off and mounting the 50mm before I need it.
As for the concerns with PP, I say get lightroom and don't worry much about it. Lightroom is super easy to use. You move a slider for exposure, for contrast, for saturation, crop, and your done. You can set up pre-sets to do more. If you take good shots in-camera you don't need to spend much time masking stuff, cloning out power lines, etc. Don't over sharpen, or over noise reduce, or over saturate. The first time you print something 8x10 and it looks like mush you figure it out.
I learned on digital. I shot some film growing up, but never in a serious way. I learned photoshop when I was working at Kinkos, before I ever knew what an f-stop was. So now I'm doing the reverse, and taking a darkroom class. I love it. For the fun of it, as a hobby, I prefer some Tri-X and a prime, and manually focusing and advancing film. But when it comes down to getting prints that make a client happy, digital is going to be EASIER, almost every single time. My biggest problems with digital are that I take too many shots, and figuring out who to have print my stuff.
Before Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, the digital darkroom was quite a chore, but they have really made things easier than film ever was.