Serious software advice needed

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Jock Elliott, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Okay, I finally caved in, and I'm starting to shoot raw.

    I have Silky Pix (came with the Panasonic). I'm not so thrilled with how it works or its power.

    I have Digital Photo Professional (came with the Canon); it doesn't recognize the raw files from the FZ200. I like its power and interface.

    I looked at PHotoShop Elements at a big box store and decided that it seems to be all focused tricks and gimmicks.

    What would you recommend for basic photo processing -- saturation, contrast, sharpening, cropping, etc?

    Cheers, Jock
     
  2. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Jock,

    When I started using raw many moons ago I chanced on what was then Bibble 4.9, mainly because at that time I was looking for something to run on a Linux operating system, and Bibble was truly cross platform, Windows, Mac and Linux. It has now become Corel AfterShot Pro and I still use it (albeit often on a Windows operating system) and also I use Photo Ninja. I don't know the current prices of these, both available by download and in the tens of MB's, not hundreds like Lightroom.

    I think Photo Ninja can produce noisier files than AfterShot pro when the changes made to the raw file are more extreme, or perhaps I'm encouraged to make more extreme changes in Photo Ninja because of the simpler layout of the interfaces. For sharpening in AfterShot Pro I use a plug in "Wavelet Sharpen" in wavelet mode. Likewise there is a comprehensive plug in for black and white work "Nostalgia-Film Simulation". Both of these look for small donations to the developer.

    I also have a copy of Photoshop CS2 (I think it might have been Sue?, aka kyteflyer who alerted the forum to it's giveaway status some months ago, apology in advance if I've got that attribution wrong) and I tend to do final sharpening with that using USM on the lightness channel only in LAB mode. Likewise my printing and downsizing for the web is done from Photoshop, it seems to be to be convenient and intuitive in that application.

    As you can see I tend not to use the more mainstream applications and so can't comment on them, I use what I use and am happy with the results.

    As a replacement for Photoshop GIMP could well be worth looking into, now I understand available for Windows and at no cost! although not a raw editor of course.

    Barrie
     
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  3. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    Jock,
    I've tried many raw-converters and PP-packages but I keep coming back to Lightroom as the core software. It is a library that allows you to quickly browse your photos. It has a variety of plugins (including VSCO) and tt is really easy to build a quick workflow around it: import photos with or without a preset. It can deal with all the things you are talking about. For special cases, other tools like photo ninja, topaz, NIK, and/or others. I prefer speed over pixel peeping and this works for me.
     
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  4. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Lightroom will be the best $150 you'll have spent on photography.
     
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  5. staticantics

    staticantics SC Regular

    136
    Oct 15, 2013
    Central California
    Chris
    Lightroom has become the industry standard for hobbyists and professionals for a good reason. It is simple, non-destructive and powerful. It is also not very expensive compared to the time involved with workaround steps with most other editing software. Who wants to open the photos in one program to convert them, one program to organize and yet another program to edit? Ain't got time for that.

    Lightroom was tough for me to swallow at first. I was very hesitant to listen to the praise of a program that claimed so much, especially after years of honing a process via bridge, lightroom, raw converters and photoshop to create things exactly how I wanted. But the ease of lightroom with individual pictures and batch processing coupled the infinite ability to undo and start over from the original photo -- I can't go back now. I wouldn't want anything less from a piece of software that called itself a photo editor.

    Lightroom can be as simple or as complicated as you choose it to be, and the community has a lot of how-to articles and videos for training for free.

    +1 for Lightroom
     
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  6. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I've tried a lot of them (though not all), and unless you are a Fuji X owner, I think LR rocks.
     
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  7. nippa

    nippa SC Top Veteran

    561
    Aug 7, 2010
    Cheshire UK
    Dennis
    I've tried most of the RAW converters suitable for a PC and finally settled on Adobe's last attempt.

    Currently I'm using the latest Photoshop Elements 12 which beyond the hype is a serious piece of software and contains Adobe Camera Raw to handle RAW imports.
    To that I add Nik filters and Lightroom 5.

    One bit of freeware worth a look at is FastStone Image Viewer which recognizes some RAW formats
     
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  8. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I thought it now supports X's? I ask because I have an X100 and really, really need to finally have editing software / raw conversion capabilities.
     
  9. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    I use Lightroom for some years now and I like it, although it has become more slowly on my old machine lately. However, you may want to try the free programs RawTherapee and darktable, which are very fine programs indeed.
     
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  10. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Barrie,

    I downloaded the free trial of AfterShot Pro, and for some reason, it is not seeing the .RW2 raw files that the FZ200 generates.

    I tried highlighting the file and using the "open with" option, but it wouldn't allow me to access AfterShot Pro.

    I am puzzled. I note that it has lens correction for the FZ200, and fairly usable interface.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  11. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Jock,

    AfterShot Pro has only recently supported the FZ200, the latest version is 1.2.0.7 so perhaps your trial version is not the latest available.

    Barrie
     
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  12. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Niether makes it very easy to see if the X100 is supported. Any idea?
     
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  13. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    +1 for Lightroom.

    It handles the basics very well and can be extended with tons of third-party plugins and presets.
     
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  14. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    I will also recommend LR, though Capture One is a viable alternative.

    The issue is whether you need all that LR delivers. You can use it for the basic processing tasks you mention but you're only using about 5% of it's potential and it is quite demanding on your processor an memory especially if you are running an older computer.

    If you want somewhere more basic (and free) to start that leaves open you the possibility of switching to LR later I would suggest you have a look at Picasa. This is a google product that offers basic editing and processing features for raw files in a very non-threatening, non-overwhelming way. It also happens to be free. If nothing else it's worth a look.
     
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  15. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Ok, whoa. I figured out how to get around the locked-down nature of the work laptop (home laptop is crap at the moment), installed RT. I had taken a few (literally 2 or 3 forgettable) shots in raw+jpg, and it does indeed convert them. Am now lost in the wilderness of tone curves etc. Wow. Never played with raws before.
     
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  16. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    It's not that the Adobe software doesn't support Fuji raw files, but that the Adobe software still struggles with getting the best out of files from the Fuji X-Trans cameras. Being a camera with a conventional Bayer-type sensor, the X100 should be fine with Lightroom or ACR/Photoshop AFAIK.
     
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  17. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Roger that.

    Raw Therapee is bringing up files, but I've never seen them before with little imperfections - vignetting and CA - that the camera converter filters out. They're so ... naked.
     
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  18. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    When you start delving into raw editing, adjustments like saturation, contrast, and sharpening are your sledgehammers. Vibrance (in Adobe-speak, what I would call "smart saturation"), tone curves, and clarity (Adobe-speak again) are some of the more precision tools that you'll work with.
     
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  19. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    LR does fine with the fuji x-trans files.

     
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  20. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    Neither of them support X-Trans sensors. Since the X100 has a different sensor. Well, I have downloaded a RAF file from imaging-resource.com and both programs can load the file perfectly.