Tag Archives: postprocessing

RAW workflow software revisited

Earlier this year, I wrote about this topic. Since then, I’ve switched over to Lightroom. When I got my new computer a couple of months ago, I didn’t even bother checking to see if my copy of Silkypix still worked (I suppose I should really try that some time–I bet it works quicker on the new one).

What occasioned the switch? Mostly, it was the realization that what I wanted from a piece of software was for it to get the hell out of my way, so I could just make some minimal tweaks, rather than screwing around for an hour on one picture. I realized that most of the pictures I’m really happy with are almost fine the way they are, straight out of the camera, and don’t really need to be altered much—perhaps a slight adjustment to a couple of settings, without going really overboard, and there it is. Done. This, compared to endless fucking around with the curves tool, often specifying separate curve profiles for luminance, red, green and blue, which was just getting ridiculous, especially on my old computer.

There was also the problem of keeping my ever-growing photo library organized. Under the old system, I was using iPhoto for organization, and Silkypix for tweaking. It was an inelegant system, mainly because iPhoto wasn’t handling the organizational side of it adequately. In fact, iPhoto was so far from doing what I needed that I don’t know if I’ll ever get caught up on organizing those older photos, even though they’ve all been moved into Lightroom now.

I guess this means I wasted however many dollars it cost me to buy Silkypix. I’m not saying it’s a bad piece of software, mind you, just that, in the end, it didn’t meet my needs as well as Lightroom does. Neither did iPhoto, although at least that came free with the computer.

The one aspect of this that I’m not happy about is the anticipation of having an additional program to buy upgrades for. Actually, I don’t know why that didn’t bother me with Silkypix, since I’m sure they also charge money for major upgrades. I suppose the point there was that the money would have been going to somewhere other than Adobe. ;)

Oh—and I’m still intending to try The Gimp sometime, especially since my copy of Photoshop Elements 2.0 doesn’t work at all on the new computer (that lack of forward compatibility is one of my big peeves about Adobe software, which is what drove me to the other stuff in the first place).

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RAW workflow software

[This comes from a response I was typing up on a Flickr discussion forum, in an “Aperture vs. Lightroom” discussion–as I wrote, I realized I had a lot more that I wanted to talk about than just the comparison between those two programs, so I decided it would fit better here than there.]

I need to try The Gimp sometime. I auditioned a trial version of Photoshop CS3 a while back, and found it to be WAY more program than I’m ever likely to need. Plus there’s the expense of it–not only the high initial sticker price, but even the cost of the individual upgrades is more than what I typically pay for brand new software applications. Clearly, I’m not the target market for Photoshop CS. ;)

As for the difference between Lightroom and Aperture, I’d call it a tossup. With both of them, their strength is more in the realm of organization than anything else. Neither one of them offers a fully functional curves tool, for example. Last I checked, Lightroom’s curves tool was limited, and Aperture didn’t have one at all. I consider a fully functional curves tool an essential basic adjustment tool for RAW images, meaning it’s not something a person should have to pay $600 for—and really, the only reason Apple and Adobe leave it out of their programs is to avoid cutting into the marketability of the all-holy Photoshop, hallowed be its name.

This leads into my primary objection to these two programs–why should I pay $300 for an intentionally crippled piece of software? I’m just not going to do it. If they want to combine organizational tools and image editing tools into an all-in-one package, I think that’s great, but they should do it right and not put some artificial limit on the software. This is actually Apple’s problem more than Adobe’s–Adobe can rightly claim that Lightroom fits right into their product line, so if you need more capability, just pick up a copy of Photoshop, or even Photoshop Elements. What’s Apple’s excuse? Well, for them, it all boils down to not wanting to piss off Adobe. That’s it, the sole reason that Aperture doesn’t have a full feature set. Why should I pay $300 for that? (I also suspect that someone at Apple must have said, “Well, a curves tool is just too hard.” No, it’s not. The challenge with the tool is understanding the concept, and then practicing a little. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not only quite easy, but preferable to other methods, which is why I rant about it so much. But I forget—Apple users can’t be expected to learn anything complicated, can they? Like, for instance, how to use a tool that’s based on simple concepts that every school kid learns in the fucking seventh grade.)

For the time being I’ve settled on Silkypix Developer Studio, which I like. The Mac version is a little Windows-y, but it works. It can be slow, but there is an option to turn off the heavy number crunching to speed things up when you need to. I don’t find it useful as an organizer, so for now I’m stuck with my own kludged together workflow involving manual exporting from iPhoto and other tedious expediencies.

Other interesing programs I’m likely to get, eventually, are Capture One (by PhaseOne)–this was a pretty simple application which rendered really superb, beautiful colors, but it also had some issues when pointed at folders full of NEF files, so I decided to avoid it for now. There was also a lot to like about Nikon’s CaptureNX, which I’ll probably get, eventually. It’s a weird, quirky program, but extremely powerful, and actually pretty cool.

One big issue is color management. I found the two brands which seemed to handle this the best were, not surprisingly, Apple and Adobe. The others have some catching up to do.


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