Processing Program

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Alan Lichtenstein, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. I'm a neophyte as far as digital photography is concerned, however,
    after having purchased my dSLR three years ago and finally deciding that
    I ought to learn how to use it, realized that photography can be very
    rewarding and interesting. Keeping in mind that I am still a neophyte,
    I am considering purchasing a processing program. The majority of
    salespeople in the camera store that I deal with, knowing that I am a
    neophyte, recommended either Lightroom or Aperature. Are there any
    recommendations that may help me?

    Additionally, if in your comments, you can comment on how each program
    provides for HDR that would be appreciated, although from my reading, it
    does seem that there are other programs which will do that well. Also,
    can anyone recommend a basic book on HDR, low on technical aspects and
    easy on explanations, for a beginner?

    Any advice will be appreciated.
    Alan Lichtenstein, Feb 23, 2010
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  2. Salespeople will naturally recommend something to buy. But there's a
    lot of good free software out there. Try Picasa for a start. Aimed at
    beginners, and what it does it does very well.
    Stay out of HDR until you know what you can do without it with such
    things as RAW "curves" tone mapping and dynamic range optimisation.
    Chris Malcolm, Feb 23, 2010
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  3. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    Both of those programs are cataloguing programs with modules for
    printing, generating web galleries etc and some developing. They are NOT
    a replacement for Photoshop.

    It does depends what you want to do. I use Lightroom (having looked
    carefully at Aperture, iPhoto and several others about 18 months ago) on
    a PPC Mac.

    As Lightroom comes from Adobe it works very well with Photoshop and I
    assume Photoshop elements. Also it is available on both Mac and PC.
    Aperture was mac only when I looked.

    For editing 99.9% of the pros use Photoshop as do the vast majority of
    the serious amateurs. So there is more support and help for that than
    any other program. BTW elements is good for most things and is
    virtually free these days.

    So I use Lightroom partly because it works well with Photoshop and there
    because is a lot of support for Lightroom from professional down to

    Also I tend to shoot reportage, PR, news, etc where the developing in
    Lightroom (WB, curves, colour and cropping is enough. I only need
    Photoshop occasionally for "art" pictures.

    I find lightroom easy to use and you only use the bits you are happy
    with. I now use a lot more of it. there are also a lot of good books for
    it as well as several forums and on line (free) video tutorials. Lots of
    presets and ad in modules tool. I have never been stuck for help.

    I don't think the same level of support is available for the free tools.

    BTW if you use Lightroom always shoot in RAW. It does non destructive

    Lightroom has a neat trick of prompting for a destination when
    importing photos AND asking for a backup location as well (all good
    catalogue programs should do this). I have an external hard drive and
    now as a matter of course I import to the main library and a back up at
    the same time. It pushes you into good habits. :)

    Another good thing it does is makes keywords easy. Another good habit to
    get into! Again most cataloguing programs do this. It is also easy to
    retro fit keywords in Lightroom.

    Hope this helps.
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
  4. Alan Lichtenstein

    Better Info Guest

    For a beginner photo-editor, I wouldn't suggest investing any money in any
    software at this point. There is much freeware that is better than most
    cost-ware these days. If you want to play with RAW files, then check out
    "RAW Therapee". It has the latest advanced interpolation algorithms for the
    last few years that still aren't even included in the very expensive
    programs yet. Though you would probably do just as well by setting your
    camera to its lowest contrast setting and tweaking your custom color
    balance so as not to blow out any color channels. This way the full dynamic
    range of your sensor should be represented in the JPG files and there'll be
    no need to muck about in RAW data if you properly expose and color-balance
    your images while taking them. (Like any decent photographer should already
    know how to do.)

    Any of the freeware image editors, GIMP (considered the free equal to
    PhotoSlop in the right hands), IrfanView, FastStone Viewer (the latter has
    some good but basic editing tools built in and supports nearly all RAW
    formats), etc. will also accept all the freeware "plugins" that you can
    find all over the net. With a collection of good plugins you can do almost
    anything in the freeware programs as you can do in expensive programs.

    If you eventually want to step up to the oft (wrongly) praised PhotoSlop,
    you might want to take a look at Photoline instead. It does more and does
    it better than PhotoSlop ever has. Its interface isn't as prettied-up, but
    it's an amazing work-horse of precision and professional tools. Not for the
    beginner, by any stretch of the imagination. Even people who have used
    PhotoSlop get lost in all that Photoline can do. I've been using it for
    over 10 years and I still haven't learned many of its multi-page layout,
    complex texture, and animation editing features. One of its remarkable
    features is the 100% lossless JPG editing feature. You can load, save,
    reload, resave a JPG image as many times as you want, and it will only
    change the pixels you edit in them, without ever introducing new JPG
    compression artifacts. It will even edit 64-bit color-depth CMYK images. It
    also offers 2 flavors of the Lanczos resampling algorithm for preserving
    image details in all resizings and rotations. Overpriced bloatware
    PhotoSlop still hasn't climbed out of the bicubic resampling dark-ages of
    last century. Even freeware IrfanView offers a version of Lanczos
    resampling algorithm for detail-preserving resizing and rotations for many
    years. Use a bicubic algorithm for downsizings and rotations and you might
    as well have bought a toy-store camera. The amount of detail resolution
    lost from a simple downsize or rotation in PhotoSlop would be the same. One
    other plus, Photoline also includes the same advanced interpolation
    algorithms for RAW files as is in RAW Therapee and will open RAW image
    formats that aren't even in existence yet. I've proved this to myself by
    using versions of Photoline from 2-3 years ago to open this years newer RAW
    file formats.

    An interesting but little-known freeware editor is one that used to be
    called LightBox v1.2. It might still might be found on the net on some
    freeware servers. It works on the zone-system for advanced photographers.
    There's even a one-click menu option to create a duplicate of itself for
    sharing with others freely. It's since been bought out and renamed to
    SageLight v3.0, no longer freeware. But if you can find the free LightBox
    version it can do some pretty interesting things from a pro-editor point of
    view. It's even a stand-alone single exe-file application so it can be used
    as a portable editor right from your flash-drives or in-camera memory cards
    running it right through the camera's USB connection. I always keep it
    handy as an external application that can be called up from within my other
    favorite editors because of its unique zone-system editing features, using
    it from my main editors as if it's some advanced professional plugin.
    (Worth mentioning that Photoline too can be used as a stand-alone
    application running it right from memory cards or flash drives, by simply
    creating a "UserSettings" sub-folder in its installation folder. No other
    tweaks needed. This way you can carry a very powerful editor with you
    everywhere you go with your camera. If you travel light then use any public
    access computer and your camera as your full kit, from photo to darkroom,
    all done from files stored right in your camera.)

    For a beginner you might also look into earlier versions of PaintShopPro.
    Buying them used, or even get them free from some places. V9 was the last
    good version, but it was only an 8-bit editor for all its tools. Corel
    bought out Jasc, and before they started to ruin much of its usefulness
    they released a V10 that started to get lots of 16-bit color-depth support
    for many of its tools. Then came along v11, X2, and X3, which are all an
    abysmal mess of hard to install bloatware. Along with the questionable
    "Protexis" service that it silently installs and is always running in the
    background, that many define as nothing but devious spyware. These later
    Corel versions constantly crashing or more often fail to run at all. I just
    got through 15 hours of nightmares, and finally quit trying to install
    version X3 of it. I was that curious to see if they fixed anything in it. I
    still can't even get it to run to see if they fixed anything within the
    program itself. After reading online reports of others all having similar
    problems, the few that did get it to install found it had the same crashing
    problems and major bugs as version X2. Leave it to Corel to buy up
    excellent software and pay their inane programmers to trash it like they

    Though I do I keep a version of PaintShopPro 9 and 10 installed due to some
    excellent tools it has that can't be found in any other program. Its
    somewhat misnamed "chromatic aberration" tool being the finest filter I've
    found anywhere for difficult sensor-blooming artifacts (not lateral nor
    longitudinal CA) from difficult lighting situations and subjects. And its
    "Manual Color Correction" tool (hidden on the toolbar editor list of "all
    commands", archived-tools from earlier versions) can't be beat for shifting
    a range of color-tones without making the rest of them ugly. It's capable
    of making flesh-tones look like flesh-tones in some of the more difficult
    lighting situations. Its "red-eye" correction tool also has options for
    unique other-color reflections from animal flash-photography shots.
    Something no other editor has. If you do a lot of pet or wildlife
    photography it can rescue a good image for you without a lot of
    hand-editing. If you have no decent external noise-removal filter, the one
    in PaintShopPro does a pretty good job too with a little practice. As good
    as some of the expensive ones after you've learned to use it well.

    A couple other decent low-cost beginner's editors I sometimes recommend are
    Serif PhotoPlus or PhotoImpact. There are others however.

    For a condensed and somewhat thorough overview of many other editors I've
    not mentioned, see this page:
    Better Info, Feb 23, 2010
  5. Alan Lichtenstein

    ray Guest

    Why? I'd suggest you start with ufraw and GIMP (which are available as
    free downloads). Find out what they will do. Learn basic manipulation
    techniques. Put out money if, at some later date, you need or want to do
    more than they conveniently do.
    ray, Feb 23, 2010
  6. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    Why? Neither do what Aperture or Lightroom do. Both do a lot of what
    GIMP and Photoshop do but they are a very good catalogue program. I
    rarely need Photoshop these days except for art photos.

    In any event Photoshop Elements is a much better option than Gimp and
    yes, I have used GIMP.It is on this PC. Photoshop Elements is given
    away with many things these days and does not cost much if you have to
    pay for it.

    As the vast majority of people use photoshop (and about 99.99% of pro's)
    So why go with something different that does less? At my local Camera
    club they all use Photoshop. If you ask for help with GIMP you won't
    get it.
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
  7. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    Now you have left reality behind I will snip the rest.
    Only by those who are delusional... before you as I have used GIMP it is
    on this PC.
    OK so all the worlds leading photographers and graphics designers are

    Snipped the rest of the religious rant.......
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
  8. Alan Lichtenstein

    Better Info Guest

    I, for one of thousands of talented photographers and professionals, never
    need any help with any editor I use. So I've no need for a lot of blind
    sheep followers supporting their popular but less capable software.
    Popularity is rarely a reason to choose anything in life, unless your deep
    insecurities cause an overwhelming need to be one of the common sheeple

    Either that, or you're only trying to justify all the money you wasted.
    Which is it? Even your invented and inflated statistics are very telling to
    the depths of your insecurities.
    Better Info, Feb 23, 2010
  9. Alan Lichtenstein

    Bruce Guest

    That's excellent advice. Far too many people spend $$$ on Photoshop
    CS3 or CS4 and end up with a hugely complex piece of software that
    they don't need. GIMP is a powerful package and a great way to learn

    When the OP is ready to consider purchasing a commercial package, I
    would recommend Photoshop Elements over the CS versions. Elements has
    everything a keen photographer needs without the very high price and
    needless complication of Creative Suite.
    Bruce, Feb 23, 2010
  10. Alan Lichtenstein

    Ofnuts Guest

    Start with whatever is on the CD that came with your camera (DPP for
    Canon, Capture (I think) for Nikon...)(check for available free updates
    on the manufacturer's site). Not such bad software in general, and
    you'll find things that other software won't do (because they can take
    advantage of the proprietary exifs).

    If you want to go beyond that:

    For cataloging, Google's Picasa is fairly nice (and supports the RAW types).

    For processing, Gimp is quite powerful, but not as comfortable/easy as
    PS since it somehow makes it mandatory to understand what you are doing.
    Ofnuts, Feb 23, 2010
  11. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    I would agree completely the full photshop is overkill for many and
    Elements is all you need... however if you don't want to edit the
    picture, just sort out the colours and tones etc and cropping then both
    Aperture and Light room will do that,
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
  12. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    Good advice.
    For many reason I would avoid google's programs.
    Don't bother with Gimp... go for elements. It may even be on the Cd that
    came with the camera
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
  13. I'd just get Photoshop Elements. Quicker to learn than most, and will
    give you several legs up should you later decide you want to use
    Lightroom and/or Photoshop. And all three are cross platform, which
    Aperture is not.
    John McWilliams, Feb 23, 2010
  14. Alan Lichtenstein

    Paul Furman Guest

    But they are expensive and not exactly super easy to use. Picassa is
    probably a reasonable free alternative. I don't know aperture but I use
    lightroom and it's purpose is fast workflow for large numbers of pics
    that need to be adjusted & cropped to match in a high pace pro
    environment. Fine art prints & geeky tinkering is better done in
    photoshop (elements is fine). HDR and pano stitching are better done in
    dedicated programs. Gimp is sort of awkward & technical. The OP might
    also look into their camera manufacturer's software.
    Paul Furman, Feb 23, 2010
  15. Ofcourse, illegal downloads do not count as support. If everyone who uses
    PS actually paid for it, Adobe would probably be able to make a profit at
    a sub-$150 price tag.
    Robert Spanjaard, Feb 23, 2010
  16. So will UFRaw.
    Robert Spanjaard, Feb 23, 2010
  17. Speaking about religious...
    Look at the way you respond to people advising GIMP.

    Alan, skip the religious rants and give GIMP a try, considering the amount
    of people advising it. You'll never lose more than a bit of your time.
    Robert Spanjaard, Feb 23, 2010
  18. Alan Lichtenstein

    ray Guest

    Well, for starters, OP is not a pro. I didn't say he would not need ps or
    something else at some point. It ridiculous to throw money at a problem
    before you know what the problem is - I would have thought you'd have
    learned that from Congress by now. Start with what's available for free,
    go with it to learn what else (if anything) you need.
    ray, Feb 23, 2010
  19. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    I did... hence my opinion
    Compared to the number suggesting Photoshop Elements....
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
  20. Alan Lichtenstein

    Chris H Guest

    Neither are most of the Photoshop users. But unlike GIMP professionals
    do use Photoshop
    I agree which is why I suggested elements which is usually free

    What is Congress?
    Chris H, Feb 23, 2010
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