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Thread: Software to process RAW files

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    Never stop learning GerryK's Avatar
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    Software to process RAW files

    I am seeking direction and advice as to which software to use to process RAW files. I have read about lightroom (which seems good). What other alternatives are there and how good are they? Currently been using the software that came with the camera, but I am sure there are better options. Should I just buy an Adobe CS suite of software?

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    Photoshop CS5 has just been released...... due mid to late May

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    Just like any other software, there are numerous raw processing packages. You should/could have even got one on CD with with your camera. Most do similar things, and in the end it is probably just a case of personal preference as to which one you choose.

    Lightroom
    Aperture
    Adobe Camera Raw
    DPP (Canon)
    Capture NX (Nikon)
    Bibble Pro
    DxO Optics Pro

    Just to name a few
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    And for free alternatives (with somewhat more limited capabilities but useful in a netbook on the road):

    Picasa
    Irfanview (with the free plugin)
    Canon EOS 5D Mark II
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    It depends I think a lot on your workflow, ie if you bulk process raw files then LR is without peer. If you do one photo at a time, eg portraits or landscapes, then DPP or whatever will suffice

    I would definately not rush out and buy anything JUST to be a RAW converter
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    Lightroom Lightroom Lightroom Lightroom Lightroom Lightroom Lightroom

    Get it NOW
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    Thanks guys. The info you all have provided is really useful. Talked to a guy at work today who indicated Capture One is worth a look. Have any of you heard/read/used it? From my naive view it seems like 'Photoshop' for raw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andrask View Post
    And for free alternatives (with somewhat more limited capabilities but useful in a netbook on the road):

    Picasa
    Irfanview (with the free plugin)
    X-nviewe is another very limited free programme for the netbooks.Opens and reads raw files also..
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    If you want a generic, non brand specific RAW converter, then Capture One is apparently rated as the best (for RAW file conversion that is).

    if you want more detailed editing abilities, then LR is definitely worth a look(but having said that I didn't like it's ultimate output(from RAW to raster image). ((Now having said that!! .. LR3Beta2 did do some amazing stuff with respect to noise reduction!! ... best non NR specific noise reduction software I've used))

    Edited images well enough, but had some convoluted processing steps compared to what I prefer to do.. which is a minimalist effort workflow.

    I don't know how well(or badly) other manufacturer's software convert their respective RAW images into raster files, but!!!.... not only am I convinced that Nikon's NEF specific software does the best job at converting NEF's to whatever format is appropriate, the same folks that rated a few other software also think it does too!
    (moral of the story is not Nikon centric, but a clue to the possibility that the manufacturer may know more about it's raw file capabilities that other software manufacturers do).
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    I'm a Pentax user so I went for SilkyPix Pro after trying the freeware Raw Therapee & UFraw programs. I needed the smooth batching, multi-CPU capability, dodging and colour rendition of SP Pro.

    Dan
    Last edited by dosdan; 11-06-2010 at 1:29pm.

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    One more vote for LR 2. Version 3 is on it's way. Don't worry about PS just yet. See what your needs are first.

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    I believe Capture One is the choice of the pros, I do plan to get this as soon as I can afford it. I am doing a Masterclass online with Peter Eastway (Better Photography magazine editor) and he recommends it as it gives (he says) lots more control of subtle alterations at the RAW opening stage.
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    Should I just buy an Adobe CS suite of software?
    LR isn't part of the CS suite. When i bought LR I also bought it with Photoshop which entitled me to a discount as I was buying them bundled together. This offer still applies to LR3/CS5. Go to the Adobe online store to see details.


    Quote Originally Posted by Analog6 View Post
    I believe Capture One is the choice of the pros, I do plan to get this as soon as I can afford it. I am doing a Masterclass online with Peter Eastway (Better Photography magazine editor) and he recommends it as it gives (he says) lots more control of subtle alterations at the RAW opening stage.
    but the question is, are the viewers of the images going to notice these subtle alterations?

    As for choice of the pros?? None of the professionals I follow (blogs) or ones I have met personally use it, they're all LR/Aperture/NX/PS users

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    RebelX, actually that is incorrect, LR3 is now available as of Tuesday last week. So if you were going to buy lightroom it is probably worthwhile trying to get the latest version rather than LR2
    John
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    I`ll second dosdan. I use Pentax too, the software supplied with the camera is rubbish which turns a lot of people off Silkypix although Pentax only used the Silkypix raw conversion engine and wrote their own interface for it (they should stick to making cameras.) Since then I`ve tried Lghtroom, Capture One, Lghtroom, Bibble pro, Lightroom, Adobe Camera raw, Lightroom, Silkypix and Dxo. Silkypix is the clear winner by a mile............................................
    Simmo
    Last edited by baldrick; 01-04-2011 at 10:16pm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GerryK View Post
    Thanks guys. The info you all have provided is really useful. Talked to a guy at work today who indicated Capture One is worth a look. Have any of you heard/read/used it? From my naive view it seems like 'Photoshop' for raw.
    I might be a bad judge as I don't go around using all kinds of software, I've never used Lightroom, but I've been using Capture One Pro for over 5 years and every time I try another program (Bibble, CS4, Canon DPP) I keep coming back to Capture One. The current version (6) is finally better than the next best version from a couple of years ago (3.7.8), I have lots of versions loaded on my computer. Version 6 has a lot of the features that you used to need to go to Photoshop to to finish off. Now you can do it all in the one RAW conversion process. For example, dust/spot removal and black and white duotones can all be done in RAW.

    "Look Ma, No Photoshop". These are RAW converstions, straight out of Capture One Pro.




    JJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by campo View Post
    ...but the question is, are the viewers of the images going to notice these subtle alterations? ...
    Very often it's not a matter of "subtle" features but of little differences between which features are available and what the user needs. It may be that Canons DPP gives the best image quality with Canon files but it may be useless in the real world where you need to do much more than just process a RAW file. It's the gamut of features, including the image quality, that determines the suitability of a program for any person. For example, Bibble is blindingly fast and that might be great for some people, but it was at the expense of image quality. Really, it's not just a matter of "subtle" differences in image quality. If it was just that then you could just about say that all RAW converters where the same, which they clearly are not.

    Quote Originally Posted by campo View Post
    ...As for choice of the pros?? None of the professionals I follow (blogs) or ones I have met personally use it, they're all LR/Aperture/NX/PS users
    I don't doubt you, that the folks that YOU follow don't use it, but suggesting Capture One is a sub standard product based on your interests alone seems misleading.

    JJ

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Agree with John, if one program was better than all the rest, we would all be using it. This thread shows there are heaps of options out there, and people seem to use every one of them. That alone says that a choice of RAW converter is a personal one. Get the trials, give them a go, and see which one YOU like the most, then get it, and learn how to make it work for you, do online tutorials, get a book, but whatever you do, learn how to make the most of what you have. Often people swap programs cause they can't do what they want, only to find the could, if they had learnt how to!.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Analog6 View Post
    I believe Capture One is the choice of the pros, I do plan to get this as soon as I can afford it. I am doing a Masterclass online with Peter Eastway (Better Photography magazine editor) and he recommends it as it gives (he says) lots more control of subtle alterations at the RAW opening stage.
    Seeing as this thread has popped up again I will now add that I have found Phase One's Capture One 5 (I haven't been able to afford the pro version or the upgrade to CO6 yet) just superb for RAW processing and streets ahead of Adobe Camera Raw - but remember, that is just MY opinion. I find it has much better control over highlights and shadows, it has a HDR like functionality, the clarity choice really adds something to the shts, I just love it! You can download for 30 days and try.

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    Another vote for Lightroom. Have Version 3 and the noise reduction is superb - given me confidence with an extra ISO stop on my camera. The 5 Lightroom modules are fully designed with photographers in mind!

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