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07-25-2010, 07:51 AM   #1
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best app for processing raw files

Hi,
I have a K-x and want to start shooting raw which iphoto cant handle. What is the best app for working with raw files? I dont need a lot of fancy stuff just want to work with raw photos. thank you.

07-25-2010, 08:03 AM   #2
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Have you checked out the pentax "digital camera utility" that came with the K-X? It's got some useful features depending on what you want to do.
07-25-2010, 08:14 AM   #3
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Start with the Pentax utility and after it crashes your computer a few times, move up to Lightroom 3.0. If that's a little too pricey for you try Photoshop Elements. I prefer the full blown photoshop but it's expensive. The good news is that you can try each for 30 days without paying for them. Silkypix, DXO, etc also all have free 30 day trials. At the end of 6 months or so, you'll know which one you prefer. Of course, if you want to go completely free, The Gimp is very photoshop like and probably outperforms Elements (been awhile since I tried elements though).

07-25-2010, 08:31 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Genshu Quote
Hi,
I have a K-x and want to start shooting raw which iphoto cant handle. What is the best app for working with raw files? I dont need a lot of fancy stuff just want to work with raw photos. thank you.
The latest version of IPhoto does indeed support Raw. I myself use Elements 8, a vast improvement over earlier versions.

07-25-2010, 08:44 AM   #5
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If you are a mac user look at Aperture, it is very user friendly and less expensive than Lightroom. You can expand it's functions as you go by adding plug-ins. Photoshop Elements can also be added as an external editor (which gives you another RAW converter tool). I believe you can trial Aperture for free.

-Joe
07-25-2010, 08:56 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Genshu Quote
Hi,
I have a K-x and want to start shooting raw which iphoto cant handle. What is the best app for working with raw files? I dont need a lot of fancy stuff just want to work with raw photos. thank you.
Digital Camera Utility is the best program for raw conversion IMO. It shows off the colours and detail in Pentax files better than the Adobe products I've tried (CS3, Lightroom 3 Beta and Elements 7). Silkypix displays exactly like DCR4, but the interface is very clumsy.

If you understand your camera, you will immediately understand DCU4, because it has mostly the same controls. I use it to do my all raw conversions (sensitivity, Image Tone, Sharpness, contrast, saturation, noise reduction, straightening). For cropping or if I want to fine-tune the file a little more or add special effects, I use Picasa. The added benefit of Picasa is that you can upload photos for sharing. (Don't use Picasa for raw conversions, as it has non-defeatable auto-adjust for brightness).

I had a terrible problem with DCU4 crashing and not responding, but it's pretty stable now after a couple of updates. I think Windows was part of the problem, because even Explorer was choking on K-x files.

The Pentax software is free, it's easy to use and does superb raw conversions. That's the obvious place to start IMO.

Here's an unprocessed raw conversion in CS3 (K20D):



Here's the same photo converted in Pentax Photo Browser (older Pentax software, but both PPB and DCU4 use Silkypix raw conversion):

07-25-2010, 10:17 AM   #7
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One advantage of using Adobe products is the incredible amount of support available. Sure the included Pentax/SilkyPix conversion software is competent, as are a number of other programs. But, you're pretty much on your own when it comes to learning.

Browse the digital photography section of Amazon or a big brick and mortar bookstore. You'll see 50 Adobe titles for every alternate program. It's also common to see Lightroom, Photoshop and Elements workshops and classes.

Elements is a good place to start. People recommend Lightroom for editing. What most of them don't know is that Photoshop Elements and CS (whatever) have the same tools built in. Lightroom puts a fancy interface on top of Adobe Camera Raw. Using the ACR tools that come bundled with Elements you can do the same things. The interface is different but the editing tools work the same way and produce the same effects. Elements is much less expensive, offers layers based editing on top of the ACR tools built into Lightroom and has a huge community of users for support.
07-25-2010, 12:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mysticcowboy Quote
One advantage of using Adobe products is the incredible amount of support available. Sure the included Pentax/SilkyPix conversion software is competent, as are a number of other programs. But, you're pretty much on your own when it comes to learning.
True, except that the point of my demonstration above is that raw conversion with the Pentax software is BETTER than conversion with Adobe. The Adobe programs have capabilities that the Pentax software doesn't approach (e.g. layers), therefore I would recommend raw conversion with the bundled Pentax software then jpeg processing with the program of one's choice.

07-25-2010, 03:04 PM   #9
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If you look in the Processing forum, you will find many essentially similar threads.

Elements, here.
07-25-2010, 03:17 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
True, except that the point of my demonstration above is that raw conversion with the Pentax software is BETTER than conversion with Adobe.
FWIW, I don't see it that way at all in the posted example. The Pentax version appears to have oversaturated the reds well past the point of clipping. But of course, maybe that's what the data had. Presumably you could get either program to oversaturate and clip the reds, or not do so, depending on what settings you used. Similarly with any other comparison you perform: whatever one program happens to do by default, the other program can usually do with just a couple of tweaks to a slider. And to the extent that there are sometimes differences that cannot be corrected for this way, it still tends to be basically random chance which one might happen to produce results any given person would call "better" in a blindfold test.
07-25-2010, 03:23 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Genshu Quote
Hi,
I have a K-x and want to start shooting raw which iphoto cant handle. What is the best app for working with raw files? I dont need a lot of fancy stuff just want to work with raw photos. thank you.
Adobe Camera Raw.
Hands down the simplest more effective RAW interface engine I have ever used to date.
07-25-2010, 09:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Genshu Quote
Hi,
I have a K-x and want to start shooting raw which iphoto cant handle. What is the best app for working with raw files? I dont need a lot of fancy stuff just want to work with raw photos. thank you.
Well, unless you have a very old version of iPhoto it will handle RAW files. I know the '09 and '07 versions do, because I have those on different machines and just tested them. As for what is best, that will depend on what you are wanting to do. If you want something besides, you might look at:

Pixelmator 1.6 (requires 10.6 but you can download a free trial)
Photoshop Elements 8
Aperture 3.0

I use Aperture 3, but I don't tend to do a lot of post processing.

Jeff
07-26-2010, 05:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
Of course, if you want to go completely free, The Gimp is very photoshop like...


Is anyone using GIMP?
How does it compare to Photoshop?
Features work well?
Cheers
07-26-2010, 10:00 AM - 1 Like   #14
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GIMP is phenomenal for the price...free. Photoshop users tear it apart for its multi-window interface, lack of handling anything higher than 8 bits/pixel, and no true pre-press workflow. This is all changing as the engine behind GIMP is replacing the old one soon which will alllow up to 32 bit/pixel manipulation. As well, a single window interface is being tested right now. The pre-press workflow issue will likely also be conquered by the change to the new engine. I imagine by this time next year, the brickbats for GIMP will have largely diminished.

Jack
07-26-2010, 10:55 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
FWIW, I don't see it that way at all in the posted example. The Pentax version appears to have oversaturated the reds well past the point of clipping. But of course, maybe that's what the data had.
There was too much dynamic range in the reds on this shot for the K20D sensor. All of the conversions show clipped reds. The camera was set for default Bright, which is punchier than I use now (I took these a couple of years ago). I just did a couple of DCU4 conversions to check it vs. PPB, and they are identical. I also did a conversion using Natural image tone in DCU4, which has much lower red saturation. All of them look much better to me than the CS3 version. The Pentax conversions have texture and detail that CS3 has lost. Maybe you could play with the controls in Photoshop and arrive at the same result, but all you need to do with the Pentax software is Extract JPEG and see glorious Pentax colours they way they are intended to be seen, without the need for processing.

Here's DCR4 Natural image tone (All of these look worse here than they do on my monitor. They've been resized to 1600 pixels, uploaded to the Picasa page, then reduced again to 800 pixels for posting here, so the quality drop is not surprising).



Here's CS3 again for comparison:



Unfortunately you can't see the loss of texture in the CS3 version. I'll upload some crops later.
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