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11-12-2010, 12:04 PM   #1
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What software is needed for someone new to dslrs?

Hello everyone.
I actually want to ask two questions. The first is for someone starting out in dslr photography, is photoshop elements 9 good enough for now to process my pictures or do I need additional software? Question number two is has anyone bought their dslr camera from an online store, eg. B and H, Abe's of Maine, Amazon etc., and would they recommend it?

11-12-2010, 12:45 PM   #2
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I'm still a beginner myself in the digital darkroom and processing images; however, I have found a few things that work well for me ... and some that didn't. First, if the Pentax DCU software runs well on your computer (as it luckily does on mine) it does a fine job of raw conversion with some nice image tweaking options. And it's free with your camera. I use it for most of my post processing.

Here are some other programs I currently have installed and like.

IrfanView - Official Homepage - one of the most popular viewers worldwide (PC only), free
Great file viewer, fast, and allows some image manipulation

Photoscape : Free Photo Editing Software (Photo Editor) Download free
One can do an awful lot with this program, I'm surprised it's not more popular. It will even convert most raw files, though this is very limited in the sense that you have no control over how it performs that conversion. For jpg manipulation I really like it.

Paint.NET - Free Software for Digital Photo Editing free
Lots of features, lots of plug-ins available, layers, and more. Though it works well for digital photo work, I believe it was designed first and foremost for digital graphics art work. I've been using it to teach myself how to work with layers before I step up and lay out the money for Photoshop and the like.

I also tried GIMP but detested the interface; however, I really liked the UFRaw converter it uses. Nice results, just couldn't get along with the rest of GIMP. Raw Therapee seemed like a good one - and I produced some nice results with it - but it ran very poorly on my system for some reason. I'm also currently looking for a stable Windows build of DCRAW which UFRaw is based on.

As you can see, I'm pretty much restricting myself to free options at the moment as I'd rather use my photo budget towards lenses (2 on the way currently ), and the upcoming holidays.

I purchased my equipment from B&H and see no reason not to in the future. In my case, the nearest decent camera store (and many other types of stores for that matter) is at least a 2hr drive away, so online shopping for many things has become second nature.

Good luck!
11-12-2010, 01:00 PM   #3
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I've been using Photoshop Elements 7 & 8 for processing Raw files from my K200D since I got it back in July of 2008. I've been happy with the results. It's fairly easy to batch process with.

I also bought my K200D from They had the best price at the time. I've since bought other electronic devices from Amazon with no problems at all. Their prices are usually very competitive.
11-12-2010, 03:58 PM   #4
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You already received some good advice.

1- I use the Pentax software (PDCU). It comes free with the camera. It has some nice functions, and give nice outputs. Why not starting there ?

The two "weakness" of most softwares incl. PDCU are: a dedicated noise reduction/removal (NR) and a solid lens disortion & aberation correction. Personally, I prefer to use the best in the form of dedicated softwares: Noiseware (or NoiseNinja) and PTLens respectively.

2- B&H and Adorama are very reputable online shop. I used Adorama several times and I was impressed by the service. B&H has a similar reputation.

I also use for some 2nd hand lenses and I can recommend them strongly. They have excellent stocks and hard-to-find lenses.

Hope that the comment will help....

11-12-2010, 04:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jusfun21 Quote
Hello everyone.
I actually want to ask two questions. The first is for someone starting out in dslr photography, is photoshop elements 9 good enough for now to process my pictures or do I need additional software? Question number two is has anyone bought their dslr camera from an online store, eg. B and H, Abe's of Maine, Amazon etc., and would they recommend it?
If you already have Elements 9 then that would be a good starting point. If not, like others have said, the Pentax Digital Camera Utility is ok. I personally use PhotoShop CS5 Estended, which I think is one of the best photo editing programs available but it is pretty expensive.

I bought my Kx from Amazon (currently $488 for the one lens kit I believe) and received my camera exactly when they said it would arrive, no tax, free shipping (2nd day is also free if you sign up for Amazon Prime). If you buy from Amazon I would suggest signing up for Amazon Prime. It is free for 30 days and you get free 2nd day shipping. Just cancel before the 30 days and you never get charged a cent.
11-12-2010, 05:04 PM   #6

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I have bought cameras and lenses from b&h, Abe's, Adorama, and Amazon. What I've learned is that you should buy long enough before you need the equipment so that you can test it extensively during the return period.

For software, I'm definitely not an expert, but I use faststone for viewing. I like it, except for some issues with its database. It's free, but I donated $10 for a license key. I use gimp/ufraw for editing.

11-12-2010, 07:38 PM   #7
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I used Pentax software v3.5 for 18 months (!), then finally got something else - Elements v6. It is plenty for casual-mid serious editing, and has a couple features that the Pentax software did not - selection capabilities and the healing brush mainly, and the leveling tool is easier. However, I still use Photo Browser for extracting jpgs when I want to compare them (in another viewer), and to create the exif data file.

No plans to upgrade. (Edit But I did about March due to getting the K5 which is not recognized by v6).

You might have to download the latest ACR from Adobe to recognize your camera. I had to do that when switching from the K100D to K20D.

I think almost everyone has ordered from the top 3 online sellers at one point or another.

I use the free on the netbook for viewing-only of PEFs on the netbook during travels, but someone far more knowledgeable than I says it is quite powerful.

Last edited by SpecialK; 06-09-2011 at 02:53 PM.
11-12-2010, 07:41 PM   #8
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I use faststone also because Irfanview which I previously used doesn't have the functions that FastStone has. Plus you can set Faststone to let you use outside editors like Photoshop and Elements, opens your photos with just a single keystroke or two.

But I also use Elements 6.
11-13-2010, 08:31 AM   #9
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Downloaded FastStone to see what it's like after reading some of the comments posted here. Nice features, and I really like when viewing full screen being able to access seemingly all the program functions simply by moving the cursor to the edges of the screen.

May just end up taking the place of Irfanview for what I use such programs for.
11-13-2010, 09:04 AM   #10
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Once you click on a photo in Faststone, just double click the photo and it takes you back to your folder.
11-13-2010, 09:51 AM   #11
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I use Lightroom3 at work (they bought it, not me, thankfully) and I use the Pentax browser and GIMP at home. LR3 has alot of added features that can make quite extensive picture editing quick and much easier than the free picture editors do and, if you do alot of photo editing, it will make your life alot easier. That being said, you do get what you pay for and LR3 is not cheap.

Online stores: I've bought from Adorama, B&H & Amazon and have been happy with all of my purchases and would recommend them to anyone looking to buy from them.
11-13-2010, 10:24 AM   #12
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UFRAW for conversion (from RAW) and some adjustments, resizing and cropping. It's basically the only tool I use.

Note: does not support JPEG
11-13-2010, 10:45 AM   #13
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I also like Faststone a lot. Also, I suppose ufraw would be sufficient for me in general if it had integrated sharpening. There is somewhat of a learning curve with the latter, but being able to use it on Linux too has appeal to me. I've been pondering getting PSE or even LR (I might qualify for the educational discount) for convenience though, wonder whether that would run with Wine (I suppose virtualbox or somesuch would work in any case?).
06-07-2011, 12:30 AM   #14
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There's a beta of PhotoDirector available at PhotoDirector 2011 Beta Version ? Professional Quality Photo Editing Software
download and install it and fill in the survey and you get the released version free (supposedly $99 when released). It has a lot of 1-click options and presets (you can download more presets from the Directorzone) but still allows manual control. The presets can help you see what settings you might need as you progress to doing it all manually. Plus there is upload to Facebook and other sites.
06-07-2011, 01:14 AM   #15
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I have used PaintShopPro X, Elements 5 and Photoshop CS4. I got them in that order.

PSP was great and easier to use in some ways than the Adobe products, but it wouldn't process RAW files from any camera I have owned during that time - a Fuji S5600, E510 and now K7. I discovered it supported the Photoshop file format - PSD - and switched to always using that with it.

Elements 5 would process the RAW from the Fuji and that was really why I switched to using PSD for PaintShopPro. However it was missing some crucial (in my view) things, notably a channel mixer layer, was rather dumbed down, and neither it nor PSP did 16-bit processing.

So when an Open University student I got a student copy of CS4 which I've been very pleased with. Using Adobe Camera Raw it can 'develop' the RAF from the Fuji, ORF from the E510, and the PEF from the K7 - it can't deal with the PEF from the K5 as that came along too late. It does 16-bit processing, SmartSharpen seems very good, and of course there are lots and lots of on-line tutorials for it, though some are far better than others.

I haven't used Lightroom or GIMP. Many years ago I had a go at installing GIMP and was forever trying to find and install yet another download and gave up in disgust - presumably that Towers of Babel situation has now been resolved with better installers and packages.

What do you need? Maybe not much to start with. The camera should come with the Pentax untility which will do a job, though when I had a dabble I didn't find it very intuitive. What I would suggest is you shot RAW + JPG so if when you become a post-processing fiend you can go back to the best of your early images.

Of course you need plenty of hard disk space on your PC, and some sort of backup provision. Even an external USB HDD is good, and the Microsoft Synctoy works well for copying new & modified files across. Huge hard disks are cheap, so long as you are using a desktop you probably won't have problems adding an extra disk. You do need to find out if it's SATA or PATA - if PATA it's probably better to get a SATA expansion card than hunt for a PATA HDD. If you are using a laptop then an external HDD will be a 'must'.

Do be aware that most computer screens are inaccurate, often wildly so. PhotoFriday has a basic screen calibration page that will help you get your screen approximately right, longer term getting a screen with an IPS panel and a hardware calibration device is something to aspire to.

Never, ever alter the original JPG. As soon as you open it in an editor, make the first action you do 'Save As'. You can't afford to lose the original - without it a mis-edit cannot be recovered - and continual editing and resaving of JPGs gradually leads to lose of quality.

You are in the US, I am in the UK so I can't comment on specific US suppliers. However being able to handle a camera before buying it is invaluable IMHO - I have a K7 as I happened to wander into a shop last summer, handled it and really like the handling. My E510 came from a local camera shop, the K7 came from someone I stumbled across on Flickr, and I happily buy lenses and filters from online suppliers though I do make sure for lenses they are genuine UK companies - the web presences of well-known camera shops. I use the shopping bit of Google, order by lowest price to highest and look down until I come to a retailer I'm confident of. Amazon often has good prices and in the UK seems to be quite ameanable about returns.

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