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03-06-2017, 02:22 PM   #1
BlueClearSky
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Necessity of PENTAX Digital Camera Utility Software?

Greetings! I am a (dslr) noob, sort of. Shot 35mm for many years. Have been using an EVF camera for past 10 years. During that time, occasionally tinkered with my Dad's Fujifilm S2 Pro and Nikon D700 (he was seriously into photography, I will likely never get that serious). Considering a first-time DSLR purchase. Have some old Pentax lenses and would like to try them with a Pentax DSLR. While shopping for used Pentax DSLRs, I noticed many come with 'Digital Camera Utility Software' and many do not. How important is having this software when I get a (new to me) camera? I have never shot RAW but I understand its importance and might consider it at some point. I currently own Photoshop CS6 (regular, not extended) that I have mostly used for sharpening/enhancements/cropping/color correction and creative work with web design. Is Photoshop sufficient for me or should I really try to get my hands on this other software when I choose a camera?

Many thanks for your ideas!

03-06-2017, 02:42 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by BlueClearSky Quote
Greetings! I am a (dslr) noob, sort of. Shot 35mm for many years. Have been using an EVF camera for past 10 years. During that time, occasionally tinkered with my Dad's Fujifilm S2 Pro and Nikon D700 (he was seriously into photography, I will likely never get that serious). Considering a first-time DSLR purchase. Have some old Pentax lenses and would like to try them with a Pentax DSLR. While shopping for used Pentax DSLRs, I noticed many come with 'Digital Camera Utility Software' and many do not. How important is having this software when I get a (new to me) camera? I have never shot RAW but I understand its importance and might consider it at some point. I currently own Photoshop CS6 (regular, not extended) that I have mostly used for sharpening/enhancements/cropping/color correction and creative work with web design. Is Photoshop sufficient for me or should I really try to get my hands on this other software when I choose a camera?

Many thanks for your ideas!
Can't answer your direct question but consider renting a pentax dslr camera body to see what it (they) can do

Lensrental.com out of Tennessee has treated me right in the past
03-06-2017, 02:44 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Greeting to the forum. RAW is important if you intend to improve your images in post-processing. Photoshop CS6 should come with Adobe Bridge which will convert PEF files to DNG, but is mainly the organizing software for all your images. With Pentax, you have the option of shooting in DNG (Adobe's RAW file format) instead of Pentax's PEF.

As far as I know, the Pentax Digital Camera Utility software is a free download for Mac or PC, but with Photoshop, I don't think you'll need it. Photoshop is the most powerful program for image editing, but many photographers prefer the less expensive and more efficient Adobe Lightroom as a faster and more practical software for organizing and making typical adjustments to RAW images.

Bottom line: PS is more than sufficient. The Digital Camera Utility is essentially the minimum if you had no other options.
03-06-2017, 03:17 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Pentax software is only needed if you want to duplicate the in camera JPG conversions on your RAW shots or you do not want to use another tool to handle the RAW files. I use DXO Optics and Lightroom and have never installed Pentax DCUS.

03-06-2017, 03:33 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I have used Digital Camera Utility for two things. I always shoot RAW but I wanted to understand what the in-camera processing options for JPEG did. I can open a RAW file in DCU and all those options are available. I can see what effect they have on a larger screen. That makes it easier to set up the camera's JPEG options. At some point I might want to shoot JPEG for some purpose, and the camera is ready. The other use is to check my other software against how DCU would process an image. I can't remember exactly what options you have in Photoshop's Adobe Camera RAW, but there is at least a choice of Process - how Adobe interprets RAW files. You may also have choices of Profile, specific to camera models. If my photos with a new camera look different than I expect, I use the DCU version to see what Pentax thinks they should look like, and get the other software to match that.

In other words, I dust it off when I get a new camera and forget how to use it almost immediately.
03-06-2017, 03:49 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I use DCU5 routinely as the first stage in my workflow, finished off in Photoshop, Camera Raw or Faststone depending what I'm trying to achieve. If you are processing pixel-shift then it's pretty much essential at this point in time, especially if you want motion correction. It also does a good job with noise reduction, maybe better than with other software as it's designed specifically for Pentax bodies. Many people find it hard going, but I don't have a problem with it. YMMV.
03-06-2017, 04:00 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BlueClearSky Quote
Greetings! I am a (dslr) noob, sort of. Shot 35mm for many years. Have been using an EVF camera for past 10 years. During that time, occasionally tinkered with my Dad's Fujifilm S2 Pro and Nikon D700 (he was seriously into photography, I will likely never get that serious). Considering a first-time DSLR purchase. Have some old Pentax lenses and would like to try them with a Pentax DSLR. While shopping for used Pentax DSLRs, I noticed many come with 'Digital Camera Utility Software' and many do not. How important is having this software when I get a (new to me) camera? I have never shot RAW but I understand its importance and might consider it at some point. I currently own Photoshop CS6 (regular, not extended) that I have mostly used for sharpening/enhancements/cropping/color correction and creative work with web design. Is Photoshop sufficient for me or should I really try to get my hands on this other software when I choose a camera?

Many thanks for your ideas!
G'day,

I have the same version of Photoshop, it comes with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). This negates the need for Pentax DCU if you shoot in DNG RAW which is what I recommend you do due to it's cross platform flexibility compared to PEF RAW. The same engine in ACR is used to drive Lightroom so unless you need a method to catalogue your images all you need is Ps CS6. As mentioned it is the benchmark for post processing software and your version is the last stand alone version without going to the subscription based Adobe CC. If you plan to only shoot jpeg then Photoshop is all you will ever need to process your images.

The need to have Pentax DCU should also be taken in the context of whether you end up with a Pentax camera that uses pixel shift, currently that's either the K3II, KP or the K-1. You can expect newer Pentax cameras will pick up this feature too. Now, the latest version of Pentax DCU is the only software that can handle motion artifacts in pixel shift ( https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/photo-articles/how-pentax-k-3-ii-pixel...s.html?src=all ). Hopefully that will change in the future but don't hold your breath. If pixel shift is something you might be interested in, I recommend you do a forum search on the topic as it has some unique characteristics that work well with still images and less so when motion is present. But it depends very much on the subject.

In summary: You have all you need for processing jpeg and RAW images with Photoshop CS6/ACR. Pentax DCU 5 is the only software program that works properly with pixel shift images and would be the only reason you would want that program; and that is a question that is camera and photographer (type of subject) dependant.

Welcome to the forums and good luck with your Pentax journey.

Tas

Last edited by Tas; 03-06-2017 at 04:06 PM.
03-06-2017, 05:14 PM - 1 Like   #8
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You need to be aware that neither Photoshop CS6, nor ACR, will be updated to support new cameras, like the Pentax KP. If you buy a camera that's not already supported, you'll need to "upgrade" to Photoshop CC which is only available by subscription. I use Photoshop CS6 and LightRoom with a K-3ii which is already supported, but I just started working with ON1 Photo RAW 2017 because I don't want to switch to CC and pay a subscription forever. Eventually, I expect to no longer be able to use PS CS6 and I want to be prepared. As far as I know, the non-subscription version of LightRoom is still being supported by Adobe (current version is 6.8), but I expect them to stop eventually and force customers to LightRoom CC.

As of yesterday (3/7/17), both LightRoom CC and LightRoom 6 were updated. LightRoom 6 is now at version 6.9. The primary improvements were the addition of new cameras and lenses.


Last edited by subsea; 03-08-2017 at 09:54 PM. Reason: New info
03-06-2017, 05:26 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BlueClearSky Quote
Is Photoshop sufficient for me or should I really try to get my hands on this other software when I choose a camera?
There are many, many, many other programs to choose from. Each manufacturer includes its own, but it is not necessarily the one that is "best".

You should spend some time in the software/processing forum

Digital Processing, Software, and Printing - PentaxForums.com

and read the threads with many replies. Then, you will be able to make some informed choices of what to look for or ask about.

That said, I have been using Elements for many years for processing (not free, but reasonable), and also FastStone Image Viewer, Screen Capture, Photo Resizer ... (free) for a few tools and file handling tasks.

Because you have Photoshop, I would use that until you find you have a need for something else. It may be overkill, though. Faststone is small and portable.
03-08-2017, 07:33 PM   #10
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Wow! Great information! Thanks everybody for your help.
03-09-2017, 06:10 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BlueClearSky Quote
While shopping for used Pentax DSLRs, I noticed many come with 'Digital Camera Utility Software' and many do not.
Not sure if anyone already covered this - it's never been clear to me why Pentax sometimes ships a camera with PDCU, and sometimes with an old version of Silkypix. The two programs are supposed to rely on a similar image processing engine, but the user interfaces are very different.

The thing to be aware of is that the free version of Silkypix you get with some cameras has been crippled so that it will only work on RAW files from that limited range of Pentax cameras that it is shipped with. PDCU on the other hand, will ( AFAIK ), process RAW files from any Pentax camera. Even if your camera didn't come with the latest version of PDCU, you can download and install it ( instructions are on the forum in several places ). So you shouldn't worry about whether a particular camera comes with PDCU or not.

As mentioned by some others, PDCU is very good at duplicating the output of the camera's JPG engine ( I suspect that PDCU is the same software that we get inside the camera, it just has a somewhat rudimentary UI slapped it ). If you like the JPG output of the camera, PDCU gives you the option of making adjustments when you didn't quite get your exposure right in camera.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Lightroom. Silkypix has an interface that some find awkward because it doesn't follow the standard paradigm that many of us are accustomed to, and some function names are non-standard due to translation ( presumably ). Once you wrap your head around it, it's actually not a bad program. I've never been able to duplicate the output from PDCU using Silkypix, but it gets close. With some caveats, I like DxO.

I use Faststone for browsing/culling and simple edits. If I need to do RAW processing on a large number of files ( say, from a trip ), I will fire up DxO. If I only need to process a single file, I will often just use PDCU. It doesn't have the most powerful or efficient interface, but if you just need to tweak exposure or white balance slightly, it's perfectly usable.
09-03-2018, 09:00 AM   #12
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Arkav: "PDCU is very good at duplicating the output of the camera's JPG engine"

Does that mean that DCU will produce JPG with the in-camera-processing options as default?

By DCU version 4.1.1 I have to work a lot with my K10d/K5 RAW files to get close to the in-camera JPG. Very often I have to admit that the small japanese inside my camera is clever than me! Should I try to use the latest version even for my K10d/K5 RAW files? Yes, I will prefer to open the RAW files with the same settings/options as the in-camera JPG.

According to Ricoh version 4.41 is still recommended version for K10d and K5. Software Downloads : Support & Service | RICOH IMAGING According to other members does the latest versions do a better job.
09-03-2018, 09:56 AM   #13
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The latest releases of Digital Camera Utility are backwards compatible with the PEF files of all models of PENTAX DSLRs. There was one release that did not support the PEF files from models earlier than the K-7. This was quickly changed in a subsequent version.

An older version of DCU/PDCU will not support PEF files from later camera models.

Whether or not the later versions develop the RAW files any better I could not say. People say the output JPEGs are different from earlier versions (assuming the same RAW files were used). Newer releases will have additional lens data/correction support too.
09-04-2018, 10:17 AM   #14
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While there are a myriad of options for RAW processing (if you shoot in DNG format), I'm unqualified to tell you more than what's already been shared above. One tidbit I didn't see mentioned is that it's completely possible to download the Pentax software at no charge, and install it, whether you have the prior version or not. I renamed a thumb drive the correct volume name to be seen as the original package by the upgrade installer, and now have the latest PDCU on my computer. I don't use it much at all, as I am learning RAW Therapee for developing, but I'm also a complete novice at processing my own photos. I will likely try another program or two before it's all said and done. The point of my comment is, however, to view the lack of that software as a non-issue, as if you determine you'd like a copy, you can find the instructions here on the forum on how to upgrade to the latest iteration without any problems, at no charge.
09-07-2018, 05:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dabola Quote
Arkav: "PDCU is very good at duplicating the output of the camera's JPG engine"

Does that mean that DCU will produce JPG with the in-camera-processing options as default?
Yes, I believe that when you open your RAW file in PDCU, it uses your camera settings as a starting point. I sometimes use a recent version ( I think I have version 5 installed now ) to open old photos shot with my K200D ( currently using a K30 ).
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