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12-02-2010, 09:09 AM   #16
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My 2 cents

I would start with Picasa. Its free and its easy to use. Once you outgrow it i would suggest you take a look at Zoner's Photo Studio. I have tried them all and keep going back to Zoner. Reasonable price for RAW editing and all the important stuff of photoshop and not too hard on the computer either.

12-02-2010, 09:27 AM   #17
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Something free is a good way to get your feet wet. The best advice I've read here so far is to concentrate on the fundamentals of photography first before delving too deeply into PP.
I used Photoshop for many years (full versions), then decided PSE did everything I needed as a photographer, for a fraction of the price. Every so often, I would download trial versions of various programs to test (including LR), but always stuck with PSE--until I discovered ACDSee. I still use PSE for some things, but now use ACDSee most of the time. I like what it does so well, I even reprocess older images with it before sending the out for publication. I've come to the conclusion that most PP programs (including PS) are designed with Canon and Nikon in mind, while ACDSee is more compatable to Pentax. (I'm testing DxO now.)
By the way, no matter which program I use for the finishing touches, I use the Pentax Browser for inital edits, cropping and conversions. That part of the package is easy, quick and designed specifically for Pentax--and it too is free.
No matter what you use, the best advice is to get it right (or as close as possible) at the time of capture--so as a beginner, concentrate most of your efforts on the basics of photography. Learn to dance with the light first, then learn to compose the musical scores.
12-02-2010, 10:13 AM   #18
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The main problem with asking here is that there are many very experienced users - which may seem on first sight to be a very good thing - BUT most of us tend to forget what it is like to start from afresh and would recommend what we think is the "best" for us now - and for many that's after years of experience - and not a true beginner's mind set.

So here's a slightly different way of looking at the request.

First for clarity there are two main ways to shoot with the Pentax K-x -

Some more advanced users shoot RAW and there are some who are very vocal who will claim RAW can solve many problems (including world peace) -
BUT one cannot even display RAW images directly and have to convert/process these first before one can use them.
In other words it is (a bit) more complex to shoot and use RAW.

The other is simpler - JPGs - this is what the almost all digital cameras will output - one can display JPGs directly without having to do any processing.

My suggestion is to shoot JPGs first - since it is (a bit) simpler.

Now to the request:

Please look at this page by on Photo Editing Software (please click on link). claims to be reviewing the reviews - which is do a survey of the reviews and come to some kind of consensus - this what I would do if I had all the resources and patience to do all the searching......

There they picked the top editor as Adobe PhotoShop Elements -
this is a very good choice -
not surprisingly the top recommendation by many reviews.
It is produced by Adobe and has very obvious relationship to the full PhotoShop - which is acknowledged as the de-facto industry standard editor.

The current version is 9 and by using price search one can get it for as low as about $63 shipped.

BUT one does not have to have the latest version -
an older version can cost considerably less:
for example Elements 6 can be found legally for $12 shipped.

Note for the future: Elements uses ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) - you'll need ACR version 5.6 or later to understand the K-x** (see OOOPs below at the bottom) - fortunately Elements 6 (and later) will take ACR 5.6.

Now if even $12 is too much investment -
one can use the FREE software recommended by and that is Picasa 3 - this does have a slight advantage of being associated with PicasaWeb which is a photo hosting site.

It's Free and you can play with editing and get a feel for it.

However I would still highly recommend spending the $12 for Adobe PhotoShop Elements 6 - which has the capability of using ACR 5.6 to do processing of your RAW shots later - and it is a stepping stone to the full PhotoShop if you wanted to go that way eventually.

However if you really mean to jump in at the deep end and try using RAW (why not? it's not that difficult) - then again I have very good news for you.

Of all the RAW processors I have used - guess what? the supplied with the K-x Pentax DCU (Digital Camera Utility) gave the best results for me. The latest version is 4.2.1 for the K-x (the version on the CD may be older) and it is free to download from Pentax.

Having said that - I would still recommend getting the $12 Adobe PhotoShop Elements 6 - as you'll still need an editor to adjust the converted RAW photos.....

Bit lengthy - but I hope that helped

**OOOPs -
Sorry, I note you have a K-r coming, and I talked about the K-x. My bad.
Almost any photo editor will work with JPGs
- but for RAW - the processor/converter has to understand the K-r which is new on the market -
even the latest version of ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) 6.2 doesn't yet.
One could work with DNG (RAW) files but there still may be nuances that the processor doesn't get.

This may limit your choice in PS Elements to version 8 or later that means the $12 PS Elements 6 is not suitable if you intend to use ACR - as PSE 6 works with ACR up to 5.6 only which supports the K-x, but not the new K-r.

However as I already mentioned the supplied with camera Pentax DCU (Digital Camera Utility) is very, very good in its RAW conversion and I have to assume that it supports the K-r. Sorry about my mistake.

Last edited by UnknownVT; 12-03-2010 at 09:22 AM.
12-02-2010, 07:08 PM   #19
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I agree with everything Vincent said. After getting my K20D, I tested four different RAW converters and settled on the one that comes free with the camera. The "Lab" part is a mess, but the Browser is a breeze.

12-02-2010, 09:59 PM   #20
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I recommend Photoshop Elements. You can buy it for only $50 here and you get a free card reader: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Windows NEW Win XP, Vista, 7 - eBay (item 370314382859 end time Dec-27-10 09:34:52 PST)
It has a lot of easy to use tools and more complicated tools that I'll figure out someday.
12-03-2010, 07:47 AM   #21
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I have downloaded Scarab Darkroom but cannot get it to load up any of my pics, how do I do it?
12-03-2010, 08:08 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by texoma Quote
My new Xr will hopefully arrive tomorrow or next Monday. My question is what processing software is best to start with. I have zero experience in this area but come next week I will finally have my first opportunity to process my own images. I have followed many threads about it but having no hands on opportunity nothing stuck. I did note that noone seemed to use Pentax software that comes with the camera, or I assume comes with the camera.

In film days I left it up to local photo shop, which is no longer there due to the digital age and on-line camera shopping.
Since the responses are all over the map, I have re-read your post and have a couple of fundamental questions that should have been asked at the onset.

the first is how computer literate are you?
- Do you understand the file structure and file location set-up on your computer?
- How do you intend to put the files on your computer? Download through the USB cable, or download the cards from a card reader?
- Do you intend to let a program manage the downloads, or will you use (assume windows) file manager to copy the photos directly to a predefined location for photos?

The second is how much editing and processing do you wish to do at the onset?
- you only want to view and organize photos
- you want to do light editing, crops and minor exposure adjustments
- you are a real computer geek and want to get into heavy post processing.
These questions will determine whether you should shoot RAW or JPEG to a large extent.

The last point is, you are new to DSLR's but are you also new to photography? This will determine perhaps your ability to modify the JPEG settings in camera, and also to modify many of the exposure settings in RAW. Both require an understanding about exposure, color saturation, contrast, and white balance. How much of this do you want to take on right away will be a function of how much photography experience you have already.

Initially, if you are only interested in organizing and light viewing, and understand directory structure for saving your files in a logical manner, then using the pentax software and a little advance thinking about orginization will be enough. If you really want to jump into heavy editing, you have a whole range of options too many to list.
12-03-2010, 08:24 AM   #23
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I was new to software a few years ago when I got my DL. I have tried demos of a bunch of RAW converters, Photoshop 7, Lightroom 1-3 and Pentax Utility.

In all honesty, if you are really new, try Picasa. It finds all the pictures on your computer for you automatically, you can star and add titles to all your photos and edit them(non destructive so original is never touched) plus you can instantly upload the photos to Picasa web to share with others.

I am a big fan of Picasa though it's sharpening is too over the top and while it reads Raw, is clearly not really designed for it.

I despise the Pentax software, crashes on me even with 1.5gb of memory(older and newer versions), I can't make heads nor tails of the software, though I think the latest version gives you choices like in the camera menu so it MAY be ok for just an occasional RAW photo.

Lightroom is really cool now with perspective tools for achitecture, burn/dodge brushes etc. but it is $300 and uses a lot of horsepower/memory. But if I can get it at an educational discount then I will for sure be buying this. It really isn't that hard once you figure it out.

Oh, and I do agree that for colors/skin tones, the Pentax software and even the free trials of Silkypix I did a while back really made Pentax images look nicer than Lightroom/Picasa.

12-03-2010, 08:48 AM   #24
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Maybe I missed it, but you didn't mention what computing platform you are on?

iPhoto comes bundled with every Mac and can hold its own against the "bigger" packages out there.
12-03-2010, 09:00 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by legacyb4 Quote
Maybe I missed it, but you didn't mention what computing platform you are on?

iPhoto comes bundled with every Mac and can hold its own against the "bigger" packages out there.
good catch

iPhoto would be an ideal way for any apple user to start, then move up to aperture as they advance and feel comfortable with the workflow.

Currently I have Lightroom 3.2, Paint Shop Pro X3 and DXO on my system and i wouldn't recommend any of these as a newbie piece of software.

Even PS Elements could be an intimidating piece of software for a novice (my wife for instance won't do any processing she finds the process to tedious to learned she just hands it off to me (like the dirty dishes rather than buy a dishwasher)

Picassa would be an easy spot to start and move up to elements or lightroom once you have the basics down would be my windows based plan.
12-03-2010, 09:24 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by legacyb4 Quote

iPhoto comes bundled with every Mac and can hold its own against the "bigger" packages out there.
Are you sure? I thought it's part of iLife, which is sold separately.
12-03-2010, 11:00 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
Are you sure? I thought it's part of iLife, which is sold separately.

"The new iMac is fast at importing photos and performing basic editing tasks things like removing red-eye and erasing small blemishes in iPhoto."

I imagine it holds across the product lineup
12-03-2010, 11:43 AM   #28
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I am overwhelmed with the wealth of resources for PP. I never realized there was so much to choose from. As has been suggested I will learn using "training wheels" and review the alternatives for beginners. I missed getting my new camera yesterday because of Christmas shopping so staying home to greet UPS and get my Xr. I will review Silkypix while the battery charges. Good thing I am retired and have lots of free time.
12-05-2010, 04:48 AM   #29
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I don't want to muddy the water, but after using PS7 for a long time I tried Silkypix and found it hard work!
12-05-2010, 06:31 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
as many have said, start with what comes with the camera.

Personally I use Corel's PSP X3 (current version) but I started out using PSP at version 8 before Corel purchased Jasc Software. This was also before I was shooting a DSLR, but I was in the process of scanning and editing all 20,000 of my film shots. I began looking for just an organizer, for filing the photos logically, and then moved rapidly into editing them, since Jasc offered a bundled package for both, I started there, and have simply advanced along the upgrade path ever since.

While the Adobe products seem to be the gold standard in photo editing, I have found that PSP does all that I need, and most of what Photoshop and others perform, at a fraction of the price of photoshop. It is largely intuitive, the menu structures are relitively straightforward, and it is something that is useable for a casual editor, not really into detailed post processing of large quantities of shots.

The major drawbacks I have seen are,
- it can sometimes crash, although Version X3 seems to be more stable than previous versions,
- corel is somewhat slow to update the cameras supported, therefore DNG might be a better RAW format than PEF
- not all corrections are done in full 12 bit color of the PEF RAW file. Color balance, contrast and exposure are done on full raw files but sharpening and many add ins work on 8 bit color.
Mine crashes frequently. I'm thinking of reinstalling PSP8 but I really like some of the easy to use "make over features" in X3.

Also, as another option for the OP, I started with Photoscape. It's VERY easy to use and has a lot of options... and free.

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