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05-17-2015, 06:30 AM   #1
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Shooting RAW: Is it for me?

I'm not sure if this is where to post this, so I'm gonna drop it here and hope someone can re-direct me...

A little background:
As an enthusiast I do not have the money for powerful PP software subscriptions (Photoshop...)
So I've downloaded the following on my Macbook:
GIMP
DarkTable
Picasa3
Photos (iOS Software)

I starting out shooting JPEG, but realized I could probably benefit from RAW format.
So now I'm sitting here with my RAW file...

Picasa3 can read the DNG file, but the processing if extremely limited. There is no option for noise reduction and the majority of the modifications are 'auto' buttons. There are sliders for fill light, shadow, sharpening, and highlights. That's about it.
Still I really like it as it's a great organization software and can export to JPEG very fast across entire folders.

DarkTable seems ok, but it tends to crash a LOT on my macbook... This could be the particular version I have or my 8 year old macbook...

iOS Photos is limited as well and cannot read DNG, or atleast I don't think it can... Plus it stores everything in 'Photos Library' which is no accessible in a file/folder format through more websites (PentaxForums to be exact). I just do not like iOS Photos...

Now for GIMP - it cannot read DNG, so it must be converted into JPEG first.
However... This software is closest to PS or LR and is an incredible open source program.

But, if I'm going to have to convert the file to JPEG to edit in GIMP, what's the point of shooting RAW?
I thought shooting RAW was to avoid compression and have access to all that 'data' in editing.

If I compress my RAW in Picasa3 to JPEG, then bring it into GIMP, am I just adding steps to the equation that are not needed? Or is the compression through Picasa3 less detrimental compared to the in-camera compression?

I'm shooting with a K-30 if that has any impact on this conversation.

05-17-2015, 07:03 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
Now for GIMP - it cannot read DNG, so it must be converted into JPEG first. However... This software is closest to PS or LR and is an incredible open source program.
I used to use UFRAW with GIMP. It worked.

UFRaw - Home
05-17-2015, 07:09 AM   #3
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Apparently Photoshop CS2 can be legally downloaded for free. I use it (w/ K20d, K-x, K5 and Q--I mention becauseI don't know if there are any issues with it's importing K30 files) and I actually like it better than latest photoshop (CC) except for the noise reduction capability. Essentially whatever you want to do you can.
05-17-2015, 07:10 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
Now for GIMP - it cannot read DNG, so it must be converted into JPEG first. However... This software is closest to PS or LR and is an incredible open source program. But, if I'm going to have to convert the file to JPEG to edit in GIMP, what's the point of shooting RAW? I thought shooting RAW was to avoid compression and have access to all that 'data' in editing.
GIMP needs the UFRaw plugin to read RAW files. Once the file is processed in the plugin you should be able to read it in GIMP. But you are correct editing jpeg files really defeats the purpose of shooting RAW. Also GIMP should be able to read TIFF files so save your RAW after processing as TIFF before editing in GIMP.

There is nothing wrong with shooting jpeg, especially if you do not want to spend a lot of time processing and Pentax provides a lot of settings in camera to adjust how the jpeg will look. Lots of pros shoot only jpeg and cannot be bothered with the time spent on RAW processing. You might consider using RAW+ which gives you both RAW and jpeg. If you like the jpeg just delete the RAW, if you think the image needs more work, process the RAW.



I think you need to

05-17-2015, 07:20 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Apparently Photoshop CS2 can be legally downloaded for free. I use it (w/ K20d, K-x, K5 and Q--I mention becauseI don't know if there are any issues with it's importing K30 files) and I actually like it better than latest photoshop (CC) except for the noise reduction capability. Essentially whatever you want to do you can.
No, Photoshop CS2 can not be downloaded legally for free unless you own a license for Photoshop CS2. Adobe shut down the activation server for CS2 and provided the download for customers who purchased CS2 and never upgraded.

QuoteQuote:
"The serial numbers provided as a part of the download may only be used by customers who legitimately purchased CS2 or Acrobat 7 and need to maintain their current use of these products."
Also, it doesn't have native support for Intel based Macs, so it won't run on any OS higher than 10.6.8.
05-17-2015, 07:28 AM   #6
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Photos on OS X will read and edit DNG. The thing to remember is that Photos is a photo manager as well as an editor. Non of the other software out there manages your photos. They simply catalog it and maybe provide editing features. I've tried using GIMP but its awkward with the multiple windows - only one of which is active, and it mostly tries to emulate photoshop which is a bit long in the tooth as far as photo editing goes. I have Lightroom and its lack of photo managing ability is frustrating. I'm beginning to think of re-importing everything into photos and just use Lightroom for heavy lifting in photo editing. However, like you say, photos does not give you access to the file folders - unlike aperture which did.
05-17-2015, 07:31 AM   #7
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Shooting raw has its benefits to be sure.Light room..cost of Photoshop can be a lot if you buy it outright. Most people don't need the full Photoshop though.

Some of the alternative raw editors are

Lightroom. The gold standard workflow and raw program. $10 a month bundled with Photoshop on subscription. (Free if you torrent an older version that Adobe has abandoned. Legality is a grey zone though)

RAW Therapee. A very good raw converter with a lot of tools available.

Scarab is supposed to be good although I have not tried it personally. The older version is free while the newer version is paid 29

There is always the UFRaw plugin if you want to keep everything within the gimp
05-17-2015, 07:32 AM   #8
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Both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements are cheaper alternatives than the full Photoshop. These programs can work independently on RAW images in PEF or DNG format and also on jpegs. Sure, they cost some money but in my opinion work far better that the free alternatives.

05-17-2015, 07:47 AM   #9
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I shot only jpg on my K2000 for many years, even though I always had access to PS to use for my other graphics. It was enough for me back then, and the work I was doing (basic outdoor portraits) didn't require a ton of image data. It wasn't until I started using Lightroom that I really appreciated the editing capabilities of RAW, and even though I mostly shoot RAW now, I think a lot of my photos could just be jpg.

Jpg is a way smaller format, and if you don't plan on heavily editing your photos I would say save your disk space. RAW files are ten times larger. I have't used the K30, but I imagine that it produces solid jpg files right out of the camera. If your cards are big enough, Jatrax's suggestion of shooting RAW+ is a solid one. You can choose to just delete the RAW or jpg file in camera, too.
05-17-2015, 08:06 AM   #10
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If you're looking for a pretty capable RAW development program for a budget you might want to try out Corel Aftershot Pro 2, which is on sale now for $55. (You can download a trial first to try it out.) You might be able to find the older version cheaper too.

Official Site
Review

I was able to snag the first version for almost nothing on Amazon a year ago and it's pretty useful and can do many of the things you would find in Lightroom or other editors. I now use DxO Optics Pro for better noise reduction in very low light images, but I still use Aftershot for some things since I'm more familiar with the interface and I'm still getting used to DxO.
.

---------- Post added 05-17-15 at 11:10 AM ----------

As another quick note, I have a K-3, and when I process a RAW file into a JPEG, it's usually smaller than the in-camera JPEG's. Even if I don't change any settings, I can delete the RAW files after and my images take up less space than straight out of camera JPEG's but without losing any detail (and less noise in low light shots too).
05-17-2015, 08:17 AM   #11
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I shoot using the RAW+, to have options,I've used the Pentax provided SilkyPix, which is fine enough, then Picasa, and occasionally GIMP.

I'm both lazy and frugal, so I try to get it right in the camera and avoid a lot of PP. That's fine for me, I'm shooting landscapes primarily.

I think if you wanted to do other things, you might have to pay the cost of LR or PS.
05-17-2015, 09:32 AM   #12
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Have you tried the SW that came with your camera? As far as I know the CD has a Mac version as well as a Windows version.

You don't have to shoot raw, I shoot raw plus jpg and mostly use the jpg. But it's nice to have the raw to play with when needed.
05-17-2015, 09:47 AM   #13
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I am using an older version of Lightroom and I highly recommend it. I keep hearing about people doing some sort of subscription thing to get Photoshop and Lightroom but I just bought an old box set a few years ago for like $100 and it's served me very very well. (FWIW I will never subscribe to use a software...either sell it to me or don't).

Photoshop is not necessary for most general photography applications if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, it can be very useful but the learning curve of Lightroom is steep enough as is...but once you start to get into it... you will love it.

I am of the school that one should shoot RAW from day 1. A year later or two years later you can revisit some of your old pictures and with new know how you can reprocess them. Taking photos is one thing. Learning to develop them is another. Two entirely related but different skill sets that require almost as much time for each.
05-17-2015, 10:38 AM   #14
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Here are the bullet points:
  • RAW will give you more flexibility with less potential for artifact in PP
  • RAW files consume more space on the card than JPEG. That is the trade-off.
  • I strongly endorse Adobe Lightroom for general photo post-processing
  • A time-limited demo version of Lightroom is available for download
  • The various open-source RAW converters (almost all of which are based on Dave Coffin's DCRaw) can do a credible job and are a good alternative to Lightroom
The first point is the big one for me. JPEG images have a fraction of the original data and data are what you work with in post processing. If you want the benefit of the camera's full dynamic range and color response, RAW is your best option.


Steve
05-17-2015, 10:49 AM   #15
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Here's a couple more options you may want to consider--both free:

Raw Photo Processor (RPP)

http://lightzoneproject.org/
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