RAW / PEF processing software advice needed

Started May 8, 2012 | Discussions
TheLastMan
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RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
May 8, 2012

I have trialled the beta of Adobe Lightroom 4 on my PC and have a copy of the Pentax Digital Camera Utility. I am not particularly happy with either and am looking for an alternative.

I quite like the Lightroom "develop" functions, generally achieving pretty good results albeit I find them very complex (lots of poorly documented sliders) and a steep learning curve. However my main problem is I don't need its "library" functions which only get in the way (and as for the price...!).

I have my own simple folder tree for saving my pictures and am not interested in complex file classifications or tagging features. I simply name a folder with the month and content such as "2012-04 Visit to Zoo". I put the RAW files in a subfolder. Suits me fine and I can find virtually anything I need pretty quickly.

I have tried Photoshop Elements in the past and have similar reservations about that too as regards its attempt to "index" my photos, likewise Picasa.

All I need is a straight forward RAW developer that will allow me to open a PEF, let me adjust the usual parameters (exposure, contrast, sharpness, white balance etc) and then save a JPEG in the folder of my choice while leaving the RAW unchanged.

Pentax DCU is OK, I find the develop functionality much easier to understand, but the adjustments on offer are limited and I dislike the interface. I would like more screen space for the preview and tools and less for the folder listing and thumbnails.

Does anybody make a program with the comprehensive develop functions of Lightroom but with a simple "open RAW, develop, save JPG, close RAW" workflow?

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snake_b
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

If you don't like LR4, then you're not going to be happy with anything. There are other alternatives and alternatives that also require plugins. However, for the most part, they are all lateral to LR.

You could try DXO, I guess. Maybe Color EFEX Pro might be easier? You just simply pick out which effect you want from the catalog and tweak a bit. Personally, I don't like it as it doesn't work as well as Silver Efex, but whatever floats your boat.

TheLastMan wrote:

I have trialled the beta of Adobe Lightroom 4 on my PC and have a copy of the Pentax Digital Camera Utility. I am not particularly happy with either and am looking for an alternative.

I quite like the Lightroom "develop" functions, generally achieving pretty good results albeit I find them very complex (lots of poorly documented sliders) and a steep learning curve. However my main problem is I don't need its "library" functions which only get in the way (and as for the price...!).

I have my own simple folder tree for saving my pictures and am not interested in complex file classifications or tagging features. I simply name a folder with the month and content such as "2012-04 Visit to Zoo". I put the RAW files in a subfolder. Suits me fine and I can find virtually anything I need pretty quickly.

I have tried Photoshop Elements in the past and have similar reservations about that too as regards its attempt to "index" my photos, likewise Picasa.

All I need is a straight forward RAW developer that will allow me to open a PEF, let me adjust the usual parameters (exposure, contrast, sharpness, white balance etc) and then save a JPEG in the folder of my choice while leaving the RAW unchanged.

Pentax DCU is OK, I find the develop functionality much easier to understand, but the adjustments on offer are limited and I dislike the interface. I would like more screen space for the preview and tools and less for the folder listing and thumbnails.

Does anybody make a program with the comprehensive develop functions of Lightroom but with a simple "open RAW, develop, save JPG, close RAW" workflow?

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awaldram
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012
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TheLastMan
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to snake_b, May 8, 2012

Thanks for replying. If I could have LR4 without all the "library" and "import" shenanigans I would probably stick with it - and buy a book to see what all the sliders do and how they impact on each other! I did manage to get decent results by trial and error, so with a bit of proper understanding I might do better. It is certainly a whole lot better than Pentax DCU.

It just annoys me that software makers all think they can organise my library better than I can!

snake_b wrote:

If you don't like LR4, then you're not going to be happy with anything. There are other alternatives and alternatives that also require plugins. However, for the most part, they are all lateral to LR.

You could try DXO, I guess. Maybe Color EFEX Pro might be easier? You just simply pick out which effect you want from the catalog and tweak a bit. Personally, I don't like it as it doesn't work as well as Silver Efex, but whatever floats your boat.

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snake_b
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

I don't see how those are "shenaningans".

TheLastMan wrote:

Thanks for replying. If I could have LR4 without all the "library" and "import" shenanigans I would probably stick with it - and buy a book to see what all the sliders do and how they impact on each other! I did manage to get decent results by trial and error, so with a bit of proper understanding I might do better. It is certainly a whole lot better than Pentax DCU.

It just annoys me that software makers all think they can organise my library better than I can!

snake_b wrote:

If you don't like LR4, then you're not going to be happy with anything. There are other alternatives and alternatives that also require plugins. However, for the most part, they are all lateral to LR.

You could try DXO, I guess. Maybe Color EFEX Pro might be easier? You just simply pick out which effect you want from the catalog and tweak a bit. Personally, I don't like it as it doesn't work as well as Silver Efex, but whatever floats your boat.

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MrThallid
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed - PaintShopPro
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

I own and use Corel's Paint Shop Pro X3. It will do what you are asking in that you can edit RAW files and then save it as JPG to the folder of your choice.

the purpose of most of the apps import and index function is because your changes are made to a metafile and your original image is left untouched.
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merengues
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

SILKYPIX Developer Studio Pro is a very complete RAW processor. SILKYPIX also does the DCU for Pentax. It may be a little expensive but in my opinion it is worth the price.

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TheLastMan
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to awaldram, May 8, 2012

Thanks all for your suggestions!

Budget is tight, so RAW Therapee has to be worth a go in the first instance. Amazing that it is available for free.

I am not really looking for the last ounce of image quality (my photos don't really deserve it to be honest) just a program that is simple to use and understand and reasonably comprehensive on the RAW developing side, and that does not insist that I "import" into a "library" first.

Will download and experiment tonight and report back.

awaldram wrote:

Try the free ones first then the pay apps here is some to be going on with

http://rawtherapee.com/blog/features

http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod4670071&cid=catalog20038&segid=6000006&storeKey=us&languageCode=en
http://www.phaseone.com/6

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TheLastMan
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed - PaintShopPro
In reply to MrThallid, May 8, 2012

I like RAW Therapee's approach which is to save the metafile alongside the RAW, wherever the RAW is saved.

That would suit my workflow fine as I separate my RAW files in a subfolder for each batch of photos.

For instance my fictional folder
C:\Photos\2012-04 Visit to Zoo
contains just the final "developed" JPEG files.
A subfolder
C:\Photos\2012-04 Visit to Zoo\RAW

contains just the RAW files, so RAW Therapee's "PP3" processing metafiles would be fine sitting there.

I use some file sync software to "publish" just the JPEGs to a NAS that the rest of the family have access to. The RAW folders and files sit only on my workstation (and backed up of course).

As you can see I have put some thought into how I manage my photos and file handling workflow. I don't need a complex "library" function provided by the RAW processing software. It simply slows me down.

I just hope that RAW Therapee does the RAW development bit OK...

MrThallid wrote:

I own and use Corel's Paint Shop Pro X3. It will do what you are asking in that you can edit RAW files and then save it as JPG to the folder of your choice.

the purpose of most of the apps import and index function is because your changes are made to a metafile and your original image is left untouched.
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steephill
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In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

A good starting point http://tv.adobe.com/watch/getting-started-with-adobe-photoshop-lightroom-4/lightroom-4-create-stunning-images/

I have heard many people talk about how they don't want LR to "control" their images. You can quite easily maintain any folder structure you want and LR will simply work with that. I think the word "import" causes more trouble than it should, as if LR is ingesting your images and nothing else could ever see or use them again. Import really just means "read", LR is a database program and just needs to know where the images are.

Once I got used to how useful the database function is I don't bother trying to find images any other way. If I want to find images of one of my friends on holiday in Italy that is just a couple of clicks away. If I try the same thing by searching folders it takes much longer as we have had several holidays with the same friends in the same locations.

More complex searches are just as easy - I remember taking a shot of three friends in front of a steam ship but can't remember where or when. A dated set of folders is no use here, nor is a location based folder set. A couple of clicks in Lightroom and it is there for me. A click on the map module and I can see where I took it too. Very powerful but very easy.

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Gerry Winterbourne
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

I'm a long time user of CS/PS, which can be overkill for some shots. I tried LR1 when it first came out but ditched it because I didn't like the interface. However, I'm sure that all I had to do to keep on using my own file-management system was change from one LR module to another (Develop?)

Adobe has a set of video guides to LR4 http://tv.adobe.com/show/getting-started-with-adobe-photoshop-lightroom-4/ The third one, Create Stunning Images, explains what I think you find puzzling. Unfortunately it atarts off with some guff about cropping and other things that seem less important: the good stuff is about 8 minutes in.

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richardplondon
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to snake_b, May 8, 2012

snake_b wrote:

I don't see how those are "shenaningans".

Oh, you know: shenanigans . Like having to Open just one file or a few files at a time (instead of having all the images live all the time); losing your changes if you don't save them; bringing images into the computer manually, making folders for them to go into (we all love this kind of task so much); duplicating huge copy files according to some kind of ad-hoc naming system, to crudely keep track of different editing versions; moving things around between subfolders to distinguish workflow stages; not being able to go back flexibly and use any previous state of an image; needing to save out a converted file before you can print it or upload it to the web. Those kind of shenanigans.

No, wait, sorry: those were all from the conventional way to work. Silly me

RP

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JoeDaBassPlayer
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

Ditto on your main points. I am by no means a noob. I downloadedthe LR4 trial and am just not getting into it.

My favorite is recording the actions in PS. Second would be bulk processing in PSE. The latter is rather interesting. Choices are rather limited although the results can be good. It does not like RAW + JPEG and will only process the JPEG.

I did process some RAW files this way with auto contrast and auto sharpnening. I did see that there was no NR. The results looked good, with better tonality than JPEG. I did have an ISO 2000 shot from my K 01 and the noise looked Fine at 100%. One needs to realize this would make a high resolution print far larger than a poster.
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il_alexk
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed - PaintShopPro
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

TheLastMan wrote:

I like RAW Therapee's approach which is to save the metafile alongside the RAW, wherever the RAW is saved.

Lightroom does the same (*.xmp files can be stored alongside the RAW files), you can have the RAWs unmodified this way. There is also plenty of artistic presets/plugins available for the Lightroom, so you can get great results in a minimal time once you are through the basic training.

You can even share your photos on DPR or on Facebook from LR through some 3rd party plugins.

Anyway, RawTherapee is known for its one of the best Raw processors. If you outgrow its capabilities, you can step up to Gimp, which is a freeware photoshop. It's not as polished and fine as the original Adobe's one, but given its price it is simply the best.

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Model Mike
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

Does anybody make a program with the comprehensive develop
functions of Lightroom but with a simple "open RAW, develop,
save JPG, close RAW" workflow?

Oh dear, you're a few years late - Rawshooter Pro would have suited you down to the ground as a lightweight easy to use raw converter. Unfortunately for you, RS Pro is no longer available, all the juicy bits have been decanted into LR!

I used to be a great RS Pro fan, and hated the idea of LR spoiling the party, to the point of railing against the LR beta at every available opportunity. But I persevered and have since became completely hooked.

Don't give up on LR just yet, the workflow is brilliant e.g. you never need to save your work in progress. If you have trouble with understanding the sliders, take a look at the Cambridge in Color web site, in particular the sections on Contrast and Curves, as this is the key to understanding how to make the tonal control sliders work for you.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/photo-editing-tutorials.htm
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Model Mike
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to richardplondon, May 8, 2012

Great summary, Lol
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britcam
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

I share your disllike of software that imposes on me how I should arrange my library!
I have own simple folder tree, and that works, so I stick to it.

http://www.acdsee.com/en/products/acdsee-pro-5

I have used ACDSee for years and years, and it works perfectly - giving you all the edit and develop tools you need, as well as complex search functions if you need them. For more serious editing stuff, I use Capture One Pro.

TheLastMan wrote:

All I need is a straight forward RAW developer that will allow me to open a PEF, let me adjust the usual parameters (exposure, contrast, sharpness, white balance etc) and then save a JPEG in the folder of my choice while leaving the RAW unchanged.

Does anybody make a program with the comprehensive develop functions of Lightroom but with a simple "open RAW, develop, save JPG, close RAW" workflow?

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britcam

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Model Mike
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to britcam, May 8, 2012

britcam wrote:

I share your disllike of software that imposes on me how I should arrange my library!

Myth busting time: LR does not require you to move a single image . LR can base its catalogue using your existing folder tree.

Alternatively if your images are scattered about haphazardly around your file system, you can tell LR to move your images into a fresh folder tree organised by date before building the catalogue.
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miles500
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to Model Mike, May 8, 2012

Try ACDSee Pro 5. It works on whatever folder system you have devised - no importing or exporting and it keeps your original files if you want to revert to them. I have tried a lot of programs including LR and find them less than straightforward. ACDSee does most of what lR does, but if want to use layers or undertake more detailed editing, I open the image ( from within the program) in an external editor such as PSE or PS.
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Robgo2
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Re: RAW / PEF processing software advice needed
In reply to TheLastMan, May 8, 2012

TheLastMan wrote:

Thanks all for your suggestions!

Budget is tight, so RAW Therapee has to be worth a go in the first instance. Amazing that it is available for free.

I am not really looking for the last ounce of image quality (my photos don't really deserve it to be honest) just a program that is simple to use and understand and reasonably comprehensive on the RAW developing side, and that does not insist that I "import" into a "library" first.

Will download and experiment tonight and report back.

Good luck with Raw Therapee. It is a work in progress that still need a great deal of work. It is very complex and buggy, and the user interface is challenging, to say the least. And yet, there are those who love it. You have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

For my money, the best of the popular raw conversion programs is Capture One, but it is not freeware.

Rob

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