Advice on Photo Software

Started Jun 9, 2013 | Questions
jg1110
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Advice on Photo Software
Jun 9, 2013

I am fairly new to photography and only take photos for myself and family and recently got an a77 and am interested in post processing some photos, i am wondering the best software for that purpose balancing ease of use with features, also is it best to shoot in JPEG ex fine or RAW + jpeg, or just shoot only raw?  any tips are much appreciated.

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Sony SLT-A77
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mick232
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 9, 2013

jg1110 wrote:

I am fairly new to photography and only take photos for myself and family and recently got an a77 and am interested in post processing some photos, i am wondering the best software for that purpose balancing ease of use with features, also is it best to shoot in JPEG ex fine or RAW + jpeg, or just shoot only raw?  any tips are much appreciated.

If you want to postprocess, shoot RAW. It doesn't matter if you shoot RAW or RAW+JPEG - depends on storage capacity available and if you would like to use some images without postprocessing.

RAW converters: most of the commercial products have trial versions; or download one of the free ones - then decide what you like best

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JimmyMelbourne
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 9, 2013

I prefer DXO Pro over Lightroom for a77 files, but can be a pain when processing large volumes of files due to speed of software.

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rio911
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 9, 2013

jg1110 wrote:

I am fairly new to photography and only take photos for myself and family and recently got an a77 and am interested in post processing some photos, i am wondering the best software for that purpose balancing ease of use with features, also is it best to shoot in JPEG ex fine or RAW + jpeg, or just shoot only raw?  any tips are much appreciated.

Shoot RAW + JPEG if you can (storage dependent).  It will give you the option "to PP or not to PP" during your early photo career. Later make up your own mind.

There are very nice paid RAW processing softwares, but I would suggest to start by taking a look at the Image Data Converter - RAW converter by Sony.  It is free and basically that is the only advantage.  Otherwise it is simple, straightforward but slow.  Once you open a RAW file, just go down the available corrections on the right side of the software.

Good luck and keep shooting your A77,

rio

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DistantView
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to rio911, Jun 10, 2013

Hi

Whilst the perceived wisdom is that you have to shoot RAW to enable post processing, my view is slightly different - yes, given the choice I shoot RAW + Jpeg but like most things in  life the old 80/20 rule comes into play.

80% (at least) of your shots can have basic alterations done to the jpegs using the Sony Play Memories Home (what a stupid name!) provided that you have some means of a) rotating the photo for wonky horizons & b) a noise reduction programme eg Noise Ninja.

The other 20% may need a RAW developer usually because they're good shots that haven't been exposed/composed well - this programme can usually carry out functions a & b to the 80% shots.

I tend to use Lightroom for RAW but it's not an easy programme to use (well, I found a pain to be honest), but it's very powerful & good value - (for Adobe!).

As others have said, try a few of the free downloads until you find one you like, worth taking a bit of time over this. See also a DPR review of various softwares a couple of weeks ago for a starting point

Good luck/good shooting !

RT

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_Fotogrfr_
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to DistantView, Jun 10, 2013

DistantView wrote:

Hi

Whilst the perceived wisdom is that you have to shoot RAW to enable post processing, my view is slightly different

As is mine.  I shoot JPEG.  I post process.  I get great results (IMHO).

I use PS mostly, but also have PSP X5.

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Ed at Ridersite
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 10, 2013

First off, I've never seen a photo that couldn't be improved with post processing.

I shot jpg only for four years and was quite happy post processing with Paint Shop Pro.  But, I knew from photos posted on this forum that I wasn't getting the most out of my shooting.  A year and a half ago, I decide to switch to RAW.  I decided on RAW only since it would force me to really dive in and learn the software.  I tried the Sony IDC and I have to say, if that was the only thing available, I'd go back to jpg.  It's clunky, slow, minimally featured and not very intuitive IMO.  I settled on Lightroom.  The main reason, there is quite a bit of good information and tutorials available on the web and I picked it up for $80.  There isn't much available on the finer points, but some books have good sections if you pick & choose.

To me, using LR takes no longer than using any other photo editor once you get used to it.

One advantage of shooting jpg is that you can use the in camera lens profiles - distortion, vignetting and CA.  This can be significant depending on your lens lineup.  LR doesn't have many profiles for Sony/Minolta lenses.  So, if your shoot a lot of architecture, LR might not be the best choice.

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joel avery
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Re: Advice on Photo Software - Lightroom 5
In reply to jg1110, Jun 10, 2013

The latest generation of Lightroom has just been released. It is a great product, easy to learn the basics with lots of value when you learn the advanced tips and tricks.

I shoot RAW exclusively but I did do raw+jpeg for awhile. LR works well with both file types but I typically find a little more latitude with my RAW files. YMMV. Either way, the program works well with both formats.

Enjoy!

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gmcquade
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 10, 2013

In my case, Apple's Aperture makes a good RAW postprocessing workflow and helps organize fairly large amounts of photos. I believe it doesn't have all the power as Adobe or Corel products but cover my needs for amateur photography. I think there's a trial download (30-60 days) so worth experimenting along with other software.

I also like to use iMovie (OS X included) to create slideshows.

Obviously, the above assumes one's in the Mac environment.

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realgeek
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 11, 2013

Post-processing RAW files on Lightroom (or many other programs, I suppose) is so easy, I see no reason to shoot JPEG, or even RAW+JPEG.

I guess if you don't want to do any post-processing at all, shoot RAW+JPEG.  Use the JPEG now, and keep the RAW files for later when you'll wish you had them.

At least, I wish I had always shot RAW.

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sybersitizen
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 11, 2013

jg1110 wrote:

I am fairly new to photography and only take photos for myself and family and recently got an a77 and am interested in post processing some photos, i am wondering the best software for that purpose balancing ease of use with features...

The best software is the one that does what you want it to do, the way you want to do it. Experiment with a few free trial versions and see what you like.

... also is it best to shoot in JPEG ex fine or RAW + jpeg, or just shoot only raw?

It's best to shoot in the file format that most satisifies you. Try all the options and see what you like.

Not the answers you were expecting, I'm sure... but they are the correct answers.

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gmcquade
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to sybersitizen, Jun 11, 2013

sybersitizen wrote:

jg1110 wrote:

I am fairly new to photography and only take photos for myself and family and recently got an a77 and am interested in post processing some photos, i am wondering the best software for that purpose balancing ease of use with features...

The best software is the one that does what you want it to do, the way you want to do it. Experiment with a few free trial versions and see what you like.

... also is it best to shoot in JPEG ex fine or RAW + jpeg, or just shoot only raw?

It's best to shoot in the file format that most satisifies you. Try all the options and see what you like.

Not the answers you were expecting, I'm sure... but they are the correct answers.

I'd add that it's important to think on the entire workflow from importing to backing up. The less time you spend "not working" with your photos, the more you'll devote to mastering the software of your choice.

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dlkeller
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to realgeek, Jun 11, 2013

I shoot RAW+JPEG.  The main reason is the quick view I can get just using My Pictures in Windows to immediately identify possible keepers and get rid of obvious throw aways immediately.  I then move RAW files to a seperate Light Room file but still have the JPEGs for quick viewing without loading RAW viewing software.

For the origional OP, I recommend a combination of Light Room for basic processing, especially RAWs and also Photo Shop Elements for those shots that need more technical work.  The combination of the two offers a great combination at a reasonable price.

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Draek
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to jg1110, Jun 11, 2013

About striking a good balance between features and ease of use, I think Lightroom would be idealit's a bit costly, but worth it.

A cheaper alternative would be RawTherapee, which not only is it about as powerful as Lightroom (moreso, in some areas), it's also Free Software so it doesn't cost a cent. Sadly, all this comes at the expense of ease of use, its interface was quite complex last time I tried it, though as long as you leave anything you don't understand on their default settings it works quite well.

As for what format to shoot, it depends on various factors but, generally, as long as storage isn't a concernfor either cards or disksRAW+JPEG in the lowest quality setting is the most convenient, as you gain the whole additional information of the RAW format, but keep a handy file in case you need to email them or make a quick print before you've had time to process them properly; and the lowest quality prevents them from taking too much space on your cards, as well as making it faster to upload and email. Do keep at least one of the RAW or JPEG in a subfolder once you transfer them off your cards, however, so that your editor doesn't get confused and import the same image twice.

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phaedin
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to sybersitizen, Jun 11, 2013

+1 for trying them out for yourself.
Some suggestions to try out
ACDSee pro 6 (what I chose to go with, won because of price)

Lightroom (pretty much a tie for me with ACDSee, they have a newer version now so might be better)

Sagelight (I liked it but not as much as the top 2)

Raw Therapee (ok, I didn't find it easy to use, but it is free)

DXO (has some good features, it didn't suit my needs)

Gimp (JPEG only editor I believe)

Faststone ( I haven't used it but have heard some good things)

This of course is only my experience and should be taken as such. It might give you something to try that you hadn't thought of that might work for you.

All we can do is give suggestions. In the end you need to try them and find which one suits you the best.

Good Luck

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ozgoldman
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to rio911, Jun 11, 2013

I am presently using Corel Paint Shop Pro X3 that was on special for $29.   I also use Corel After Shot Pro.   Recent addition, but bought from the US site at $50.00 and not the Aus. site which wanted to charge me $99.00.   I also use Portrait Professional, latest version for faces, and the new version of that has some amazing software.

I have never used Lightroom, but quite comfortable with what I have.

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Fred McLean
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Re: Advice on Photo Software
In reply to ozgoldman, Jun 11, 2013

I shoot only RAW and use the supplied IDC software to batch convert to jpeg using the camera settings for each file.  You end up with a bigger jpeg file to play with, and if it is ok you can delete the associated raw file, if not tweak the raw.

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