Best photo editing software?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
dbelling
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Best photo editing software?
6 months ago

I have never purchase photo editing software, but I would like to try it rather than using whatever comes free with a camera. I have a Mac computer, so what would work best with a Mac? I have read pros and cons for Apple's Aperture, Adobe's Lightroom 5 and Elements, but what works best with a Mac? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

David B

rare wolf
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In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

Considering what you may have paid for a good camera, a year's subscription to Photoshop & Lightroom isn't that expensive. And no other combination is as powerful and well supported, by professionals and peers like us and forums similar.

My CA$0.02
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ryan2007
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

dbelling wrote:

I have never purchase photo editing software, but I would like to try it rather than using whatever comes free with a camera. I have a Mac computer, so what would work best with a Mac? I have read pros and cons for Apple's Aperture, Adobe's Lightroom 5 and Elements, but what works best with a Mac? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

David B

I suggest you start with iPhoto, then goto Adobe PhotoShop Elements as a start. You can also download trial versions usually.

I also advise you check out Lynda.com web site. They offer on line lessons from software titles to business management to video production.

It is typically free for 7 days and then you have to pay monthly or yearly and can cancel any time and reactivate as needed.

They charge more for full access that includes lesson plans you download and follow with the instructor which is good.

*Last, I am not a fan of the Adobe subscription service which does not apply to Photoshop Elements. The reason is if you let the subscription lapse you have no way to get your material. Unless something has changed all of a sudden. Just be careful and fully understand what your getting into with Adobe and the subscription service that they pull you in for a cheap price. Their is more to it than that.

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BlueStarfish
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

Hi,

Like all things it depends on what you want to do. Lightroom is excellent for managing your images and doing the fundamental editing stuff and it is not that expensive and works for Mac. If you want to really get into post processing then Photoshop is good, very well supported and lots of tutorials and demos but a fair learning curve and expensive.

I would think about what you want to do, how much time you want to put into learning and playing with the software and then go from there. I use Lightroom for organising and first level post processing and then Photoshop for more detailed work - much of this can be done within Lightroom but if you have Photoshop it is easier within Photoshop.

Scott.

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Landscapephoto99
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Re: Paintshop Pro and Lightroom or Photo Ninja
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

Convert the RAW files with Adobe Lightroom or Photo Ninja.  Then use Paintshop Pro for the rest.  Corel Paintshop Pro X6 does 99% of what Photoshop does (and some things it doesn't do) at a ~$59 and you actually own the software.

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maljo@inreach.com
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In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

700,000 images in Aperture, love the way it works and the results of it's raw conversion.

My second choice is Lightroom, which I also have.

My third choice is Capture 1.

maljo

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SirSeth
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Re: Paintshop Pro and Lightroom or Photo Ninja
In reply to Landscapephoto99, 6 months ago

Landscapephoto99 wrote:

Convert the RAW files with Adobe Lightroom or Photo Ninja. Then use Paintshop Pro for the rest. Corel Paintshop Pro X6 does 99% of what Photoshop does (and some things it doesn't do) at a ~$59 and you actually own the software.

That describes my workflow. LR5 + PSP X6 does just about everything I want at a fraction of the cost without "renting" Adobe CC. I don't care how good it may be, I don't rent software.

Oops, not sure that PSP is made for Mac. Well, so much for that.

Best,

Seth

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Godfrey
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

dbelling wrote:

I have never purchase photo editing software, but I would like to try it rather than using whatever comes free with a camera. I have a Mac computer, so what would work best with a Mac? I have read pros and cons for Apple's Aperture, Adobe's Lightroom 5 and Elements, but what works best with a Mac? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

I use Lightroom 5 and like it a lot. Because of how much Lightroom can do nowadays, I've just about discontinued using Photoshop CS.

I also have Aperture. It works well, but I've never really been happy with its workflow and tool design.  If you are going to use it with other Apple software, it's quite slick however.

(Yes, I run Apple hardware and OS X Mavericks.)

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Ulric
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

I think you should download evaluation copies of the programs you are interested in. Then you have 30 days to figure out which you like best. I have noticed that they are quite different, with user interfaces ranging from unusable to annoying to somewhat intuitive. Features also differ quite a bit, where something is very easy to do in one program but virtually impossible in another.

I personally like Aftershot Pro, but Corel have been very slow to update the program for new camera models, so I can't use it to process raw files from my GM1. It's a shame, because I am a Windows and Linux user and it is IMHO the only viable option for that combination. Also available for Mac.

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Kjell Olsson
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

Lightroom is my first choise - not that expensive if you buy it. Very powerful!

Pixelmator would be my second choise - cheep but very powerful as well.

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Nikko aus London
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

David

There are some wise words in the thread above.

If you're new to photo editing then Apple's bundled iPhoto is the place to start. You can't get better than free and it's very simple to use. You may find that it's all you need for the moment.

The nice thing about starting with iPhoto is that you have a smooth upgrade path to Apple's Aperture which itself offers loads more capability both in terms of managing your photos and editing them. Since both iPhoto and Aperture can share the same library, you can start with iPhoto, have it store and manage your images, and then if you want the extra functionality of Aperture, then install it and simply migrate your iPhoto images to Aperture in situ.

Of course, you may want to jump straight into using a fully-spec'd editor, in which case most folks choose between Aperture and Lightroom. Other's have suggested you road test the trial versions and I would encourage the same approach to see what works for you. Others have also recommended taking an online training class and I also encourage the same. In fact, with these more capable and complex products, I would go so far as to say that its essential.

I have around 500gig of photos (and some video) managed by Aperture (in a managed library). I learned how to use it by taking Derrick Story's video classes over at Lynda.com which are highly recommended. After a year or so, I "upgraded" the photo editors by installing the Google Nik plug-in suite. Now I use Aperture for what it's really strong at (digital asset management, a fancy way to say photo storage and metadata management) and I use best-in-class Nik plug-ins for noise reduction, sharpening and photo editing. Nik first came on my radar because Nikon licensed their system and embedded it into their own NX raw converter/editing program. You can learn more about their secret sauce (U-Point tech) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7ylUUaMvg8 and the best thing about Nik is that the suite is available for either Aperture or Lightroom.

Good luck with your choice.

Nikko

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AndyW17
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to Nikko aus London, 6 months ago

I am on a Mac and would like to steer you AWAY from iPhoto completely unless you absolutely plan to go to Aperture. Unlike other programs, iPhoto has a nasty habit of copying all of your pictures into a very unfriendly "package" where it is difficult to retrieve them for use in any other program. yes, it does some things well and is easy, but be aware of this if you're going down this path.  (BTW I'm happy to hear about the upgrade path from iPhoto to Aperture, but my brother could not get this to work for some reason due to the size of his iPhoto library - go figure - so the upgrade doesn't always work it seems.)

I would suggest another alternative for very basic stuff to experiment - Google's Picasa (free with a gmail account), which is non-destructive and can operate on your photos anywhere on the computer. it also contains a very nice upload capability to their online web albums. I suggest this if you're looking for a fairly basic editing capability (color, contrast, crop, some fun filters, etc) similar to iPhoto.

Neither of these will do a lot with RAWs vs. better tools, IMHO.

I am a huge fan of Lightroom. Terrific catalog and key wording capability, excellent post-processing. Non-destructive editing. Unless you're really looking to do photo editing (as in add/delete objects, layers, or other more advanced techniques), there's no way you need photoshop over Lightroom. The learning curve on Lightroom is significant, but there are excellent online resources. The learning curve for Photoshop is crazy steep, even life-long relatively speaking.

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NZ Scott
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In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

dbelling wrote:

I have never purchase photo editing software, but I would like to try it rather than using whatever comes free with a camera. I have a Mac computer, so what would work best with a Mac? I have read pros and cons for Apple's Aperture, Adobe's Lightroom 5 and Elements, but what works best with a Mac? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

David B

Do you have an aperture display?

I recently moved from an old Dell laptop (i5, 2GB ram) to a fully-specced MacBook Pro with separate graphics card, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of flash memory and a 15.4 inch Retina display.

With the Dell, I did my processing in Photoshop CS5. It took me several months of intensive study to figure out how to use it, but I'm glad I did.

Moving to the Apple, one of my biggest concerns was the fact that my copy of CS5 wouldn't work on Apple and could not be upgraded to high definition (Retina).

I ended up getting Photoshop CS6 for Mac, which has Retina capability, and also Photoshop Lightroom 5.

A lot of people recommend Lightroom 5 and I'm sure it's great, but in my case I just can't wrap my head around it. I find CS to be really powerful.

A typical workflow in CS is to open your Raw file in Camera Raw (which is part of CS) and do some basic processing there (colour management, spot removal, contrast, exposure, recovering highlights, lifting shadows, sharpening, noise reduction, correcting lens aberrations), and open it from there into the main Photoshop programme, where you can use plugins (I use Silver Efex Pro II for black and white, and sometimes Perfectly Clear for landscapes) as well as cool stuff like clone stamping distracting elements out of the photo, HDR processing, panorama processing, etc.

Lightroom 5 does all of the things that Camera Raw does, and it also allows for plugins, but is quite a bit weaker at advanced stuff like clone stamping, etc. It does have one advantage in that it is better for file management and it is also a lot cheaper.

In my case, I take a lot of photos but don't process all of them. I only process about 25 per cent of my photos and only keep the "keepers". Because of this, Lightroom's file management capabilities are kind of redundant for me and I much prefer the more powerful processing capabilities of CS6.

Good luck.

S

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Bob Tullis
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In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

You don't have to be a wizard to use LR, yet it allows a great amount of editing flexibility and growth.   And there's a lot of resources on the net, third party books, and from peers, due to its popularity.    One can go a long way with it w/o additional apps or plug-ins, yet it can be used with such as you find the needs arise, as you evolve with developing your images.

I could speak of years of PS use, the love of Aperture's elegance, but long story to short I've come to find LR most convenient and enabling in the long run.   But then again, much of this is subjective and can be touchy-feely. . . whatever you narrow down as choices, you should be able to trial any of the options before committing, to use each for a few weeks exclusively, to see what fits you best before you commit.

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ChromeDome
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

dbelling wrote:

I have never purchase photo editing software, but I would like to try it rather than using whatever comes free with a camera. I have a Mac computer, so what would work best with a Mac? I have read pros and cons for Apple's Aperture, Adobe's Lightroom 5 and Elements, but what works best with a Mac? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

David B

If you're not that proficient at editing photos then Photoshop is going to be a huge and daunting place to start.

Other programs are available now that take most of the pain away for the average photog. I find I only "Need" Photoshop when I want to do something more advanced such as content aware fill and multiple layers. (see caveat at bottom)

I would start with Lightroom - this will cover 95% of your needs - possibly more, especially if you shoot RAW - If you don't - Why not?

To avoid some of the more complicated layer masking exercises, you could do worse than getting Google Nik collection and/or OnOne Perfect suite. (Loads of Video tutorials for these on you tube). Only do this when you are fully aware of the limitations of Lightroom.

Corel PSPX6 is an excellent substitute "budget" photoshop, but I don't use it for Raw. I'd only buy this if you need something that LR5 and Google Nik can't do easily and you decide not to go rental for your software.

I have Adobe CS5 and PSPX6. PSCS5 and on are better than Paint Shop Pro, but not by much.

(Caveat) Photoshop will give you the advantage of a more streamlined workflow - especially if you use Lightroom and/or Nik Plugins, as layers can be opened as smart objects, thus retaining for you the ability to go back and readjust any of the settings in the filters you've worked in, be it Viveza , Silver Effex, Dfine etc.

With Lightroom and Nik plugins you have to save down each filter mod to a tif and then open up in the next filter (effectively flattening at each stage) which makes the operation a bit more cumbersome.

hope I didn't go into too much detail - anyway TLDR: Lightroom.

Greg

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Nikko aus London
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to AndyW17, 6 months ago

AndyW17 wrote:

I am on a Mac and would like to steer you AWAY from iPhoto completely unless you absolutely plan to go to Aperture. Unlike other programs, iPhoto has a nasty habit of copying all of your pictures into a very unfriendly "package" where it is difficult to retrieve them for use in any other program.

Andy

Huh? File->Export->Kind=Original is difficult? Maybe I missed something here?

Agree with your other comments, especially WRT Photoshop.  The Aperture vs Lightroom is really a matter of personal choice, both are good products.

Nikko

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chuikov
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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

I have a Mac, running OSX 10.9. I use iPhoto to import the RAW images to the computer, and I process the images using PS CS6. I am pleased with the above combination and the workflow.

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brick33308
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In reply to AndyW17, 6 months ago

AndyW17 wrote:

I am a huge fan of Lightroom. Terrific catalog and key wording capability, excellent post-processing. Non-destructive editing. Unless you're really looking to do photo editing (as in add/delete objects, layers, or other more advanced techniques), there's no way you need photoshop over Lightroom. The learning curve on Lightroom is significant, but there are excellent online resources. The learning curve for Photoshop is crazy steep, even life-long relatively speaking.

I don't disagree with your comment on Photoshop, but would like to observe that for me it has become a "calling". I started playing with Photoshop long before LR was introduced (in fact even before Photoshop added layers - can you imagine!), and was intrigued enough to learn more. First I hung out in the Retouching forum and gained all kinds of advice and tips. Then I started looking at short online video tutorials (like the hilarious but extremely instructive videos of the Russell Brown show - http://russellbrown.com/scripts.html ). Then as my knowledge grew, it was sort of like a rolling stone growing bigger and bigger, to the point I wanted to read more about it, take some online tutorials (like the excellent Deke McClelland - http://www.deke.com/ ). Where I am today - yes I'm pretty proficient in Photoshop and love to spend hours fiddling with pictures to either achieve the result I'm looking for or have a "happy accident". In fact, although I get out and shoot lots of images, I find that doing so is primarily to produce materials for my real hobby which is post processing with Photoshop and my various third party plugins (including Lucis, Topaz and Nik).

There is absolutely no question that for the kind of post processing I'm into, neither Aperture nor LR will cut it, and they can't even begin to compete with Photoshop. But if you're not into post processing as I am, and just want a relatively straightforward approach to improving your digital captures to suit your particular tastes, then LR (and I assume Aperture, although I don't have actual experience with it) are good and powerful programs that will undoubtedly suit you just fine.

Finally, if there's any possibility that you may want to stick your toe into the retouching waters that I and many others swim in (especially the regulars on the Retouching forum), I suggest you sign up before end of March to get the special $10/month (with one year commitment) for LR and Photoshop CC. You can start with LR and if in fact begin to develop an interest in Photoshop you'll be able to migrate over.

Sorry to be so long winded.

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John Kubler
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Re: Aperture
In reply to maljo@inreach.com, 6 months ago

I agree with maljo. I have been using Aperture 3 for the past 3 years. Before I was using LR, started with V1.0.

I found A3 a very capable app and occasionally I use LR5 when I have the urge to see how the processing compares to Aperture, but I have never felt LR made a difference. I have developed a preset in Aperture and refined it over time, which makes RAW processing very fast and require only fine tuning.

Since you have a Mac, I would try it first.

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Re: Best photo editing software?
In reply to dbelling, 6 months ago

I have both light room and aperture, but I use them as platforms to launch Nik photo suite. It's fabulous and could not live without Viveza, silverefex and color efex. You can turn any crappy Picture into something interesting.

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