Software suggestions for Newbee

Started Nov 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
MikeFromMesa Senior Member • Posts: 2,849
Re: Software suggestions for Newbee

Brian wrote:

A question I have wondered is, if I shoot in RAW and then convert to jpeg, will the converted file be better than if I shot in jpeg with the camera? Also, are all converters from RAW to jpeg the same, that is, will give the same result?

In answer to your first question - it will give you more flexibility in what you can do with an image when processing because there is more information in a raw image than in a jpg.

You will have a better chance to get details from your shadow areas, to get details from your bright areas and a better chance to get the colors the way you want them to be. As to whether it will produce better images than jpg, that depends upon how you process them but it will give you the chance to get better images; especially if you have made mistakes when you shoot. It can be easier to rescue an image from a raw file than from a jpg.

In answer to your second question - absolutely not.

If you are going to shoot in raw you are going to have to think seriously about what tool to use to edit your photos. Some raw converters are just bad. One example, in my opinion, is PaintShotPro X5. Some are very good. Some examples:

1) Adobe (Lightroom and Photoshop),

2) Dxo Optics,

3) PhotoNinja (a new photo editor) from PictureCode,

4) Capture One from PhaseOne,

5) Canon's DPP (for Canon cameras only)

There are others, but these are the ones I have had personal experience with. Any of them would do a very good job on adjusting your raw images and then the choice comes down to how much you want to adjust them, how you work and what else you might want to do. My personal summary:

a) Lightroom is very, very good software that will do an excellent job in converting your images and allowing you to adjust them as you wish. Once you get used to the usage issues (importing, exporting, Library, Develop, etc) the software is simplicity itself to use and it provides much more functionality than you would want to use when you start, but which you can grow into,

b) Dxo is very, very good software and, like Lightroom, gives you the ability to work through a lot of images quickly. Dxo is more automatic than Lightroom and will attempt to set all adjustments for you. I personally think it sometimes "over-cooks" images, but that is only my personal opinion,

c) PhotoNinja is very, very good, but more simplified, software. It has an excellent raw converter and has a very simple interface that allows you to adjust images, but using a much more restricted set of functionality. Learning PhotoNinja is initially very simple and it takes a while to realize that there is more there than you might see at first. I personally really like this software,

d) CaptureOne is very good software and includes what you might think of as both Lightroom and Photoshop functionality. Although I have played with it I have not had much experience with it because I personally think the Pro version is too expensive for what it provides and the express version does not provide enough functionality. But that is a very personal opinion,

e) Canon's DPP is pretty good and free for Canon DSLR owners It does not do as much as these other products, but what it does it does well,

f) Photoshop is very, very good software but probably has more functionality that you would want to begin with. It is sort of a Swiss Army knife of software tools - it has everything in it. But I find processing photos with it to be time consuming since it is not oriented toward processing a lot of images. I am sure others will disagree with that statement.

As with all opinions, your mileage may differ, but you can download trial versions of any of these to get a feel for them and I would recommend doing exactly that before you buy. Find something that you feel comfortable using and that you feel gives your images the right look And remember that in a year you will want more functionality than you want now because you will want to do more with your images.

One other comment. It has been my experience that no one tool does everything you want to do "the best" of any of them. Because of that I use different products for different images. Usually my main processing software is Lightroom or PhotoNinja. They are both easy to use and do most of what I want. But sometimes I find myself using PhotoShop or Sagelight (another editor I did not list) because they have functionality I need for that image. Image processing, like life, is a learning experience, at least for me, and my needs change from image to image.

Hope this helps.

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