Easiest image processing software?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by acl38355, May 30, 2013.

  1. acl38355

    acl38355 New to Mu-43

    Jan 6, 2013
    West TN
    Hello all,
    Can someone weigh in on what might be the easiest image processing software (RAW)? I would like something that has a shallow learning curve but is still quite useful. Thanks.

  2. dancat

    dancat Mu-43 Rookie

    May 19, 2013
    I am using darktable. It's neither very easy or very complicated. But it does not run on Windows. Only Linux or Mac.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Mu-43 mobile app
  3. Geoff3DMN

    Geoff3DMN Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
    Real Name:
    I use Lightroom 4.x but if you want something simple to use (and bonus it's free) the Google Picasa handles most raw formats and handles basic image adjustments.
  4. lawa222

    lawa222 Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 3, 2013
    Lightroom is easy (just press 'Auto') with a lot of room to grow into it. I think it's good to start on the same tool that you'll continue to use rather than climbing the learning curve twice.
  5. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Real Name:
    Unless I need precise pixel editing or layering (when I would use Photoshop), Lightroom 4 is remarkably competent and satisfying for all of my image processing. The vast majority of my images (and I only shoot RAW) never see a moment inside Photoshop, but every one of them goes through Lightroom. For me, Lightroom has become a completely indispensable image processing tool. I LOVE it!
  6. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    The answer would be easy if you had told us what brand and model camera and computer (Mac or Windows) you use.
  7. dragons4Mama

    dragons4Mama Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 31, 2012
    MetroWest MA
    "Easiest" partly depends on how your brain works.

    Currently I am using CaptureOne Pro. There are features of C1 Pro that I wanted. C1 does run sales - I got it last year for 50% off. I like the way the editing works; I'm less happy w/ the file structure it uses for the files it needs.

    There is much in the way that PS works that just bounces for me - I find it incredibly frustrating, so haven't tried Lightroom.

    I loved Bibble. The version I had worked just fine on OS X 10.4.11, but did not work once I upgraded to 10.6.8. Bibble was bought by Corel & it is now sold as AfterShot Pro. I haven't actually used it - downloaded the trial, then life happened and I didn't get to use it before the trial expired. They wouldn't extend the trial - even for a day - and I wouldn't buy without trying.

    I attended an "Iron Chef: RAW Processing" presentation at PhotoPlus in NYC many years ago. They had a live show w/ computer guys and photographers. Each photographer worked w/ each of the programs (w/ computer guy running the program) to develop a couple of images. It was a great way to get a feel for the programs. I remember Lightroom, Aperture, and Bibble - not sure if there was a fourth. Bibble just clicked with me.

    Best advice is to look at several processors that will run on your system and that will process files from your camera. Download the trials and see how easy the programs are for you to figure out & how well they process your files.
  8. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    Hi Andy!

    Photoshop Elements 11 is relatively inexpensive with a shallow learning curve (assuming you're comfortable with computers; I have a friend who has trouble remembering the difference between Elements organizer and Windows File Explorer...).

    You can download a trial version here, to try before you buy:

    Adobe - Download free trial version Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 | Adobe

    Lightroom 4 is also available as a trial:


    Lightroom 5 is under development, only available as yet as a beta.

    I think Elements is easier to learn than Lightroom, but others mileage may vary.

    Also don't dismiss the "Official" Olympus software out of hand - assuming you're using an Olympus camera. Olympus Viewer 3 has recently been released. It's free. I can't give an informed decision, I've only had it a few days and haven't worked in it yet.

    Software Download | OLYMPUS Viewer 3 | OLYMPUS IMAGING

    Free is hard to beat and, of course, Viewer 3 has the advantage of being the "house brand" of the folks who supply Olympus cameras.

    I can't speak to Panasonic "house brand" (if you use a Panny); I'm an Olympus owner.


  9. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    And what is it you think you want to do with RAW development that OOC jpegs cannot? Crop/rotate, WB, apply art filters, etc. makes a difference.
  10. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Real Name:
    RAW files contain considerably greater image data, available for retrieving additional detail from extreme highlight and shadow areas - and subtle color values. RAW files also contain considerably greater color detail depth.

    OOC JPGs may look fine for average stuff when viewed on a computer - particularly the internet.

    But to make the most of an important image, one will definitely want to work with all the image data made available with a RAW file. OOC JPGs are the result of a lot of camera determined adjustments and the deletion of a lot of potentially useful image data.

    Personally, I would never trust a potentially important image to JPG output. RAW output is the original "negative" and quite worth retaining... for any image which might be of any importance. And using a program like Lightroom makes working RAW data every bit as simple, effortless, and easy as using an OOC JPG.
  11. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Right. "Easy software for raw" was not even on my list. I have very specific reasons why I do raw development and choose the tools to get the effect I want - ease of use is a bonus but not a determining factor. If the OP has no clear reason to do raw development then throwing SW at the problem is not likely to present a solution. Understanding where one is coming from (like OS, gear and current limitations) gives a better context to provide a cogent solution to get where one wants to go.

    Or just use Lightroom. Not "easy" by any stretch.
  12. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Real Name:
    Rob... I don't see Lightroom as being any more oriented toward RAW than to JPG, just that RAW offers better opportunity for retrieving details from highlights and shadows and MUCH greater ability to open shadows nicely. But this isn't a RAW vs. JPG thread, of course, so enough of that.

    Lightroom has some amazing tools that any photographer would greatly benefit from. But can be put to use for basic processing with nothing more than simply learning the Library module!

    It took me about a week to become fairly comfortable with the workings and tools in Library and Develop. The other modules have had much less applicability to me, so I didn't even bother to learn them until later. The other modules can be learned on an as needed basis. Library and Develop are the biggies and what any photographer would want to become familiar with. Actually, there are some basic tools in Library, so initially, to keep things REALLY simple, one only needs to learn the Library module!

    Lightroom is no different than learning how to use the functions of a new camera. It requires a bit of time and effort from the user to gain proficiency with the tools and the returns on that investment are wonderful.

    I don't think Lightroom is at all difficult to learn, it's just that there is a lot you can learn as you go deeper into the modules. (nothing like Photoshop, however!).

    There are most certainly "easier" (simpler, and less capable) image processing programs... but I don't know of any to recommend.

    I think if a person is interested in developing his/her skills at creating excellent images, one should be willing to invest a little time and effort, over time, to learn how to use good tools. But I can imagine there might be some people for whom a simple photo organizer would meet their most basic of needs.
  13. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    There's a lot of subjectivity in judgements as to which is the easiest program to work in but the RAW processing part of Elements is Adobe Camera RAW and feature-wise, Adobe Camera RAW and Lightroom have essentially the same features and processing setup if you're using the latest, or equivalent, versions of each as they are updated/upgraded together. LR provides a different interface to the ACR "engine" than that used in ACR plus it has its own file management and publishing functions plus a couple of other non-processing modules.

    What Elements has as well as ACR is a healthy subset of Photoshop's pixel editing functions which Lightroom does not have. That gives Elements a richer and more complex feature set than Lightroom, and also ups the learning curve considerably because those pixel editing features are over and above the non-destructive processing features contained in Adobe Camera RAW and Lightroom.

    I find it difficult to accept that the combination of a feature rich pixel editing application and one interface to the Adobe Camera RAW engine in Elements can be easier to learn than a different interface to the Adobe Camera RAW engine in Lightroom which lacks the additional pixel editing features of Elements. Elements actually has a fair bit more to learn on the processing side because it has those extra features and it seems to me that it should be easier to learn a less rather than more, even if one has a preference for the ACR interface of Elements. Of course, if you aren't going to use the pixel editing features of Elements and just use the RAW processing functions, you have to learn exactly the same things to use both, though the panel and slider layout is different in Lightroom to that in Elements. That means you may find one more comfortable to work in due to personal preferences of one kind or another.
    The learning curve for both should be almost identical because there are almost no differences in features and controls, just in how they are laid out on the screen. I'd be hard pressed to say that it's easier to learn RAW processing in one or the other, though I would not be surprised to find that some people prefer the interface of one and some the interface of the other.

    If you want the additional pixel editing features of Elements, which means you aren't going to be using the full version of Photoshop, then Elements is a no-brainer choice over Lightroom because it has those features and Lightroom does not, plus it's cheaper as well. The only problem that you could run up against is if you also want some of the additional non-processing features that Lightroom has.

    If you don't want the additional pixel editing features of Elements then you can make your choice on which application has the best non-processing feature set for you, which has the best RAW processing interface for you, or simply which is the cheapest. When it comes to those things it's your call but there shouldn't be any real difference in the learning curve for RAW processing since it is essentially identical in both, just a different screen interface and little in the way of other differences.

    I don't mean to suggest that I think you are wrong in preferring Elements over Lightroom. I do however want to draw a distinction between learning to use the RAW processing functions of each in terms of acquiring the knowledge base necessary to process things to your satisfaction, which should be identical for each application, and learning how to use the interface and how comfortable you feel with the interface. There can certainly be a difference there though some may argue that that difference is not in ease of learning how to process RAW files but rather in learning how to drive an application.
  14. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    Hi David!

    That's very well put!

    As it happens I don't prefer Elements over Lightroom; I have both installed but find that what post-processing I do can be handled by LR.

    However (and as you note, it certainly is subjective) I've found that the novices I've worked with (not intimating that I'm an expert) have an easier time with the concept of Elements than they do with the concept of Lightroom.

    Your response was a fine explanation of the role ACR plays!


  15. gugarci

    gugarci Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2012
    Lyndhurst, NJ
    Real Name:
  16. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Real Name:
    A vote here for DxO. The default values give you automatic correction of lens distortion, vignetting, lens softness, and additional improvements from various presets are one click away.

    Since version 8, the user interface is very easy.

    I'm computer savvy after 40 years in IT, but I don't want to spend my retirement in front of a computer: DxO gets me good images with little effort.

    Disclaimer: no connection, just a happy customer.
  17. CaptZoom

    CaptZoom Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2013
    If you're using a Mac, Pixelmator is the way to go. Easy to use, room to grow, and some wonderful things can be done with the software. It pretty much replaces Photoshop if you're not a power user. It is also ridiculously cheap.
  18. acl38355

    acl38355 New to Mu-43

    Jan 6, 2013
    West TN
    Using a Panasonic G3 for 70% of my shots and a Fuji HS30 for the rest.
    Saw some deals at Newegg for Lightroom 4.0 for $50 and thought that may be the way to go.
  19. CaptZoom

    CaptZoom Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2013
    LR is a marvelous program. At $50, it's a steal.
    A few things about LR:
    1) The biggest thing you'll need to over come, is your need to save files after you're done editing. LR doesn't actually do any thing to the files (pixels). It just stores a bunch of instructions. If you want to post a photo (or several) online or you want to print, you'll need to export the file, at which point you'll choose the appropriate format (tiff, jpeg, DNG, etc) and resolution.
    2) The panels/modules in LR are setup to be used from left to right, and top to bottom. You'll know what I'm talking about once you use LR.
    3) The order you do things in LR is inconsequential. On export, LR will apply the instructions in the correct sequence (according to LR). So, you don't have to go left to right, and top to bottom- but doing so is more intuitive .
    4) Use LR for everything from importing (from camera, memory card) to editing to final export.
    5) The filing structure shown in LR (in the left panel in Library mode) is live. Make all your file movements and organization within LR. They will be reflected accordingly on you hard drive. If you do the organization and movements of your files outside of LR, you'll need to go back in to LR and tell it where you've moved each file (which becomes tedious and frustrating very quickly).
    6) LR is for photo editing only. You can not construct an image. For this you'll need different software (PhotoShop, GIMP, Pixelmator, etc).
  20. Nepherim

    Nepherim Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2012
    NJ, USA
    Google picasa is by far the easiest. All the others try to integrate or facilitate workflow which then tends to make things complex.