Selecting Software

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by sinclair, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    I'm trying to figure out what software to get and start using for post processing, being new to the whole digital photography thing. For starters, I use the Mac, and was just able to get a base model 2010 Mac Pro. I've given it 12GB RAM, a 256GB SSD for the OS (Mountain Lion 10.8) and apps, and a 2TB drive for the user space. As for what software to use, I was looking for advice and people's option. I can say right now that unless someone gives me a copy, Photoshop is out of my budget, so for now I'll be using a combination of The Gimp and GraphicConverter depending on what I need to do. What I'd really like is thoughts on RAW software. My Panasonic GF5 came with SILKYPIX and my Mac has iPhoto from iLife '11. I'm already planning on updating to the latest version of iPhoto to manage my photo library (For photos after PP so that my wife can easily browse through them and print or email as she wants, like mothers do.). And I really don't want a Aperture vs Lightroom debate, just why you use what you do. I'm leaning to Aperture because it is more integrated with the OS and iPhoto, and costs less. I've also learned of RawTherapee, and wanted to know if anyone uses it and what they think (Like SILKYPIX, the price is perfect, free.).

    Anywho, the basic short of it is, advice (and why) on which should I pick, SILKYPIX, RawTherapee, Aperture, or Lightroom; with the knowledge that I use a Mac and want to use iPhoto, The Gimp, and GraphicConverter.

    Thanks ahead for your thoughts and time.
  2. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I have been an Aperture user since almost before it came out (I worked for Apple and was part of the team that launched it in Europe :) )

    My Apple days are past and photography is my primary pastime these days, but I still use Aperture for 99.5% of my photo work... I cant remember the last time I used a plug in less alone Photoshop!.

    I will give you a practical example of why Aperture works well for me. Last Night I was out shooting Blues musicians in a local bar. When I got home at 1 in the morning, I imported the 600 RAW shots I had taken, and before going to bed an hour later I had gone through them once, marking and deleting all the obvious unsaveable failures... approx 200 images.

    This morning I spent a further hour going through the remaining 400 images and selected 40 that I would do simple cropping , colour correction and a few B/W conversions.

    All that done I exported the 40 images up to my flickr account directly from Aperture.

    Then this afternoon, I took some video I shot with the OMD into Final Cut, the Apple video Editing app. I needed to use some of my stills in the video, and I could access my Aperture library directly from within Final Cut.

    Its that level of integration that makes me stick with Aperture. In terms of actual image manipulating facilities there is nothing in it as far as I can see between Aperture and Lightroom.

    Another thing I like how Aperture works is that when I am travelling with just a laptop, I can use Aperture on it , and when I return, export all the images and any corrections I have made as a Library, which I can then easily merge into my main desktop based Aperture library.

    Under the hood I suspect that Aperture and the current iPhoto are essentially the same beast processing wise, its just that APerture has more controls and flexibility

    If you look at my flckr page in my sig you will see work over the last couple of years processed entirely in Aperture


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  3. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks for your response. This is exactly the kind of answers I'm looking for, how and why the software is used. Please, more people post experiences with RAW software. I'd like on hear more on the free packages too.
    I'd figured that Aperture would work like that. I'm glad for the conformation.
  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    There is some element of you get what you pay for. I love the results DxO gives me and I'm used to the workflow - the calibration sets for specific body and lens combos are the key selling point and they also have very good raw conversion. I also own Lightroom (its cheaper, particularly on an educational license) which has some tools that are better/easier to use, more local adjustment type tools, and better integration into the photoshop family. But above all bit has great content management, if you're interested in that. I'm lucky enough to have managed to get a legal copy of PS CS 5.5 web design suite via work for peanuts (Lightroom with the educational discount cost me more), and unlike the added control for some images, but DxO or Lightroom can handle 99% of what I want for web, and 70% of what I want for print - and that goes up to 95 if I exclude stitched panos ;) 
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  5. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I use Aperture. All things being equal, I don't think there is any significant differences between an image processed in Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop, et al. (But you can do more digital artistry in Photoshop than Aperture and Lightroom.)

    I think it is more of a personal preference than one program is head and shoulders better than another. Most have a free 30 day trial period, so download a few and see if any fits your style better than another.

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  6. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    I've thought about looking for trials, but then I'd have to worry about removing them. I'd kinda like to pick one and just dive in head first. I'm crazy like that. That's how I ended up here. I read at one point that mFT cameras could take any lens and I wanted to be able to use my FL/FD glass, but I never did anything. Then one day in January I read that Newegg had the GF5 on sale, so I bought it without really looking at any other camera, I just jumped in. Now with close to 300 photos on my SD card, I figured I better get some software.
    One question, what's DxO? Is that these guys? I've never heard of it, guess it's another one to look at.
  7. rozza

    rozza Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 2, 2013
    New Zealand
    I agree with Kevin in that Aperture provides extremely convenient integration to the Mac OS. I also found that Aperture is relatively easy to learn and use (sorry I have no experience with DxO or Lightroom to compare though).
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  8. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I rarely use it (most processing is done in Lightroom) but I found Pixelmator to be a better Photoshop substitute than Gimp. It's $14.99 in the app store. It has some integration with Aperture, although I'm not sure to what extent.

    Edit: Lightroom (and I assume Aperture as well) are MUCH better than Silkypix. You will not regret upgrading.
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  9. edwardconde

    edwardconde Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    I use Aperture mostly as a photo organizer. I edit about 95% of the time on my iPad. I leverage photo stream to transfer my RAWS (when I shoot them) and jpegs. Aperture allows you to configure 1 external editor so you can access for further editing. On my Mac my external editors are Snapseed an Pixelator. Very easy to configure. I configured smart albums in Aperture to organize my images.

    Check out my blog at http://digital to get the details of my workflow and how I have configured my aperture library.
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  10. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Just curious, can you go back and forth between Aperture and Pixelmator while retaining non-destructive processing?
  11. Iansky

    Iansky Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    The Cotswolds, UK
    I have for many years used Photoshop but when I upgraded from GF1 to GX1 it came with Lightroom 3.4 free of charge so I have started using that as my initial editor and I find it superb.

    I now only use Photoshop for very minor tweaks and with the Silver Efex plug in for B&W conversion.

    Your choices are many but dependant on cost / learning curve / time editing and final results required.

    Most software that comes with todays digital cameras (Nikon probably being the exception with NX) is more of a Raw convertor with basic editing than a standalone editing suite.

    Many early starters go with Adobe Photoshop Elements that is reasonably priced and offers a lot of versatility as well as being a great learning tool with many online teach yourself videos.

    Good luck with the search and the learning curve.
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  12. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    I did think about PSE for a short time, but figured I'd rather spend the money on the RAW software. Also good to know that SILKYPIX is really just a converter. That's explains a lot about it. I keep learning about more software. I didn't realize that there were so many options. I guess this'll take longer then I though to pick. Thanks all, and keep leaving your thoughts.
  13. edwardconde

    edwardconde Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yes it creates a new copy of the file while retaining the original image.
  14. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    I agree with Kevin and others that suggest Aperture. As a Mac user and iPhone/iPad user, it just makes sense and I think it is just as good as lightroom. Thanks for sharing your experiences Kevin.

    Edward, I am going to go head over and check out your blog now, as I am very interested in how your workflow lets you edit on the iPad... I would LOVE to be able to go through photos on the iPad to flag those that need more editing and those that should be deleted. I am a fairly competent Mac and iPad user, but just can't wrap my head around photostream...

    On a slightly unrelated note, do you guys keep your images in Aperture database or used referenced masters? I have been keeping them in Aperture since I started using it about two years ago, and fear that I am going to see performance issues as the database gets bigger. I rarely go back and edit pictures again after I have posted them (all edited photos go to SmugMug and my favorites go to Flickr and/or Facebook). Therefore, I feel comfortable having the referenced masters on an external drive, but have concerns about the workflow of making sure the files are backed up properly.
  15. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    I use referenced masters - the images live in my pictures folder, and my whole machine is backed up using Time Machine to a separate drive in my Mac Pro.

    I am receiving my new iMac 27 next week, so I will maybe have a deeper think about switching to backing up to an external drive.

  16. didole

    didole New to Mu-43

    Jun 27, 2012
    I started with Lightroom, tried Aperture, and switched. Lightroom is a little bit better regarding image processing (Highlight & Shadows), but the usability of Aperture is several orders of magnitude better, and the OS integration is brilliant. For example, I use Photostream all the time, and in Aperture, this is built in.
  17. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    Interesting how this thread is heavy Aperture. I'm still hoping to hear more about the other software packages. But I've been wondering, does iPhoto open and work with RAW, or just Aperture? I've also heard that they can use the same photo library/database, which I'd love so that I didn't have two to manage.

    @Kevin Why did you chose to use a 2nd hard drive for Time Machine? When I got my Mac Pro, I bought a identical hard drives and made them a mirrored RAID in Disk Utility. I then went into the System Preferences and moved the my user folder to the RAID. In this way I figured I have a backup if I loose a drive, and it doesn't require me to remember to do anything, and since it does it as I add to the drive, I don't need to worry about a performance hit when TM kicks in. Any flaws in my reasoning? I also haven't figured out how I'd upgrade the RAID to bigger drives yet either in the future.
  18. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    yes iphoto handles RAW - my gut feeling is that now iphoto and Aperture are at their core essentially the same application.

    your use of RAID as a backup solution makes me does moving just your user folder. (not sure how you did this from systems prefs?...I have been using macs since 1985 and never seen that option)... thats not really a backup solution as there is lots of stuff that isn't in your user folder.

  19. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    The stuff outside of my user folder can all be reinstalled, up to this point, anytime I got a new drive I always reinstall everything instead of cloning the drive or using Migration Assistant. I then just copy the items I want from the respective folders. Since I use Apple's apps, all my music, photos, document, and downloads are in the matching folders, so the things I want to keep are there. As for moving the folder, you've been able to do it with all versions of OS X, at least 10.2 and forward. NetInfo Manager was used int he older versions, and the newer versions you use advanced options in the Users preference pane. It's been very useful over the years when my boot drive was too small for my user folder.

    As for iPhoto, I did try tonight and saw it would open RAW files from my camera. But no I have another issue, there is two of every photo, one JPG and one RAW. Is there a best practice for dealing with that? Should I only shoot RAW? Will iPhoto make JPGs to share when I click the share button? Can I sort by file type and move them to different "events"? Thanks. (Should I make a new thread with those questions?)
  20. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    If I remember correctly, and I may not, iPhoto has handled RAW for some years now. Apple's RAW processing is handled by an OS component called "Camera RAW" if I remember correctly, and both Aperture and iPhoto use it to process RAW photos so the RAW conversion should be identical. Aperture offers a lot more processing flexibility than iPhoto if I also remember correctly. Since an update or two ago, both can now use the same library.

    I started out using iPhoto when I was only taking the occasional photo and moved to Aperture close to 2 years ago when I started getting back into photography more seriously. I moved from Aperture to Lightroom around 9 months ago. I said "if I remember correctly…" a couple of times in my first paragraph simply because I find myself forgetting a lot of my iPhoto/Aperture knowledge the longer I work in Lightroom.

    I liked Aperture but Lightroom 4 offered some features such as automatic chromatic aberration removal and easier correction of fringing which I wanted. Aperture also hasn't had a major upgrade in some years now.

    I found working in Lightroom initially a bit frustrating after the shift. While a lot of what you can do in both applications is essentially the same, the way of doing it and the workflow are quite different in places and it took me a while to find my way around the Lightroom interface after becoming used to the Aperture interface. I don't think either one is essentially any more difficult than the other in general but learning to do something you're familiar with in a different way can sometimes be more difficult than learning the skill from scratch in my experience, simply because it isn't only a matter of learning new skills but also of unlearning old ones.

    As far as the photo processing goes, I've come to prefer Lightroom. I think I would probably still have a preference for Aperture's file management system but I've become reasonably comfortable now with Lightroom's. That probably took me a little longer than it should have because I focussed on the processing and simply blundered around the file management side of things for the first month or so. I've come to appreciate Lightroom's export and publishing options but I really hadn't done much with that side of things in Aperture so I can't say that I prefer one over the other.

    Aperture has great file management features in my view and very good processing features, and it's cheaper than Lightroom. Lightroom offers great processing features and very good file management in comparison. As far as the processing goes you can do great things in each but I think at present you can do a little more, and some things a little easier, in Lightroom. That may change if/when Apple issue the next Aperture major upgrade but I've also seen rumours that there will be a new version of Lightroom available around May, probably in a public beta version initially so who knows when the actual release will be. If Apple doesn't get around to releasing a major upgrade for Aperture soon, I think they could well find themselves falling significantly behind the competition.

    So I guess my basic take on the Aperture or Lightroom question is that, forgetting the processing side of things, you can't go wrong with either. On the processing side of things both do a very good job but I think Lightroom has pulled ahead, and may be pulling further ahead unless Apple gets around to issuing a major upgrade in the near future, and Apple is always silent on if or when upgrades may be expected so I think there's a big question mark hanging over Aperture on the processing front.
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