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What software for a newbie?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Gyles, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Gyles

    Gyles Mu-43 Veteran

    265
    Feb 15, 2012
    Sunny Norfolk, UK
    Travelographer and self confessed Hexaholic
    Hi Guys,

    Just starting to take my photography a little more seriously and have just ordered a new PC and have nearly made my mind up on a monitor and Spyder4Prp.

    1, Before I go ahead and order LR5 does anyone have any suggestions to any other software that I might be consider either as an alternative or in addition. I'm on a tightish budget as I'm having to purchase everything all at once.

    2, Are there any differences between LR5 and the student/teacher version?

    3, What would be a good workflow?

    4, Any other good working practices I should follow.

    Remember I'm new to processing.

    Many thanks.
     
  2. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I think LR is a great program all around, regardless of skill level... It even has good auto-fix abilities. I mainly make use of the sliders, first I'll fine-tune my exposure by getting shadows, darks, lights and highlights where I want them, then I'll turn to the hue/saturation/luminance sliders for each individual color channel, and if necessary finish up with sharpening and/or noise reduction. I have also recently found the defringing tool especially useful for legacy lenses.

    I highly doubt that my system is the most efficient, but there it is, for now. Oh, and if you find yourself adjusting color channels much, shoot in something other than jpg sRGB, as it doesn't leave much latitude at all for this kind of tweaking. I used to have better luck using adobeRGB when I used a DSLR, lately I've been shooting some more RAW, which is even better.
     
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  3. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    442
    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Richard
    Before you buy software, it's good to be familiar with the program that came with your camera. From your gear list, I'd guess that you have SilkyPix, which does a nice job with Panasonic RAW files. (If you had an Olympus camera, you would have Olympus Viewer.)

    There are some other RAW processing programs that cost far less than LightRoom. Amazon has Corel Aftershot Pro, downloadable, for less than $30. Corel also publishes PaintShop Pro, which can use plug-ins made for LightRoom. You can get trial versions of just about any other RAW development software, to see how each program handles the basic tasks of post-processing.
     
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  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I prefer raw, and I would suggest that you actually avoid AdobeRGB unless you really know what you're doing. Unless you have the ability to print straight from AdobeRGB space, you'll almost certainly have to convert back to sRGB space at the end anyway. Support for AdobeRGB is very patchy, and the colours will look all wrong if you open an AdobeRGB file in an application that doesn't support it, or upload it to a web service that doesn't know to convert it. I accidentally shot some AdobeRGB for a while and ended up with much frustration about colour accuracy before I realised and converted them back to sRGB.
     
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  5. Gyles

    Gyles Mu-43 Veteran

    265
    Feb 15, 2012
    Sunny Norfolk, UK
    Travelographer and self confessed Hexaholic
    I forgot to say that I will be shooting in RAW.

    and thanks for the prompt replies.

    Yes I have Silkypix, so no cost there and I think for the foreseeable future I shall be sticking with Panny bodies. My concern would be that LR appears to be THE software of choice for the majority. So I could be wasting my time learning Silkypix then learning LR at a later date. But then again the principles should be the same? I could also say add LR3/4 and upgrade later. I often see some people saying they do one thing in one program and something else in another.

    As I say I am clueless but really need to get my finger out and learn.......I'll be having much more free time after Christmas.
     
  6. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    Bangkok
    rob collins
    I would consider adding the Nik Software suite (US$149) to your edition of Lightroom. Together those two should keep you busy editing for at least 6 months. The Nik suite is available as a 30 day trial so you can check it out first.
     
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  7. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I only shot adobeRGB when I intended to process files in LR, and that's one of the few times I'd recommend it. It simply has a larger color gamut available to Adobe programs than sRGB does, and you can dial in colors more without posterizing them. I always export as sRGB though, and really, if you're going to shoot in a specific format with post processing in mind, that format should be RAW. I agree with you there!
     
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  8. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Start with LR, it really is one of the easiest and most powerful tools combined, which two don't often harmonize so well! If you find you need something different it will probably be for specialized uses.
     
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  9. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    Mike
    Another vote for LR5. The student/teacher version is the same as the retail. You must be a school employee or student to purchase it. I bought mine through the university where I worked. A real bargain for $79. You also might want to pick up a book on LR such as The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers to get an insight on all the features.

    Mike
     
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  10. Gyles

    Gyles Mu-43 Veteran

    265
    Feb 15, 2012
    Sunny Norfolk, UK
    Travelographer and self confessed Hexaholic
    My son is on an electrical apprenticeship and attend college once a week and my wife is the nursery manager at said college.

    I'm in the UK so we end up paying over the odds for most things.
     
  11. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Lightroom is an excellent start and many people only need Lightroom. It's handy to know what it is and what it can and can't do.

    Lighroom is effectively a global editor combined with a DAM. A DAM (digital asset manager) is software that allows you to organise, rate and find images and video. The global editor means that Lightroom applies settings to the whole image. Newer versions (like LR5) also have limited local editing (edit just a part of an image). Lightrooms processing engine is the same as the one use in ACR which is part of Photoshop and Photoshop Elelments.

    What Lightroom isn't is a pixel level editor like, say, Photoshop Elements. You can't combine images into panoramas or HDR images with Lightroom alone. You can add type or layer to an image (except for watermarking).

    So for now Lightroom is all you need. Later you may consider adding Photoshop Elements (also available at student prices) which will let you do some extra stuff. And you can use Lightroom to send files to Elements and then those changes will appear in a copied file in Lightroom, so they're integrated.

    Gordon
     
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  12. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Are you talking about raw files, jpegs or TIFF files? For both raw and jpegs shooting in Adobe RGB has little to no benifit and may actually do more harm than good. For raw images the in camera setting doesn't matter. LR imports all images into it's own working space, Mellissa ( a modified version of ProPhoto). For jpegs you don't get more colours in a bigger colour space. You get the same number of discrete colours over a bigger colour space. In many cases you'll end up with more posterisation, not less. To increase the number of colours you need to increase the bit depth, NOT the colour space. And to do tha you'll need to be working with TIFF or PSD files. Jpegs can only be compressed 8 bit files. For example, if you're shooting jpegs of a portrait you're far better off (you'll get smoother skin transitions) in sRGB as the discrete colours (256x256x256) will be closer together than if the same number of colours are spread over the larger aRGB colour space.

    tiff and PSD files can be 16 bit and can take advantage of the larger colour gamuts. 8 bit jpegs, not so much.

    Gordon
     
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  13. -Dan-

    -Dan- Mu-43 Regular

    56
    Sep 22, 2013
    If you want inexpensive software with decent features, you can also look into ACDsee Pro. They often have specials for $60-70
     
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  14. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Can you explain this a bit more? How it affects available latitude in LR?
     
  15. Fred49

    Fred49 Mu-43 Regular

    169
    Feb 24, 2010
    FRance
    DXO can be tested for 30 days, i did it ... and bought it.

    I am using it with photoshop element.
     
  16. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Spend some time before making any commitment to software and work flow. I spent months researching DAM and raw converters before I committed to the first version of Lightroom. And while Lightroom is powerful, I would not characterize it as intuitive. You need to learn how Lightroom works, and then things start to make sense. It is not a program that you can pick up and use without a manual or tutorial.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  17. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    When shooting raw, there is no color profile assigned to the file. Leave it alone and when you work in Lightroom, you will be doing your adjustments in ProPhoto (aka Melissa), Lighrtoom's native color space (which is extremely large and supports 16-bit files). When you export, then ou can choose what color space is appropriate for the intended destination of the image.

    --Ken
     
  18. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    If we're talking about jpegs.... raw is very different....

    A jpeg is a compressed 8 bit file. That means you have a maximum of 256 discrete colour steps (2 to the power of 8) for each of red, green and blue. Mix the colours and you have a total of 16.7 million discrete colour points available (256x256x256) in the image. That's the bit depth of the image and it's independant of the colour space of the image. So if you shoot a jpeg in aRGB each colour point will be further away from each other compared to sRGB. Same number of points in a bigger box is what's happening. That means that there's more chance you'll "see" the jump from one point to another. Banding in a sky or blotchy skin tones are common.

    16.7 million colour steps sounds like a lot until you realise that a 12bit image has billions of colours and a 16 bit images has trillions of discrete colour steps. SO a 12 bit image in the aRGB colour space has much smoother colour transitions than an 8 bit image.

    So, most of the time you're better off shooting jpegs in the smaller sRGB colour space to keep colour transitions smoother (less banding).

    Gordon
     
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  19. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    Corel PaintShop Ultimate is on sale right now for $50...
     
  20. Gyles

    Gyles Mu-43 Veteran

    265
    Feb 15, 2012
    Sunny Norfolk, UK
    Travelographer and self confessed Hexaholic
    Clear as mud to me LOL thanks.
     
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