Friday, November 13, 2009

$oftware!!!! Which One Do I Need And What's It Gonna Cost Me?

Aloha! I wanted to write a tutorial on an easy image editing technique today, but before I go into detail on using Camera Raw, I think I’ll write about some different pieces of software that are good to have.

As a photographer you are probably going to take hundreds upon hundreds of photos and you are probably going to want a program that can keep track of all these. Of course when you buy a camera it usually comes with software that will transfer your photos and organise them for you. When you buy a Nikon for example, it comes with ViewNX. I thought ViewNX was a pretty good program for a while but gradually it started to break down. By this I mean the icon previews in some of the first picture folders I created have started to play a game called musical previews where they swap themselves around and now I don’t know what the picture is actually of until I open it. Devastating? No, not really, but it is annoying. Lucky for me (and you) plenty of other software companies have created some really useful programs. There are heaps of them out there, but I’m just going to talk about some of the most popular ones.

Lets start with one that everyone can use! Adobe Lightroom is a useful little program that not only organises your pictures but also has quite a few other features as well. Lets take a look!

  • Easy to organize image collections
  • Basic editing options for both RAW and JPEG file types
  • Slideshow capabilities
  • Layout option and preferences for printing
  • Can create image galleries and upload them to the web for a portfolio

Sounds pretty good huh? But maybe you want some more image editing capabilities. Well if you happen to be a Mac user, then you need Aperture.

Aperture 2.0 was released on February 12, 2008 and is a very similar program to Lightroom, but with Aperture you can download more than 70 plug-ins! It also has other useful features like being able to zoom in to 1600% and even more image editing options than lightroom, but come on! 70+ plug-ins!!!! You know that some of them have got to be awesome.

Of course if image editing is what you are really interested in, then you have to go with Photoshop. I’m sure that almost all of you have heard about this one as it is arguably one of the most widely used programs in the Adobe community. Photoshop offers thousands of editing options ranging from idiot proof to professional and it’s one drawback when compared to Lightroom or Aperture WAS that it couldn’t work with RAW files, but this has been mended with the introduction of the plug-in Camera Raw.

As you may remember from my last post where I briefly talked about RAW files, they are basically like Digital Negatives, hence the file extension .DNG. Although different companies use different extensions. Nikon for example calls them .NEF. When you switch through the different modes on your camera using the little wheel on the top you are actually making little changes to the ISO, shutter speed and other things. When you take the picture as a JPEG it applies all of this to the photo, then compresses it, causing a loss of quality. When you take the photo as a RAW file it keeps the information with the file, but doesn’t compress it. This means that you can change all the information later and you wont lose photo quality. Very useful. In Camera Raw you can make changes to all of those things AND it’s all done using sliders, making the process even simpler.And while on topic, one of the best things about Camera Raw is that it’s free! This is going to play a major roll in deciding which editing/organising software you go with. Let’s look at some prices

Aperture 2 will set you back $199, but is only $99 if you are upgrading from Aperture 1. Lightroom is $299, but once again only $99 to upgrade. Now as Photoshop is editing software it is going to cost you quite a bit more. $999 to buy it outright and $349 to upgrade from Photoshop CS3, but don’t fear, there are savings to be had! You can get a toned down version for $699 or a very basic version called Photoshop Elements for a limited time only price of $79.99! Then there is the Creative Suite bundles where you can get both Photoshop AND Lightroom in the same package! As well as a bunch of other programs you probably wont use unless you get into the graphic/web design field.

Well, I hope this has given you something to think about and you can look foreword to some tutorials where we will actually be using some of these programs to create MASTERPIECES!!!!!! Or at the very least help give your pictures a little something more.

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