Free software for photography enthusiasts

Discussion in 'Photography' started by George Farmer, 26 Apr 2008.

  1. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

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    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    I've recently tried shooting in RAW and am pleased with the results. It's not really necessary for web and magazine prints, but it's fun experimenting anyway.

    Eventually I want to get more seriously into landscape stuff where RAW is considered essential.

    I'll also be creating my own photo library of plant species when I get my macro lens, so the highest quality is required.

    To give you an idea, with my camera in fine jpeg mode each image is approx 2.5Mb. In RAW it is 8Mb. Then when I convert to 16-Bit TIFF (usable by Photoshop etc.) it goes up to 36Mb per image!

    I've been using this software, which is free and better than the supplied Canon stuff. http://www.rawtherapee.com/

    It's not as user-friendly but it's quite powerful with plenty of features. You can fiddle with jpegs too, so compact camera users may also benefit.



    Have fun!
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Interesting George. I use a bit of software call RawShooter Essentials. It used to be free but unfortunately Adobe bought out the company. I have an older version pre-adobe so I can still use it for free. Its very good for tweaking RAW files and adjusting colours/contrasts/exposure and then exporting them.

    I've never exported to TIFF, does it make a lot of difference over JPEG? (I assume so going by the file size ;)) I might try this out. I'll give this software a try too, thanks for the link :)
     
  3. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

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  4. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Guys, have you ever actually compared the images you can produce with raw versus the cameras jpg output? Unless you are making 3ft by 4ft prints it's very difficult to tell the difference. Storing 36mb filies cost time, and the proof is in the pudding. If you have a decent image program like Photoshop then just about anything you can do with raw can be done with the jpg file in terms of color rendition and sharpness.

    Cheers,
     
  5. bugs

    bugs Member

    Messages:
    365
    You don't even need Photoshop... Gimp, once you've got your head round it, is excellent.

    The benefit of RAW is that your camera does not do any processing; however, "benefit" is largely a measure of how well your camera handles different situations. George was on the right track when he mentioned landscape. It's the often quoted example of where a camera's processing may not reveal the image that the photographer is after due, for example, high contrast. You could meddle with a JPEG or TIFF if you've not got the space, RAM, or processor to work with RAW.
     
  6. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes I forgot about The Gimp. It does about the same and it's free (at least the Linux versions are). In any case the image straight from the camera, whether raw or compressed is rarely ever used as is. There is always a workflow which involves sharpening, color adjustments, saturation, dodging/burning, cropping and so forth. This was always the case with film and contiues to be with digital. 30 megabyte files will cripple most processors and drag down even the fastest machines. Then of course there is the storage issue. I know that most professionals operate in raw mode and if they are selling large gallery size prints, then yes there will be a difference so working with raw may be a necessity to squeeze every last ounce of quality from the file but for normal users the cost/benefit is questionalble. Serious landscape pro photographers still use 4X5 film, mostly Velvia 50. Serious pro studio photographers still use medium format film although some are moving over to 6X6 digital backs which generate 100 megabyte files.

    There is no mystery here. All one has to do is to compare the outputs from the two types of files. A common argument for raw is that maybe 5 years from now there will be better raw processing programs that will do a better job than those currently available. Having the raw originals will enable you to process the originals again whereas the jpgs are as good as they will ever be.

    Cheers,
     
  7. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

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    Thanks for the info, Clive. I will shoot RAW for my most important shots. It's fun to experiment too, which is why I posted here.

    This makes interesting reading - http://www.aquatic-photography.com/foru ... php?t=9837

    I'm surprised to hear pros still use film, especially Velvia 50, as production stopped in 2006.

    What camera do you use BTW?
     
  8. parsonsmj

    parsonsmj Newly Registered

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Clevedon Somerset
    I always shoot in RAW with my 40D. then use adobe lightroom to process and store them
    Lightroom only stores the original RAW file untouched, then also a set of instuctions holding the changes you make to each file.
    That way you are not filling up your harddrive with lots of large copy files.
    I think there is a free beta available to try it.
    Why not use the camera to its full by shooting RAW all the time, you can alway get jpegs of any size after.
     
  9. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi George,
    35mm Velvia was discontinued because we all ditched our 35mm SLRs. :wideyed: Large format was never discontinued. In fact 35mm Velvia is back in production I believe. That gives you an idea of films superiority in terms of resolution. Any decent scan of even 35mm film still whups digital. The problem is that "decent" scanning is cost prohibitive using $50,000 drum scanners. Also film photography has become a drag for us ameteurs (where all the money is) so the economics have driven flim photography off the map. Journalists on the other hand don't require ultimate quality. They need to get the shot, so they are also responsible for films demise. In landscape photography you have plenty of time. Although lugging a 4X5 or 8X10 view camera up a steep mountain at 5AM is a deterrent, if you make your living by your shots it's still worth the effort.

    parsonsmj, try shooting both jpg and raw and then processing both files. Then print or view the result. You'll find that there is almost no difference at all. The workflow is slightly different but there is very little you can do to the raw that can't also be done to the jpg. I was looking at the thread George referenced and I saw a few posts stating that something like white balance could only be done with raw, which is not at all true. That may be a limitation of the software they are using. If you use photoshop you can do exactly the same thing with the jpgs, white balance, contrast, shadow highlight rendition, saturation/hue, sharpening, you name it. I just can't see the difference in the final product. The question is less of "why not use the camera to it's full" but rather "is the trouble of using full worth the extra energy" :?

    Cheers,
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Location:
    Leamington Spa, UK.
    I believe Lightroom incorporated RAWShooter Essentials when Adobe bought the makers, Pixmantec.
     
  11. NadFish

    NadFish Newly Registered

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