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Thread: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

  1. #1
    FrankT
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    Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    Hi! I'm just getting back into photography after a long hiatus, and my experience has all been with film. I've kept my favorite lenses over the years so bought a Panasonic m4/3 camera to take advantage of legacy glass. At some point, I might also take advantage of my manual MF gear by getting a digital back (or maybe a digital MF camera that can take my lenses...that's a separate issue I need to research).

    So this is my first foray into digital photography, and I need some advice regarding software. I run a Mac Pro with OSX (10.6.4) and have Photoshop (though I've never used it). Do I need to (or should I) get separate RAW conversion software? Are there other photo editors that people prefer over Photoshop?

    I've read a fair bit about Capture One, Aperture, Lightroom, Corel...and have to admit that I'm a bit confused. I'd like to invest my time in learning a system that will work well with RAW files from my G1/GF1 and also have room for me to grow if I get a medium format digital back.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Frank

  2. #2
    Member RomanJohnston's Avatar
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    What version of Photoshop do you currently have?

    How much time do you like to invest in your files?

    The reason for the second question will determine which way I go.

    Some options are very easy and simple but limited, some are very complicated and while you can do minimalist editing with it as well has power that can take years to learn.

    That might scare some people and entice others.

    Roman

  3. #3
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    Given you currently have a Panny M4/3rds and have already purchased Photoshop, I would recommend you learn to use the raw converter built into CS called ACR or Adobe Camera Raw. It's UI is virtually identical to LightRooms. Make sure you've run all the updates to make Photoshop and ACR current.

    When you get an MF back, you'll likely want a dedicated raw converter and the choice will be largely dependent on which back you buy. C1 may in fact the best choice at that time if you buy a Phase or Leaf back, but if for example you purchase a Hasselblad back, then you will probably want focus instead.

    Finally, once you have your arms around how ACR and raw conversion in general works, then you can download a trial version of C1 and see if the differences are worth the cost for your camera(s).

    My .02 only --- and welcome to GetDPI!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  4. #4
    FrankT
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    Hi Roman,

    I have an older version...Photoshop 6.0. I would be willing to buy a new version (and qualify for the Adobe educational prices/version if that makes any differences).

    For the images I like, I am happy to invest a lot of time in tinkering (and think I would really enjoy doing so). Complexity doesn't scare me away (I like tools) but I'd probably do better if it were at least somewhat intuitive. I hope that makes sense.

    Also, I would like something that wasn't too complicated in converting/editing "snapshots" that I just want to share with people (as opposed to files I want to work on)...although I suppose I could just capture those as jpeg on the G1 and save myself some time.

    Thanks!

    Frank

  5. #5
    FrankT
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    Thanks, Jack!

    My Photoshop is a few versions old (came as part of a package with my last computer), so I would probably need to upgrade anyway.

  6. #6
    Member RomanJohnston's Avatar
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    CS5 is the newest version. It is extremely powerfuly and with as many controls as you have....infinitly variable. The more you work and play with it the more you settle into a workflow that works for you.

    When I first started it took me 30 min to an hour to post process an image. I have every thing scripted now (photoshop action) and all I have learned over the years has actually filtered down to a very simple and quick workflow. My action now takes about 3-5 min to run on an average image. A few min of fine tuning after the fact and I am done.

    It has some rather complex twists to it but most is automated.

    It took years of playing to come up with my routine.

    If you get photoshop you will have quite a robust tool on your hands, and over time you too will create your own unique workflow based on your desired look.

    Thats where I would go.

    As Jack said....if you go MF...get the specialized software the vendor has as it will maximize your file from the get go.

    Roman

  7. #7
    FrankT
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Senior Member kevinparis's Avatar
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    Re: Digital beginner needs software advice. Thanks!

    forget photoshop at this point... go for Aperture or Lightroom... They are one stop shops that will offer great raw conversion, great file management and simple high quality output to whatever you want be it print or web. They are absolutely the most efficient way to get you photos looking good.

    There are trial versions of both I believe available from apple.com and adobe.com

    if you have to add Photoshop to your workflow you can do that later.

    there are a zillion books and experts out there advocating Photoshop and endless raw convertors.. all are confusing and daunting to a newbie... and often confusing for the more experienced like me.

    but if you want the quickest and easiest way to get you photos looking great then Aperture and Lightroom are the only way to go

    My preference is Aperture... but that has a lot to do with my personal history as a former snake oil salesman ( aka Marketing Manager) fr Apple

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