Joseph, Photography

You Asked For It: Photo Editing Programs

Today I would like to discuss some of the various photo editing programs available to post process your images.  I will also give you my views on Macintosh versus Microsoft Windows systems.  Please note I am not advocating or endorsing one type of computer OS over the other I am merely stating my experience with both.  Todays post was actually inspired by a question from Gale in Florida about post processing.

Why I Prefer Macintosh

Lets discuss computers first because I want to be brief on this subject. I personally prefer the Macintosh OS over Windows (and this is coming from a person who owned a computer business for ten years building generic computers running Microsoft Windows). Like I said I am not endorsing I am merely stating my preferences. I find the Macintosh systems seem to require less system resources than Windows systems while running the same programs.

Huh ?

Okay let me give you an example. I sometimes will edit images on my Macbook Air computer which only has 4 GB of RAM without issue. Of course I would prefer to edit images on my Mac Mini with 16 GB of ram and a big screen but sometimes I would rather just sit on the couch with my wife and edit images on my Macbook. If I were using a Windows based system with the same processing power and 4 GB of RAM, running Adobe Lightroom 5 would be frustrating for me. In my experience the Mac programs seem to load faster than the Windows counterparts and take up less hard drive space. Some of you might say RAM is pretty cheap these days so why not just add some memory and use the Windows systems. That’s wonderful if Windows is your preference but when comparing apples to apples (no pun intended) the Mac system will load programs faster with the same processing power and memory, and I am confident saying that. The other thing I prefer about the Mac system is all of the Apple software such as word processing, spreadsheet and presentation is free and will import Microsoft Word or Excel files. The OS (operating system) upgrades are also free so I don’t have to spend money when the next generation of software is available. If I wanted to start processing RAW files immediately iPhoto is already on the Mac so if I didn’t have the extra cash to spend on Adobe Lightroom at the time I could still shoot RAW images with my camera and post process them. These are some of the reasons the Mac system is a better fit for me. As I stated previously I am not endorsing or suggesting one system over another, I am just stating which works better for me, and why I prefer it.

Image Editing Programs

Okay so lets get to the meat of the post, image editing programs now that I started the controversy about computers above.

When you buy a camera most of the time it will come with a CD that has their own brand of image editing software. These proprietary programs are used if you shoot RAW images because for some stupid reason every camera manufacturer has their own RAW files. With Nikon the files have an .NEF extension, with Olympus they end in .ORF.

Why these files are different is beyond my scope of understanding but it would just make a little more sense to me if all these manufacturers would get together and standardize a file format for RAW images. They did it with .JPG images so why not RAW.

Adobe Lightroom is in my opinion the standard for post processing images for people like me (advanced amateur).   You can import just about any file format including RAW images into one program.

But Joe why would I spend money on Lightroom if my camera already came with a software CD ?

Thats a really good question Joe, I’m glad I asked me. Lets use me as an example.

I am a long time Nikon user as most of you already know. Lets say I was a loyal user of the software provided by Nikon to post process images. I took the time to learn all aspects of the Nikon software and I am so familiar with it I can process images with my eyes closed (which would be a pretty neat trick).

Now I decide to buy a Fuji camera because I heard great things about their image quality. I’m very excited when I get my new Fuji home and while I am waiting for the battery to charge I decide to load the software that came with my new camera. I eagerly await for the software to finish installing and as soon as it finished I quickly open the program.

What the hell is this ?

This is nothing like the Nikon software I am accustomed to. Oh crap this is totally different and now I have to learn a whole different program to process my Fuji RAW files.

This is the exact reason you invest in Adobe Lightroom. You take the time to learn Lightroom and it will import any brand of camera RAW files along with .JPG’s of course. You learn one program and use it for all of your post processing needs. By taking the time to learn Lightroom you streamline your post processing immediately.

Another great feature of Lightroom is Plug Ins. Practically every manufacturer of image editing programs provides Plug Ins for Lightroom. For example I use NIK software’s Silver EFEX Pro sometimes to process my black and white images. They provide a Plug In so I can run Silver EFEX from within Lightroom. I just drop down one of the menus in Lightroom choose to edit my image in Silver EFEX and when I am done it automatically exports my image to Lightroom and puts me right back to where I was before I dropped down the menu. I actually use the complete suite of NIK software programs but since Google purchased the company I find myself using a suite of programs fro onOne software called Perfect Photo Suite (which by the way is a free download). When onOne comes out with new versions of their image editing suites the make the previous versions available for free. I would imagine they do this in hopes you will love their software and upgrade to their latest version, which is not free. To me the current version is well worth the $89 they charge for it. The NIK software suite is also very nice but I just find myself using the onOne software more recently.

There are free programs available such as Google Picasa that you can use for post processing your images which is fine. I just don’t think anything can match the power and versatility of Adobe Lightroom and the Plug Ins capability is just an added bonus to me.

So I hope all of you found this post of some use and I hope I cleared up some questions that you had Gale.

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37 thoughts on “You Asked For It: Photo Editing Programs

  1. A great and informative post Joe! I have used Macs really little and for some reason I always have trouble finding what I need. 🙂 I’ve understood Macs are really favored among artists, and are supposed to have the best monitors for photo editing, so I’d be curious to try it out one day. But our it person here gets grey hair using a Mac. 🙂 🙂

    I think Lightroom is really easy to learn, and quite enough for an amateur. I’ve used Photoshop also and it seems to take much more time to get a grasp of it. Maybe I am just so used to Lighroom. 🙂

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    • Thank you very much for your comment Elina 🙂 I was laughing for quite a while when you said your IT person there gets gray hair using a Mac, he’s much too young to have gray hair 🙂

      I don’t do anything on my Mac’s but process photos, retrieve email research things and blog. I’m not a gamer or a power user so they just fit my needs perfectly but like I say it’s a personal choice.

      I think Lightroom is easy to learn and for the longest time I resisted using it. I was an Aperture user for years which was also fairly easy to learn but I made the jump and I’m glad I did. It fits my needs well.

      Have a great week Elina 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Joe for allowing me to pick your brains. This post definitly answers alot of my questions. Since I will be in the market for a new computer soon, I will have to consider many of the things you pointed out in your post while making my decision. Thank you for taking the time to help. Have a great weekend!

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  3. There is a file format that is a standard for RAW images, the digital negative (.dng extension) that seems to be doing well as an archival file format. The converter is free from Adobe but it’s included in Lightroom, which can do the conversion on import. It works with all camera manufacturer formats and the file sixe is about 15% smaller.
    I use a new 27 inch Mac at the Museum and 6 year old Win7 PC at home. My PC is at least as fast as the new Mac and much more stable. Like you say, it’s a personal preference but the Apple being better hardware and software is a myth, at least in today’s market, in my opinion.

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    • Both the Mac and Windows based machines are powered by Intel so it really is a personal choice. Its strange that you mention the Windows machine is more stable because I find the exact opposite. I have never had a stability problem with any of my Macs and I have three of them. Maybe it has something to do with the software at the museum ? Thank you for the info on the .dng files and it’s great that Lightroom converts them but I still wish all of the camera manufacturers would get together and standardize files so the cameras themselves would output .dng files or something where it is the same across all camera lines.

      I had an old Windows based laptop that I loaded Linux on and it was like buying a new computer it was so fast. Oh no another OS to think about, LOL. Have a great day 🙂

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  4. I always look forward to your Friday’s photography tutorials. This one is just as good as all the previous ones. I agree with you about the advantages of Apple computers, albeit they have a steeper price. My dream is to buy a 22″ iMac with Lightroom 5, but that is on the backburner right now due to budget constraints.

    Meanwhile, I’m using a Sony Vaio laptop (4 GB RAM) and Pixrl image edition software which is free and very easy to use. I know that eventually I will have to upgrade to a more powerful post processing software and Lightroom 5 is high on the list.

    Will take a look at Picasa now that you mention it in your tutorial. If it’s better than Pixrl, then I’ll make the switch until I can get my hands on LR 5.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and knowledge on photography. Have a great weekend. BTW, is it snowing in New York?

    Regards,

    Omar.-

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    • Thank you Omar 🙂 I have a Mac Mini with a 27″ monitor (not Apple) and I went that route because I hear that if you go to replace the hard drive on the newer iMac’s and don’t use one sourced from Apple the cooling fan will always run at full speed. As soon as I bought my Mac Mini I ripped the RAM out and upgraded it to 16 Gig and replaced the hard drive with a Solid State Drive SSD and used the original hard drive as a secondary drive. There is a company called OWC Other World Computing that specializes in Mac upgrade hardware.

      Like I said in my previous comment another option is open source. You could load Linux and use darkable and Gimp as image editors. Have a great day Omar 🙂

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  5. A very great post, Joe. My Windows laptop cost 270€ (travelmate Acer) and Lightroom runs on it (not fast but it works for me). I have been flirting with the idea of buying a Mac for quite some time now. The price of a regular Mac makes me sick to my stomach though. I’m not spending 800 bucks on a computer I don’t even use on a regular basis. 400, ok, but 600-800 is way too much.

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    • Macs are expensive Suze and if you hardly use it you are better off sticking with a less expensive PC. OR you can always ask the “pilot” to buy you one for Christmas 🙂 Have a great day Suze 🙂

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      • I already wished for something else haha 😀 it’s not about the money though. I could buy one myself it’s just that I am not ok with the fact that over 40 per cent of those 800 dollars go into the name “apple”. Macintosh computers are not expensive, the name is!
        Have a great week, Joe. Looking forward to the next post 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aww you wished for something else 🙂 I knew you would like that comment Suze and I do understand “its the principle”.

          You have a great week to Suze 🙂 I promise I will try to come up with something less controversial 🙂

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  6. Lots of great information here and I really do thank you. I am right now in the process of buying a new laptop. I am tossing between windows and mac and to choose is driving me nuts. I have an iPad with a mini version of Lightroom 5 on it which I LOVE but not the full verson, nor do I have PS CC due to the dinasour of a laptop I am using now. The OS will not support either one. My RAM is incredibly low as well with my storage in the same department. Just to edit my photos is a very slow and laborious job. I start in the PS that my dinasaur does support, transfer that photo to my iPad and continue in Lightroom and PS Essential. (I think that is the name of the app). What a hassle, one which I will be SO happy to end once I make up my mind about the laptop and mac versus windows. There are pros and cons to each. *sigh* Why does technology have to be so complicated??? Love, Amy

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    • You are right Amy why does technology have to be so complicated. I thought computers were supposed to make things easier 🙂 Good luck with your decision on which system to purchase, but if you are leaning towards Mac make double sure the RAM is upgradeable, or at the very least buy it with more RAM than you think you need. Most of the new MacBook Pro’s and MacBook Air’s have soldered in memory meaning once you purchase it thats it. My MacBook Air runs Lightroom fine and has 4 GB of RAM, my MacBook Pro has 8 GB and that runs Lightroom fine also. My Mac Mini has 16 GB and it flies with Lightroom. All of them are Intel i5 based machines. Have a great day and good luck with your decision 🙂

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      • Thank you, Joe!!! All day today we are trying to decide. We have gotten some “yeses”. Eight GB RAM and yes upgradeable. Yes, to Intel i5, and due to price nix the i7. Right now we are trying to figure out what the difference is between and LCD screen and LED screen. SO many things to consider. OMG! Yes on high resolution screen, and nothing under 15 inches for the screen as well. Holy sh*t!!! This is a pain in the butt! I want to get something that will last me, because I do not like new. It is too stressful. I use mainly PS and Lightroom, so I will be getting something that will be fast. And then there is the external HD. Which ones to get there? GROAN!!! I just had a nightmare loosing 14,000 pics on a Passport HD because I dropped the darn thing just this past month. I’ve been scrambling ever since trying to recoup photos to take me through the whole winter. I have a hole in my stomach right now. Whew!!! xx Amy

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh boy decisions, decisions. I would at least go for 8 GB RAM on a Mac and a SSD Solid State Drive. On all three of my Macs I only have a 250 GB SSD on each of them. I store all of my images on dual OWC external USB 3.0 drives and a Apple Time Capsule. I still have over 200 GB free space on the SSD’s in the computers. If I am not mistaken LED displays use less power and are more true colors (don’t quote me on the colors). If you end up with a Mac check out OWC Other World Conputing for drive solutions. For a portable take along drive I would opt for an SSD. Happy Hunting Amy 🙂

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  7. A couple of points. Let’s start with processing software. Photoshop written for Mac is not the same as it is written for windows. The basic underpinnings are much leaner and much more efficient. That’s why it seems faster when you use Mac.

    Two, I’m not sure the Lightroom is the industry standard. Photoshop is certainly that, but Lightroom is no quite so loved. That said, I’ve moved away from both. PhaseOne, a much higher end production software usually used buy the kinds of photographers who tether their cameras to their computers — did a deal with Sony. Their light version of the software is free. The upgrade from that is $30. Since 95% of my work is produced with SONY a7 cameras, I tested and loved it. The processing is much smoother, leaving the images fuller and richer from the start. Highlight and shadow control is complete.

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    • Thank you for your comment Ray. Like I stated in my post the Mac just works better for what I do and I am not advocating one system over the other, “to each their own”.

      I should have wrote in my post that Lightroom is the standard for amateur and advanced amateur photographers like myself, I didn’t mean for pro’s although I am sure quite a few use Lightroom. In any case thank you for sharing your thoughts on PhaseOne I’m sure some of my readers will look into it. I’m off to amend my post now 🙂

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  8. LB says:

    “oh crap this is totally different” … cracked me up! The colorful words would have been flying in my house 🙂
    I am so grateful for the introduction to Lightroom. I comfortably use the parts that I know BUT as with my camera, I need to explore further. I think I’m going to have to take a vacation (ie lock myself in my room and study).
    Love these tutorials, Joe!

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    • Thank you very much Laurie 🙂 As with all things “practice makes perfect” so the more familiar you get with Lightroom, the more power you will unlock in the program. I have been using it for years and I still learn new things 🙂 Have a great day.

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  9. I totally agree with you Joe. I have been using Windows since day dot and was a huge supporter and would often get into passionate “Windows vs Mac” discussions with family and friends. However on the advice of a friend (and my daughter who had been bugging me about it for years) , I finally bit the bullet and I have to say that Mac wins hands down. I’m not a big fan of the Mac interface and am still trying to get used to it but when it comes to processing photos, Mac is pretty darn good. (Ok there, I just swallowed my pride). I also use Lightroom. It’s simple and fast and very effective 🙂

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    • Thank you very much Norma 🙂 To me it has never been which system is better and I also have got into many passionate discussions with friends about it. I think (and I am speaking for myself) as we get a little older we just want something that works. For me the Mac wins hands down for processing photos also. For other people Windows might seem better, its just not for me anymore. Have a great evening 🙂

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  10. Thank you very much for this very informative post. Like you (were!), I’m a disciple of Nikon’s Capture NX2 and use it for all of my photos, and I’m a huge fan of Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 – oh what intuitive and useful software! – and also Color Efex Pro 4. But I gather that Nikon has stopped updating NX2 for its latest Raw file versions, and so I’m soldiering on with a D700 and D800 and NX2 for the moment. But there will probably come a time when I’ll need to look at Lightroom too. And although Google have added to the Nik software suite since acquiring it, I don’t think that their additions are anything like as good as the original programs. But Silver Efex and Color Efex are simply gems. Thank you for your very useful post. Adrian

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    • Thank you very much Adrian 🙂 Nikon’s Capture NX2 was developed by NIK originally. I am still a big fan of Silver EFEX Pro 2 and other Nik software but like you I don’t think the Google additions are anywhere near as good as the originals. Have a great day 🙂

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  11. Very informative stuff Sir Joe 🙂
    As one with very limited funds, I need to use free programs, sadly. I use IrfanView for bulk resizing and cropping etc of my jpg files, which is absolutely brilliant for my needs, but I was going to ask – do you know of any free alternatives for more image manipulation stuff? (not that I’ve ever used that sort of thing, but without funds I’ve never considered what I can/can’t do on that score)

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    • Thank you very much Spike 🙂 IrfanView is one of the better free programs. If you are using the Mac OS I would suggest trying darkable if you ever want to try processing RAW files as well as jpg’s. If you are using Windows I would stick with something like you are using or maybe Google Picasa for jpg’s. Have a great day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m also now looking at PhotoScape, as recommended by Dan. Seems an interesting one, with good writeups. IrfanView is brill at batch stuff, but unless you understand the image and colour attributes, it’s a bit too techy perhaps.

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