Decisions, decisions, DECISIONS
If you are anywhere close to being an image maker as opposed to a snap shot taker then you already know that image processing software is a key part of what your images will become after they have been taken properly or maybe not so properly. The process is called post processing and it does not matter if you are processing a raw file, Dng file, jpeg or tiff. Post processing of digital images just like darkroom work from years ago is essential to producing an image as you the photographer envisioned it.
However a raw file will give you the most data to work with and because it is raw, a loss of data through processing is zero for all practical purposes and the range of any corrections that need to be made is expanded way past what you could do in other file formats.
2016 has been a year of software challenges to the Adobe Kingdom which I have to admit I am no longer a subject. I have left them behind. That said, Adobe does make pretty darn good software such as Lightroom but they are not a nice company to deal with on any level and I mean who needs that type of arrogance. The problem is that most people are afraid of making a change for more creative and less expensive software in today’s market. No one likes to have to learn new software and I sure understand that. But fortunately many of the controls in newer, faster and less expensive software are the same.
So the newest kid on the block with a stand alone Raw processor is Macphun with their Luminar product. It does a great job and it is a work in progress with a lot more features to come. It is available for the Macintosh platform and is promised to be on windows in late spring. It is a very competent program, Couple Luminar with the HDR program from Macphun, Aurora and you may well never need another piece of software to do justice to your creative juices. That program coupled with their HDR program called Aurora make for some outstanding images, They only problem I see is the speed it opens and processes an image., Functions such as erase and noise reduction can be really slow. But speed is in the eyes of the beholder and in truth the quality of the image for this program trumps the worry about speed.
On1 Photo Raw is another new program which has incredible potential and seems to work better right now on Macintosh computers vs. windows even though the program is designed to work on both. I use Mac and I have to admit that this is one of the most extensive raw processors with unlimited creative control. If you are planning a change I would not buy this software until June. It is a work in progress and while it is more than capable of producing incredible truly artistic images, with one of the best brush and masking abilities bar none. But it has a way to go to being 100 percent. This month, January 2017 they are due for a major upgrade. I am keeping my fingers crossed for me and them.
If you are looking for a meat and potato program, then Iridient Developer Raw is one of the most refined raw processors in the market place. It does not have the same creative features as On1 or Luminar but it does produce the best sharpening and super basic processing and especially for Fuji X users provides the best sharpening above and beyond any other software out there. My go to combinations all start with Iridient Raw Developer and when I am done with basic superb adjustment in that program I export directly to either Luminar (first choice to export to) or On1 Photo Raw. And yes I am a Fuji X user.
All of these programs are available as trials which you will find on the sites I have linked you to.
Luminar, Aurora, and On1 Raw can work in Adobe products, Lightroom, Photoshop as plugins. They also have extensive presets, masking, layers all which add to your creative control. Iridient can be selected as the Raw Processor of choice which means it can go directly from Lightroom as an example to Iridient.
Because there are 30 day trials available it would be worth looking into especially if you like me have had enough of Adobe subscription.