Good RAW processing program for Sony files

From RAW conversion to image editing and printing
Ron Dunnington
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Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Ron Dunnington » Sat May 26, 2012 6:59 pm

After struggling with Photoshop 7.0 (the original one) and the Sony Image Data Converter, I'm ready to throw in the towel and start over with some up-to-date software. I have a Sony a580, 16-80 Sony/Zeiss, 35 f1.8 Sony and a Minolta 70-210 Beercan. I suspect Photoshop is the weak link here as the picture quality is noticeably worse when the RAW file enters PS as a .tiff . Is there a consensus among Sony users as to the best software available for RAW conversion? I've read up on a couple of them but I'd like to hear from actual users. I shoot RAW almost exclusively, but not in great quantity. Color accuracy and sharpness are more important than rapid work flow.

Thanks,

Ron

Headcell
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Headcell » Sat May 26, 2012 7:50 pm

I use Google Picasa - download it from google.picasa.com

I was having some fun earlier this afternoon with Picasa, an A230, and an Helios 44-2 manual lens...
Have a look here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/picasa_not_lightroom/

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dewarp
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby dewarp » Sun May 27, 2012 1:43 am

Hi Ron

I currently use LightRoom 4.1 RC2 + CS2 (which would be similar to your photoshop). Works well, but I found LR a steep learning curve. I got a copy of Michael Reichmann's Advanced Guide to LR 4. LR 4.1 is currently available as a Release Candidate for free until further notice.

http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/lightroom4-1.html

For years I used an old version of Capture One. I've considered using the new version, but the cost and another learning curve have put me off.

regards - Peter

Ron Dunnington
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Ron Dunnington » Sun May 27, 2012 4:40 am

Thanks Peter and Headcell. Headcell are you saying Picassa can handle RAW files? I happend to see an article in Shutterbug this afternoon on DXO Pro's version 7. Honestly, I can't see much difference between it and the Sony software. I'm as confused as ever.

Thanks,

Ron

Headcell
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Headcell » Sun May 27, 2012 7:36 am

Ron, don't be confused!

Yes, Picasa handles all the RAWs I've thrown at it - Sony, Nikon, Canon. In the Picasa FAQs it states that it will open RAW files from:
Adobe (.DNG)
Canon (.CRW, .CR2)
Casio (.RAW)
Fuji (.RAF)
Hasselblad (.3FR)
Kodak (.DCR, .KDC)
Leica (.DNG and .RAW)
Minolta (.MRW)
Nikon (.NEF, .NRW)
Olympus (.ORF)
Panasonic (.RAW, .RW2)
Pentax (.PEF)
Ricoh (.DNG)
Samsung (.DNG)
Sigma (.X3F)
Sony (.SRF,.SR2)

It DOES handle the ARW files from both my A230 and A580.

What makes Picasa so good in my mind, is that it allows me to:
1. Arrange/sort/store photos in the way I want. With Picasa, you can set it to scan selected folders for new photos. You can then sort them according to your desire. If you want to shuffle them around, you can.
2. Create virtual albums - one picture appear in many places, but there remains only one physical copy of it on your disk drive. The problem of multiple copies is eliminated.
3. Perform basic edits - brightness, colour, contrast, highlights, shadows, fill light, blemish removal, add text and EXIF captions, crop, straighten, and a handful of special effects. These are NON-DESTRUCTIVE - your original remains intact. This is the most important feature to me.
4. Export pictures with a copyright notice overlaid in an appropriate colour. If the photo is dark, the notice is light; on light photos it is dark.
5. Export to a size of my choice.
6. Print a variety of picture sizes.
7. Email photos - they are created with just the right amount of compression/resizing for those who still use dial up (often the elderly) or who mailbox limits.

I really do recommend that you give it a try. If you don't like it, it uninstalls without leaving too much debris (any that is left is easily removed by searching for anything called Picasa). It won't give you the control offered by Lightroom or RAW Therapee, but for quick and dirty edits it is superb. Picasa is a tea shop; Lightroom istea at the Ritz.

It's free, and I am a fan of it. I used to teach basic digital camera skills to adults (mainly retired people using point and shoot cameras) and I always introduced them to Picasa. They loved it.

One other benefit (for Windows users) is that it doesn't litter your system with dll files and registry hooks. In fact, it appears to be isolated from the operating system. This means that you can use Picasa as a portable application. So, locate the installation folder (C:\Program Files\Google\Picasa3 on my Windows 7 PC) and drag it onto a USB stick. Now, wherever you go, you can run Picasa and amaze everyone who's watching you with this clever little program. It consumes 77Mb of disk space on my PC, by the way, so it is compact.

Sorry for the rambling response.

H

Argonaut
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Argonaut » Mon May 28, 2012 3:52 pm

Lightroom is excellent - I use it for RAW. BUT, I got it long ago because it was the only editing program that would edit JPGs non-destructively, and because it was really good at organizing large numbers of photos, and I've crested the learning curve. I still think LR is the best all-round program for me, but I'd recommend you try Picasa first. It's certainly capable, it's free, and it has a huge user base and help forums, etc.
Sony a77ii, RX-100 I; RX10 iii; Rokinon 8mm f/3.5; Tamron 17-50; Sony 70-400G; Lightroom 6.2; Photoshop CS5; PicturesToExe 8.0.

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artington
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby artington » Mon May 28, 2012 4:11 pm

I think LR4 is fantastic. As DK has mentioned before, I believe, it and Capture One are the tops for raw editing. I particularly like its sharpening and NR abilities and CA reduction is now automatic - a real boon. I also use it to export files for further editing in PSE9, Topaz and Nik. The latest iteration has soft proofing and also a module which allows book production via Blurb. It is a fully featured programme which I could not now be without and of course has a learning curve. However, persistence here ia amply repaid. I would strongly recommend Martin Evening's book(s) on LR which are accessible and comprehensive and which explain feature by feature rather than by example, which is the case with Scott Kelby's books which are fine insofar as they go but, in my opinion, are much less useful if you want to learn the software rather than how to do certain things. And LR4 is half the price of LR3!

Ron Dunnington
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Ron Dunnington » Mon May 28, 2012 9:36 pm

Thanks everyone for the valued input. I'm still not sure which way to go but at least I feel better informed. I'm surprised no one mentioned DXO's software??

Ron

Old Hydro
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Old Hydro » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:55 pm

Ron Dunnington wrote:Thanks everyone for the valued input. I'm still not sure which way to go but at least I feel better informed. I'm surprised no one mentioned DXO's software??

Ron


Probably because most are using Adobe stuff. -- I use DXO and wouldn't go to Adobe. DXO periodically gives web training by some of the Pro's that use it. Once you learn what it does, its faster and simpler to use than Adobe anything -- and just as good. Maybe better -- if all you are doing is correcting shots. If you want to add a monkey head to a picture of the kook next door -- you need adobe.

The Sony software has an advantage of allowing you to change some camera settings after the fact with a couple of clicks. Such as you had a creative style set for landscape and and really wanted protrait.

Ron Dunnington
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Re: Good RAW processing program for Sony files

Unread postby Ron Dunnington » Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:53 pm

Old Hydro,

You never hear anyone say the Sony Image Data Converter program is good, but then again, you never hear anyone say it's not good. As you mentioned, the ability to change the original camera settings is, to me, incredible! My friend and I joke all the time that we have become lazy photographers ..., just shoot it - correct it later. Back in the day, when I shot 2 1/4 square color with 12 shots per roll, you took your time on every shot. Today anyone can make, but not necessarily take, good pictures.

Thanks for your contribution,

Ron


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