Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?
I use Photoshop CS5 for editing, offloading photos and all sharpening and noise reduction. Do you think that better results can be achieved by supplementing Photoshop with other software. For example, Lightroom is very popular; however I understand that Camera Raw does essentially the same thing. I want to keep the workflow as simple as possible and not have to pay for or learn how to use additional software unless the quality of the images is improved by the additional software. So, Photoshop users, do you think I need to supplement CS5 with other software and, if so, what do you recommend? Perhaps I should add that the cameras I am now using are: Nikon F6; Nikon D200 and Nikon D800E. Maybe that makes a difference. I don't know.
I will look forward to your replies and will appreciate any advice you are able to offer.
#1. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Sun 20-Jan-13 05:06 PM
In my opinion, no. You won't necessarily get better results, if say, you add Lightroom to your set of tools. Some will point out that Nikon Capture NX2 will give you better NEF processing and honor all the in-camera settings - which is true - but I think the final output is really no different if you are well versed in LR or PS where you can easily replicate the Nikon "look" if that is what you are after. I have been using PS for a long time now (since Photoshop 6), that I just really don't want to change my workflow. I have LR 4 installed on my PC and have owned it since version 1. I like LR but I just don't use it as my default starting point unless I am facing processing a lot of images, like travel snap shots. I have also developed a rudimentary file directory and archiving system that suits my needs so I do not use the LR database features.
If you think you are going to stick with PS I would recommend staying on this side of the upgrade curve. I would get PS 6, that way your D800e NEFs will open straight out of Bridge into ACR without having to convert them to DNG. I try to stay up to date on this issue.
#7. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 1
Mon 21-Jan-13 03:03 PM
I had not upgraded to CS6 because I read that it really was not that beneficial for 2D work. I guess I need to reconsider that decision. Your comment about being able to open NEFs into ACR without converting to DNG is puzzling because I am able to do that with CS5...at least I think I am able to do that. The reason I hedge is that, due to a problem I encountered in converting to DNG I stopped converting to DNG. I did not have much opportunity to shoot with my D800E before having to ship it for replacement (small rubber part fell out) so maybe I was editing some photos I had converted to DNG rather than NEFs. I am preparing to leave town or I would check that now. I will do so when I return in a couple of days.
Do you recommend third party sharpening and noise reduction software to be used in conjunction with Photoshop? If so, what do you recommend?
#11. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 7
esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Mon 21-Jan-13 03:58 PM | edited Mon 21-Jan-13 04:01 PM by esantos
According to this PDF ACR 6.3, which is the version compatible with PS CS 5, the Nikon D800/e is not supported. Hence my comments. Rick Walker makes some good points about LR 4, especially about printing but I had not thought of that since your original question did not particularly address printing needs. I have no issues printing in Photoshop and I really don't see the difficulty with it, but then I've been doing it that way for over ten years and I print a lot so I'm used to the workflow. For those who print only occasionally I can see the benefits of the LR printing routine. As far as sharpening I like to use two plug-ins. One is PixelGenius PhotoKit Sharpener 2.0 which is essentially the same sharpening tool that is in LR. It was created by Jeff Schewe, Martin Evening, Bruce Frasier, and Mack Holbert, and a few others. This is the team that consulted with Adobe to develop the LR sharpening tools. The other tool I use (and exclusively for large printing output) is FocalBlade. This tool is somewhat complicated by today's standards but I like the total control you get. You can use the "Novice" modes or the many presets included, but that is not why I use it. I believe the usefulness of this plug-in is in the advanced mode.
For noise reduction I use ACR. I find it to be all that I need for my situation. I just started using PictureCode's Photo Ninja RAW Converter (the folks that designed Noise Ninja) and I really like the fact that Noise Ninja is now built in to it. I just started using this new product and I reviewed it for Nikonians which can be found here:
The question is whether it can find a permanent place in my current workflow. I'm leaning to yes, but the jury is still out.
#13. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 11
Thu 24-Jan-13 04:33 PM | edited Thu 24-Jan-13 11:22 PM by jim thomas
Hello Again Ernesto,
I am back in town and checked about opening D800E NEF files directly into ACR via CS5. I am able to do so. I did a bit of checking and it appears that ACR version 6.7 and CS5 will open the NEF files but CS4 and whatever version of ACR works with it will not do so.
I use ACR for capture sharpening and Photoshop for print sharpening. I have the second edition of "Real World Image Sharpening" and created two actions based on the recommendations for settings made in that book (one for glossy and one for matte). I understand that the settings recommended in that book are among those utilized in the Photokit Sharpener software. However, I assume that the plugin contains a lot more settings. I understand that the LR 4.0 sharpening is "based on" the Photokit Sharpener software but do not know whether one is superior to the other. Are you able to advise on that point? I don't know whether I will buy either but if LR 4.0 has all the sharpening features that are contained in Photokit Sharpener 2.0 I would buy LR 4.0 in case I decided to use other features of that program. Since you indicate that you use Photokit Sharpener 2.0 and also have LR4 I wonder if you find some advantage to Photokit over LR4...or perhaps the plugin just fits better into your workflow. Any insight into this will be appreciated.
As for printing, I have no problem using Photoshop for resizing and printing. Therefore, unless I am missing something, I see no advantage to using another program for those purposes. However, after first writing this, Rick has indicated that he definitely prefers printing out of LR so I plan to try out LR...but will wait until after I upgrade to CS6.
I read your review of Photo Ninja and will further consider that after I get my basic workflow configured. For now I will continue to use ACR for noise reduction.
Thanks for your help.
#2. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
At the very least, I would upgrade from CS5 to CS6. There are some pretty significant changes to the raw conversion process that make it far easier to control tonal changes in the highlights and shadows, along with additional controls for local edits. All of those can improve the quality of your images. Lightroom 4 has the same underlying engine, so there's no quality difference in the raw conversion process or noise reduction, but you may see some improvements in print quality. Lightroom has the ability to automatically resize and sharpen images for output in a way that's far easier than in Photoshop, even with good plug-ins. Unless your skills in that area are fairly strong, you'll probably get better prints by adding Lightroom to your workflow. Finally, I wouldn't want to be without the Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-ins. While it's possible to replicate their effects in Photoshop, it's tedious and painful. If you don't have the skills to do that (very few photographers do), those would also constitute an improvement in quality.
Does using the above mix of tools make things less simple? No, I would argue that it makes it easier as you'll have easy to use tools vs. fairly complex Photoshop techniques and actions that will require far more time to learn and master.
BTW, I've just listed out my core post-processing tools, so these are the ones I've personally chosen to invest in and use. I use them constantly. You have good equipment. I wouldn't skimp on good post-processing software, just like you wouldn't want to invest in a D800e and then go cheap on a tripod or lenses.
#3. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 2
quenton8 Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Sun 20-Jan-13 05:34 PM
I use CS6 for complex editing, but Lightroom not only does what ACR does (it is built on top of ACR), but it can also organize your photos, search them, and has an excellent print module (which is what got me into LR to start with).
So if you are happy with what CS gives you for editing including using ACR, and if you are only looking at editing, and unless you need to do batch editing (same edit applies to many photos all at once), CS is likely all you need.
I would second the upgrade to CS6.
I would think about organizing and printing -- if you are not sure, LR has a 30-day trial which is full featured.
#10. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 3
Mon 21-Jan-13 03:34 PM
Since all replies recommend upgrading to CS6, I am convinced that I need to do that. Somewhere along the way I was convinced that the upgrade was not worthwhile for 2D work. It appears that that is not right.
I am happy with the "home made" file organization I am using so I have no need for LR's organization functions.
Thanks for your post.
#8. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 2
Ernesto also recommended upgrading to CS6. See my reply to his post. I will plan to upgrade...it looks like I made the wrong decision by staying with CS5.
I have Silver Efex Pro 2 and plan to at least try out Color Efex Pro 4. I really don't know what it does but assume that it has something to do with color.
It sounds like you use Lightroom 4 for sharpening. Do you use any other software for that? Do you use any third party noise reduction software? If so, what do you use?
You mention that you have listed your core post-processing tools. Are they listed somewhere available by link? If so I would be interested in reviewing them.
Thanks for your input.
#9. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 8
Mon 21-Jan-13 03:25 PM
>I have Silver Efex Pro 2 and plan to at least try out Color
>Efex Pro 4. I really don't know what it does but assume that
>it has something to do with color.
It's a very powerful program with a large number of filter options. Some are over the top and I would never use them, but there are a core set that I find very useful:
- Tonal contrast: (think of this as a more powerful and capable version of clarity). It's wonderful for bringing out details in subjects (sand dunes, architecture, aircraft skin, you name it).
- Detail extractor: somewhat related to the above, but it also does a great job enhancing fine sharpness and bringing out shadow detail. In small doses, it can be a miracle worker.
- Glamour glow and classical diffusion: great for portraits, especially of women (my wife likes them). Glamour glow also works well for flowers and many other "soft" subjects.
- There are a bunch of others that are good, but I use the four above very frequently.
>It sounds like you use Lightroom 4 for sharpening. Do you use
>any other software for that? Do you use any third party noise
>reduction software? If so, what do you use?
I used to use Photokit Sharpener, but since LR incorporates what you can view as an improved version of it (done by the same guys), I no longer user it. LR's sharpening (capture, creative and output) is excellent and remarkably easy to use.
I have a couple of noise reduction programs, including Nik Define and Topaz Denoise, but rarely use them since the NR in LR and ACR is so good these days.
>You mention that you have listed your core post-processing
>tools. Are they listed somewhere available by link? If so I
>would be interested in reviewing them.
>Thanks for your input.
#14. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 9
Thu 24-Jan-13 04:42 PM
Hello Again Rick,
Please refer to my most recent reply to Ernesto with regard to sharpening questions. Apparently you have found that the sharpening tools in LR 4.0 are at least as good as those in Photokit Sharpener 2.0. If that is the case, am I correct in thinking that if I decide to buy LR 4.0 there is no point in also buying the Photokit software? Please see my comments in my reply to Ernesto about how I do my capture and print sharpening at this time. With regard to resizing and printing I am comfortable doing those things in Photoshop. I think that you are just saying that those things may be easier in LR; however, if I have misunderstood please correct me on that point.
Feel free to comment and offer any recommendations you think are appropriate.
Thanks for your input.
#15. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 14
Thu 24-Jan-13 07:27 PM
You're definitely correct in thinking that the LR4 has output sharpening tools that are at least as good as Photokit Sharpener 2.0. Here are some of the items that make printing easier, quicker and better than doing it in Photoshop (in my opinion, of course). Keep in mind that I formerly printed from Photoshop using the Photokit plug-ins for sharpening, so I'm very familiar with it. Improvements:
- Virtual copies for softproofing edits and corrections
- Resizing and output sharpening all happen when you press the Print button - no need for manual steps, intermediate files or actions. Resizing and print resolution settings are very easy to manage. You specify the paper type, as well as general preferences, and it optimizes sharpening for you (even easier than Photokit)
- Image layout is very flexible in that you can quickly and easily print multiple images on one sheet of paper, apply stroke boundaries, captions, etc. with very little effort. In fact, it can be as simple as hitting one button.
The bottom-line: even though I was very comfortable printing from Photoshop, I would never contemplate doing it again. LR4 is so much quicker and easier to use that it's not even a close call.
#16. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 15
Thu 24-Jan-13 07:39 PM
Rick, that is very helpful information. At a minimum I plan to download the trial version of LR4 and will probably buy it, based on your experience with it.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with me.
#22. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 15
Sat 26-Jan-13 11:47 AM
Rick, since the main reason I am considering LR4 is for the sharpening tool I need to understand the workflow used by LR4. Specifically, is one able to create a separate sharpening layer in LR4? In my workflow I create a "Masters" file (a Photoshop file) and a separate "Print" file (a Tiff file). The "Masters" image contains all the layers added in Photoshop. I then duplicate that file, then resize it, then add a sharpening layer. Is there anything in that workflow that you think is not compatible with the LR4 workflow?
#23. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 22
Sat 26-Jan-13 12:01 PM
You won't need to go through the step of creating a separate print file anymore. That all happens behind the scene, with no need to resize it, apply the layer, etc. (those are all the steps I used to do as well). All those things still happen (or analogous ones), but they all happen in a fashion that's invisible to you, and you don't end up with a print file that you eventually delete or that's specific to one print size.
#24. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 23
Sat 26-Jan-13 10:43 PM
So if one wants to make another print with the same amount of sharpening and the same size, does one have to recreate that file rather than being able to just send the print file to print as one does in Photoshop?
#25. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 24
Sat 26-Jan-13 11:08 PM | edited Sat 26-Jan-13 11:26 PM by walkerr
No, it can be as simple as hitting "Print One" again. There's no process of creating intermediate files and reprinting an image doesn't involve reapplying sharpening layers or resizing. It's a very different paradigm than Photoshop. Here's a screen shot of the print screen in LR4 with an active image. You can see parameters you set on the right pertaining to the desired print resolution, sharpening, media type, etc. If I wanted a print of this image, I'd simply hit "Print One". To print another, I'd go back to this image and hit "Print One" again. You can also save common print sizes as templates and pick one of those as a starting point (for example, if I wanted to print this on an 8x10 sheet). Again, you're not saving files - only generic templates that can be applied to any image you have.
Also, if I wanted to print this on a different paper (say an Epson matte paper), I'd simply switch the sharpening parameter from glossy to matte and then pick the paper. I'd then hit "Print One". Everything is done for you.
Attachment #1, (jpg file)
#26. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 25
quenton8 Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Sun 27-Jan-13 03:19 AM
Rick's reply covers it (printing) pretty well.
I have templates for
2 Per-Page with titles (for our Church)
2 Per-Page Gloss
2 Per-Page Luster
1 Per-Page Gloss
1 Per-Page Luster
4 Per-Page Luster (used to print samples to show)
.. a few other custom setups ..
Each can specify the type of paper, the profile, sharpening amount, number of photos, size of each and its own (if needed) custom printer preferences (one does a preview before printing for example).
Once set-up, I go to print and a single click does it all (well, 2 clicks, - select the template, and the print-button).
#27. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 26
Sun 27-Jan-13 12:05 PM
It's also worth mentioning that LR will prepare a jpeg for on-line printing using exactly the same processes. That's handy if you're printing a size larger than the printer you own or don't own your own printer. The same comments about templates and simplicity apply.
#30. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 25
Fri 01-Feb-13 02:30 PM
Rick, Thanks for the explanation. I still cannot decide for sure if LR would be of much help to me. I created two actions for print sharpening, one for matte paper and one for glossy paper. Both are based on the information and recommendations made in the "Image Sharpening, second edition" book by Fraser/Schewe. So it is quite easy to apply the sharpening to a sharpening layer. This also provides the advantage that one can adjust the opacity of the sharpening layer if desired. I thought that perhaps LR offered a lot more options for sharpening but I am not sure that that is the case. Ideally I would like to try the trial version of LR; however, I want to get CS6 ordered and I can get a better price on LR if I order the package...so, as always, decisions, decisions.
#4. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
I think that CS6 will yield better results in the end for any given image than anything else in the Adobe world. Photoshop just plain has more capabilities for editing than anything else does. Having said that, my personal experience is that the additional capability is rarely needed - I go to Photoshop on probably fewer than 5% of images and probably even fewer than 10% of keepers that get used. But in the meantime, I find that Lightroom is a much easier and much quicker way to get all of the rest of it done. I started with Photoshop (as in 4.0, meaning 1996, not CS4) so I had more than a decade of experience with it before Lightroom arrived - and yet Lightroom is still, for me, more efficient. Even though I still will send a file to Photoshop if I need to do lots of pixel editing (think scanner - important for you since you're still shooting an F6), or functions such as pano, focus stacking, plugins (I use Topaz and Alien Skin ones), and some other things.
And as someone else mentioned, I *always* do my printing from Lightroom. It's that much easier and less error prone. Lightroom costs about $150 these days, and in the past several years, it is not totally impossible that I've saved that much in printing supplies by not making stupid errors.
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#5. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 4
Antero52 Nikonian since 07th Jul 2009Mon 21-Jan-13 06:19 AM
> "I go to Photoshop on probably fewer than 5% of images and probably even fewer than 10% of keepers that get used."
This is true for me as well. But if I only count the ones that I post in contests, frame for hanging on walls, or use as Christmas cards or annual calendars, about 90% make an excursion through Photoshop.
In addition to Photoshop I use Photomatix for HDR. I occasionally use ViewNX (and Sports Tracker in my smartphone) for geotagging, before importing to Lightroom. LR4 can also geotag from .GPX route files but I remember the practice better when using ViewNX2 that had geotagging capability before LR had.
#18. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 5
Thu 24-Jan-13 08:07 PM
There are a lot more LR4/Photoshop users than I had realized. I am getting some pretty strong recommendations for the use of LR4 for printing. Since I am satisfied with resizing and printing in PS I had not considered that a factor. However, it appears that it may be worthwhile to try it.
Thanks for your post.
#17. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 4
Thanks to your post and others I am learning that LR4 is more worthwhile for us PS users than I had realized. I am going to strongly consider adding it to my workflow.
Thanks for your post.
#6. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
I too recommend upgrading to CS6. There is a great improvement over the controls and outputs in ACR. You will seldom really need to go into photoshop. I don't use lightroom because all of my photos are in one place so I don't need the cataloging feature and because I really don't want to take the time to learn another program that is basically redundant to a program I already have. However, If you are looking to save sometime and speed up your processes then lightroom may be the way to go for you. For me CS6, bridge, and ACR are plenty and they do exactly what I need.
Also I have not re-installed any of the plug-ins I had, I didn't use them and don't really need them now.
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#19. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 6
Thu 24-Jan-13 08:12 PM
I too have been of the opinion that ACR/Photoshop were all I needed. That is probably true but, based on the input of others, I am convinced that LR4 is worth a serious look. On the other hand I want to keep the learning curve as low as possible and, therefore, resist adding more software to the workflow.
Thanks for your post.
#12. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
the key word is "necessary"
in that case photoshop is the only necessary program. I agree with all others that cs6 is a worthwhile improvement.
but, i dont know what i ever did without lightroom. it is soooo much eaiser than photoshop and does some things better in my opinion. Of course, i tired many other cataloging processes and found them all lacking. i am happy with lightroom and it is my primary editing, printing, etc tool.
#20. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 12
Thu 24-Jan-13 08:19 PM
You have a lot of company in recommending LR. I do plan to upgrade to CS6 and plan to try out LR4, based on the strong recommendations I am getting. My choice of the word "necessary" was probably not the best choice. A better choice would probably be "helpful" or "worthwhile". Although I don't need a sophisticated cataloging program, it appears that LR4 might be worthwhile for its sharpening and print modeules. I plan to give it a try.
Thanks for your post.
#28. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
Lightroom and Photoshop really serve two different purposes. Lightroom was designed for photographers to meet most of their needs. Photoshop is a pixel level editing program that can do virtually anything you need to make or alter pixel based images.
Photoshop with Bridge is a good alternative to Lightroom. However if you shoot a lot of photos, Lightroom is the program to start with. Some examples -
If I want to find every photo of one of the grandkids over the course of the last ten years, I just type in their name and in seconds I can see all of the photos for the last ten years. If I want photos of all aircraft I photographed in 2007, I just make two entries and have all of them in seconds. If I want all of my best ship photographs, I just click the collection Ships and there they are! A friend of mine just retired and I had done several portraits of her over the last 10 years. She wanted to use one of three different portraits and asked if I could send her the digital files, within seconds I pulled up those three portraits and they were on their way. These types of things just are not possible with file structures.
I shoot events, when I shoot over 900 photos I can cull my photos in less than an hour. Within seconds I can find the photos I think are great for a portfolio, which ones will go to the customer, and which go to the vendors and sponsors. In Photoshop I could not get this done in a day.
I can adjust one image and then apply those settings to all photos shot under the same circumstances in less than a minute. I can have the basics (white balance, White and black points set, exposure, contrast, clarity, vibrance, saturation) adjusted for all photos in one-tenth (1/10) the time it used to take me in Photoshop and Bridge.
Sharpening and noise reduction in Ligtroom 4 will give any other program a good run for their money. And with Lightroom I do not worry about or waste my time sharpening until I output the final product. Print, web, or publication sharpening can all be done correctly for the specific purpose quickly at the time of output.
And there are many, many more benefits to Lightroom. I have barely scratched the surface.
If you take a lot of photos, Lightroom or very similar programs are the way to go. But if you like Photoshop and Bridge, CS6 is worth the upgrade just for the new RAW editing processing. You may want to go back and re-edit all of your previous keepers to see how much better you can make them. Of course if you had Lightroom this would go a whole lot quicker!
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#29. "RE: Is Software Other Than Photoshop Necessary?" | In response to Reply # 0
I use CS6 for most complex stuff but I find View NX2 ideal for simple RAW conversions to files needing little pp. As long as all it needs is cropping, sharpening, brightness and contrast (usually all I do) then this combination is fine...
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