2017-2018 Digital Photography Software News

Nikon Updates Most Software

Nikon today updated most of their software produces, ostensibly to support the D5600, but also to add MacOS Sierra version 10.12 support and to fix a handful of problems. 

  • Capture NX-D 1.4.3
  • View NX-i 1.2.4
  • Picture Control Utility 2.2.2
  • Camera Control Pro 2.24.0
  • NEF Codec 1.30.0
  • SnapBridge 1.1.0

As always, the new versions (except for SnapBridge, which is in the App Store and Google Play Store) are available at Nikon’s Download Center.

ON1 Photo Raw Pre-Release

ON1 released a “pre-release” version of Photo RAW just in time for Thanksgiving. Those that pre-ordered it can find the download in their orders section when they log into the ON1 Web site. The Photo RAW standalone converter allows non-destructive editing of raw files for most cameras.

Apparently ON1 didn’t quite meet their original goal of a complete release in November, so they’re offering a staged release. Today many of you can get the Pre-Release version, which has most of the features and performance of the expected final version. 

A final version is now scheduled for December 19th, and will add improved brush quality, some bug fixes and performance enhancements, support for even more cameras, plus adds five features that aren’t in the Pre-Release: importing from ON1 Effects, the crop tool, the navigator/loupe/histogram panes, reading compressed Fujifilm raw files, and a Photoshop extension panel.

ON1 has 17 additional features scheduled for 2017, to be rolled out every four to six weeks.

Luminar Ships

MacPhun’s standalone raw converter, Luminar 1.0, has now shipped. I’ve been using the product for a couple of weeks testing out some new workflow ideas (more on that in a bit). There’s a lot to like, but a few things that could use some improvement.

In the lot-to-like category is the straightforward controls and the ability to layer them. Another is that you can build your own panel on the right picking and choosing which “filters” you use regularly (see screen shot, where I’m in the middle of adding some to my righthand develop panel). Coupled with the ability to build your own presets, the customization capabilities of getting Luminar’s UI tuned only to what you use is nearly off the charts.

bythom luminar

Performance is a little on the slow side when first pulling up the program on an image. It seems like I’m watching the “Denoising the raw conversion” message for a longer time than I’d expect, though the results are very clean pixels. Once the initial conversion is up, though, Luminar is pretty responsive to the sliders even on an older or underpowered Macintosh (it’s a Mac-only product). (I’m tempted to write “honey badger don’t care… ;~)

The UI is a clean, flat one, and probably deeper than you might at first glance think. For a 1.0 version of a product, it came out pretty darned full and useful.

Now about that “different workflow” bit. 

I’m more and more an “edit in place” type of user. That’s true even with Lightroom, and I note that Scott Kelby’s latest SLIM (Simplified Lightroom Image Management) system is essentially the same thing: new image files get copied to a hierarchical folder structure and left there. Everything else downstream only happens after those files are in their permanent place. 

Well, if your folder/file structure is good enough—indeed Scott ends up copying his folder structure as Collections—you don’t really need Lightroom or anything other than a fast browser (e.g. Photo Mechanic or FastRawViewer), and maybe even not that if you don’t have a lot of files. What you do want is a raw converter that can edit in place (i.e. not move your files), and one that is non-destructive (i.e. doesn’t change the original file). In other words, I want to invoke the raw converter directly from the file structure. Almost all the latest raw converters that have come across my desk, Luminar, Alien Skin Exposure 2, and onOne’s forthcoming raw converter all allow that, and are non-destructive. 

A combination of browser and converter, coupled with discipline, could net you a very fast and useful workflow at a fairly low price. Certainly lower than the Adobe US$10/month tithe. 

It’s going to take me a bit to find the optimal workflow done this way, but expect me to be showing you something along those lines soon.

Pixelmator 3.6 Update

Pixelmator version 3.6 (macOS only) adds support for the new touch bars on 2016 MacBook Pros, full macOS Sierra compatibility including document tabs, plus other improvements.

Affinity Photo for Windows Public Beta

Affinity has announced a new public beta for Affinity Photo for Windows (the product has been available for some time for the macOS). 

Affinity Photo is a Photoshop replacement/clone from long-time graphic design software company Serif. While not an exact clone of Photoshop, Affinity Photo comes about as close as we’ve seen, and is available for a one-time cost of US$49.99. It opens and saves Photoshop PSD files, including layers. The macOS version has had several updates, and this Windows public beta is actually a preview of the next macOS version, too, adding: advanced 32-bit HDR merging, focus stacking, batch processing, and a new way to edit 360 degree images.

Sign up link for the beta

Iridient Digital 3.1.2 Update

Iridient Digital (macOS) has been updated to version 3.1.2. The changes include fixing vignette correction with Fujifilm cameras, fixing Panasonic LX100 support, and adding support for the Fujifilm X-A3, Google Pixel and XL, Hasselblad X1D-50c/H6D-50c/H6D-100c, Panasonic FZ2000 and LX10, and Mamiya ZD.  Cosmetic issues relating the the Sierra release (10.12.1) have been fixed, as well. 

Iridient Digital Web Site

Piccure+ 3.0

Piccure+ (macOS and Windows), a focus program based upon deconvolution calculations instead of unsharp mask techniques, had a major release today to version 3.0.

While there’s a slightly re-designed UI, the big change is faster processing, particularly on Windows machines that have an appropriate GPU, where the performance can be as much as six times as fast as the previous version. But even on machines without the appropriate GPU and on Macs, the performance should at least double.

Retina display support was added, additional camera support has been added, you have a finer degree of control for optical aberrations and sharpness, plus a few bugs were squashed. 

The update is available for free to current users.

Piccure+ Web site

Two New RAW Converters

This month we have the first shipments of two promising, new raw converters promised: Macphun’s Luminar (macOS only) and on1’s new Photo Raw.

Macphun is the publisher of Aurora HDR and Creative Kit, one of my favorite—and recommended—Photoshop plug-ins. Their new raw converter, Luminar, is available for pre-order at a discount (US$59, including two free bonuses, or US$49 for previous Macphun customers). Regular price is listed at US$69, which will be the price when the product ships on November 17th.

Luminar has filters, layers, blend modes, masks, as well as the full array of things you’d expect in any raw converter. There’s workspace customization, a history panel, presets, and a host of other useful touches, as well. Curiously, Luminar can also function as a plug-in to Aperture, Lightroom, and Photoshop. It also is a Photos extension. Meanwhile, Luminar can also use the Creative Kit plug-ins in standalone mode. There’s a bit of interesting workflow complexity available with the program. And yes, it supports social sharing for output. 

Meanwhile, on1 (onOne Software) is promising a non-destructive raw photo editor (US$120, or US$80 for upgrades from onOne Photo 10.5. The new raw photo editor (macOS and Windows) is expected to be fast, and includes all the previous on1 app abilities (Layers, Resize, Portrait, Effects, Browse, etc.). Like Luminar, it can be used standalone, or as a plug-in for Lightroom or Photoshop, and offers an Apple Photos extension capability. 

No date is specified for onOne Raw Photo, other than “November.”

What’s interesting about both these new raw editors is the ability to “skip Adobe.” Both of them will edit-in-place. That means you can use a manual method, e.g. file folder hierarchy, to organize your images on a drive, and convert them in place. It also means that people using products like Photo Mechanic in their workflow might not need Lightroom.

I should mention that if you don’t want to buy or rent Lightroom, there is an interesting free alternative that’s appeared and matured recently: Darktable (macOS, Linux, Solaris). It’s nowhere near a perfect Lightroom replacement—a number of Lightroom features aren’t there, and the develop capabilities are on the weak side—but if you’re trying to match up some sort of browser/light table type of application with one of the standalone raw converters mentioned above, it might be worth a look.

Photoshop CC 2017

I guess we skipped 2016 completely. 

Photoshop CC 2017 was introduced at the AdobeMax conference yesterday and is available for download today. The major new features are:

  • In-app search. Ever wonder where something is or how to use it? In essence, the new search function is a bit search, a bit more integrated help. 
  • Enhanced Properties panel. This is an interesting and useful change that keeps more information where you can (and expect to) see it, but on crowded laptop screens I’m not sure it’s as much a benefit. On my big display, hallelujah. 
  • Adobe Camera Raw 9.7. Now with support for pressure-sensitive devices (think brush flow). Support for iPhone raw DNG, Canon 5D Mark IV, GoPro Hero5, and Nikon D3400.

Oh, Adobe lists nine other things, many of them better integration with other Adobe products and services, but the only one there that really will appeal to photographers is “performance improvements.” 

Adobe’s full page of release notes for Photoshop CC 2017.

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