2017-2018 Digital Photography Software News

Another Mac-only Raw Solution

RAW Power by Gentlemen Coders is a new application for macOS Sierra that brings raw image processing to Apple Photos. While it can be used standalone, it probably has more utility for Photos users who feel stuck without the Aperture-type capabilities. Because the program uses the macOS camera raw support capabilities, most raw files can be edited with the program. US$9.99 for a limited time at the Apple App Store.

Gentlemen Coders Web site. (note on some systems this Web site doesn’t show the scroll bars, but it can still be scrolled)

Photoshop Gets Touch Bar Support

Adobe today released Photoshop CC 2017.0.1, which includes basic support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro models. 

In this initial version, there are three categories of functions that are supported: layer properties, brushes, and user-customizable favorites. 

Adobe’s full help page for the new Touch Bar functions

FoCal 2.4 Update

FoCal focus analysis software has been updated to version 2.4. This new version has the following changes:

  • Decoding and analysis of Canon dual pixel from 5D Mark IV
  • An easier and quicker target setup guidance
  • Data can be in feet or meters now (previously only meters)
  • macOS Sierra support (though not yet for Canon)
  • Faster and more accurate drive on many Nikon lenses
  • Numerous small changes and bug fixes.

FoCal 2.4 Update page

Affinity Photo 1.5 Ships for Windows and Macintosh

As promised, Serif has introduced their Photoshop clone, Affinity Photo, for Windows as well as Macintosh. 

Affinity Photo 1.5 is a big update for Macs, new for Windows. It adds:

  • HDR merging in 32-bit with automatic alignment
  • 360° image editing
  • Macro recording and playback, including user interaction (ala Actions)
  • Tone mapping
  • Focus stacking with automatic alignment
  • Batch processing, including use of macros within the job
  • New filters, including Halftoning
  • Shared history between Mac and Windows versions
  • New camera and lens profiles

Along with all that, PSD and PDF compatibly has been improved, metadata handling has been improved, there’s a new equations filter, two new resizing algorithms are included, brushes can now “accumulate” to build opacity, additional marquee selection tools have been added, plus improved plug-in support and an improved Vectorscope.

Yes, a BIG update, and free for current Macintosh 1.0 users. For a limited time, new purchases are US$40 (US$10 off regular price) for both the Macintosh and Windows versions.

Serif’s page describing the new features

Latest Adobe Cloud Update

Adobe released Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.8 (and 6.8) and Adobe Converter Raw (ACR) 9.8. These new versions include support for the Nikon D5600, the 70-200mm f/2.8E FL, four Sigma Art lenses, the Tamron 150-600 with and without converters, and three Zeiss Milvus lenses.

Other new supported products include the Canon EOS M5, Fujifilm X-A3, Hasselblad X1D, Leica TL, Olympus E-M1 Mark II and E-PL8, the Panasonic Z2500, the Pentax K-70, Sony A6500 and A99 Mark II, the Sony RX-100 Mark V, and recent Google and Samsung phones shooting in raw.

In addition, Lightroom now has a “reference view” mode in the Develop module that allows you to compare two different images, which helps in processing to a consistent color/style. Smart Collections can now be filtered or created based upon whether images have Snapshots associated with them. You can export a Collection Set as a new catalog.

As usual, there are bug fixes and performance improvements. The full description is on the Adobe blog.

ON1 Photo RAW Updated

The pre-release has been updated to “second pre-release.” Quite a few items are listed in the release notes, so if you’re playing with this new raw converter, be sure to update. I’m somewhat amused by the “reduced crashes by half.” 

About Those Adobe Prepaid Discount Cards

This holiday season Amazon, B&H, and others have all at one time or another had yearly prepaid Creative Cloud cards on sale from anywhere around US$90-100, which would represent a discount of about US$20-30 from paying monthly via your credit card.

Adobe isn’t exactly “smooth” about how this might work if you’ve been paying by credit card but want to change to a prepaid account. So a few things:

  • If you have a card go to www.creativecloud.com/redeem or creative.adobe.com/redeem. You then sign into your account, provide the redemption code, and then provide a credit card to rollover to when the prepaid plan expires. This seems to work just fine for people with near expiring plans (I just did it myself using the second URL).
  • One problem occurs if you committed to a yearly plan (but are paying monthly) that isn’t about to expire. Then you'll run afoul of Adobe’s cancellation policies, apparently: you’ll be charged 50% of your remaining contract obligation when you make the switch from paying on your credit card to using the prepaid card. 
  • Another problem occurs if you committed to a yearly plan and prepaid the full amount when, it, too, isn’t about to expire. You again run afoul of Adobe’s cancellation policies, which in this case means you get nothing back on the unused portion of your previous contract.

To say the least, these last two items are about as customer-unfriendly as you can get. You can easily end up paying more with the discounted prepaid card than you did on the monthly plan billed normally to your credit card. And Adobe wonders why they’re not liked or trusted among much of their customer base. Well, this would be one of those things. 

Now it very well may be that you can convince Adobe’s chat-based or phone-based customer support agents to do the right thing—that would be end the current plan without penalty and use the prepaid card to extend the plan accordingly—but be prepared for a long, laborious, probably unsatisfactory customer service experience. Even minor things seem to take fifteen minutes or more to resolve. And this won’t be perceived as a minor thing. 

So what do you do if you get a prepaid card as a gift or pick one up on your own? My suggestion: wait until you’re well into the final month of your current plan contract, then use the first bullet above to redeem the card code you got. These prepaid cards don’t appear to have expiry dates to them, thus you could pick one up today and use it a few months from now. Indeed, the one I received—printed in Singapore—had a creation date of 7/15. 

Now the really interesting thing here is the cash lag inherent in the prepaid cards. Adobe sells those to places like Amazon, B&H, and others. They don’t get used immediately after Adobe sells them (especially if you follow my instructions). So Adobe gets use of the cash without providing a corresponding service for some time. Nice ploy if you can manage it, but I think Adobe is making short-term monetary decisions that are impacting customer satisfaction and are going to burn them in the end. We already have a near Photoshop clone in Affinity Photo, and as the previous story indicates, we’re going to have a near Lightroom clone in Luminar at some point soon. US$120 a year is starting to look like a lot to pay for the “safe choice.” 

Luminar Gets an Update

MacPhun’s Luminar raw converter got its first (free) update today, to version 1.02. Included in the update were:

  • Touch Bar support for the new MacBook Pro
  • Color Temperature filter improvements
  • Improved opening for raw files
  • Highlights recovery was improved
  • Added the possibility to load a raw file as the new layer
  • Overall speed improvements
  • Crop tool improvements
  • Added F keyboard shortcut to go full screen
  • Lightroom plug-in performance was updated
  • Clone Stamp tool improvements
  • Various bug fixes

Beyond that, MacPhun announced several things about Luminar that are intriguing, to say the least:

  • Another update will happen on December 18th (adding batch processing and some new tools). Additional updates will occur every month or two through 2017.
  • A Windows version—does that negate the Mac or the Phun in the company name ;~)—will be available sometime in 2017.
  • Due to popular demand, MacPhun is going to add Digital Asset Management to Luminar next year so that you won’t need Lightroom or Aperture. 

MacPhun’s announcement

Capture One Pro 10

This new version of Phase One’s image browsing and conversion program adds several new tools as well as compatibility with more new cameras and lenses. An “under-the-hood tuning” has increased performance of browsing, zooming, scrolling, and magnified views.

New features include:

  • New three-step sharpening tool (counters diffraction effects, reduces halos, allows local sharpening, output sharpening)
  • Output proofing
  • Folder movement and merging within a catalog
  • Filter by image orientation
  • Auto Mask has been extended to include Fujifilm X-Trans, mRAW and sRAW formats
  • Canon and Nikon mRAW and sRAW images now allow the full feature set to be used
  • Focus tool for Sony and Phase One tethered shooting
  • Compatibility with Tangent editing products
  • Apple Script compatibility has been extended to allow automation routines to target meta data

The new program is US$299, or a US$99 upgrade for version 8 or 9 users (free if you bought version 9 after November 1st). 

Phase One Web site

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