Hints, Tips and Recommendations:
Choosing Image Editing Software
General Image Editing Software
Depending on your interests you might only want to use a general purpose image editor such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic or a cheaper option (see below). However you might also value plugins such as the DxO Nik collection for easier processing in your editor, although these are far from essential.
Although there are a very large number of general purpose and specialist image editing apps, most expertise in our club involves Adobe apps.
Why would you spend thousands of pounds on equipment and not produce the best images you can from the initial capture using good software?
I feel strongly that it is a great mistake to purchase high end gear and lenses and use inferior software. For me it also no makes no sense financially, especially when there is good relatively cheap software available.
Using top quality photography equipment and poor or very out-of-date software is like driving an expensive high performance car on a very rutted dirt track in 3rd gear. You might get there but it will certainly be slower, bumpier, more tiring and you will much prefer a shorter route on a fast well maintained road. By using up-to-date software, which does the job you want, you will be more relaxed, and have more time to do other things, like take pictures!
If you want to use free software try what came with your phone or camera and then move on quickly, if it does not do what you want and with ease. ( also see the tips page on phone apps.)
For some purposes there are great pieces of free of very cheap software (see below). For example, some members of our club who have Adobe software, such as Margaret Campbell, use the free Faststone Image Viewer for Windows.
There are a very large number of images editing apps. There are comparative reviews /lists of free image editing (post processing) applications:
GIMP a good free editor
If you capture JPEG format image files and want to try a free, downloadable and opensource editor that has been developed, supported and improved for 25 years, you might like to try GIMP, which is available from GIMP.org. Versions are available for Windows, Mac and Linux. For those who want to capture RAW files and edit them in GIMP they either need to be saved with software provided by your camera manufacturer’s or a free program such as UFRAW. GIMP has a very extensive user manual and tutorials. There are lots of YourTube video tutorials by independent users. A new version is currently in development.
Specialist Post-Processing Software
More specialized software for particular types of processing is also very useful. These include focus stacking apps (see the stacking tips on another page)
Image enlargement or upscaling for making larger prints can now be done with a newer range of programs. However one of the best, Topaz Gigapixel AI, is very slow because of the gigantic number of calculations it does per pixel to ‘invent’ detail. As of March 2021 Adobe have introduced a new upscaling method that can double linear resolution.
Although a welcome introduction it seems to lag way behind what is illustrated in this example in the research literature.
Noise reduction software that preserves desired image detail is available in general packages and works reasonably well when used carefully. However, club member Norman McNab recommends Topaz Denoise AI and particularly for scans of films.
A lesser used category are apps that create painting and drawing effects from images such as SnapArt.
The Latest Trend in Commercial Imaging Software Involves Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Adobe vs The Rest
Adobe is the market leader in general purpose non-scientific and non-medical image processing software. Professional software comparison reviews usually describe the Adobe photography suite as the most powerful. Although it does have some AI features, like the fabulous Sky Changing, it is not the market leader in this area.
The best way to buy Adobe imaging software is through a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. Adobe also have a reduced functionality program called Photoshop Elements available as a one off purchase. The internet abounds with good learning materials about Adobe products. Two members of our club currently use the online photography portfolio hosting that come with the subscription: Margaret Campbell and Ian Tully.
Commercial Alternatives to Adobe
(not recommended by this particular tipster due to ignorance)
Capture One (more expensive than Adobe!)
Skylum Luminar AI The latest version is now heavily dependant on Templates and Machine Learning ( or Artificial Intelligence, AI). The developers claim that it is fast and easy to use and this view is supported by reviewers. This program can also be used as as a Plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop. However there are reason why you might not want to use it as your only piece of stand-alone software [see Who Should’t Buy Luminar AI (and who should)]
Comparative Reviews and Listings of Commercial Software
Hints and Tips by: Steve Campbell