Just a Reminder About Camera Upgrading and Software

(commentary)

It happens every time we get a blast of new cameras on the market. And we just got two key new Nikon cameras, two key Fujifilm cameras, and are about to see new cameras from Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, and Sony. What is “it”? The complaints about software not understanding new raw format files.

I’m a bit of a snagglepuss on this: if you’re in the business of updating your cameras regularly, you absolutely need to be in the business of updating your digital imaging software regularly, and the two in combination tend to mean that you need to update your computer from time to time, too. 

The key “offender” in this case—at least according to you—is Adobe. That’s because so many of you bought into the “just buy CS6 and then you don’t have to go to the Cloud versions and pay subscription fee” fable. Adobe did warn us that raw converters wouldn’t be updated forever for CS6, and that’s exactly what happened when CC 2015 came along: no more updates to CS6 ACR. 

If you’re insistent on using Photoshop CS6 or an older version of Lightroom with the latest and greatest camera, then you have only one choice, and unfortunately it’s also from Adobe, so also subject to change in the future: Adobe DNG Converter. The bad news is that you add a step (#2) to your Photoshop-oriented workflow: (1) ingest; (2) convert to DNG; (3) run ACR (or Lightroom); (4) edit; and (5) output. The good news is that the DNG converter is free.

With other products (Capture One, DxO, and so on), you’ll just need to update your software when the vendor comes up with support for raw files from your latest camera upgrade. 

Personally, I use these periodic technology upgrades to rethink everything. I’m currently in the midst of moving to a new computer, and in doing so, I’ve thrown out a lot of older software and replaced it with stuff that’s better, more modern, more flexible, less buggy, or faster. Yes, this is a real pain in the butt. I suspect it’ll take more than a week for me to build out this new system as I want it, and another week to test everything I’ve installed and make sure all the parts are working well together. 

But this is a pain I’ll endure to keep current with the camera (and other) technology. And yes, this means I’m using Photoshop CC 2015 these days. 

If you’re going to try to ride the tech wave, you have only a few choices: you can ride the front edge of the wave and encounter all the perils that entails, you can try to find the “sweet spot” in the wave and run with that as long as possible, or you can ride the tail of the wave and expect to eat water at some point very soon. I’m a front-of-wave rider. 

Thing is, cameras like the D500 might make you have to get out of your sweet spot and move forward, and that will take some work on your part, as it could mean a lot more than just updating a camera body. Almost certainly, you’ll be updating software, too. 

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. 

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