Digital Photography Software News

Starting July 1, 2016 I’ve moved the software update and software news into a blog form that has its own RRS feed (right column). All digital photography software updates and new digital software program announcements will appear in this blog.

Items appear with the newest on top, oldest on the bottom.

ACR and Lightroom Update

Lightroom CC 2015.10.1 (6.10.1) and ACR were released by Adobe. Camera support was added for the Panasonic ZS70 and Sony A9, and a new lens profile was added for the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8. Issues with Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D medium format digital cameras were addressed. 

Another Plug-in Goes "Full Featured"

bythom topaz studio

Topaz Labs today announced Topaz Studio, a single editing platform that has a bit of Inception-like recursion to it: it can serve as a plug-in to Lightroom and Photoshop, and it supports your current Topaz plug-ins. Plug-ins within plug-ins. 

Or it can be used standalone. 

Another interesting aspect of the product is how it is being marketed: Topaz Studio is a free download that comes with a set of ten adjustments (basic, blurs, brightness/contrast, color overlay, dual tone, film grain, image layer, posterize, tone curves, vignette). The free version also includes direct raw support, automatic lens correction, and integrated masking.

Fourteen "Pro" adjustments are also available either individually or en suite (abstraction, color theme, focal blur, radiance, smudge, B&W, dehire, HSL, noise reduction, bloom, edge exposure, precision contrast, sharpen, and texture). The entire 14 plug-in set is US$275 (currently US$137 at introduction), and the individual plug-ins seem to range from US$4.99 to US$29.99. Finally, as noted above, Topaz Studio also can host your existing Topaz plug-ins (Topaz is one of three sets of plug-ins that I have installed on all my machines, the others being Nik and MacPhun Creative Kit; I recommend all three to Photoshop users). 

But there's another interesting thing about Topaz Studio: no license keys, and no need to sync back to the Internet if you've got the latest tools installed on your computer (obviously, updates require you to occasionally check back with the mothership). Topaz Studio can be used on up to two computers for a single user. 

Now to the article title: it seems to now be a 100% trend: the plug-in folk are all deciding to challenge Adobe directly. onOne went from plug-ins to full-on product, MacPhun went from plug-ins to full-on product, Alien Skin went from plug-ins to full-on product, and now Topaz Labs has, as well. And that's just the short list. Nik doesn't count because Google bought them and repurposed them. But it's looking more and more like every plug-in maker really wants you to use their demosaic, correction, and editing tool, and these are getting quite sophisticated. 

There's no downside to trying out Topaz Studio I can see, especially if you've already got the Topaz Labs plug-ins. I do suspect that this means that we won't be seeing new plug-ins from Topaz in the future, but rather new "Pro adjustments" for Topaz Studio. 

May Flowers

Capture One 10.1 adds support for the Panasonic GH5 and a number of Panasonic lenses. Fujifilm X-Trans support has been improved and sped up. Sony A9 users are supported from day one. Meanwhile Nikon D3400 and D5600 have been added to the support list. Tokenized (e.g. from EXIF) watermarking has been added. Mac users get the benefits of Apple Script finally. 10.1 also supports opening Photoshop PSD files. To see the whole 42-page PDF describing the update, click here

OnOne Photo RAW chugs on to version 2017.1 Build—yeah, that's not nerdy—and is mostly a bug fix. If you haven't already moved to version 2017.1 (earlier build), you should, as that was the point where not only did we begin to get bug fixes, but we also began getting meaningful feature and performance additions.

Perfectly Clear 3.0

Perfectly Clear for Photoshop and Lightroom (also Photoshop Elements and Paintshop Pro) is a new version of a plug-in a lot of photographers use. Among other new changes there's now a face-aware exposure selection, that uses skin tone values to clean up the image automatically. Version 3 also adds a custom toolbar and presets, a strength slider for presets, a new Blush makeup selection to warm cheeks, and Image Ambulance, a way to fix very under or over exposed images.

If you order at the discounted price of US$89 you'll also receive a Pro's Toolbox Preset Pack, Digital Film Looks Pac, and a short course in how to use the product. Web Site

Exposure X2 Advanced Layers

Alien Skin's Exposure X2 converter and editing software has added some new features. A new non-destructive layering system enables you to stack effects. Quick exports allows you to define simultaneous outputs, meaning you can save Web, for publication, for social media, and other different size/quality exports with a single command. 

Presets have a new level of flexibility to them, allowing you to separate and mix different presets together. A new Vintage Platinum and some new Bright (low contrast) presets are now available, as well. 

Windows users now have support for high DPI-displays (the macOS version already supported Retina displays). 

New support has been added for the Canon 5D IV and 80D cameras, as well as corrections for several Fujifilm lenses. 

The update is free to current users.

How Did Nikon Fix Transfer for macOS Sierra?

Oh dear.

As many of you D500 owners discovered, Transfer 2, the free ingest program that Nikon supplies with View NX-i, garbled raw files being transferred. Nikon's solution in the latest version of View NX-i and Transfer 2 is this:

"Removable Disk (including memory cards inserted in card readers or card slots) cannot currently be selected as a source in macOS Sierra 10.12 or later. Pictures can be copied from memory cards to your computer using a camera that supports PTP, or you can use the Finder or Image Capture on your computer."

Great solution, Nikon: tell the user they can't use your product any more because you haven't got your head out of your butt when it comes to software. Oh, and by the way Nikon, where is the list of cameras that support PTP? ;~)

I stopped recommending Nikon software a couple of years ago, and even took my book on Nikon software off the market as part of that decision. 

Simply put, Nikon software can no longer be assumed to continue to work as expected across any OS update, particularly on the Macintosh side. This baffles the hell out of me. At the moment, for example, Apple has provided five betas to developers for the next version of macOS Sierra. This is pretty typical. What that means is that Nikon is not testing Apple betas against Nikon software, let alone working to fix any issues that arise during the beta process. 

The management at Nikon has completely lost the thread, it seems. What's the point of putting removable media into cameras if you're not going to support that correctly downstream? And oh, by the way, how come none of the other ingest software products have this problem? 

I thought I was clear on this before, but I find that I have to be unbelievably blunt now: Nikon should clear the decks on the software side—and I'm not sure firmware shouldn't be in that purge, too—and either build and fund a proper software team or get out of the business. Nikon products are beginning to no longer work as expected. And then you wonder why you don't sell as many?

The Latest Adobe Updates

Lightroom CC 2015.9 (6.9) have appeared with the following changes:

  • Synchronization error reporting has been improved.
  • The Olympus E-M1 Mark II now has full camera profile support.
  • The following new cameras have initial support: Canon G9XII, Fujifilm GFX50s, X100F, X-A10, X-T10, Leica M10, Panasonic FZ80, GF9, GH5, TZ82, and the Phase One IQ3 100mp back.
  • New lens profiles for several recent Canon lenses (including M lenses), the Fujifilm X100F, several Tamron lenses, and several Sony and third party E/FE lenses.
  • 25 user-reported bugs were fixed. 

ACR 9.9 gets the same camera/lens additions.

Lumenzia 3.0

Lumenzia 3.0 is an interesting Photoshop extension programmed entirely in Javascript. This product allows easy creation and use of of BlendIf masks, local contrast adjustment, color masks, and of course, luminosity masks. 

While a bit geeky in nature, if you take the time to learn how to use the product you'll find it a shortcut to changing targeted areas of your image in various ways: selective sharpening, isolating sky tonality changes, lifting or changing of shadows, adjusting various tonalities against one another, and so on. 

Lumenzia is a product I added to my Photoshop arsenal back when it was still in 1.x status, and it continues to improve with each new iteration. 

Iridient Developer Updates

Iridient Developer 3.1.4 and X-Transformer 1.0 beta 3 now support the Canon G9 X Mark II and the EOS M6, the Fujifilm X-T20, X100F, X-A10, and GFX 50S, the Panasonic GH5 and FZ80, the Pentax KP, the Leica M10, and the Sigma sd Quattro H in DNG format. 

Iridient Developer

Iridient X-Transformer

Removing Lens Corrections from Raw Data

Some cameras place lens correction data into the EXIF fields that some raw converters will automatically pick up and use. The problem with that, of course, is that you're starting with your image having altered pixels, and you may or may not like what happens with that. 

The developer of AccuRaw, Sandy McGuffog, has come up with a small tool that can help you remove those lens corrections. Basically this works by converting the image to a DNG image (if it isn't already in that format) and running a small DNG Cleaner utility. The DNG Cleaner removes the opcodes that are in the EXIF and then applications like Lightroom and Photoshop ACR no longer apply them automatically. 

Unfortunately this is just another workflow step that didn't need to exist (Adobe, for example, could just have an Apply Lens Corrections Automatically preference). Why we keep getting additional workflow instead of simplified workflow is a story for another day.

And if that weren't enough, Sandy has another small software program called dcpTool. This is a trickier program that requires some color management knowledge on the part of the user to take advantage of. Basically, this allows you to decompile DNG Camera Profile files into readable form, and recompile them back. But the thing that makes this little utility interesting is its ability to remove Hue Twists, something that a lot of camera makers do with color. 

text and images © 2017 Thom Hogan
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