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.

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. 

More Software Changes

DxO OpticsPro 11.4 now supports the Nikon D5600.

Show Focus Points for Lightroom plug-in has been updated to include the D500. 

Silkypix Development Studio Pro8 added a new clarity slider, a monochrome control function, a new brush tool, an underwater correction filter, and additional camera support. The license has changed to allow up to three computers on a single license. 

OnOne Photo RAW 2017.0.2

OnOne updated their Photo RAW software today with a number of small changes: support for compressed Fujifilm RAW files, the Olympus E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II, Pentax K5 II, Nikon D5600, several older Panasonic cameras, the Leica TL and M10, and the Canon EOS 500D. 

Highlight recovery was improved, as was X-Trans sensor processing in general, plus overall browsing. Performance was improved and bugs fixed. 

Creative Suite 6 Unboxed

Adobe quietly announced earlier this month that CS6 is no longer available for purchase. During the course of the last year, Adobe was making it more and more difficult to find that product on their site, and in 2016 we also stopped getting ACR and security updates for CS6. 

So now the only way to "buy" Photoshop is to get a Creative Cloud license. Either the US$9.99 a month Photoshop/Lightroom combo, or a more expensive full Creative Cloud Suite version. 

Meanwhile, users of CS6 are slowly discovering that operating system updates are breaking things that are no longer getting fixed. On Macs, for instance, there are now some clear printing issues with Photoshop CS6. Plus, of course, there's the issue of needing Java installed to use some of the products in the Suite, which no longer gets installed by Apple updates due to security concerns. One can imagine a point in the not too distant future where an OS update completely "breaks" CS6. 

While I realize that a lot of you are reluctant to subscribe to software, some of the reasons you give me are wrong. Software eventually dies. At best case, it morphs (which is what happened with Photoshop). There is no "buy it once and keep it forever" software world. First of all, software developers can't stay in business and keep fixing bugs and adding features if they only get one initial fee when you buy the package. Why? Because it's like a ponzi scheme: you can sustain development as sales initially grow, but eventually they peak or plateau, while your costs continue to go up. That's generally the point where you issue a new "for a fee" update of some kind. Adobe's subscription fees for the Lightroom/Photoshop combo are actually slightly better than the update fees they had been charging (and less cumbersome). 

Where I criticize Adobe is in the way they handle end-of-subscription life. Plenty of products have yearly update renewal fees. But they don't have the product disable part or all of itself if you don't renew, which is what the Creative Suite now does.  Adobe's greed here is obvious and extreme, and I predict that they'll either eventually have to change their model or they will hit a bump in the road that hurts them badly.

Why? Because Adobe essentially put a "hit me" label on their forehead. Photoshop has been a target of other software developers for some time, but now there's a growing legion of dissatisfied Photoshop users because of Adobe's pricing and support. So Affinity Photo, for instance, is a near Photoshop clone that doesn't have subscription fee associated with it (and it's currently US$39.99, or US$10 off its regular price). It's garnering a larger and larger following, and it's gotten better with each iteration. 

Adobe's treatment of photographers as indentured slaves to their subscription service has enough of them looking elsewhere that alternatives other than just a direct clone are also quickly developing. Without giving away any secrets I shouldn't, I'll just say that those developing programs are looking to clone Lightroom, ACR, and Photoshop. The entire photography suite Adobe sells, not just Photoshop. None have gotten close or been released yet, but it's only a matter of time. 

Sometime later this spring I'll be demonstrating some alternative workflows that are not Adobe based. 

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