The Digital Darkroom P5

Usability & File Types.

The above title may seem a little odd and possibly leaving you scratching your head as it may not make a whole lot of sense. However there is a reason for this. In the previous section we examined the various types of photo editing suites one can choose for their digital darkroom. What may not be self evident immediately is that not all packages work well with varying camera files.

Take for example Fuji’s Xtrans files. Pretty much every time Fuji updates their camera processors and makes improvements to their Xtrans file type Adobe Lightroom/PS and some other packages experience problems with how the editing software deals with these files. The same held true on early versions of Photoscape as well.

Remember every camera manufacturer uses a different file type for their cameras. Yes they are all shot as RAW files but the actual file type varies widely, from Nikon’s NEF files , Canon CR2 files to Pentax’s DNG & PEF formats. Of course they all have the Jpeg option, but  most users are aware that Jpeg has some large limitations when it comes to photo editing. The exception to this is Fuji’s Jpeg files, that I have found to be almost as easy to post process as their RAW files. The same cant be said of my Canon’s jpeg files.

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Fuji XA2 image Jpeg processed in Photoscape.

Being aware of these file types helps us to decide which editing suite will generally serve our needs regardless of Camera File Types. In reality almost all software packages can handle the RAW file output of modern cameras. Sometimes as with Fuji there is a wait time before software providers update their software to reflect the advances of camera makers. The one software suite that I have been using since its early introduction that seems to cover all file types including Xtrans files is RawTherapee and its kudos to the people who produce this software that they have been so quick to keep it up to date.

Canon 1000D .. CR2 file processed with RawTherapee.

Thats not to say other software providers haven’t been doing the same, just that from my perspective it seems that RawTherapee has just been that little quicker to reflect changes as they come along.

The end result of all of this discussion is of course the usability aspect of these packages mentioned in the previous section. Thats why I advocate that you need to try a few out and then settle on a couple of packages that can do what you require. It may also be that one single package will be sufficient for all your needs depending upon how intensive your image editing is.

As is always the case “your mileage may vary” as we all have different requirements. The good news remains however that there is generally something for everyone in the form of free or paid versions of your favourite software.