babysimon: (computer lib)
[personal profile] babysimon
All the real photographers use raw. At least, that's what I'm told. So I should too, right?

Switching to using raw has been something I've been trying to do for a while. In the abstract I can absolutely see the benefits; more dynamic range, better ability to fix exposure, complete ability to fix white balance. Cool. But I just can't get into it. I tried a few different approaches and they all completely suck: UFRaw, Rawstudio and Canon's Digital Photo Professional under Wine.

UFRaw has no sharpening and very crude denoising. Batch mode requires fiddling with the command line and XML files. I thought despite this that it would be usable (the GUI isn't too bad and it integrates with F-Spot) but when I first tried to use it on some high ISO pictures I found a scattering of solid red and blue pixels in the results. I assume the sensor produces these and the in camera JPEG engine gets rid of them. There's no obvious way to fix this. Since it's impossible to get pictures as good as the camera's JPEG engine it's unusable.

Rawstudio handles batch conversion in a sensible way and has a nice picture-rating feature. It has sharpening but no denoising (you must denoise before sharpening or you just sharpen the noise). There's no integration with F-Spot or any other photo-management program, making it tedious to fit into a workflow. It doesn't know how to read the camera settings out of the shot, so you don't get a sensible starting point for white balance, exposure etc. Shots started very dark and dull and it seemed very difficult to avoid overexposing while getting them to look normal. Although it's possible to get pictures as good as JPEG it takes a long time and is easy to screw up, so it's unusable.

Digital Photo Professional actually can create JPEGs that look as good as the ones from the camera (remember this is faint praise indeed; the whole point is to do better!) and it can run under Wine. But it's very unintegrated with anything else Linux-y (as you'd expect), making workflow a pain again. White balance is fiddly to set; the UI offers the same options as in-camera plus fine-tuning, rather than simple R<->B and G<->M sliders. Every photo forgets the white balance and noise reduction settings you used so you have to click them back into place. The batch mode doesn't allow you to set any options! And when running it under Wine the UI gets corrupted and the top third of the photo doesn't display. Usable in an emergency only.

The Real Photographers all seem to swear by Lightroom and Aperture. Using the first would mean switching to Windows (a VM isn't really ideal for substantial amounts of Real Work) or Getting a Mac. The second is Mac only. I don't really want to do either of those things, but I have the feeling it's in the post.
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