Silkypix Developer Studio Quick Guide


Link Posted 14/09/2007 - 11:10
Okay dokay... due to popular demand here comes my "rough guide" to Silkypix Developer Studio. It'll have to be in installments because there's just so much of it, and I don't have a great deal of spare time right now

PLEASE don't go off thread on this topic. I'd like to try and keep it as a fairly clean guide to Silkypix. If you have questions, please start a new thread so we can keep things nicely organised

Some of the cynics will say that I just promote whatever the flavour of the month happens to be, or what I'm paid to promote
(I'm paid nothing, zippo, nada, for this - so there )

Actually, it's all down to the image quality. I have used, and own, the following RAW tools: Adobe Camera RAW (in CS2), Pixmantec Premium, Adobe Lightroom, Capture One, and Silkypix. I have also tried Bibble and others to test whether my decision is still the right one (you can test it yourself, or take it or leave it).

The user interface is ok in Silkypix. I prefer features in other RAW converters, but I still come back to the IQ every time. Capture One is the next best thing if you're wondering

SP-DS allows an unbelievable level of colour control, noise reduction, sharpening, plus lens adjustments (like chromatic aberration, distortions, and vignetting) and almost everything else you could imagine in a RAW convertor. Speed-wise it's pretty good. It may feel slower than C1 (especially the Pro version), but taking the overall time to work through a batch of shots I reckon it's about even with C1 - it's just different.

(I very, very nearly paid for the Pro version of C1 but SP-DS3 English Beta got to me before I paid out )

Yes, it takes a little getting used to. But, IMHO, once you've got the hang of it it's going to take some serious changes to the others to match it (in terms of IQ that is!)

What you end up with are images that are unbelievably sharp, crisp and with as much colour as you could want, and (with a little care) no strange artifacts or odd "pixel halos" that are apparent on pretty well all the other converters (and that's at all ISO ratings!).

First off, it's worth saying that the Pentax Lab software that's supplied with the K10D uses the Silkypix engine. There are also two versions of Silkypix available - the FREE and the PAID for versions.
I'm only dealing with the paid version (which, frankly, is not all that much money and you get a 30 day trial anyway).

You can download SP-DS from:
(Which is owned by ISL: )

That's the first installment... hopefully the quick user interface walk through won't be that long in coming!!!
(For gallery, tips and links)


Link Posted 14/09/2007 - 14:36
(I said it wouldn't be long...)

Before we get going we need to setup a couple of things - especially if you have a calibrated monitor (or worse - you have a dual monitor setup ).

* Start SP-DS3
* (Menu) Option / Display Setting
* TICK "Enable display color management"
* Select "Select ICC/ICM file" and use the "Refer" button to pick the profile you created for the monitor (you know, with the Huey or Spyder).

While you there you may want the controls on the other side, so select "Right side of the main window". (This is helpful if you use a tablet LCD and are right handed!)

There is also the option "Make operation comfortable by reducing the load."... whatever that means! LOL! I have mine ticked It's always a good idea to keep your PC "comfortable"!!!

SP-DS3 has a menu option: File / Open Folder (Ctrl-F), but personally I prefer just using Windows Explorer and dragging the folder onto the SP-DS3 workspace.

You should get all the thumbnails appearing

The toolbar contains the following icons:
* Open file
* Open folder
* Print
Well, they're pretty obvious...

* Undo & Redo
Very useful - the usual Ctrl-Z key works for undo. This is especially helpful when you start copying and pasting parameters. The undo will revert the image back to before the paste. All obvious though!

* Thumbnail view - four little squares
* Combination mode - big rectangle and two smaller ones (shows thumbnail strip)
* Preview mode - large square
These are the "bread and butter" of the image management. If you constantly switch between the modes you can assign a custom key to the modes

* Select scenes - four tick boxes
The select is rather useful Each of the images or thumbnails can be tagged with a marker: Copy/Move, Delete, Blue, Green, Red. The select scenes dialog allows you to bulk select based on these tags.
(If you want to change the state of a tag, just right click the image or thumbnail - the tag options are right there).

* Display Warning.
This is helpful, but annoying at the same time. SP-DS3 uses a pesky flashing warning which takes a great chunk of CPU time. One of the horrible aspects of SP-DS3 At least they include a gamma warning though

* Previous & Next Scene (F11 & F12 keys)

The next four icons are not available in thumbnail view:
* "Operation Mode" - chooses the zoom level and which tool you want
* "Exposure Bias" - click on the brightest portion you want and it'll sort out the exposure compensation
* "Gray balance tool" - click on a neutral gray. (HINT: there is a very useful "Skin balance tool" buried in the white balance tool set... more later)
* Trimming - obvious really! (Note that it doesn't touch the RAW file!)

* Rotate CCW & CW (Ctrl-E and Ctrl-R)
* "Reserve Batch Development" - in English: tick the image
(In SP-DS3 you can choose to develop (a) the current image, (b) the images that are selected, (c) the images that have the "development" marker)

If the histogram isn't showing, either click on the histogram tool (bottom left of the tools palette), or use the menu "View / Histogram (Ctrl-H)". You're going to need it... and I usually have it parked at the bottom of the tools palette (but depending on your screen resolution there might not be room).
Don't forget you can resize the histogram if it's too small or large

The general idea is: work from top to bottom on the tool palette.
That is, in this order:
  • * Set the "Exp Bias" - this tweaks the general exposure value within the range of -3.0 to +3.0Ev. Do take note that pushing up the exposure will bring out more noise (ie if you shot at ISO800 and apply +1.0Ev you effectively have an ISO1600 scene) Small changes are best

    * Fine tune the white balance (click the little picture of a sun): Here you have access to the gray balance tool and the skin balance tool! Yahay! Click the skin tool then click the eyedropper on a clear patch of skin (preferably an area that's not been tanned or has makeup) and SP-DS3 will adjust the white balance and the Exposure. You might need a few tries to get what you want, and you'll probably need to re-adjust the exposure too.
    * From within the white balance, you can adjust the colour temperature manually. "Color Deflection" will adjust the main colour skew, while "Dark adjustment" does the same for the shadows alone - very helpful!
    * If you want a preset (or an auto WB), just use the drop down list to the right of the sun icon.

    * Next, move onto the Contrast section. For portraits I tend to push the "Contrast Center" to the left. If the scene is overall a bit dark, but you want to try and preserve some highlights, then try pushing "Gamma" slightly to the right and then pushing "Contrast" to the right as well. The "Black Level" pushes the left of the histogram further left - closing any gap you might have.

    * Then comes the "Color" control. You can have a party in here Start by choosing a "Color mode". "Memory Color 1" is a good all-rounder - it tries to portray the colour as you imagined it. "Portrait Color 2" is one of my favourites for portraiture - it renders skin tones wonderfully without affecting clothing colours too much. If you're from the old school you won't have too much trouble working out the "Film color" set: V1, V2, P, A, K. (Though V2 is usually waaaay over for my tastes!). Adjust the saturation to taste. From the drop down list to the right of the paint-tube (but not underneath oddly) is the option for "Monochrome 1" and "Monochrome 2". AFAIK, Mono 1 is a straight gray conversion, while Mono 2 respects the relative perceptual intensities of the colours (so yellow is converted lighter than red, and blue darkest of all).

    At this stage you may need to revisit some of the earlier settings. Changing the white balance and/or the colour response can drastically affect the histogram. It's a kind of loop you go through until you're happy!

    * Nearly the final stage... sharpening and noise reduction! By and large I get great results from the K10D by using either "Natural Fine" or "Emphatic sharp" presets. If it's a noisy scene I might try "Natural Fine" and then click on the NR icon (the brush) and push up the "Noise Reduction" to around 10 to 20 and then the "Noise Canceller / Noise Level" as well to a similar region. Fine tuning this set can be daunting - but there's an excellent section in the manual, section 10.1.8 "Creating Extremely Clear Image". Spend some time getting to grips with this - it'll help you create sharp images without noise or artifacts in clear regions of sky etc.

Now you can generate a TIFF or JPG... click on the two cogs with the "+" sign.

With Silkypix you are better off marking the images you want (F8 key) so the thumbnails have a yellow tick. When you've worked through the whole batch of images you can then process all the "ticked" images ("Batch development for reserved scenes" as they say ) While it's processing you can go and make a cuppa!

to be continued...
(For gallery, tips and links)

George Lazarette

Link Posted 15/09/2007 - 21:18

Let me be the first to both thank and congratulate you.

And I hope this magnum opus might persuade others to give Silkypix a try.

Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.


Link Posted 16/09/2007 - 07:59
Matt, thanks for this guide. It reassured me that I was allready on the right track with Silkypix. You did clarify a number of issues for me.

Camera:K20D|Ist*DS|Spotmatic II|MZ-10
Pentax Lenses: DA16-45|DA50-200|50A 1.7
Tamron Lenses: 28-200
Takumar Lenses: SMC 55 1.8
Sigma Lenses: EX DG 50-500 'Bigma'|EX 50mm Macro
Flashes: Metz 58 AF-1|Samsung SEF-36PZF|Pentax AF-220T


Link Posted 28/09/2007 - 15:50
Well, I have a few minutes to spare on this...

This is a slightly strange name (probably makes more sense in Japanese ) for preset settings
SP-DS3 has two types of "Tastes" that I'm calling overall and local.

Overall Tastes
The overall taste covers more than one development parameter. These type of tastes are available from the drop down list that is just above the exposure bias control (to the right of the cog icon at the very top).

The overall tastes can include several mode selections - and some of them are very handy

For example, there's "Super Neutral" which performs AWB, sets the contrast to "Standard", the colour to "Standard Color" and disables all sharpening and noise reduction. The result will be just that - neutral

You'll find other interesting "tastes" - such as "Nostalgic Toy Camera", "Instant Film", and "Portrait".
When you look in the pull down list there are two icon types used:
SQUARE represents "This affects every parameter category", and
"L" represents "This affects some parameter categories".

As a consequence, you can find that the "L" type will stack up. For example, try selecting "Nostalgic Toy Camera" (click on it from the list), and then, having done that, choose "Portrait". You'll see it retains the applied vignette.

Local Tastes
The local tastes affect just one parameter category, and as such, they appear in the drop down list for that parameter.
For example, the list of available White Balance choices are all a "Local" taste (a taste that one changes the White balance control and lives under that control too).

To access a local taste, just choose from the drop down list next to the control (e.g. "Emphatic Sharp" in the sharpness/noise reduction control.

Don't forget that Ctrl-Z will allow you to undo the whole taste application if you choose the wrong one! And Ctrl-X will reset the parameters to defaults.

Creating Tastes
You may find you are always applying the same settings to large numbers of images - and in this case you can save yourself some work and create a taste

For example, you might find a killer set of noise reduction parameters that work for you. Once you have them defined in the main interface, press the little "+" symbol to the right of the drop down list for that controller (in this case the sharpening/noise reduction control).

A dialog will appear, allowing you to name the "Taste". (In this case you should see that the "Taste Category" will be set to "Sharpness/Noise reduction" and in the "Parameter category" only the "Sharpness/Noise reduction" box is ticked.). Once you OK that dialog the local taste will be available to quickly select again

If you find that you make settings to more than one category of control, click the "+" symbol next to the drop down list at the very top (normally it will say "Default". This time the dialog box will have "Taste Category" as "All parameters". Choose which parameters this taste should memorise and name it appropriately. You can now make swathing changes to parameters just by selecting your custom taste from the drop down box!

Neat, huh?!

I think next on the list will be a walk-through of the finer controls - the Histogram, EXIF, White Balance Adjustment, Curves, Highlight Controller, Fine Color Controller, Lens Aberration Controller and Rotation/Digital Shift controllers...
(For gallery, tips and links)


Link Posted 07/10/2007 - 00:26

Thanks for your effort and dedication writing this very useful guide.

I printed out the entire SP-DS3 manual, but I feel your Quick Guide is a necessary complement for speed up my learning curve and also because makes my life easier with SP-DS3.

Best regards.
K10D+ Sigma 18-50 1:2.8 DC Lens.


Link Posted 09/05/2008 - 22:28
Shortcut Software have setup a new forum to discuss the finer (or basic) points of Silkypix:

Keith Grant

Link Posted 15/08/2008 - 13:39
Hi Matt,

Now that I've been using the basic features of SP for the last few months, I've walked through your quick guide again, and found it really helpful to refine my workflow. Thanks for the clarity of your explanations.

Looking forward to future installments.

K100D Super, DA 18-55, M 50 1.4, M 100 4 Macro

"The present is the object of vision, and what I see before me at any given second is a full field of color-patches scattered just so. The configuration will never be repeated." ~ Annie Dillard


Link Posted 15/10/2008 - 22:54
I would like to know what the silkypix free version is like, can anyone comment on this?


Link Posted 15/10/2008 - 23:27
There are two free options. One has all the features of the full paid-for product, but is a time-limited free trial:

The other is free as well and continues to work for ever, but has many of the features disabled - the ones marked in grey here:

Too many major features are missing from this version to make it useful, unless you are content to use the more automatic controls and don't want batch processing.

I recommend trying the fully-featured version and then buying the license if you like it. I use it for all my photos now.
Last Edited by iceblinker on 15/10/2008 - 23:34


Link Posted 28/10/2008 - 14:17
As well as the SilkyPix forum mentioned above, I would also like to point members to the excellent e-book by UK Pro photographer John Nevill, who is also one of the moderators on the SilkyPix forum. Sadly he is a Canon user, but we shouldn't hold that against him (well not too much! ). It does cost an exorbitant 2.50! But it's well worth it, there are many how too's and good hints and tips included.

I'm not associated with him in any way apart from being a satisfied and enthusiastic user of SilkyPix V3.0 and have bought the e-book myself.

P.S. I'm really looking forward to the English version of the new Pro (V4.0) edition due out soon. More information on that on the SilkyPix forum.
Best regards
Richard Day

Profile - link - (click on About for equipment profile) - My Flickr site - link


Link Posted 14/12/2008 - 12:31
Hi Matt, thanks for this, v.helpful to see how others use spx
I too have a K10 and for landscapes I agree Natural Fine often seems best, not worked out how to get best out of the 'pure detail' sharpening option yet though ! Skill level 2 I think


Link Posted 14/12/2008 - 23:05
I just thought I would say I have joined the Silkpix Fan Club!

It looks very scary at first, but with Matts easy to follow tips and a calm & creative frame of mind the results are stunning so far.... At first there is almost too much for one to fiddle with, but I think I am getting the hang of it.
The only thing I dont like about it is when opening a new DNG file and you have that awful small tacky window and icons to view them from as compared to cool Adobe Bridge. But I think the pros outweigh the cons, but then I am only on it for a day so far

Pentax: K20D; FA50mm 1.4; FA135mm 2.8; FA 17-28mm; FA 80-320mm; AF360FGZ
Sigma: 30mm F1.4EXDC; 10-20mmEXDC ..... LENSBABY 'Composer' ,


Link Posted 14/12/2008 - 23:45
One thing I have noticed is though, SP is making another folder in my image dirs. 'SilkpixDS' containing .spi files, can I delete these after I make my tiff or jpg file?

Pentax: K20D; FA50mm 1.4; FA135mm 2.8; FA 17-28mm; FA 80-320mm; AF360FGZ
Sigma: 30mm F1.4EXDC; 10-20mmEXDC ..... LENSBABY 'Composer' ,


Link Posted 15/12/2008 - 02:20
The .spi and .spd files contain your settings. They can be deleted after making tiffs or jpegs, but you would have to start again if you wanted to redo the tiffs or jpegs. They are very small files, so you might as well keep them anyway.

There never stops being too much to fiddle with. I still can't decide what combination of sharpening settings is best after more than two years!

The main preview window can be made large enough to cover most of the screen. Close the small windows with any controls that you don't need to see at the moment, then use your mouse to make the control panel smaller and therefore the preview window larger.

The thumnail size is variable too. See Option - Display Setting - Thumbnail - Horizontal Count.

You can open a folder rather than just one image at a time. And it's more convenient to use Batch Development rather than individual Development. A "batch" can be a batch of just one image if you like. Click the "tick" icon to put an image in the batch, or take it out.

PEFs take up less space on your memory cards. They can be converted to DNG or compressed DNG with Adobe DNG Converter.
Last Edited by iceblinker on 15/12/2008 - 02:33
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