Software - I'm confussed

Bob B

Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 08:10
Hi there,

Can somebody provide a quick explaination of the software I'll need with a digital SLR - just from Adobe there's Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Cs2 (& CS3), Lightroom etc.

What are the different 'types', what do I need and what do you recommend !!



Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 08:44
I use lightroom, but then I don't do much more than tweak my images. i.e. adjust contrast, sharpen a little, adjust saturation or make an image B&W.

I'm not familiar with the photoshop side but it can do far more manipulation. i.e. you can totally change the image by using several layers to add from other images or delete from the original.

So you could take a picture, import it into photoshop type software, import several other pictures and take the sky from this one to add to that one, cut out telephone poles and even add faeries.... should you so wish

Lightroom can't be used in this fashion you work with what you've got but you can still adjust images beyond believability.

examples of lightroom adjusted pics are in my signature.
Please call me aj,

I use a Pentax K10D, on a MacBook with LightRoom (vers 1.3 + beta 2)


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 11:02
Photoshop Elements is enough for most people.

You can get free software to do the same work though.

GIMP is very effective, fast and easy to use as well as being completely free. You can even adjust RAW images prior to editing via UFRAW (Unidentified Flying RAW).

I use Lightroom for most of my adjustments, as I don't like heavily modifying my images, and Photoshop Elements 2 for everything I can't do in Lightroom.

You can try Silkypix Free version and see if you like that, Lightroom has a 30 day trial, but the price of the program itself has just gone up from 140 to 200.

Photoshop elements 4 and 5 are relatively cheap, but you can always Tyr GIMP and see how you get on.


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 11:37
If you want to avoid totally confusing yourself, I would stick with the Industry Standard, which is Photoshop.

Elements will do everything most amateurs will ever need.

If you can find or afford the full versions then everything from Photoshop 7 onwards will be fine. 7 has been followed by CS, CS2 and now CS3 but these are expensive and you don't need them.

My advice: Buy Elements, buy a book describing how to use it, and lots of magazines with CDs so that you can work through their tutorials. Perhaps join a Camera Club or take a course if you want to go further.

The basic skills needed though to use your pictures effectively and make the necessary adjustments are not overly complex, but they do need explaining.

You will probably get lots of contradictory advice - keep it simple at first and get a good grounding.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 11:55
To develop your raw-files: the Pentax Photolab that you get with your camera, is easy to work with and gives pretty good results. To improve your 'developed photos' you can work with Photoshop Elements or with the 'real' Photoshop' (but that's expensive).
In that cace I think you better start with Photoshop version 9 (CS2). By developing raw-files you get the best results if you save them as 16 bits tif-files. Only Photoshop 9 or 10 can handle these files totally.

George Lazarette

Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 12:14
The previous advice, whilst useful, misses an important point.

Your camera is capable of outputting different sorts of image file. The main two possibilities are:

JPEG, a compressed image file which has had (what the camera considers to be) unnecessary detail removed.

RAW, which is the original image data captured by the camera. This file is much larger, because no detail has been discarded. The advantage is that you can recapture information that might have been lost if you shoot JPEG.

Every camera has it's own RAW version. Pentax RAW files all have the extension ".PEF", but they are not all the same under the skin.

Most serious snappers shoot RAW, but not all. If you are a methodical person who gets his exposure right first time and every time, the need for RAW is somewhat reduced. John Riley is such a person. I am not.

I mention these two because, if you decide to shoot RAW, you will need a RAW Converter. which is a program that converts RAW files to common image formats like JPEG or TIFF, and allows you to optimise the image before doing so.

Some editing programs come with their own RAW Converters, some don't. Several people on this forum like to use Silkypix, several use the RAW converter that Adobe provides. You just need to be aware of the difference between a RAW convertor, which is a sort of digital developing and printing program, and programs like Photoshop which are image manipulation programs capable of changing your picture out of all recognition.

But remember, with flexibility comes complexity.

If you have never used any sort of image editing program at all, I suggest you start by shooting JPEG.

Then download Irfanview ( ), and take the Enhance Colours option on the Image menu. That'll get you started with the absolute basics. When you grow out of Irfanview, think about a proper program.

Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 13:42
I'm a Mac guy, so while this can't help you directly In can point you in the right direction:
I used Iphoto to ORGANISE my images (have moved up to Aperture).
Think of Iphoto as being for images what Itunes is for music. You can sort, label, organise, And FIND your images with speed andd ease.
That is the first software you should look for...most of these have some touch up capabilities...

The next thing is this: I have both photoshop elements and cs2....guess which one gets used most often? that's right, the one that is faster, easier, and less taxing on the computer (you get hi def video, hi res photos, photoshop elements, aperture, Imovie and idvd, at the same time, and i garentee you you'l finish a minor adjustment with ps elements before cs2 finishes opening), cs2 only gets used for jobs elemnts can't do (not often).

So I'd suggest an organisation program first, there are windoze users here that can help you out, then an editing program like elements (for the reasons already posted by others). You'll eventually want photoshop, if you like manipulating, but get good with elements to start.)
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.

Peter Elgar

Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 18:16
I think the experts should warn the newbies here that if like ME they have Windows ME Edition the Pentax Software doesn't work also I tried the GIMP to try out using 'RAW' and that would not come through either ! Maybe someone could tell me how I can get something to work with RAW on Windows ME Edition.
been a member of Pentax Club since the Ron Spillman era! Got COMPUTERISED at last - DIGITISED? Taken the PLUNGE - BUT FILM STILL RULES !!!


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 19:26
Get a new OS/Ubunu Linux? Ubuntu Linux instalations disks are great as you can live boot them to test the OS without installing anything at all.

Seeing as GIMP/UFRAW are originally Linux applications it would be a good idea to try out their native environment.

Ubuntu is easy to learn and doesn't have all the faffing about of other Linux distributions.


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 19:31
Personally, I have little sympathy for anybody still using a PC running anything older than Windows XP. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend Windows Vista yet because It's still too new and has a few issues.

To still be using a (almost) 10 year old operating system, conceived well before digital imaging became affordable to the masses, come on . . . wise up . . . You spent how much on your camera and lenses? And you can't shell out 400 - 600 for a new PC that'll last you a lot longer than the camera?

Windows ME was never a serious operating system anyway, born out of a mish mash of bits of Windows 98 and bits of Windows 2000. Junk, in my opinion, and should never have been offered to a gullible and unsuspecting public. Chances are, you haven't had your car or your telly for 10 years, so why keep an ancient PC.

Mac's . . . still too expensive. Not necessarily for the hardware, but the software to make it all work sure is.

My advice to PU forum members: If you are still using a PC running ANYTHING older than Microsoft Windows XP, change it just as soon as you can to a Microsoft Windows XP based PC. Manufacturers are trying to dump what they perceive as 'old technology' machines at rock bottom prices in favour of 'new technology' Windows Vista PC's. Truth is, Windows Vista just has too many issues with things like external HDD's etc. to make it a viable option for most of the PC buying public.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 20:03
Macs are based on Unix, Linux is based on Unix... Why don't you get a really cheap new PC and put Linux on for free. You can have the same spec and performance as a Mac for half the price or less. Software is a bit of an issue but many things run on WINE and either way GIMP/UFRAW are very good.

If you don't want to upgrade there is a light version of Ubuntu that may run on yor old machine.

As for Vista, it is a waste of space, money, time and effort. Absolutely appauling performance and useless features. Makes me think twice about ever getting an other M$ OS. I'll snap up a few more XP licence keys while I still can, LOL. Although I'm told Vista keys are backwards compatible so you can 'waste' a Vista licence to activate XP.


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 20:12
Not everyone is or wants to be a computer expert, so for most a Windows PC is the only sensible choice. It makes things easy for the user.

There are alternatives that are better in some respects, but they don't have that easy compatibility with almost everything that's available.

At the moment XP is the more stable option, but for many they will have no option but to accept pre-loaded Vista.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 20:17
You don't need to be a computer expert to use OSX or Ubuntu, that is the whole point. People are scared to try something different, even when it may suit them better. Ubuntu arrose out of the need for a distribution which anyone could just pick up and use as is. It needs no special training, figuring out, etc. as it is clearly laid out. Lots of software packages are available to install direct from their servers. Everything comes preconfigured like in Windows, but you have the option to learn to use the more advanced features.


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 21:22
Tyr wrote:
Macs are based on Unix, Linux is based on Unix...

Guess what, much of Windows is based on POSIX, a UNIX derivative, and Microsoft once sold XENIX (pronounced ZEENIX), their original attempt at UNIX.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream


Link Posted 06/05/2007 - 21:31
Tyr wrote:
Although I'm told Vista keys are backwards compatible so you can 'waste' a Vista licence to activate XP.

I believe this is true only for keys from retail packed application software, not OEM versions which is what is supplied with any off the shelf PC, and not retail OS's either.

Any retail product licence for something like MS Office, for instance, allows you to install an older version of MS Office than that which the key was issued for. In fact, it's the difference in licensing that matters, not the product key. Evven if it works, you should check the license agreement to ensure legal use of the software.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream
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