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3 Alternative post-processing applications that challenge the Adobe throne

The post 3 alternative post-processing applications that challenge the Adobe throne first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Herb Paynter.

Image: Adjust color, restore highlights and restore shadow details are just a few examples ...

Adjust color, restore highlights and restore shadow details are just a few of the options that make these three software packages a powerful challenge for the Adobe Dynasty.

alternative post-processing applications

ON1 Photo RAW 2019, Alien Skin Exposure X4.5 and Capture One 12

Apples, oranges and bananas

Yes, they are all fruit, they are all natural, and they all taste sweet, but there are differences between each that appeal to different pallets. When comparing these three alternative post-processing applications with the respected Adobe offering from Photoshop, Lightroom and Camera RAW, the differences are just as noticeable as the similarities.

A little background

When it all started, Photoshop provided digital photographers with a simple collection of imaging tools to adjust the colors, tones and sharpness of their photos. It was all nice and simple.

However, that simplicity became more complicated.

The 90s were an era in which a new generation of photographers was awakened. The taste of blood was in public waters and it attracted all forms of predators. As users became more sophisticated and demanded more power and software magic, Silicon Valley woke up with the smell of profit. Everywhere computer technology companies emerged that developed new and faster processors, higher resolution monitors and larger storage devices.

The door to the digital darkroom swung wide open and the Adobe marketing machine began rolling out annual updates for their groundbreaking photo editing software. Cha Ching.

Adobe has not only started a new industry, but also owns it. For the first ten years or so, Adobe wisely held every challenge of remote image processing software by engaging them to develop supporting software (called plug-ins) that added functionality to Photoshop without directly challenging the job. Dozens of very smart plug-in technology companies were welcomed to demonstrate their products (and their loyalty) to Adobe in their mammoth booth at all trade fairs.

Adobe Systems became a very extended family and quickly established itself as the Goliath that no one dared to provoke.

Image: Adobe booth at the MacWorld show in San Francisco.

Adobe booth at the MacWorld show in San Francisco.

The Adobe scientists have invested in the manufacturers of Silicon Valley digital cameras & chip wizards. Each year, these developers delivered smaller and more powerful image sensors and processors that can capture and deliver incredible levels of detail from digital camera images. Adobe has introduced its own powerful plug-in package called Camera Raw, which can extract and manipulate the huge amounts of RAW data captured by the sensors.

Image: Early Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam digital camera and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 4K mirrorless, 20 ...

Early Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam digital camera and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 4K Mirrorless, 2018.

At the first introduction, digital cameras ' s were able to capture only 256 color levels (8-bit). However, the sensors and processors for the new generation of cameras increased the ante by delivering up to 4 trillion (14-bit) color.

The Photoshop dreadnaught continued to grow and dominated the market. For that first decade, Photoshop was not just the Sheriff for digital imaging – it was the law!

As it happens with many other products, Photoshop eventually became so full of different tools and devices that were meant to meet every need of photographers and artists that it started to look like a cramped and busy commercial kitchen; pots, pans and ladles hanging on every conceivable hook. The once fast, slim and powerful software hid under its own excesses and was eventually tagged as a bloatware by an industry.

But no one has ever accused Goliath of being deaf or deaf. Adobe listened and learned from its more advanced photographer base that demanded a software package that was streamlined and specifically aimed at the professional user. This new software includes archiving and database functions that allow professional photographers to catalog, label, sort and shape their images in one arena, without the most downy and artistic features of Photoshop. Adobe has crowned this new, pro-focused Lightroom software. Nice chopping knife … Photo Shop and Light Room. Hmm-m.

3 Alternative post-processing applications that challenge the Adobe throne

(David-Goliath logo.jpg)

Goliath and the David class

All the while, silent in the background, several talented Photoshop plug-in developers were busy developing their own image-editing software. Software that mainly consists of special filters and visual effects tools that worked as plug-ins in both Photoshop and Lightroom. In addition, they functioned as independent software processing applications.

Behind the scenes there was a silent revolution that would one day rise and directly challenge Goliath. These same "deep" RAW processing tools that were once only available in Camera Raw and Lightroom, were now available from these independent developers who had quietly collected millions of loyal followers. The software class ' David ' has emerged, with the lines of struggle now drawn. Goliath had a number of worthy opponents to fight with and a number of new fights to fight.

Many of the "David class" software developers were seasoned long-term image editing veterans with their own set of brilliant young engineers. They had initially opened their doors to business in the early 1990s, just a few years after the introduction of Photoshop.

These companies include Extensis, Alien Skin and Phase One camera systems. My own software company, ImageXpress, introduced our Scanprep plug-in product in 1993, so I have known and respected these companies for more than twenty-five years. They each offer unique products and have earned long and distinctive records in the industry.

3 Alternative post-processing applications that challenge the Adobe throne

Extensis, Alienskin and Eye Candy

Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1993, Extensis offered a variety of products, including Intellihance. At the time, Craig Keudell was the company's vice president of sales and operations and would later become president. Originally developed as a plug-in for Photoshop, Intellihance offered simple image corrections.

Craig subsequently founded ON1, Inc. in 2005. ON1 is the developer of Photo RAW 2019, a highly serious Lightroom competitor with a powerful Raw processor, an image editor and a digital asset management (DAM) system.

Alien Skin Software was also founded in 1993 by Jeff Butterworth (shortly thereafter added by Finley Lee), on the other side of the country in Raleigh, North Carolina. The first software product from this company was called Eye Candy, an image interpreter that offered users the opportunity to produce attractive (and sometimes bazaar) special effects from digital images. Alien Skin's current flagship software, Exposure X4.5, offers RAW processing, image editing and an almost exhaustive collection of preset filters. These filters simulate the appearance of just about every film-age photo paper, film emulsion and tonal process.

alternative post-processing applications-2

Phase One – Capture One 12

Phase One Camera A / S is a Danish company that was founded that same year (1993). It produced a unique medium camera system for the professional market. The latest hardware offering from the Copenhagen-based camera manufacturer is the XF IQ4 Camera System, now in the fourth generation. The Phase One precision camera systems require a highly advanced software product to utilize the huge amounts of spectral data supplied by their cameras.

In 2003, Capture One software first started supporting 35 mm DSLR cameras from external manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, and Fuji. The software now supports 500+ cameras ' s. Capture One 12 is the current version of this advanced editing software.

Products and use

Most users of Lightroom use the software for similar reasons – cataloging, organizing and basic editing of digital images. In that respect, all challengers offer similar services and functions.

But not all users have the same needs with their software.

Digital photographers come in all shapes and sizes with different desires. Many users get no further than the simple preparation stages of clarifying, tightening and cleaning up their images – the basic processes that all started with Photoshop thirty years ago. Others are professional photographers or extremely serious enthusiasts who use highly advanced functions of the software.

With the variety of software available in this area, there is something for everyone.

The alternatives to Adobe

Just as these original three "David-class" developers focused on different areas of the printing industry with their first products in the 90s, each of their current products has established grass on today's market. Although they offer the same basic editing and non-destructive RAW adjustment tools as Camera Raw and Lightroom, each product retains its own personality.

There are similarities with these post-processing applications in the original appearance of the "sliders" and the operation of each application, but in addition to the basic tone and color adjustments, the individual strengths are more clearly visible.

Depending on your needs and personal preferences, one of these products may appeal to you and remove you from your addiction to Adobe subscriptions.

Let's look at the strengths and personalities of the software products.

alternative post-processing applications-3

ON1 Photo RAW 2019.5

Purchase price $ 100 (upgrade from the previous version: $ 80)

ON1 Photo RAW 2019.5 offers you the functions that photographers use most from the Lightroom and Photoshop world in a single application. With Photo RAW you can quickly view, organize, manage, and catalog photos in your photo editing workflow. The ultra-fast photo browser and organizer are perfect for quickly viewing and browsing photos without waiting for generated previews or an import process.

Importing images is not necessary with Photo RAW. You do not create libraries or catalogs with this software. Instead, view the images where they are on your computer. Use the indexing function if you want easy access to specific images in specific folders. By indexing these folders in Photo RAW, all thumbnails in each folder are kept. Photo RAW actually moves the image files to a folder that you specify.

Key features of Photo RAW: HDR, noise reduction, versions (virtual copies), photo stitching (merge to panorama), keywords, photography with tethering, retouching of portraits and layers.

With the addition of layers, ON1 increases the ante by allowing you to mix, mask, replace backgrounds and more. ON1 Photo RAW also offers 27 unique filters, LUT ' s and textures, which offer sufficient interpretations for each image.

ON1 also includes a Lightroom migration assistant that uses AI-driven algorithms to transfer Lightroom edited photos, maintain the non-destructive settings, and move them to ON1 Photo RAW.

alternative post-processing applications-4

Extraterrestrial skin exposure X4.5

Purchase price: $ 119, (upgrade from earlier versions $ 79- $ 89), and bundled with Blow-up and Snap Art for $ 149.

Exposure X4.5 offers powerful organization tools, fast performance, an intuitive design and a subscription-free approach. With this one piece of software you can handle all your photo editing work. Exposure X4.5 is best known for its selection of beautiful customizable presets, which cover the entire film history and beyond.

With Exposure X4.5, you choose the image folders that you want to organize by adding them as ' bookmarks & # 39 ;. Once a folder is ' marked & # 39 ;, you can browse through subfolders as indexed and cataloged folders, looking for pictures using keywords or metadata from the image.

Main features of Exposure X4.5: extensive browsing, search and cataloging tools (smart collections and bookmarks), light effects and textures, analogue film effects, spacious LUT ' s look-up tables for direct tone and color shifts, virtual copies, advanced bokeh effects, transform tools to correct and correct perspective images and viewed folders.

alternative post-processing applications 5

Phase One camera systems Capture One 12.03

Perpetual license: $ 299, subscription $ 15 / month.

Capture One offers a lot of everything for just about every level of interest. By delving into his inner workings one can tinker with color on an almost-molecular level. Although not a particularly intuitive tool for the beginner, it is a pure delight for those who want infinite control over their adjustments. New users can go to learn.captureone.com to get started. Capture One offers a very logical and extensive range of tools and controls, so there is little need for a wish list. The learning curve is steep, but the control offered is almost complete.

Capture One offers two ways to open and save images:

  • Catalog – a complete DAM system (digital asset management) that is very similar to Lightroom, and
  • Session – an image access process based on each project.

The session choice works by clicking on the small folder icon in the upper left corner of the original open window and accessing a very simple Mac / finder-type search window. You specify your image folder and then view the images in that folder stacked vertically on the right side of the Capture One window. Double click on an image and start working.

Key features of Capture One: nearly infinite masking tools for Basic, Advanced and Skin Tone colors, including hue, saturation, lightness and smoothness (feathered edges), high-light color balance, mid-tone, shadow, 3-way (general), color channel controlled black – white conversions, layers (up to 16, each with individual chroma / luma range assignments) and dynamic histogram readings that follow each adjustment.

Capture One's extensive masking tools offer unparalleled control over both color and tone shape, with each mask creating its own layer. The variety of masks includes brightness, linear gradient and radial gradients. Each mask is infinitely adjustable and can be adjusted and adjusted at any time. You can also purchase additional Styles packages (essentially presets that do not change the exposure or white balance).

Image: the goal of all image editing software is a successful result. Each of the software packages ...

The goal of all image editing software is a successful result. Each of the software packages mentioned herein can deliver exactly that. I leave it up to you to predict which software I have chosen to save and produce this example.

Conclusion

I have not attempted to declare a winner in this article, but these alternative post-processing applications are certainly very valid and capable challengers for the Adobe Dynasty.

You certainly owe it to yourself to download a trial version of each of these packages and experiment with the options. The alternatives are both diverse and comparable in their range.

Each of these three packages requires a little redistribution of habits, and you must afford the time you need to draw your conclusions. Your personal requirements and tastes will ultimately provide your answer.

I must note that no piece of software; neither the Adobe family nor the challengers, offers a single comprehensive solution for all needs. What best suits your specific needs becomes the backbone of your post-production work.

Fortunately for me, I own (and use) all these alternative post-processing applications.

Have you used these alternative post-processing applications? what's your opinion?

alternative post-processing applications

The post 3 alternative post-processing applications that challenge the Adobe throne first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Herb Paynter.

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