Updates, Upgrades And Image Processing

© 2010, Grace Schaub, All Rights Reserved
You can set your clock by it. A year and a half after Version XX of software comes out, Version XXI comes down the pike. But if that was all there was to do we wouldn’t have to struggle so much about deciding whether or not to upgrade; we’d just look at the new features and decide whether or not they were worth the time and money to update. But then there’s the wrinkle of new operating systems, the fact that the previous version will not accept your new camera’s Raw format (though you can do a DNG conversion), and that most plug-ins you work with probably don’t work with the new version of the program. It’s enough to make us yearn for the far simpler days of film.

In many cases, however, the latest versions do offer viable changes. Compare even Photoshop CS3 with the current update and you’ll see so many more image creation possibilities and easier and faster ways to work that create more exciting and higher quality images.

But I have to say that the upgrade game is like 3D chess, where there’s more than one level of play. After one move is made by a camera maker, another is made by a computer maker and another is made by a software maker, all nudging each other forward in fits and starts.

In terms of positive moves, check out the latest versions of Aperture 3, Lightroom 3, and Photoshop CS5 and you’ll see how progress is a combination of demands by photographers and as a way to keep up and surpass the competition (like the GPS features in Aperture 3).

The fact is that most photographers I know who are really into processing their images use a number of different programs for different aspects of their work—for selections, for masking, for conversions to black and white, for retouching, and for re-sizing prior to printing. The beauty today is that you can try most every program on the market as a free trial to see if it really does the job. That way you can make sure that you don’t make an impulsive buy on a program you might use a few times and then never open again, somewhat like those old 8-point starburst filters many of us rushed out and bought only to use them for one year of photographing Christmas lights and never use them again. What prompted us to buy them in the first place? We probably saw a cool shot in a magazine or on a greeting card and realized all it took was a filter to get the effect.

In fact, I see those filters in flea markets all the time, something that may never happen with old software, because after a year or two that obsolete code will be as useful as those old starburst filters sitting in the back of the closet. That’s why making the right decision about your main workhorse software is so important, and why we pay attention to major upgrades here in Shutterbug.

In addition to our software reviews this month, we have an apt subject for this time of year—a roundup of photo backpacks. Jack Neubart has tried out a whole new raft of these handy camera carry bags and has given you all the specs so you can pick out the one that best suits your travel needs. These days it’s tough to go on an extended trip without a bag that carries not only camera and lens but all the other electronic gear and wiring that seems to be so much of a photographer’s modern kit.

In our August issue report on fisheye lenses by Jack Neubart we inadvertently did not include information on the 8mm Pro-Optic Fish-Eye lens. Here is the information on that lens: Pro-Optic (www.adorama.com)—manual focus designed for APS-C sensors; Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony mounts.