Affinity Photo: Possible Photoshop Alternative?

Serif Affinity Photo

Adobe has been enjoying their place in the software industry for a very long time now. It’s a monopoly, isn’t it? Despite the effort made by Corel, DxO, PhaseOne and others, the benchmark is still Photoshop and Lightroom (even if the latter does not actually lead in every area). In fact, Photoshop has actually become a synonym to the word “post-process” or “edit”. “To photoshop something”, how many times have you heard someone say it? Exactly. And all of this is well deserved, because there simply isn’t any better alternatives. But for us, the users, monopoly is not such a good thing. Lack of proper competition puts the developer in a rather lazy state. Fortunately, an alternative might be in the works, called Affinity Photo (currently in Beta stage). Unfortunately, it is only available for Mac at this time.

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Quick and Simple: Post-Process Using Layer Blending

Layer Blending With Photoshop_Soft Light Blending Mode

Adobe Photoshop is really not about speed. I can’t say it’s ever been – even back when I was using the then-current version 5 (and the more capable 5.5), it was packed full of features and required not only lots of time to even begin to master, but to use for the simple things, too. Not to say it’s slow to work with, exactly, but if you want to accomplish your task quickly without any excuses, Lightroom is perhaps more suitable. It certainly ought to be. Yet if you work slowly and methodically, if you spend not minutes, but hours and even days post-processing a single image or a series, that is what Adobe’s heavyweight is most suitable for. Not for the sort of work where you click a few buttons and move on, but for the patient sort, where every detail matters, where there can be no sloppiness. Simply because of its vast, enormous capability. To own Photoshop just for one or two features is, more often than not, a bit of an overkill.

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Saturation or Vibrance?

Saturation or Vibrance_Hue-Saturation Slider Crop

Just a few years ago, if you wanted more saturated colours in your landscapes or any other sort of photography, there was one basic adjustment to apply – saturation. Especially for beginner photographers, the Saturation slider in Photoshop was one of the most useful tricks to learn and seemed to change everything. You start with a boring, flat looking sundown, and you end up with this magnificent landscape to behold.

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Adobe CC Exclusive $479 Discount on Surface Pro 3

Adobe CC Surface Pro 3 Deal

As you might already know, Adobe and Microsoft announced partnership plans earlier this year to improve touchscreen experience on devices like Surface Pro 3 when using Creative Cloud applications. One of our readers sent me an email earlier this week (thank you Morgan Cole!), letting me know that he received an email from Adobe with the subject line “Exclusive offer for Creative Cloud members”, detailing a $479 discount on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (see our detailed Surface Pro 3 review and coverage), as shown below:

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Q&A Session #2

Lightroom Q&A Session

Last update: January 1, 2015

I did the first Lightroom Q&A session over a year ago and I think it is about time I do one again. As before, you are welcome to ask any question you like about Lightroom. I very much hope to answer all of them by updating this article. I will run this session for up to a week and update the article regularly with answers. If there are any questions very specific to a certain case, I may answer them in the comments section. Specific, to-the-point questions will be answered in this article, while questions requiring more extensive explanation may be covered in separate articles in the near future. As always, our readers are very much welcome to pitch in and participate actively in this Q&A session by helping with the inquiries (I doubt I will know all the answers!). If you are new to Adobe’s Lightroom and find it difficult learning what’s what, this is the time and place to ask for help!

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On Comparing Cameras and Sensors

Iliah Borg Panorama

It reminds me of Goldoni’s “Servant of Two Masters“; only masters are now more than two and quite often they are not only capricious but they do not know what they want. First, any comparison is open to critics because even in a well-equipped lab it is impossible to repeat the shooting conditions from a year ago, or even from a day before while shooting to compare a newer model to an older one; the criteria for necessary accuracy is not set, or not made public, or not recognized by the community. Second, one single body in the testing opens the door for sample variation questions; and once again tolerances are not brought to the light. Third, using different lenses for different mounts does not help leveling the field. Using lens adapters to shoot with the same lens is often suggested, but it opens another can of worms: adapter alignment problems and different amounts of internal flare added by different adapters skew the results.

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Surface Pro 3 Review Update: Lightroom Performance

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Review Update_Lightroom Performance (2)

In my original review of the Surface, I mentioned it suits my needs very well when it comes to portability and writing. The Type Cover keyboard is exceptionally comfortable and the whole package fits very neatly into the tablet compartment of my Think Tank Retrospective bag. However, I did not yet have the time to thoroughly test the Surface’s performance with Lightroom and Photoshop, the two most popular editing programs among photographers. Since so many of you asked, I decided not to wait for the next time I was shooting out in the city to process new photographs “in the field” (not the best weather for street photography), but to turn off my PC at home for a while and instead work on images I’ve taken during my trip to NYC on the Surface. In this article, I will talk you through my experience from importing the RAW files to the Surface in Lightroom, to exporting them, all (hopefully) on a single charge of battery. Let’s see if it will manage.

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Adobe’s Software Bloating, Performance Issues and Bugs

Adobe Lightroom 5.7 Crash

I will be honest, I am not a fan of Adobe as a company. I never liked their business model: their practice of gobbling up competition (sometimes out of fear), their Creative Cloud extortion and their sleazy management that only cares about their next quarter revenues. But most of all, I never liked Adobe’s poor software development practices. In my past tech life, Adobe products were always a big pain due to numerous security holes and huge, frequent updates. In fact, Adobe has been notoriously bad with releasing poorly tested software with too many security holes. In 2011, Adobe dominated Kaspersky Lab’s top ten PC vulnerabilities list, with “extremely critical” security vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to gain access to computer systems and execute arbitrary code. These security vulnerabilities spanned several Adobe products, which most PCs had at the time and even today: Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player. No wonder Apple did not want to support flash in its iOS (which thankfully resulted in the slow demise of the Adobe Flash), since Flash was a very badly written, resource intensive platform to begin with. Although Steve Jobs mostly blamed Adobe Flash for being a PC-era platform, two of the biggest reasons why Flash support was excluded from iOS were in fact related to security and stability concerns.

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Lightroom 5.7 and Camera RAW 8.7 Update

Lightroom 5

If you have been waiting for Adobe to release full RAW support for the new Nikon D750 (see our detailed Nikon D750 review), for the new Canon 7D Mark II (see our first impressions preview), or for a number of other new cameras from Fuji, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung and Sony, you will be happy to know that Adobe has just delivered the final production version of Lightroom 5.7 and Camera RAW 8.7 that not only provide the RAW support, but also come with a huge list of newly supported lenses. Along with these updates, Adobe also delivered some updates to the Synced Collections in Lightroom, integrated a utility to import images from Apple Aperture and Apple iPhoto Libraries, enabled support for HiDPI displays in ACR 8.7 and provided a number of bug fixes for both Lightroom and ACR. For those who like to shoot tethered, both the Nikon D4s and the D810 are now fully supported. Another huge news is for Nikon D810 owners – the color profiles have now been finally fixed, so you will not see any banding issues when using Nikon camera profiles anymore!

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sRAW Study: WB and Recovery

Nikon D810 Normal Exposure

With the introduction of the Nikon D4S and the D810, Nikon introduced the new sRAW format for saving images. While we have already explained the format in detail in our sRAW format explained article, there were many follow-up questions from our readers, some of whom asked us to provide some image samples from RAW, sRAW and JPEG formats to compare things like white balance recovery and highlight / shadow recovery. In this article, we will explore the sRAW format in detail and show sample images from both controlled lab and outdoor environments, demonstrating what sRAW is capable of delivering when compared to the regular RAW format.

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