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Llarian
08-08-2006, 12:31 AM
I've been talking up Pixmantec's RawShooter Essentials for a while as a great free RAW conversion software suite. Unfortunatly, it turns out they've been bought by Adobe.

They plan to integrate some of the RSE engine into later versions of their Lightroom product, so I downloaded the Windows beta to give it a shot.

First off, it is sloooooow. That's a known issue, since this is the first release for windows, but I really hope they improve that a LOT. You can speed it up significantly if you turn off the "build previews in background" option in preferences.

The core of it is the Library, which is their version of DAM (Digital Asset Management). It imports groups of pictures as shoots, and they can be part of a collection, as well as keyworded. This in theory lets you search rapidly through your collection for the specific photo(s) you're looking for. I find it a little clunky, but I already have my photos organized in a filesystem structure I like, so its a little redundant to me. Still, it could be useful, particularly the keywording.

The RAW conversion is in their "Develop" library. I don't like having to switch back and forth constantly, but since they offer a "filmstrip" view of the current shoot at the bottom of the develop interface, I don't mind all that much. The controls however, are very very nice if you have the patience to wait for the slow conversion engine to work. I particularly like how you manipulate the tonal curve with a wide variety of sliders and it shows the curve as it changes. This is much more usable than the Photoshop curves tool. All changes are non-destructive, which means they don't affect the original image. No big deal for RAW, since that's true of all converters, but you can treat a jpeg or tiff the same way, doing non-destructive edits and then exporting the altered images later. I like this, but I wish you could save more than one snapshot of a particular image's settings and compare them.

The slideshow and print interfaces aren't of much use to me (I use a far better piece of software for printing), but they look like they worked as advertised.

I'm told the Mac version is significantly faster. There's a few tutorial videos on working with Lightroom on the Adobe Labs site if you want to check them out. Its worth a watch.

Click on the image below to go to a quick shoot that I processed with Lightroom. The first couple aren't quite to my liking (was still learning the interface), but I didn't feel like going back and fixing them right away.



http://pics.llarian.net/albums/08-04-2006/IMG_3297.sized.jpg (http://pics.llarian.net/08-04-2006)


(Gallery is of a very short hike I did with my girlfriend befpre her daughter decided she didn't like the mountains)

-Dylan