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Editing software for someone with limited experience


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Hi everyone, want some advice please. I am not new to photography but fairly new to editing software. I have been doing some research and looking at Lightroom, ON1 and Luminar Neo. Does anyone have experience of these products and using them with RAW Q2 files. Also comments on ease of use for someone with limited experience would be welcome.

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My advice is: Go for a software that a friend or colleague of yours uses as well. It helps a lot when you can sit together with someone and the person can show you. On the other hand you certainly know that Lightroom is very popular and widely spread. There is a lot on Youtube and many here in the forum use that tool. As a beginner its important to get help. The start (mainly with LR) is very important. 

Then you have to know if you are particular with your fotos. Or you just want to lighten up a bit or darken. There are no cost tools that are easy and intended for JPG shooters. I think of Apple tools that are integrated and work well.

Finally you should think of how you want to present your fotos and how you want to share them.

So there is quite a lot attached to it.

I personally use Lightroom classic as its a fully integrated package with lots of plugins to publish your images (e.g. Smugmug).

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Posted (edited)

People interact and respond to software in such different ways that it is impossible for someone to predict what will work for you and what you will find problematic. 
My experience.......

I came to digital raw editing with Lightroom 3 (what is now called Lightroom Classic). I previously had an adequate understanding of analogue and darkroom techniques, so understood things like highlights, shadows, the zone system etc. I had used Photoshop Elements for editing jpgs, and found it unsatisfactory, partly because I found the interface unfriendly and partly because you can't do a lot with jpgs (i.e. it was not Photoshop Elements' fault). I found Lightroom easy to understand and get used to. In the 'Basic' editing panel I found almost all the sliders intuitive and did most of what I wanted, corresponding to the concepts I had from film. The things I had to learn more about were White Balance and Clarity, but trial and error helped. The great thing is that it is easy to reverse edits - it is non-destructive. 

I also valued that it provided a single environment to manage image files, batch editing and printing.

Lightroom Classic has a lot more tools than just in the Basic panel, but you can take it in stages (e.g. the Detail panel for sharpening and noise control). Others swear by Photoshop, which I found far less intuitive and more intimidating to get into as a beginner, although I have got comfortable with it in the last few years - I use it to do things with layers and masks that are more difficult in Lightroom - but >95% of what I do is in Lightroom Classic.

In the end, most editing packages can do the same things, but they all have a different approach and only you can tell if they suit the way you mind works. You can download trial versions of most of them.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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Both are good programs and work equally well. Lightroom is more biased  to "classical" developing of your image, Luminar Neo makes the modern HDR look easy to obtain. Lightroom is a subscription model, Luminar an outright purchase.

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Posted (edited)

I have been using Apple Photos for years - since Apple abandoned Aperture.  My typical use includes converting to Black and White and printing.  Occasionally I download a prominent photo program's free trial to see what I'm missing.  I recently did that with Lightroom Classic.  But I couldn't find that it did anything I needed to to do better or more quickly than Photos does.  So I once again elected to stay with Photos.  Obviously we all have different requirements but as has been suggested, try some of the free programs as well as doing a trial of the well-known programs.

Edited by Mikep996
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Posted (edited)

I’m of the same opinion as @M11 for me see what your friends are using, they will be a good learning resource.  

Don’t just buy the software, use the free 30-day trial if it’s offered and see which software appeals to you.

I’ve been through most of them, Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Apple’s Aperture, Affinity Photo and Phase One’s Capture One, plus some other I can’t remember. They’re pretty much the same. At the moment I’m using Lightroom, along with Photoshop for pixel bashing. 

Edited by OThomas
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After years of using Photoshop, I changed to Capture One about a year ago. The actual editing software is easy to use and powerful - I got the hang of it in a couple of hours and for me, I can get the results I want with far fewer clicks.  The asset management side of the package seems to me to be counterintuitive but I can put up with it…. You can download a free trial and there are both monthly licence and outright purchase options. If you think about buying it, they have frequent significant price reductions and it’s worth waiting to get one.

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I plumped for LightRoom Classic 5 years ago, bought a “How to” book and experimented. The beauty of LightRoom is that the edits are non-destructive so if you don’t like the result you can undo it. Making “mistakes” is part of the learning process and I believe should be embraced.

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Lightroom use is quite widespread. You will find many online resources and in-person workshops to help you. Also, Lightroom has an Auto button, which improves your image using data collected from more experienced photographers. It is a good starting point for your edits.

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Definitely take advantage of the free trials to see what clicks with you. Lightroom is definitely worth a look since there are ample tutorials, videos, tips & tricks, etc. If you are a Mac user, Photos is a no-brainer for a test drive since you already have it. A lot of people like the DXO U-Point technology. The Luminar stuff is interesting and it isn't subscription. However, Skylum tends to reinvent/rebrand Luminar each year and relaunch it as a new product.

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I would go with Lightroom Classic (not Lightroom!). That is the standard for most professional digital photography workflows these days, along with Capture One. It takes time to learn lightroom, but overall it is intuitive once you learn the basics. The biggest advantages are that in addition to its non-destructive editing, it is also the best DAM (digital asset management) tool for most photographers. It keeps things somewhat organized, and it does not touch your raw files, so it is very hard to lose or ruin your photos. Along with the subscription you also get Photoshop, which can be extremely useful for certain tasks (nothing comes close for spotting or retouching images). Additionally, Lightroom has a very good and flexible print module, as well as one for keeping track of locations, and making basic books, slideshows and web galleries. I cannot comment much on the utility of the map, book or web tools, as I do not use them much. I would skip the other programs, unless you are interested in Capture One. The reason being that you might wind up investing time and effort into a program which is subsequently discontinued or radically changed. Lightroom has been the standard for about ten years now (and Photoshop for 20 years before that...), and it does not look like it is going to change anytime soon.

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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I've been a Photoshop user for a long time and have become comfortable with its companion application Camera Raw for adjusting raw files (it opens automatically when you open a DNG file in Photoshop. Having access to Lightroom with my Creative Suite subscription, I've experimented with it a few times but have never found a good reason to change the workflow I've established. The curve for this old dog learning new software tricks is somewhat painful, and the tools in LR seem to be the same as in Camera Raw. I have a routine that is likely easy to critique but I know it well - shoot DNG + JPG, using the jpegs exclusively for the quick look (displays much faster than the DNG files) when reviewing the images, marking those I want to work on further and then opening the DNG version through Camera Raw. I make very rudimentary adjustments in Camera Raw before the file opens in Photoshop, save it as a 16b bit Photoshop native file (PSD) and then continue working on it. The ability to use selective editing with layers in PS is very powerful. I often go back to Camera Raw (available under filters) to do subsequent adjustments of curves, etc. and then apply the adjustments to only part of the image using layers. In the end, I save a PSD version for printing and archiving and a jpeg version for sharing online. 

Thumbs up on the use of Apple's image processing tools on the iPhone. When I AirDrop a file from computer to my phone for social media sharing, I often tweak it using the Photos app to make it more viewable for those younger eyes that tend to keep their phones on the lowest brightness settings.

just .02 from an old dog...

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I highly recommend Faststone Image Viewer.

It is free (but I donated money to them because I think the product is excellent), flexible, easy to learn and use and does everything I need it to do quickly.

The more popular (expensive) programs are waaaay to complex for what I need to do. I have Photoshop...etc but never use them.

I will occasionally run an image through Topaz Sharpen or DeNoise but that is rare. Faststone is real good at sharpening and noise reduction.

I'm not a pro but I'm proud of my work. I'm currently using Faststone to edit a wedding I shot for a friend. Quick, easy, flexible, comprehensive and handles jpeg, raw (nef, dng, etc.)

 

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If starting out, then I agree with the recommendations for Apple Photos. It is easy to use and handles RAWs well. If you want to do a bit more then On1 Effects and Neo Luminar can be used directly from within Photos.

Lightroom (the cloud version) is also very good, but has a little bit steeper learning curve. It also works on mobiles and tablets with seamless editing of your files.

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23 hours ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I would go with Lightroom Classic (not Lightroom!). That is the standard for most professional digital photography workflows these days, along with Capture One. It takes time to learn lightroom, but overall it is intuitive once you learn the basics. The biggest advantages are that in addition to its non-destructive editing, it is also the best DAM (digital asset management) tool for most photographers. It keeps things somewhat organized, and it does not touch your raw files, so it is very hard to lose or ruin your photos. Along with the subscription you also get Photoshop, which can be extremely useful for certain tasks (nothing comes close for spotting or retouching images). Additionally, Lightroom has a very good and flexible print module, as well as one for keeping track of locations, and making basic books, slideshows and web galleries. I cannot comment much on the utility of the map, book or web tools, as I do not use them much. I would skip the other programs, unless you are interested in Capture One. The reason being that you might wind up investing time and effort into a program which is subsequently discontinued or radically changed. Lightroom has been the standard for about ten years now (and Photoshop for 20 years before that...), and it does not look like it is going to change anytime soon.

I definitely agree with your last couple of sentences. I'm fully invested in the Apple Photos ecosystem since I use my iPhone as my primary camera, however, I've been a Mac user since iPhoto & Aperture so I'm fully aware that Photos could be changed on a whim. I used to believe that Adobe was trying to deprecate LR Classic in favor of LR CC and I still believe that was the original plan. However, I now believe that they eventually listened to voice of reason (i.e. their professional and advanced amateur user base) and decided to have both coexist. 

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As said above by several people, software tends to a personal preference. I started with Photoshop Elements, moved to Apple Aperture and, when that was killed off, moved to Lightroom. I hated Lightroom, moved to Luminar briefly before settling on Capture One.

I really like Capture One but it’s hard to recommend anything other than Lightroom. It’s the industry standard and there is so much help and advice out there to help anyone get started

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Like most have said I was using Apple Aperture and was really disappointed when they stop supporting it and pushed users towards Apple Photos.

I looked around for a replacement software and in the end went with Affinity Photo https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/  I used the free version before buying, it has some great videos tutorials which guide you through some of the main process of editing images.https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/tutorials/photo/desktop/

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