Pix editing on the iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by kenglade, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. kenglade macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
    #1
    I just acquired an iMac G5 which I plan to use extensively for picture editing. I'm a serious amateur and I've found that iPhoto doesn't give me enough control over the editing process. I'm thinking of installing Nikon Capture NX2. has anyone used this program on the iMac and what results were forthcoming? An alternative is Photoshop but it has more features than I will ever use. Many thanks.
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #3
    The standards in this category are...

    Non-free:
    Photoshop Elements - basically, a lower cost variant of PS that is geared towards serious amateurs like yourself. Almost all the features you need plus some tools to simplify the basics that you use every day.

    Pixelmator - A relatively recently developed OS X only application that makes extensive use of GPU-offloading of graphics work. The first couple of releases were really lacking in features, but I understand that recently it has become quite competent.

    Free:
    Gimp - PSE and Pixelmator have much friendlier interfaces than the Gimp, although the Gimp is easily the most powerful of the three.
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    Get a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements. It's about $80. You are likely correct that Photoshop CS4 has more then you will use. "Elements is about right for most photographers.

    All editing software has a steep learning curve. You are going to have to invest considerable time learning. So you might as well invest the time in what is the industry standard. "Elements has about the same user interface as PS CS4 so if you ever do want to upgrade you wil not have to re-learn.

    My opinion of Nikon's software is that it's not very "Mac Like" and I don' like the user nterface. But many people think it works well. Which is best? I doubt anyone can answer that.
     
  4. munkery macrumors 68020

    munkery

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2006
    #5
    If you have used photoshop before, Gimpshop is a version of gimp with menus in the same configuration as photoshop.

    Gimp uses X11 so it is somewhat cumbersome. Seashore, mentioned earlier in the thread, is a port of gimp specifically for Mac OS X (so redone in cocoa) that runs without X11 but it does have fewer features. Seashore, like gimp, is totally free so dl it, try it, and if you don't like it then spend your money.

    I find seashore is a good choice for all but the most advanced users.
     
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    FWIW there is now an "experimental" version (pretty functional) that runs in Aqua for Intel Macs...

    http://gimp-app.sourceforge.net/
     
  6. munkery macrumors 68020

    munkery

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    Dec 18, 2006
  7. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    Location:
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    #8
    Seasons Greetings. I am a (somewhat) serious professional who uses Aperture for editing my images. I have Photoshop, and used to use that exclusively... but have found Aperture to be much faster (and also probably easier for most folks to adjust their images). The interface has improved, but still a little wonky... but as far as editing pics it is awesome. Downside as compared to pshop, is that you lose ability to work in layers, channels, incorporate type & retouching (Aperture has a basic clone tool). But initially I always do my edits and first adjustments in Aperture. I work on 1000's of images for publications & ads, and find it to be workhorse I use every day. Also, I use a 24" iMac, and find it more than sufficient (max your ram out though).

    You can download a demo version (which works for 30 days) here:
    http://www.apple.com/aperture/trial/

    cheers,
    michael
     
  8. kenglade thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
    #9
    pix editing on the iMac

    Michael et al

    Many thanks for all the suggestions. I've never heard of Seashore but will check it out.

    I've been using PSE 6 (PC version) for a couple of years and am trying to find something between it and CS, which goes beyond my needs. I've been working with a trial version of Lightroom 2 on the PC but I'm not impressed. I can't see where it is any more useful than PSE.

    I like the Curves feature in PSE but it is only a "light" version compared to what's in CS. I'd like more Curves but less layers than the amount of domination it has in CS (and to some extent in PSE). One feature I've found myself using more in PSE is "distortion", mainly because I have some impressive shots of the exterior of a Mexican cathedral. But the towers are leaning.Distortion helped but I had to cop very tightly.

    Anyway, the ideas are great and I will pursue.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
    Ken
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #10
    Ahhh, when you said PS has more features than you'd ever need, it would have helped if you'd said PSE6 had too few. ;)

    If you want applications that are in the band of having more image processing tools than PSE6 and less than CS3, that's an extremely small band. I don't think Pixelmator or Seashore fall into it. Lightroom and Aperture AFAIK aren't going to fit in there either -- they aren't exactly full featured image processors -- they're focused on workflow and large numbers of images.

    In fact, on OS X, I'm not sure of anything that falls into that band, except for the full Gimp. In Windows, Paint.net might fit in there, although I'm not sure about that either.
     
  10. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    #11
    Ken, Aperture does not have curves (which I used to be a heavy user of), however it actually has a few easy tools that pshop does not, and ones that seem to get at "places" that aren't as easily accessible in pshop (akin to moving into lab color to get at brightness levels). While it does have the same hamfisted "saturation" tool that iPhoto has (which seems to darken as much saturate), it also lets you go into specific color adjustments (which seem to work a bit better than pshop). Plus, you have a vibrancy slider.... which is WAY more effective than the saturation one. Hard to say what exactly it does, but it adds "punch", working only on the less saturated tones of your image. Vibrancy is akin to smart sharpening for altering saturation.

    Also, I would strongly argue that Aperture is indeed a full-featured image editor. While it lacks the tools that make pshop more akin to a layout program (specifically type rendering), masking/retouching/compositing, and multiple layering... as far as image processing goes I do not exactly know what it lacks.

    I have not replaced pshop with aperture... I still need both. Aperture has the benefit of also being an image management app (although many folks just assume that is ALL it does). However for image editing it is my primary workhorse. Usually I will clean up the images in Aperture, and then bring it into pshop for sizing/mode changes or incorporation into a layout in pshop or quark.

    Lightroom I gather is limited to cataloging? In any event, no matter which way you go I would suggest you try the demos as see for yourself. While I love Aperture, I find it has a few quirks, and the interface is a bit less intuitive (as compared to iPhoto). I have a database of 50k high res images, which are sorted and also corrected with Aperture. If you have already have used iPhoto and are looking for more control than the limited controls & adjustments it offers, I would suggest that Aperture is the natural progression/solution to try...

    peace,
    michael

    PS: Krishnan, don't take this as a slam to you... as it is not intended to be in any way. cheers, michael
     
  11. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    #12
    Nikon Capture NX2 is technically an excellent app. However, i can't stand the user interface of it. But considering that there are quite a few happy users out there, I guess some like it, or at least doesn't mind it or doesn't know better.
    But as far as features and quality goes it's an excellent app. And for importing nikon raw-format it does the best job of any app out there.

    Personally, I prefer Lightroom though. It does a good job at importing raw-files and it has enough features for regular darkroom work and a few quick retouching features as well. If you only want to enchance photos and not manipulate them a lot, then I vote for LightRoom since it also has a good interface, and a much better image management than NC NX2.

    Aperture is a for me a bit limited feature-wise.

    The Gimp is a really good Free app. Pretty much the only thing I miss from Photoshop is the retouching tools. It can at least be a good compliment to LightRoom or NC.
     
  12. kenglade thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
    #13
    Pix editing on the web

    Again, many thanks to all. The suggestions are much appreciated and extremely informative. I think I have a long period ahead of checking out the trials.

    What bothers me, though, is I'm getting the impression that many need two programs rather than just one, but that may be beacuse of individual needs.

    So far, I've only used Lightroom a few times. I imported my RAW files and went through the process very similar to what's available in PSE 6 (I'm talking PC versions here). Finished that, opened the pix and was ready to fine tune. Surprisingly, the program directs me to PSE 6 for editing. There may be a switch that I need to find in the setup or it may because this is just a trial version. But, hey, if I have to edit in PSE 6, why do I need Lightroom? I don't take hundreds of images so I don't need a souped up cataloging function.

    Anyway, I'll play around and report my findings -- for what they're worth -- on the forum.

    Mil gracias and happy holidays.
     
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #14
    No, not at all -- I agree with you. What you said is kind of what I meant by "not a full featured image editor," but I guess that's not quite the right way to put it. Aperture and Lightroom were neither really intended to replace PS, and for most users, they don't seem to have done so. Rather, they supplement it on the workflow end.

    That being said, a high volume photographer can probably get by almost solely with them. When I get in the zone with my photography, I don't really do a lot of post-processing (granted, I don't do airbrushed glamour shots, which are much more time consuming on the post end).

    I think that's all I was trying to say.
     
  14. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    #15
    Mohan... I agree with you completely. Ap has not replaced pshop for me at all. However a significant part of the workflow has been moved for me to aperture. I find it way faster, especially when cleaning up images shot in similar lighting situations. I have been using pshop since 1.0, and have even taught it to other professionals (designers & photographers). All in all I think Aperture would be a much easier lesson to teach, and with a lower learning curve. One can bumble around in Aperture and get a much easier/good result I would think, than jumping right into curves in pshop.

    Also, the fact that Aperture's has a non-destructive workflow is a big plus. I just handle the final adjustment rotation in pshop (sizing & mode changes, ie: converting to CMYK for print work). Just like iPhoto, I can email and size down on the fly to fit an email (I like the seamless integration with other apple apps). Lastly, something pshop handles VERY poorly is contact sheets. It takes forever, and is a pain in the ass (IMO). Both iPhoto & Aperture can 1-click contact sheet a selection of pics, generate a PDF, or JPEG of it, AND open up a new email with the sheet attached (worth the price of the ticket alone, lol).

    I am not a shooter anymore, as I have more talented folks doing that part for me these days. Most of the shooters do no post processing at all, and I get the raw files from them. This is good, as in medicine the first rule is "do no harm". Aperture and iPhoto let one revert back to the raw/original state in one click...

    cheers,
    michael
     
  15. kenglade thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 20, 2008
    #16
    pix editing ont he iMac

    Mohan - Michael

    Very insightful descriptions of some of the programs available. I haven't yet tried Ap but I'm still setting up my iMac and can't complete the process until a get my wireless connection straightened out. So far, the program I'm leaning toward is Capture NX2. I shoot with Nikons so that makes it simple. Plus, it seems a step up from PSE without getting as complicated as PS. I'm an old journalist so I have ethical issues involved in many of the creations with PS, like inserting a moon, a different sky, etc. That has no appeal for me. Workflow and batch processing also don't attract me because I don't shoot enough images at a time to matter. What I prefer to shoot is faces, not portraits but candid photos of people on the street. My favorite sites are the markets in Mexico. The editing work I normally perform is with lighting and color. I don't remove backgrounds (maybe an occasional telephone pole) or insert people in scenes so I'm not really interested in layers. OTOH, maybe I just don't know PS enough to appreciate all it's features but to me it's overkill.

    Ken
     
  16. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    #17
    Hi Ken, the photographer who shoots for me has all Nikon equipment, but for most of his jobs he just uses Bridge (yikes, lol) to do a quickie preview/cull of the images. I want him to spend his time shooting, and not cataloging the pics (he shoots quite a large number of pics each year). I take on the archiving, cataloging, and also the image clean-up. I come from a magazine background, so my sense of journalistic ethics is a bit more watered down, lol. Let's just say, the grass is always green, and the skies are mostly blue... at least in my world.

    My primary workstation for imaging is a 24" iMac, calibrated with a Spyder2 for pre-press & CYMK printwork. I took a chance and left the "pro" platforms for the iMac when the 24" came out. I never once regretted the move, and found that dropping 3K was a lot easier than the 7-8k I usually spent on a workstation. Hopefully soon the iMac will come out in a 30" version...

    Layers, and channel masking are very good tools to use when editing images, and only pshop has them (well as compared to Aperture at least). Even without adding "additional" elements, these tools let you get at parts of your image that need "fixing", and without harming the rest of the image.

    Not sure how far down the learning curve you are, but there is one book I always recommend (especially to photographers)... it is called Photoshop Artistry, by Barry Haynes & Wendy Crumpler...
    (http://www.maxart.com/office/office2.html)

    The book is geared towards shooters, and ties imaging to the Zone system. I was never a zone disciple myself, but when explaining levels (and curves), the comparison is and apt and useful one. Plus it has some good tutorials, and has a cd with sample files (handy when you are trying to gauge your skill and progress). Most self-help books are crap, and this is especially so for techie ones it seems. I think they are in their 10th+ edition, buy an older one and the concepts/tecniques are still the same (so you can save some bucks if you want).

    I do almost no "batch work" per say, as I don't deal with too many studio shots. Almost all of our material is shot on the fly, with real people in reall situations... so the lighting varies immensely. iPhoto actually used to offer a bit more more control over image correction/adjustment, and it seems that it has been intentionally hobbled (or simplified). In any event while the interface is not as smooth/intuitive catalog-wise (for instance, in iphoto if you close the app and reopen it you are at the same spot... in aperture that is not the case, and it defaults back to the "top" of the image database. This is WAY annoying, and a big flaw IMO). But... for image altering it beats the pants off pshop. Auto-levels (not a recomended strategy for pshop) gives you 2 variations, and the first uses the B & W settings in the luminance (akin to lab color space). Often this one-click gives a good starting point, and then you can tweak the images luminance further in the luminance levels panel. Much less "destructive" than levels can be, and easier for the average bear to use than curves...

    Anyhow, I clean thousands of images each year, and Aperture has been a god-send for me. They have a sub-site (http://www.apple.com/aperture/), that has demo movies, tutorials, and a link for a free trial. At $199 it is a steal for a professional level ap...

    Check out some of the images we shoot here...(these are not full-res versions).
    http://njsouthernshore.com/movies/animoto_high_res.mov

    cheers,
    michael
     
  17. kenglade thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
    #18
    pix editing on the iMac

    Michael
    The more I read the more I realize how much I don’t know. What you say about Aperture is very interesting. I’ll try the trial version as soon as I get my Mac in shape. I have a lot of work to do on it yet: Format the HD and reinstall the apps (installation disk and 08 version of iLife enroute); increase the RAM to 2 gigs (cards also enroute); check to see status of Airport card (listed as “no information available” in About My Mac); get a router to connect to my DSL, etc.

    To date, I’m impressed with Capture NX2 but as far as I’m able to tell it lacks a dodge and burn facility, which I understand is available with a plug-in in Aperture. My local Apple store also offers workshops on various Mac apps and I think there will be one in Aperture, which I definitely will attend. A book I ordered on NX2 (“Real World Nikon Capture NX2” by Ben Long has not yet arrived. It should answer a lot of my questions.

    My daughter is an enthusiastic proponent of CS3 (I think she got a CS4 upgrade for Christmas). She and her husband have a small side business taking sports shots for elementary school students (soccer, swimming, baseball) and putting them into books, posters and calendars which they sell to the parents. She says she couldn’t do it without PS. At her recommendation I got a book – “The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers” by Scott Kelby – which just about convinced me I don’t need PS.I also appreciate your recommendation of “Photoshop Artistry” by Haynes and Crumpler. That sounds like it would be much more useful than Kelby’s book even if I’m not using PS.

    BTW, I was unable to open your website on my PC. Got an error message saying I lacked the necessary Quicktime module which was unavailable on the server. Is it a Mac-specific facility? Anyway, I’ll try again once I get my Mac internet capable.

    Again, thanks for all your help.
    Ken
     
  18. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    #19
    Hi Ken, sorry about the link issue... the file is just a quicktime slideshow created with Animoto. It probably requires a newer version than what you have (if you are still using your PC, there are versions for the "dark side" as well, lol). It could be possible your flash version is older than 9, and/or javascript could be set to "off"... but my guess is that it is just your Quicktime plug-in being old, or not installed. The file definitely works on both Macs and PCs, but you will need Quicktime (as opposed to just Windows Media Player).

    Once you get settled with your set-up, try the trial (and also the others as well). I have tried an awful lot of apps over the years, but few have stood the test of time for me. I have soured a bit over Adobe in the latter years, as it seems that they have almost forgotten mac professionals (who basically built their business), seemingly only to remember them when it comes to annual PRICEY upgrades, that push the app into bloatware status. I still use it, as Aperture by no means replaces it... for print & web work pshop still is a must have for most. If I was just a shooter, I could probably easily get away with just Aperture. However, working mostly in print design, I use pshop every day.

    I have Kelby's book as well, and it is good... but Haynes book is still one of my favorites, and I recommend it still (after 10 years). Border's usually has both, so grab a cup of coffee and see which one is better for you.

    Not sure which iMac you have, but both pshop & aperture are pretty ram hungry beasts. I would recommend maxing out your ram at either the 2, 3 or 4gb level (depending on which iMac you have). If you buy it third party from somewhere like Crucial, it isn't that expensive these days...

    cheers,
    michael
     
  19. kenglade thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 20, 2008
    #20
    pix editing on the iMac

    Michael

    You're a fountain of useful information, which is much appreciated. My iMac is a Tiger G5 (10.4.11) and has a measly 256MG RAM and an 80MG HD. I've ordered 2MGs of RAM from Crucial and it should arrive today or tomorrow. According to the manual, 2MGs is the max for the Tiger. I also plan to get an additional HD.

    FMI, do you use an online backup service? I use Mozy on the PC and am considering it for the Mac but maybe the second HD will take care of it.

    Ken
     
  20. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    Sep 23, 2006
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    the REAL Jersey Shore
    #21
    Well thanks... always glad to offer advice. I don't use an online backup service, as I just have too much info to back up. I just keep adding hard drives, lol. They are very cheap, and are daisy chained via firewire 400 (I had heard that if you have more than 1 firewire 800 drive it steps it down, and there were some hard drive issues with the 800. Not sure how real the issues were, but it didn't make sense to take chances.). I also have some stuff backed up on DVDs, but am a bit leery of the longevity. Hard drives are cheap enough to have an extra one to keep offline. I have 5 Maxtors that have been trouble free, and 2 LaCies. I had one Lacie fail though, and it was enough to make me stick with Maxtors after that. Buy the biggest hard drive you can afford, but don't pay a premium for size (usually there is a sweet spot for pricing, and sometimes you will pay for the convenience of having a single 2 TB drive as opposed to 2 1TB drives). Stick with a name brand, 1TB drives are pretty cheap these days. I like the firewire drives, as the iMacs have a limited amount of USB ports, plus you can daisy chain them as well. Lastly, pick a drive that has both USB2 & firewire interfaces... I had a power supply go down on my iMac last week. I muddled through using my macbook air (no firewire) by hooking up my drives through the USB port. I couldn't daisy chain them, but at least could still get some work done.

    If you have any other questions you can sitemail me and I can give you my regular email.

    cheers,
    michael
     
  21. kenglade thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
    #22
    pix editing on the iMac

    Gracias. I agree with you about DVDs. In fiv years they probably will go the way of the VHS (and I have a lot of stuff on VHS so I've kept an old VCR)

    I'll holler. My overhead address, BTW is kenglade@yahoo.com
     

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