Post Processing Workflow using ACDSee Pro 3 + Silkypix Developer Studio Pro + XnView
After using Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for a while, I finally decided to retire the software as it is just not making my post processing workflow any better or easier. And after downloading and trying all the trial versions of software like lightroom, photo mechanics, ACDSee Pro, Silkypix, lightzone (and many others), I have come to the conclusion this combo is the best for my current needs – I now uses ACDSee Pro 3 in conjunction with Silkypix Developer Studio Pro and XnView.
I am personally not into heavy post processing for my photography works. I prefer to get things right in the camera but I do fine tune the exposure bias, the colour saturation as part of my workflow. As such, heavy weight software like Adobe CS4 is not for me (not to mention that the software cost an arm or a leg for me). Here are some of my comments after trying out so many other software:
Pentax Digital Camera Utility (DCU) – IMHO this still has the best colour output of all RAW processing software I have tried. I just love the punchy output it renders. But the software has a few quirks that I am unable to overcome with. The most obvious one is the user interface. I am not a fan of it. The most glaring flaw for me is that it is not able to preserve the IPTC tags embedded into a DNG file when converting from DNG to JPG.
Lightroom – Like the interface, especially the clever use of a secondary monitor for picture preview. But I find the software run a little slower on my box than I would have liked. While the software itself is extremely powerful, I find that I am spending most of the time tweaking the colours during my workflow….I would rather spend the time out in the field taking photos than staring at the computer!
Photoshop Elements 7 – I only tried PSE7 and after a while, I got fed up by the software. Things I like – easy interface to get used to. Things I don’t like – editing tags is extremely limited. You are limited to tag the photos the way Adobe would want you to and if I wanted to add to a IPTC tag, I find that I just can’t figure out a way to do this. Other things I don’t like – no easy way to batch border the photos unless you are in the edit mode. Even if a border can be added, there is no easy way to automatically put in the IPTC tag as part of the JPG output. Also don’t like the output coming from the Adobe Raw Converter. There is also no dual monitor support….come on Adobe!!
ACDSee Pro 3 – Slick interface but the batch edit function is extremely limited. You can’t add different tags to different places on a photo. Say you want to put a text at the upper left corner of the photo and some other texts at the bottom, there is no way you can do this. Also, creating a border is a difficult task in ACDSee. While the software does not support dual monitor, you can drag and undock the preview from its original position and move it to the 2nd monitor, resize it full screen and voila! dual monitor support ready! It is still not the best way to do this (compared to lightroom) though.
Silkypix Developer Studio Pro – The 2nd best output following Pentax’s Digital Camera Utility. I like the user interface. But the software is primarily a RAW processor and not a photo manager and as such, tagging a photo is extremely limited. No secondary monitor support is also a letdown for me.
XnView – The freeware picture viewer but the batch processing function is extremely capable. The software also fully support dual monitor and preview photos is a joy. What I like is that using its batch processing function, I can create the kind of borders that I want easily and get all the text and exif info appeared the way I want it and it is surprising that none of the paid software can do this as well as XnView.
So the ideal combo for me is ACDSee Pro 3 for its dual monitor “support” and good tagging features + Silkypix for its superior raw processor + XnView for its superior batch processor.
My workflow now goes like this:
1. Copy image files from memory card to the hard drive and rename the files using a preset pattern. I usually do this using a file manager like Total Commander.
2. Load up ACDSee and use it to screen through the photos and delete those crappy ones and tag the keepers. For those keepers that I wanted to publish to the forum or flickr site, I also create a tag called “flickr”, so that I know which of the photos I have which are actually going to go on the net.
3. After all the tags are set and done, load up Silkpix and do all the post processing. The final DNG files will be saved to include all the adjustments made.
4. Using Silkypix, convert the DNG files to JPG. I put these files in the “processed” folder and for those pictures that are going on the net, I duplicate those and put in the “flickr” folder.
5. Load up XnView and run the batch processor on all photos in the “flickr” folder.
6. Upload photos to the internet and done!
I am just happy that I discover this combo and unless something comes along and prove to be a better way of doing things, I think I am sticking with this method for now.