The Influence of Individual Tools on the Workflow

The workflow determines which tools we acquire and use, and these then have their own effects on the shape of the workflow. Let's take a look at figure 2-11 and use it to put together a useful set of tools.

@ Use Photoshop with Bridge for downloading and data management. Bridge uses ACR for its RAW editor and (optionally) for the basic optimization of JPEG and TIFF images. The other optimization steps and printing are handled by Photoshop itself.

This combination is a great starting point but lacks a real database for managing large amounts of data.

® The only difference from the @ version is the use of one or more RAW editor(s), depending on the number and type of cameras you use.

© If your RAW editor has a good built-in image browser and a usable downloader, you only need to use Photoshop for fine-tuning and for saving your processed images. Further use of Photoshop or general data management can be handled by a browser (such as Bridge) or a specialized data management system.

® Data management (including image download) is handled using specialized software, such as Microsoft Expression Media or Extensis Portfolio. A RAW editor is only used for basic optimization and RAW data conversion. Image fine-tuning and printing are handled by Photoshop.

The best multimedia database tools* are designed for efficient data * For example: management and to support as many different data formats as possible, ¡Match: including audio, video, and DTP (Desk Top Publishing) formats. These ACDSee Pro: same tools, however, are more rudimentary when it comes to handling FotoStation: and processing RAW data files, and you will need a good RAW editor to complete your toolset. The output capabilities of data management tools are also fairly limited, so it is often necessary to use a separate output module.

Down- Image load inspection

RAW editor and converter

Image editing and optimization




I P3Al


Printing da


Digital asset management



RAW editor/converter (e.g. CI, RD, LightZone)



RAW editor/converter with a high-quality browser and downloader


Bridge or Image DB

Image database


Image database

All-in-one application

Photoshop e.g. Lightroom / Aperture / Bibble S

Accessible via a right-click

Lightroom 3 can handle CYMK as well as Lab files.

Figure 2-11: Possible toolsets for use with the digital photo workflow (For abbreviations see page 142.)

© Here, we recommend that you use an all-in-one package such as Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, or Bibble 5 to cover your basic needs. You will probably need no other software for a majority of your images. We still tend to use Photoshop for fine-tuning and printing, although we manage our images using an all-in-one package.

This concept doesn't exclude the use of other RAW editors. In Mac OS X, we simply drag the RAW file from Aperture or Lightroom to the editor icon in the Dock. If we want to open RAW files in Photoshop, we select the files in Lightroom and use the context menu* to open Photoshop.

Most current all-in-one packages do a good job of integrating image loading, RAW conversion, image optimization (up to a certain level of complexity), and fairly usable output functionality in a single interface. They are, however, still not capable of handling non-photographic data formats, including the video files that so many DSLRs are now capable of shooting. They have the advantage of being able to handle numerous RAW formats as well as JPEG, TIFF, and PSD. A disadvantage is their inability to interpret CMYK or L*a*b* files correctly.** All-in-ones generally produce acceptable (but not great) RGB inkjet, slideshow, and Web gallery output.

The first accessory plug-ins for Apple Aperture, Adobe Lightroom, and Bibble are starting to appear, but they are not yet as numerous or well-developed as most Photoshop plug-ins. Image corrections are usually performed by way of an implicit export and re-import of the manipulated image data, making non-destructive processing impossible.

Data exchange compatibility between Lightroom and Photoshop is very good, while Aperture and Photoshop still have some learning to do!

Lightroom, Aperture, and Bibble produce good RAW conversions, and Capture One is excellent in this respect. Some proprietary RAW editors, such as Nikon Capture NX or Canon Photo Professional, produce some of the finest textures and shadow/highlight detail we know, but the software is limited for use with each manufacturer's cameras.* The overall workflow is also somewhat clunky and not as smooth as in some of the more integrated editors on the market. Nikon in particular still lags behind in this respect.

In addition to the tools listed in figure 2-11, you will often need other tools or plug-ins to produce your desired print or slide-show effects. You will probably purchase these as and when you need them, according to your aims and, of course, your budget.

None of the software we have mentioned so far is capable of delivering a satisfactory, integrated backup solution, so you will most likely need additional software and hardware for that purpose.

* The same is generally true of other proprietary RAW editors included with cameras manufactured by Pentax, Sony, or Leica.

> Chapter 13 discusses backup tools and strategies.

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