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RawShooter Essentials 2005

Text and photography copyright Andy Rouse. All rights reserved.

Note - Link to free download at the bottom of page.

The past year at NPN has been a real pleasure for me, a chance to show my latest work to like minded and appreciative photographers. So I want you to be the first to share in some exciting news that I am announcing at PMA in Orlando. Iíve been a pro now for 9 years but most of you donít know that before that I was a consultant for a US based software company. Well now my life seems to have come full circle as for the past 9 months as I have been working as part of a new start-up software company called Pixmantec. Dissatisfied with the solutions available on the market today we set out to produce the ultimate Raw Workflow Management tool. Itís not just any start-up company either, the people involved wrote Capture One, the current best selling RAW converter on the market today.

At PMA we are announcing the release of a new player in the RAW software market - RawShooter Essentials 2005. The whole philosophy of the product is to reduce the time spent in front of a PC and the level of knowledge needed to make sophisticated technical corrections to your RAW images. Iíve never been a subscriber to the Photoshop fiddler school, i.e. that you can only get good images by being a guru and spending hours in a darkened room staring at a screen. Sure if itís your bag then great, but for most of us itís a necessary chore to get our images developed for the world to see. Also we want to ensure that our images are of the utmost quality, without excessive noise yet retaining maximum detail. Unfortunately too many RAW converters seem to fail at this basic step; something that our R&D department has ensured is a thing of the past. One last thing, RawShooter Essentials 2005 is FREE, yes thatís right, totally FREE. Bet that got your attention!

Hereís what one of the customisable screens looks like within the application (showing a lion having an orgasm Ė seriously). Iíve been using the product now for 6 months to convert my RAW files for both Getty and my own publishing projects, not to mention of course NPN. The results have spoken for themselves, my digital files compete and win against drum scans, and some are less than half the size in their original form. How can they do that? Simple, when they are converted they are razor sharp, free from noise and look bright & alive. As a professional photographer, image quality is my number 1 concern and the same is true of all photographers Ė itís the final image that counts.

One area that I have always suffered from is time, which waits for no-one (Iíve just celebrated my 40th birthday). Usually my RAWs donít see the light of day for several months, which isnít much use when you make your living from them. The same is true of most amateurs that I know; they can get the time to take pictures but can rarely spare enough time to process them straight away. With family and work commitments, time becomes an issue, so anything that can be done to reduce the workstation time is a bonus.

Consider a recent trip of mine as an example. Iíve just returned from an exciting trip to the Falkland Islands, which youíll read about on NPN over the next couple of months. I took a total of 6500 RAW images, mostly on the new EOS 1Ds MKII, and usually they would get processed sometime this summer due to work and travel commitments. Until I started using RawShooter Essentials 2005 that is. Within 1 day I had cut the 6500 down to 1800 keepers by using the productís slideshow (see below) and assigned 257 priority 1 images. Yep, the great thing about the product is that it lets me prioritise my RAWs, into the good, the bad and the damn ugly!

A day later all the priority 1 images were processed and on their way out the door to make me some cash. Note that they were ALL colour corrected using RawShooter Essentials 2005 only, I didnít use any post processing editor apart from a glorified dust spotter (and believe me that will change soon tooÖ). At some stage Iíll return to process the remaining images, but now that Iíve done the best Iím not under any pressure to do so.

Want to know more? Well here are a few of the product features that weíre proudest of:

Image Priority / Deletion

Building upon its design concept of workflow management, RawShooter Essentials 2005 allows you to assign priorities (1, 2 or 3) to individual or groups of images. These priorities allow you to identify the best images from a collection, view them separately from the rest and process them quickly and effectively using our advanced image correction tools. For professionals, this means getting images out of the door and to clients faster whilst for amateur photographers it means youíll have to spend less time in front of your PC and more time taking photographs. Donít worry if you canít complete the edit all in one go, RawShooter essentials 2005 keeps tabs on your progress and allows you to pick up from where you left off (using a special ďunassignedĒ priority group).

My workflow for my Falklands images was as follows Ė first pass I assigned all the rubbish to the delete folder, second pass I assigned the priority 1 images. The priorities are assigned either from our GUI thumbnail displays or from the full screen slideshow (see below), with full support for mouse wheel and keyboard shortcuts.

Slideshow

RawShooter Essentials 2005 provides a full screen slide show for simple editing and display of your RAW images. Using our proprietary RAW processing techniques we do not rely on having a JPEG for this editing purpose, thus saving valuable space on your CF cards. When a directory is first loaded we generate low resolution previews for the slideshow, which are persistent yet can be managed via a preferences dialog. During the editing process, individual files can be assigned priorities 1 , 2 or 3 or consigned to the recycle bin. Note that these priorities only exist within the product, are persistent forever until you change them (across product closure) and are absolutely the savior of my workflow!

If you want to show your images to your clients / friends / family then the slideshow has a fully timed mode with several stunning slide transitions.

Powerful Image Correction Tools

The RawShooter Essentials 2005 correction tools allow you to make specific changes to your images. In addition to altering shooting parameters such as white balance and exposure compensation our product supplies innovative new tools such as Detail extraction, Appearance and Fill Light. Donít forget, that since all tools are slider based, they require no previous knowledge or technical expertise. Any changes that you make are instantly shown on our what-you-see-is-what-you-get hi-resolution dynamic preview. Using this preview you can zoom up to 800% to inspect tiny portions of your image, with virtually instantaneous results.

The Noise Suppression technology is an example of the innovative tools provided by RawShooter essentials 2005. Rather than simply applying noise suppression to the whole image, at low values it only reduces the low frequency noise that is commonly found in the background of an image. This allows you to retain maximum image sharpness and quality, all with just the movement of a single slider.

The Appearance tool provides a great starting point for image corrections, as shown below:


Flat

Outdoor Normal

Outdoor Medium

Outdoor Strong

The four images are identical but have simply had differing levels of the Appearance correction applied. Clearly the OUTDOOR STRONG has the most difference from FLAT; it is more saturated, stands our better from the background and is generally a more pleasing image. Therefore with one simple tool I have applied some sophisticated corrections to the image and can now process it. Of course the Appearance Tool doesnít suit every image but does provide a good starting point for most.

All the correction tools are fully documented with examples in the User Guide, written by yours truly and a real labour of love.

The Fastest Multi-threaded Batch Processing and best quality output

RawShooter Essentials 2005 has the fastest RAW processing in the DSLR industry and converts even the huge RAW files from the Canon EOS 1Ds MKII in several seconds. To increase your productivity and workflow, the batch processing is also multi-threaded. This means simply that your images are queued for processing in the background. You can apply the corrections to a single / group of images, add them to the batch queue and then move on to the next image, without waiting for the processing to complete. Trust me on this, the R&D team is lead by an imaging genius and the quality of the output will astound you.

User Guide

Iíve written the User Guide for the product and itís deliberately targeted at photographers. It starts with a brief product overview and we strongly suggest that you take the time to read the sections on the slideshow, image priority and the image correction tools.

And so much moreÖ.

In addition to the above the product supplies the following features:

  • Support for over 50 RAW formats including Canon (including 1Ds MKII) and Nikon. Plus Pentax, Minolta and Olympus too.
  • File Management Ė move, copy, rename, delete of single images or groups
  • Viewing modes Ė 5 different viewing modes for user choice
  • Output options Ė choice for 8 / 16 bit RGB TIFF or Small / Medium / Large JPEG
  • Colour information file to store colour changes away for future re-processing, thus ensuring RAW file is never changed but colour corrections are retained.
  • Fully colour managed output with options for popular Working RGB spaces and expert option to create own camera profile.
  • Snapshot to show colour variations of the same image to allow you to pick the best
  • Slick support for mouse wheel in all displays and functions
  • Favourites option for regularly used directory Ė saves having to remember physical location
  • Group option allows colour corrections to be applied to a group of images so that a sequence will always look identical
  • Wizard for auto-white balance and auto-exposure
  • White balance picker
  • RGB Histogram with spot meter function to fix exposure location
  • Colour clipped pixels warning
  • Automatically open processed image in selected post processing application

Well of course I could go on and on with a feature list but by now you get the idea that this product offers a lot more than most. In fact as an experienced user of all the competitors I can say truthfully that this product blows them away. And of course it is completely FREE. Yep, no strings attached, FREE with no time limit.

Pixmantec is here to stay and weíre committed to providing Photographers Toolbox applications that are useful for the real photographer. To show our commitment to the photographic community weíve made essentials 2005 free. In a few months weíll be launching our flagship RawShooter products which will build on the technology available in essentials to become the complete family of workflow management products for ALL levels of user.

As already mentioned Iíll be presenting at PMA, booth 2463 at 12:30pm every day. So if you are coming along then please drop in and say hi. Alternatively if youíre in the UK then Iíll be presenting on the Lowepro stand at Focus on Imaging (February 27th and 28th). At the end of my usual presentation Iíll be showing RawShooter Essentials 2005 so come along and take a look - 11:30, 1:00 and 2:30pm.

Jim and the team at NPN have been supportive of this project from the beginning and so we are pleased to have NPN as a download partner. To download the product from NPN just click here or visit www.pixmantec.com for downloads, product brochures and corporate information. At the end of the day it costs nothing to download the product and try it (remember to read the doc) but it may save you a whole lot of hassle in the long run.

Normal service will be resumed next month with some awesome Penguin images from the Falklands; I guarantee youíll never have seen anything like it before! Just in fact like RawShooter essentials 2005, we know that youíll love it!

AR-NPN 1153


Andy Rouse is a professional wildlife photographer based in the U.K. His professional credits include hosting the Discovery Channelís Wildlife Photographer TV series, and the publication of six books, including his soon-to-be-released The DSLR Masterclass. Andy's images are represented by NHPA and Getty Images and are sold worldwide. To learn more about Andy, check out his NPN bio. To view more of Andy's work, visit his website at www.andyrouse.co.uk.

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