Software that is good, and not owned by Adobe
Welcome to 2018!
I wrote the letter below to a friend to whom I'd promised it a week or so ago. After I sent the email, it occurred to me that it might be useful to this group as well. Most of you are likely already familiar with some or all of these products, but if nothing else, here's a list of links to their websites.
I'll let the letter speak for itself:
(This text was dictated, so please forgive the electronic typos.)
I apologize for this email being so late. Two days after the Christmas party where we spoke, the CPA asked me to fully implement a contest system behind a pay wall, and have it ready in two weeks. Needless to say I have done nothing else in the interim, and work goes on.
Further, I'm reluctant to offer recommendations on software with which I am not yet familiar myself, so for many of the things we discussed I can only offer observations at this point. I am, however, eagerly looking forward to spending time with the new software, and coming up to speed with it, at which point I will absolutely let you know my thoughts.
I am familiar with Focus Magic, Photo Zoom Pro, Print Tool, and QuadTone Rip. I can in fact, offer my hearty recommendation on all of these, which you will find listed below. That said, here are some observations;
Affinity photo: may in fact be better than Photoshop, but I don't have enough time with it yet to truly recommend it. I am greatly looking forward to spending the time with it other than the day or two I spent in serious study and several days puttering around. One of the problem is that there is no reference manual for it other than online, and I'm a guy who likes books. As I recall this evening, it offers an almost completely nondestructive workflow, and all in 32-bit. As I also recall, its use of layers is more sophisticated and workable than the same in Photoshop. Further, at $49, it's pretty hard to go wrong.
ACDsee: as I believe I mentioned this offers the automatic updating of its catalog which is lacking from light room. I do recall a few days ago being unable to see all 20,000 of my images on one screen, as it seems to be limited to displaying only folders of images. (I had it index my existing light room folders.) It is quick however. This one needs a lot more time for me before I can decide if it's a tool for my digital asset management.
DxO photolab: these are the folks that now have ownership of Nick software and the new photo lab (given the tiny amount of time I have had to play with it) seems quite likely to be my go to raw processor. But again, I don't have enough time into it to recommend it other than to say I have a very good feeling about it at this point.
Likely of more interest to you are tools for black-and-white work.
Print tool and QuadTone Rip come with my heartiest recommendation and several years of practical use. QuadTone Rip is a driver for black-and-white printing and toning. It too is only $49 I believe. Print tool is a perfect complement to it (and works with color as well.) To use print tool you save out your images as tiffs and load them into print tool for printing. So you are no longer printing from light room or from Photoshop. The big advantage here is that it is extremely clean, both in the sense of "free from bells and whistles" and the technical. Frankly, I would never go back to printing black and whites or color, for that matter, with anything else. Also reasonably priced.
For extrapolation (blowup) software, (and I have owned and tried them all) I recommend Photo Zoom Pro, hands down.
Finally for general image sharpening Focus Magic is vastly superior to any unsharp mask.
Print tool and QuadTone Rip" http://www.quadtonerip.com/html/QTRoverview.html
I wish there were more detail and advice in this, but with the website work and my show at the Triton coming up in a month, there simply has not been any time to devote to fun things, and so a more comprehensive report will simply have to wait until the last part of February, I'm afraid.
Of course I am always eager to talk about such things particularly on the phone, or over lunch, almost any time.
Sorry for the paucity of details, David, but such is my life right now.
Happy new year.