Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some cold hard RAW

Adobe has been rumbling about RAW again.

As I pointed out… way back when… Adobe looked to be answering Apple’s challenge of Aperture with LightRoom. (Oh no, I see a soapbox! Why didn’t Adobe call it LightTable? Doesn’t that make more sense? It’s an editing program and where did we edit our takes in the film days? Right… on a *bleep* LightTable! Rant over!)

If you’re unfamiliar…

… programs like Apple Aperture and Adobe LightRoom are cataloging, organizing and minor editing programs used to help shooters edit their takes quickly and easily before taking the final edit into a larger fully-integrated software, such as Photoshop. The programs are going after the professionals and emerging pro-am that works in a RAW environment.

Working in RAW is akin to an unprocessed role of film. These programs are like the chemical bath that processed that film in the negative days. You might be wondering what the advantages of shooting RAW. Well, for the most part there aren’t many. The files are larger, processing them in a computer program takes longer and adds many steps and to be honest, (and as elitist as this may sound) not many people know what to do beyond cropping (or even desire to know for that matter) to even justify learning this extra step.

So who needs it? Professionals in need of control over every detail, sports photographers for sure for the greater latitude and those that are producing very large prints.

RAW has its advantages, but what I’ve seen is it becoming a buzzword that many do not fully understand or grasp. For instance a friend was shooting for a client recently and they demanded RAW images for their publisher. What they failed to understand, despite my friend and myself trying to explain it, is that a RAW image is useless until it is processed into a CMYK or RGB image. Still they persisted, most assuredly the buzz about RAW was ringing in their ears, and in the end the publisher informed them of the facts and the RAWs were processed into Jpegs.

Repeat after me, RAW is a buzzword. Learn about it if you’re interested. If you haven’t needed it yet, don’t worry about it.

But I digress… back to LightRoom.

At the time I was very interested in taking a look under the hood myself, but it was only available to Mac users. Perhaps another clue to the ‘answering apple’ theory.

Many moons have risen and fallen since, and now finally PC users like myself have been give a key to enter the gates and play. (Plus Aperture won’t play with Windows… for now, who knows what awaits in the next version with the new Intel chips.) On Wednesday, Adobe quietly released Windows beta 1.0.

Oh and it’s cross-platform as well. So if everything is as promised, now you’ll be able to work from your iMac at home, drop the files on a thumb drive and take them to your client who uses a Windows PC. Sweet!

According to a press release: recommended system requirements are Windows XP SP2, Pentium 4 Processor, 768MB RAM and a 1024x768 resolution screen. The final shipping version for both Windows and Macintosh will be released in late 2006. Further details around pricing, system requirements and availability have yet to be determined.

It’s downloading as I write this and I should be rolling up my sleeves soon. If you’re a PC user like myself and want to give it a spin…. Download LightRoom Beta for Windows and let’s compare notes!

What, you don’t wanna share your notes with me? Fine, I don’t really like you either. Share your feedback with Adobe and help LightRoom become the tool we want it to be.

Now I’m on my way to try this baby out…

Labels: , , , , ,