SilkyPix Pro - Professional RAW Converter

It is all about options, or why I really like SilkyPix Pro.

Silkypix Dialogs 

I have been using SilkyPix, and recently SilkyPix Pro, for a while now and always loved the sophisticated control and ingenious options that the converter offered. Resisting Change is natural and lies within the nature of all things. We have to invest some energy to dissipate on the learning process. Maybe that is the explanation for the monoculture of Aperture and Lightroom, but I am glad I made the effort.

Adobe Camera RAW 3, my previous RAW converter of choice does not support my new Canon EOS 7D camera. I decided not to upgrade Photoshop CS3 and skip a few versions, mostly due to Adobe's funky licensing policy. I ate up my licenses when I had trouble with my raid and re-installed a few times (with and without raid). Photoshop saw a new computer upon each installation and eventually claimed I had too many licenses in use, offering no recourse or help.

SilkyPix Pro does not seem to have this problem. I re-installed numerous times due to computer crashes until I finally got a new machine last fall. The people at SilkyPix (Roberto) are exceptionally easy to deal with in contrast to the call center reps I get at Adobe. I also downloaded the Lightroom 3 beta, but the support for the 7D isn't very good. The white balance looks off and the noise reduction for high ISO noise is insufficient. I assume that Lightroom 2.5 works well with the 7D, but I am not going to buy it and rather evaluate version 3.0 when it comes out.

Amazingly, the support for my 7D was there in SilkyPix Pro, even though I got my 7D when it had just come out. I had the same experience when my 450D had just come out. There was no update for ACR yet, but Silkypix 3 already supported it. Silkypix seems to be Japanese and they appear to have close ties to Canon.

Monument Valley 

Features

The amount of features that SilkyPix Pro and SilkyPix both offer really impress. You can find a good overview of the mother company on this page:

SilkyPix Feature overview

A good example is the lens correction features, which impress with their simple interface and powerful results. Here is an example I lifted from their website (link above):

Digital Shift 

Lightroom does not offer this feature, Photoshop does. To get the same features that SilkyPix offers, you need Lightroom + Photoshop.

The Canon 7D has ISO levels up to 12800, but it produces a lot of noise. The in-camera noise filtering is good, but I prefer working with RAW files as compared to JPG files for obvious reasons.

Noise Reduction 

The noise reduction levers are easy to understand, yet give a level of control that most other converters do not. Hover with your mouse over one of the sliders and a little (i)-bubble will pop up. Simply click on the blue (i) and you get an explanation of what it does. The interface is fantastic and a lot of fun to work with.

Interface and Presets

Most interfaces have useful presets and the tool has general image presets. You can tell the RAW converter that you are working on a landscape shot and all sliders will adjust accordingly to give you more contrast, sharpness, less noise filtering and more pop. When you select portrait you get more neutral skin tones, less aggressive sharpening and contrast.

The entire interface is well designed and easy to understand.

Color Presets Highlights Preset

I always start using presets and then tune the picture to my own taste. You can find the preset selectors at the top of each tool.

Preset Selectors 

The tools themselves are very sophisticated. I never got around the fact that Lightroom did not have a curves tool with full control point adjustability. I use this often to boost local contrast (e.g. in the sky) without affecting other portions of the spectrum.

Don't worry about the complexity. You can leave these tools alone and use the presets without ever having to expand all the options and you will be able to get good results. Eventually you may want to fine-tune your image, at which point you can simply pop open the control boxes.

Nifty Options

One of my favorite lenses is the Tokina 12-24mm. The lens delivers superb sharpness and very little distortion even at 12mm, but it has ugly chromatic aberrations. All RAW converters have two sliders to control Blue shift and Red shift. A nifty addition to SilkyPix is the CA sample pipette. Select this tool and simply click on a high contrast edge with ugly aberrations in your image and the tool will automatically figure out the Blue and Red shift values.

Automatic Chormatic Aberration Control

“Shading" is what we know as Vignetting and “Distortion” is Barrel/Pincushion Distortion, in case you were wondering.

Try it yourself

You can download a fully functional trial version here:

SilkyPix US Distributer

When you click on download, it will take you to an email signup form. You need to sign up for their newsletter and they will then send you the download link. I really don't like this, and I voiced my disapproval to SilkyPix. I hope this won't hurt their download rates in the long run, although I suspect it might.

Disclaimer

You can see my photographs and endorsement on the website above. I received a review copy of the software, but I received no other compensation and I will not receive any compensation, even if you evaluate or purchase the software. I simply think SilkyPix is a wonderful product that you could benefit from.

Tis a shame; it's windows

Tis a shame; it's windows only. too bad, looks nice.

I thought I might try it on my win virtual machine, but no info on how to download (or the price for that matter) could be found on their site.

if you have a working download link, please post it.

Thanks for sharing the tool, even if I can't use it (I'll try it, being curious, but realistically, I'm not going back to windows ...)

Macintosh Version

Hello Mike,
thanks for the feedback. The paragraph below the link, in the download section above explains how you can get the software.
Actually they do have a Mac version too, but somehow the US distributor site doesn't seem to list it. I think you can get it here:
Download from the Japanese Website (google translate link)

Thanks for the Info

I'll recheck the web site for download dirs; must have just overlooked them first time.

Also, great news re: Mac version!

Silkypix

Right now September 2010, Silky have booted the American distributor, thank heavens what a bad experience they were.

The programme is an excellnt one, I have Capture Pro 5, Bibble, Lightroom, and Canon, converters the best one without doubt is Silky pix.

Thanks Chris

Thanks for the update. I will change the links eventually. Right now the old ones are still working.

Agreed

I've been using Silkypix for about 2 years now, and agree it's an excellent RAW processor. Default RAW colour is never ideal right off the bat. SP has some very useful colour presets like Memory Color 1 & 2 which are very good right off the bat.

I'm glad Ishikawa Labs have recalled the English product back to Japan.

SilkyPix

How about a tutorial on workflow using SilkyPix Developer Studio 4. There is a manual, in pdf format, that you can download from www.shortcut.com. The manual contains very good info, it is however a bit complicated. For example not easy to find out how to save an image in jpeg once you have completed editing the RAW file.

Good idea

Good idea Barry. I will work on that when I have time or maybe I can find a volunteer to write an article that I could publish.

Capture One & DxO

Could you give your opinion how silky-pix compares to capture one and dxo optics.

Capture One

I am not familiar with the latest releases of Capture One or DXO. I used both a long time ago, so I cannot give you a comparison. I do use Lightroom extensively and I believe that Silkypix can hold its own against Lightroom. Some of the options are better, especially when it comes to tweaking colors.
AT the end of the day, I am using Lightroom more often since I find it more intuitive and I can extract more dynamic range from my shots. If you pictures are neither overexposed, nor underexposed, Silkypix is perfect.

Linux

I have SilkyPix running under Linux (with Wine), too. Installs and runs without problems.

I love the presets: you can preset every single setting with descriptive names or make global presets with all or a selection of settings - leaving other settings untouched. How could I live without this before? ;-)

And of cource I love the faster speed compared to Lightroom 3 (evaluation), Photivo, Rawtherapee - to name a few.

SILKYPIX- HELP

THE PEOPLE AT SILKYPIX ARE VERY EAGER TO HELP YOU . I HAD SEVERAL QUESTIONS TO ASK THEM AND THEY RESPONDED IN ONE DAY, DUE TO TIME DIFFERENCE. THEY ANSWERED EVERY QUESTION I HAD. CALL ADOBE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. I HAD A PROBLEM WITH PHOTOSHOP AND THEY HELPED ME OVER THE PHONE , GOT ME TO ONE POINT AND THEN TOLD ME THEY COULD GO NO FURTHER AND LEFT ME HANGING WITH PHOTOSHOP HALF IN AND HAD HALF OUT.THIS IS THEIR HELP CENTER? MY COMPUTER "BRAND NEW HP " HAD TO BE RESET BACK TO FACTORY SPECS BECAUSE OF THE "HELP" ADOBE GAVE ME. NEVER AGAIN WILL THEY HELP ME AND I WILL LET OTHERS KNOW WHAT I THINK.GIVE ME GOOD SERVICE AND I WILL STAND BY YOUR COMPANY AND LET OTHERS KNOW HOW GOOD YOU ARE.

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