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SilkyPix Pro - Professional RAW Converter
It is all about options, or why I really like SilkyPix Pro.
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.
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:
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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:
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.
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.