NikonGear

Gear Talk => Processing & Publication => Topic started by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 00:16:04

Title: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 00:16:04
Now that my subscription is going to expire on December 3rd, I'm seriously thinking about switching my photo editing software, as I'm not a big fan of the subscription system.

But there is one problem.  I started the "Floating point" thread sometime ago:

http://nikongear.net/revival/index.php/topic,7899.msg128035.html#msg128035

The floating (actually hanging from somewhere by the spider web strings) leaves of the image was quite a bit overexposed, but it was very easy to recover the blown highlight in ACR.  In search of the alternative, I tried to process the same NEF data in the latest versions of CNX-D (even using U-point) and DXO Optics Pro but neither could do that.

The first crop is from the original NEF converted to JPEG without any retouch, and the second one was processed in ACR.

I would be glad if some of you folks would try to recover the highlight in any photo editors you are familiar with.  If it is possible with CNX-D or DXO, please enlighten me.

Here you can download the original NEF:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4pedeehwa14t7s9/_DSC2672.NEF?dl=0

Please keep in mind that Capture One by Phase One is not among the candidate, because I would think the overall cost should be virtually the same as the subscription of CC2019.

Thank you in advance.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: MFloyd on November 16, 2018, 00:41:34
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4857/44082864920_8636469d7e_o.jpg)
Lr Classic 8.0 Camera Raw 11.0
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 03:18:44
Lr Classic 8.0 Camera Raw 11.0

Christian, thank you for your immediate response.  The highlight reovery seems to be fairly good.  Frankly speaking, that is not very surprising, because the raw convert engine is essentially the same as that of CC.

I should have mentioned that LR was not one of the candidates.  I'm not really in need of the catalog system, and the cataloging function of LR cannot be deactivated.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: pluton on November 16, 2018, 06:01:18
PN2=Photo Ninja, set to one of its default renderings for D750
PN3=Photo Ninja, with typical adjustments(brightness, color sat, noise, sharpen) Too much sat in the orange...my mistake. 
AP=Aperture 3(welcome to 2014) with nominal adjustments.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Eb on November 16, 2018, 07:17:43
Akira, I understand where you are coming from!  I dropped the Adobe subscription exactly 2 years ago, but I do have older versions of Photoshop, CS5, CS6.  In order to continue using old photoshop and ACR, (also PS Elements,) I purchased MetaRaw on The Plugin Site.  This allows you to open a NEF file in 3 ways.  First, it can route through the older ACR version, if it still supports the camera.  Second, it will use the latest DNG converter and open the converted file in ACR.  Thirdly, it will use the MetaRaw converter, which I believe is based on DCRaw and open into Camera Raw (as an editor.)  Metaraw converter and DNG converter is kept up to date by the author.  The output from the latter is very much alike what you would get with Camera Raw in CC.  If you do have an older version of Photoshop or Elements, this nifty plug in will give you what you are used to working with.  All operations are, automatic, seamless and quite snappy!

MetaRaw conversion with slight adjustment of highlight slider in ACR (as a filter.)
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Řivind Třien on November 16, 2018, 07:41:33

CNX-D has become better and better, and got the color control points (but not selection control points) back when Z7 was released. I am slowly warming up to it, well past the stage where I got angry every time I used it. Actually I have preferred it in some cases to the ViewNX2 (initial quick adjust and rating)/CNX2 combination (still use ViewNX2 for IPTC and initial ratings though).

I find that cropping works better in CNX-D than in CNX2 as it can be readjusted without starting over. I also discovered that the adjustment sliders work just by hovering the mouse over them and using the scroll wheel - very quick and gives very precise contol. No need to click before adjust. I miss user defined sharpening when outputting resized files though. Nikon just released new version with support for Z6.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 08:10:23
PN2=Photo Ninja, set to one of its default renderings for D750
PN3=Photo Ninja, with typical adjustments(brightness, color sat, noise, sharpen) Too much sat in the orange...my mistake. 
AP=Aperture 3(welcome to 2014) with nominal adjustments.

Keith, thank you for taking time to provide three different examples.  They look all great and even better than ACR (at least than my treatment).  Both versions of Photo Ninja seem to prove its renowned performance again here.  Unfortunately, my main machine is the one with Windows 10, and I don't use Aperture.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 08:17:10
Akira, I understand where you are coming from!  I dropped the Adobe subscription exactly 2 years ago, but I do have older versions of Photoshop, CS5, CS6.  In order to continue using old photoshop and ACR, (also PS Elements,) I purchased MetaRaw on The Plugin Site.  This allows you to open a NEF file in 3 ways.  First, it can route through the older ACR version, if it still supports the camera.  Second, it will use the latest DNG converter and open the converted file in ACR.  Thirdly, it will use the MetaRaw converter, which I believe is based on DCRaw and open into Camera Raw (as an editor.)  Metaraw converter and DNG converter is kept up to date by the author.  The output from the latter is very much alike what you would get with Camera Raw in CC.  If you do have an older version of Photoshop or Elements, this nifty plug in will give you what you are used to working with.  All operations are, automatic, seamless and quite snappy!

MetaRaw conversion with slight adjustment of highlight slider in ACR (as a filter.)

Eb, thank you for your response.  As with the example provided by Christian, various versions of ACR seem to show similar characteristics of rendition here.

Unfortunately, I don't have any of the older versions of Adobe software anymore.   I used to use PS Elements and noticed that its raw converter engine is not as efficient as the full versions of PS (not its functionality, but its essential performance of raw conversion).
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 08:19:23
CNX-D has become better and better, and got the color control points (but not selection control points) back when Z7 was released. I am slowly warming up to it, well past the stage where I got angry every time I used it. Actually I have preferred it in some cases to the ViewNX2 (initial quick adjust and rating)/CNX2 combination (still use ViewNX2 for IPTC and initial ratings though).

I find that cropping works better in CNX-D than in CNX2 as it can be readjusted without starting over. I also discovered that the adjustment sliders work just by hovering the mouse over them and using the scroll wheel - very quick and gives very precise contol. No need to click before adjust. I miss user defined sharpening when outputting resized files though. Nikon just released new version with support for Z6.

Řivind, thank you for posting your take.  This looks amazing!  If it is possible to recover the highlight that well in CNX-D (freeware!), I would love to try to improve my skill on it.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: MFloyd on November 16, 2018, 08:28:31
Christian, thank you for your immediate response.  The highlight reovery seems to be fairly good.  Frankly speaking, that is not very surprising, because the raw convert engine is essentially the same as that of CC.

I should have mentioned that LR was not one of the candidates.  I'm not really in need of the catalog system, and the cataloging function of LR cannot be deactivated.

Lr CC, Lr Classic CC, and Ps, share the same raw (ACR) processing machine. The subscription model brought a lot of controversy, all over the place. At the equivalent of a little less than €10/month, it’s probably the cheapest recurrent cost item in my whole photography practice   ;)
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 09:01:56
Lr CC, Lr Classic CC, and Ps, share the same raw (ACR) processing machine. The subscription model brought a lot of controversy, all over the place. At the equivalent of a little less than €10/month, it’s probably the cheapest recurrent cost item in my whole photography practice   ;)

You are right, and I don't disagree.

However, I'm in the process of revising the overall cost relating to the computer, software and communication.  So, trying to look for the alternative (and hopefully cheaper) software seems to make sense.  I daily use MS Word for my day job, and its running cost has been a lot lower than that of CC, even admitting that a lot of more advanced technology seems to be involved with CC.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Chris Dees on November 16, 2018, 09:04:03
DxO Photolabs 2
I used only the standard tools; Highlight priority strong, highlights -100, shadows -40, Prime noise reduction, default sharpening and cropping

Edit; I see it's horrible soft while the JPG-file and the screen in DxO is quite sharp. ???
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Řivind Třien on November 16, 2018, 09:23:48
Řivind, thank you for posting your take.  This looks amazing!  If it is possible to recover the highlight that well in CNX-D (freeware!), I would love to try to improve my skill on it.

Akira, glad if it can inspire you to try it out. Note that I do not use the highlight recovery slider - just use exposure compensation slider and then pull up shades if needed.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 09:59:36
DxO Photolabs 2
I used only the standard tools; Highlight priority strong, highlights -100, shadows -40, Prime noise reduction, default sharpening and cropping

Edit; I see it's horrible soft while the JPG-file and the screen in DxO is quite sharp. ???

Thank you, Chris.  Surely you can use DxO much better than I.   :-[  The general characteristics of the result looks similar to my result of using DxO, though.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 10:00:16
Akira, glad if it can inspire you to try it out. Note that I do not use the highlight recovery slider - just use exposure compensation slider and then pull up shades if needed.

Thank you for the further tip.  I'll definitely look into CNX-D further.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 11:20:56
Thank you all, so far!

I gave a second trial with CNX-D (ver. 1.5.1), and this is the result.  I lowered the esposure by -1.5EV and applied the unsharp mask (+30).  I don't know why I couldn't recover the highlight when I first tried CNX-D (ver. 1.5.0).  Probably I failed to find the correct parameter slide.

The first image is the result of the retry of the entire image, and the second is the crop of the leaves.

Until December 3rd, I will use CNX-D as much as possible and decide if I will continue to subscribe CC.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Jack Dahlgren on November 16, 2018, 16:40:27
I’m also a CNX user. I have CS6 which I use if I want to change a photo, but for the ordinary things I stick with the free Nikon tools. In my experience they preserve the appearance of an image best so often I just need to correct the horizon or correct white balance under mixed lighting. It is only useful with NEF files though. The control points are OK but seem less precise and useful then the old version.

I recommend giving it a thorough try.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Eb on November 16, 2018, 21:28:17
Thank you all, so far!

I gave a second trial with CNX-D (ver. 1.5.1), and this is the result.  I lowered the esposure by -1.5EV and applied the unsharp mask (+30).  I don't know why I couldn't recover the highlight when I first tried CNX-D (ver. 1.5.0).  Probably I failed to find the correct parameter slide.
There is no doubt that CNX-D will do the job!  I tried it out recently, and used it, exclusively, in the distant past, back to Nikon Capture 4.  The problem for me is that I just don't like CNX, either/or, this old dog will not learn new tricks.  So, last week, I bit the bullet and bought the upgrade LR6 to my long dormant LR5.  (I had stopped at LR5 when I went to subscription.)  LR6 supports all my current cameras.  The integrated catalog approach of LR does not bother me.  I do rather like it, and the round trip capability with PS, ACR, opening as smart object, NIK filters, Zerene Stacker and using my custom camera profiles (ColorChecker Passport) are among the tricks I do not wish to give up.  It feels like I'm back at home!  If I should get a camera that is not supported, I will just use ViewNX-i as viewer and a router into PS through MetaRaw, (DNG/ACR,) or less ideally, use NX-i to make conversions, and filter in LR or ACR.  Yes, LR6 and my older versions of PS will eventually stop working, when operating systems evolve.  Might I outlive them!

Best of luck, Akira, in saving your money and finding the work flow that works for you!  Short of the subscription millstone!  ;D
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 21:28:32
I’m also a CNX user. I have CS6 which I use if I want to change a photo, but for the ordinary things I stick with the free Nikon tools. In my experience they preserve the appearance of an image best so often I just need to correct the horizon or correct white balance under mixed lighting. It is only useful with NEF files though. The control points are OK but seem less precise and useful then the old version.

I recommend giving it a thorough try.

Thank you, Jack, for the advice.  I will look into CNX-D further.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 16, 2018, 21:35:21
There is no doubt that CNX-D will do the job!  I tried it out recently, and used it, exclusively, in the distant past, back to Nikon Capture 4.  The problem for me is that I just don't like CNX, either/or, this old dog will not learn new tricks.  So, last week, I bit the bullet and bought the upgrade LR6 to my long dormant LR5.  (I had stopped at LR5 when I went to subscription.)  LR6 supports all my current cameras.  The integrated catalog approach of LR does not bother me.  I do rather like it, and the round trip capability with PS, ACR, opening as smart object, NIK filters, Zerene Stacker and using my custom camera profiles (ColorChecker Passport) are among the tricks I do not wish to give up.  It feels like I'm back at home!  If I should get a camera that is not supported, I will just use ViewNX-i as viewer and a router into PS through MetaRaw, (DNG/ACR,) or less ideally, use NX-i to make conversions, and filter in LR or ACR.  Yes, LR6 and my older versions of PS will eventually stop working, when operating systems evolve.  Might I outlive them!

Best of luck, Akira, in saving your money and finding the work flow that works for you!  Short of the subscription millstone!  ;D

Thank you, Eb, for the encouragement.  Originally, I liked the natural rendition (at least to me) of the NEF images yielded by Nikon software since Nikon Capture days.  I just renewed my impression aobut the genuine Nikon software, even though the developer has changed.  CNX-D operates definitely slower than Photoshop, but I don't process many files at a time and thus can tolerate that.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: michel on November 17, 2018, 15:31:04
Akira, if it can help, DXO photolab 2 used
exposure correction : -1.78
contrast 29
lens sharpness global 0.86 details 50bokeh 50
unsharp mask intensity 100 radius 0.50
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 17, 2018, 19:38:55
Akira, if it can help, DXO photolab 2 used
exposure correction : -1.78
contrast 29
lens sharpness global 0.86 details 50bokeh 50
unsharp mask intensity 100 radius 0.50

Michel, thank you for this promising example from DxO Photolab 2.  It looks neat.  When I would want anything more than CNX-D, I would look at DxO again.  I still have the upgrade license from DxO Optics Pro 9.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 25, 2018, 11:17:51
I unsubscribed and uninstalled CC.  I still keep my Adobe account, but there are a bunch of alternatives like DxO, Topaz Studio, Photo Ninja, etc.  I might be in need of CC again in the future, but I will stay with CNX-D for now.

Thank you, again, folks, for your cooperation!
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Gary on November 25, 2018, 19:56:47
I have always had a dislike for Adobe products.  I explored PhotoNinja, Affinity, Capture 1 and Iridient.  I have settled on Iridient for RAW conversion and global adjustments.  Then I polish the image in Photoshop CS6. I found that those four programs give me nearly the same final image. I been using Iridient just because it was the last program I checked out ... not because it was significant better.  I think you should check out Capture 1 and try out a free trail period.

PS- I shoot Fuji, which produces a different RAW file from a normal Bayer Sensor/CFA.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 25, 2018, 23:40:25
I have always had a dislike for Adobe products.  I explored PhotoNinja, Affinity, Capture 1 and Iridient.  I have settled on Iridient for RAW conversion and global adjustments.  Then I polish the image in Photoshop CS6. I found that those four programs give me nearly the same final image. I been using Iridient just because it was the last program I checked out ... not because it was significant better.  I think you should check out Capture 1 and try out a free trail period.

PS- I shoot Fuji, which produces a different RAW file from a normal Bayer Sensor/CFA.

Gary, thank you for your advice.  If I would decide that CNX-D lacks some functions I need, I would try the alternative software including those you suggested.  I would say Capture One is so pricy that its could be more expensive than subscribing CC over the years.  So, I would avoide Capture One.

Apparently, the Iridient and PhotoNinja (which is based on Iridient?) are the best converters of Fuji raw files from the X-trans sensor.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: pluton on November 26, 2018, 03:36:18
Gary, thank you for your advice.  If I would decide that CNX-D lacks some functions I need, I would try the alternative software including those you suggested.  I would say Capture One is so pricy that its could be more expensive than subscribing CC over the years.  So, I would avoide Capture One.

Apparently, the Iridient and PhotoNinja (which is based on Iridient?) are the best converters of Fuji raw files from the X-trans sensor.
Good point about C-1:  It's expensive, and has less powerful highlight/shadow recovery than the Adobe product.
My understanding is that both Iridient and Photo Ninja share a base raw converter called DCRaw, named after it's creator, Dave Coffin.
I have both, but prefer the U.I. of Photo Ninja. YMMV, as always.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 26, 2018, 04:37:17
Good point about C-1:  It's expensive, and has less powerful highlight/shadow recovery than the Adobe product.
My understanding is that both Iridient and Photo Ninja share a base raw converter called DCRaw, named after it's creator, Dave Coffin.
I have both, but prefer the U.I. of Photo Ninja. YMMV, as always.

Keith, thank you for the follow-up.

Apparently, some software ignores the Picture Control settings of the camera, even if it can process the NEF file, and do whatever it thinks the best.  So far as I'm aware, DxO and Affinity were of that kind.  At this point, I prefer the software in which the Picture Control is reflected, but the situation may change.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Hugh_3170 on November 26, 2018, 05:21:33
My understanding is that Dave Coffin's DCRaw is hidden under the fancy user interface's of more than just a few of today's raw file converters.

DCRaw is available in line command form for those familiar with older steam age user interfaces.  :)
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: MFloyd on November 26, 2018, 09:58:31
Keith, thank you for the follow-up.

Apparently, some software ignores the Picture Control settings of the camera, even if it can process the NEF file, and do whatever it thinks the best.  So far as I'm aware, DxO and Affinity were of that kind.  At this point, I prefer the software in which the Picture Control is reflected, but the situation may change.

Lr retro-engineered all Picture Control settings, but the standard ones. If you fine tuned one of these, I’m afraid these would not be reflected.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 26, 2018, 11:49:53
Lr retro-engineered all Picture Control settings, but the standard ones. If you fine tuned one of these, I’m afraid these would not be reflected.

I've been using ACR in which all the Picture Controls are reflected.  I'm not sure if the "Auto" setting of D-Lighting was also reflected, but in that setting, the D750's inherent tendency to overexpose contrasty scenes was addressed quite a bit.

On the other hand, DxO and Affinity (so far as I actually tried) processed the same NEFs in the way they think the best right from the outset.  Their results didn't always coincided with the way I wanted to process them.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: charlie on November 26, 2018, 21:41:20
I was under the impression that only Nikon software took into account the picture control settings and D-lighting, and all other software disregards in camera picture control settings for NEF files.

Recently Adobe introduced "camera matching" profiles that are their attempt at mimicking in camera picture controls settings but they need to be applied manually as far as I can tell.

Am I missing something?

I quite like Nikon's rendering of some scenes/portraits and have a challenging time recreating them in Lightroom and Capture One.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: arthurking83 on November 27, 2018, 00:56:34
I'm fairly sure too, that ACR doesn't 'respect' Nikon's Picture Controls.
It may read them in the file, and apply one of their presets, but it doesn't use them in the same way.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 27, 2018, 01:13:42
I was under the impression that only Nikon software took into account the picture control settings and D-lighting, and all other software disregards in camera picture control settings for NEF files.

Recently Adobe introduced "camera matching" profiles that are their attempt at mimicking in camera picture controls settings but they need to be applied manually as far as I can tell.

Am I missing something?

I quite like Nikon's rendering of some scenes/portraits and have a challenging time recreating them in Lightroom and Capture One.

I'm fairly sure too, that ACR doesn't 'respect' Nikon's Picture Controls.
It may read them in the file, and apply one of their presets, but it doesn't use them in the same way.

Charlie and Arthur, thank you for your comments.  Although ACR offers the same set of Picture Controls as that of Nikon, I also noticed that the straight-out-of-ACR NEFs look noticeably different from the same ones processed in CNX-D.  As Charlie notes, I really like the natural rendition of the CNX-D processed NEFs.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: armando_m on November 27, 2018, 04:08:43
I'm with you Akira, I prefer the processing of cnx* (2 or D) to Acr

ACR has gotten a lot closer but not  quite there yet
sharpening in CNX* is easy while in ACR is like a secret sorcery
and in my current machine (laptop win10) CNX2 is faster than ACR

except for astrophotography the nikon software makes a mess and ACR does not
which probably means ACR does extract the full dynamic range
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 27, 2018, 04:49:17
I'm with you Akira, I prefer the processing of cnx* (2 or D) to Acr

ACR has gotten a lot closer but not  quite there yet
sharpening in CNX* is easy while in ACR is like a secret sorcery
and in my current machine (laptop win10) CNX2 is faster than ACR

except for astrophotography the nikon software makes a mess and ACR does not
which probably means ACR does extract the full dynamic range

Armando, thank you for sharing your experience.  I also felt that ACR can fully unleash the DR of NEF nicely, as it was very easy to recover the blown-looking highlight.  Also, I did like the absense of chrominance noise in NEFs shot at ISO12800 processed in ACR.

I have always (still) wanted "the standalone ACR".  LR is pretty close in this sense.  If ever LR allow to cancel the cataloging funnction altogether, I would have been a happy user of LR.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: arthurking83 on November 27, 2018, 15:10:05
Count me in too as a CaptureNX fan in terms of rendering .. and now even tho CNX-D has colour control point editing .. I still struggle to come to terms with it(due to many other failings).
Having said that tho, I am starting to use it more.
BUT! (maybe last year, or so) I did end up acquiring DXOs Photolab, when it was initially released as they used CCP editing too. (obviously this was well before CNX-D got it).

So as a fairly quick and maybe not so scientific comparison, I've had a quick try at processing your leaf image with both programs, trying more to replicate the final output, more so than trying to achieve optimal results.

(http://members.optushome.com.au/aking83/Akira_DSC2672_NXD.jpg)
CNX-D

(http://members.optushome.com.au/aking83/Akira_DSC2672_DxO.jpg)
DxO Photolab(v1)

The DxO image does have a bit more detail/clarity in parts of the leaf veins, but this is more so due to the respective differences that the programs' USM tools use .. not so much that DxO is better at it.
I'm sure if I spent more than a few seconds using the USM tool in CNX-D, it'd also pull out slightly more detail in the leaf too.

One major difference is in the way that CNX-D reduced the impact of the highlights on the leaf, and made them less obvious, which I couldn't do in DxO.

in CNX-D I first used -ve exposure compensation, which neutralised the highlight impact, then a single CCP to also try to gain back some brightness, colour and detail too.
Whilst I'm more proficient in CNX-D, the time I took to get to this point was a mere minute or two.

In DxO tho, no matter what tool I used, DxO's result in reducing the impact(ie. contrast difference) of the blown highlights just wouldn't look 'natural'.
In a manner of speaking, DxO seems to have less effect in reducing highlights, in effect to make them less unpleasant.
I'd say it took me twice as long tweaking in DxO to achieve a lesser result.

Having said that tho, this doesn't result in DxO not being an effective and capable editing program.
It has far more traditional tools than CNX-D does.
Only reason I've stuck with CNX-D was simply 'hope' .. that is the hope that one day it may be a usable raw editing/conversion software for NEF files.
Now, after so much time, Nikon finally gave us CCP editing back, so my hopes have finally been (semi) realised.
It's still a horrid software tho .. slow, buggy(I have a major bug, but know not who to report it too!), slow, actually make that annoyingly slow .. think 'pitch drop' slow! .. not glacial super speed by way of comparison.

Having just denigrated CNX-D so emphatically .. I still have to admit that I still use it every so often. It is ever so slightly better at some things than CNX2 is.
And once I update from the D800E(eg. D850, most likely) CNX-D will effectively become my main editor, maybe with some assistance from DxO(??)

So for now tho(for Akira) I'd recommend using CNX-D .. more so because it'll cost you nothing($s) to start with .. and maybe in the future it may become more usable.

ps. when I say CNX-D is slow for me, by comparison I have zero speed issues with ViewNX2 and CNX2 for any D800E image. I updated my PC a couple of years back, have a dedicated SSD for my editing images(longer term images are stored on a HDD, and NAS).
Every operation in CNX2 is instantaneous for me.
No matter what PC tweak I've tried, I just can't get CNX-D to operate at a decent speed.

Would you be happy using DxO's Photolab? .. I'd say "probably" .. then again it really depends on personal preference on lack of or availability of any specific editing tool that CNX-D doesn't have(eg. a brush tool, or whatever).
That is, if you find that you prefer a specific tool type, that CNX-D doesn't have, and DxO does have, then the transition from CNX-D to DxO would be fairly straight forward(due to the use of CCP editing).
In terms of output, I doubt very much you would see any advantage in choosing one program over another. Maybe a few degrees of difference(as I've tried to show with the highlights above) .. but then again DxO may be better at some other aspect of rendering a different type of image.

A weird point with CNX-D 's slower than 'pitch drop' performance .. is that it's batch editing I find is quite fast. It's slow to start up, but once started, the images are processed quite speedily.

ps. if you wonder why I use the reference to 'pitch drop' .. google pitch drop experiment .. 10 years, or more to effect a single droplet! ... kind of speed!  ;D
pps. my foray into ACR(mainly via Lr, but a very small amount of Ps too) .. was for all intents a total disaster. I've had edication copies of Ps for a long while, and wasted my own money on Lr4 and 5 .. never again!
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 27, 2018, 23:55:09
Arthur, thank you for sharing the results of your further experiment and detailed report!

I would have to agree that DxO couldn't handle the contrasty rendition of the leaves well.

Apparently, you can use the control point far better than I can.  At first, I tried the CCP but couldn't get the result like yours.  For my take posted on top of the page 2 of this thread, I only moved the "Brightness" slider to the minimum after reducing the total exposure a bit.  Sharpening is not applied.  I observe that your result shows the blown highlights are turned to a little gray (most notably, the surface of the left-most leaf).

Before I tried the demo version of the latest DxO Phtolab2, I used DxO Optics Pro9.  I felt its lens abberation correction and sharpening was amazing but a bit too far for my taste.  As for the DxO product, I rather liked the B&W film simulations of FilmPack.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: arthurking83 on November 28, 2018, 11:54:59
For the CCPs in NX-D, two were placed on the coloured area of the leaves(ie. the brown) and brightness increase, contrast increased and saturation increased.
Doing that helps with revealing more detail in the leaf veins(remember sharpening is basically a contrast increase) .. so it brings back both colour and a very small amount of detail.
The second CCP in NX-D was directly on the blown highlight area on the leaf, which was made more obvious with the contrast increase of the first CCP points .. so the highlight CCP was to reduce brightness and reduce contrast.
I think it may have been a bit heavy handed, but it really was a very quick 'point and shoot' edit just to visualise what could be done.

Initially tried the same method in DxO, but the effect DxO's CCP tools make are different.
So in DxO I had to spend a bit more time in experimenting with what all the other CCP sub tools did/do.

If you like, I could upload the CNX-D .nksc (save) file.
What you'd then do is to place a copy of your NEF into another folder, create a new folder (in that folder with the copy of the image) name it NKSC_PARAM and place the save file into this param folder.
Then when you navigate to the copy of the NEF, CNX-D will render it with those edits.
You can then see for yourself the edit processes used.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on November 28, 2018, 18:08:14
For the CCPs in NX-D, two were placed on the coloured area of the leaves(ie. the brown) and brightness increase, contrast increased and saturation increased.
Doing that helps with revealing more detail in the leaf veins(remember sharpening is basically a contrast increase) .. so it brings back both colour and a very small amount of detail.
The second CCP in NX-D was directly on the blown highlight area on the leaf, which was made more obvious with the contrast increase of the first CCP points .. so the highlight CCP was to reduce brightness and reduce contrast.
I think it may have been a bit heavy handed, but it really was a very quick 'point and shoot' edit just to visualise what could be done.

Initially tried the same method in DxO, but the effect DxO's CCP tools make are different.
So in DxO I had to spend a bit more time in experimenting with what all the other CCP sub tools did/do.

If you like, I could upload the CNX-D .nksc (save) file.
What you'd then do is to place a copy of your NEF into another folder, create a new folder (in that folder with the copy of the image) name it NKSC_PARAM and place the save file into this param folder.
Then when you navigate to the copy of the NEF, CNX-D will render it with those edits.
You can then see for yourself the edit processes used.

That would be very nice of you.  I'd love to check out your procedure!
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on December 15, 2018, 02:01:06
Thank you, folks, for taking time to share your experiences and know-hows with various software!

I deleted my sample NEF from Dropbox.

CNX-D does slow me down, but I'm not professional photographer and don't process too many files at a time.  So, I decided I can live with CNX-D.

Thank you again and wish you happy holidays!
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: fentriss on December 15, 2018, 19:18:11
Of course i know, that must sound very curious to you all. But for photo-archiving- and editing, i have still got some G5 powermac in use, with macOs 10.5, with Photoshop - real software, on my own hd, complete cloud-free. And it works very well. That config is perfect! On the other side, it is impossible to upgrade that machine, neither OS, software, hardware. But as long as it will do what i want. Must also tell you, i hate it to invest some money in computer hardware. Every "5" minutes there is something new. it is so frustrating. bye bye, richard
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Frank Fremerey on December 15, 2018, 20:03:21
Thank you all, so far!

I gave a second trial with CNX-D (ver. 1.5.1), and this is the result.  I lowered the esposure by -1.5EV and applied the unsharp mask (+30).  I don't know why I couldn't recover the highlight when I first tried CNX-D (ver. 1.5.0).  Probably I failed to find the correct parameter slide.

The first image is the result of the retry of the entire image, and the second is the crop of the leaves.

Until December 3rd, I will use CNX-D as much as possible and decide if I will continue to subscribe CC.

I guess I spend more on wine per day than I spend on Photoshop per month, ymmv. A sober day here and there will  pay for all software easily.

Without a joke It seems to me that Christian's ACR 11 is far better than any other result in this thread so far...
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on December 15, 2018, 23:25:33
Of course i know, that must sound very curious to you all. But for photo-archiving- and editing, i have still got some G5 powermac in use, with macOs 10.5, with Photoshop - real software, on my own hd, complete cloud-free. And it works very well. That config is perfect! On the other side, it is impossible to upgrade that machine, neither OS, software, hardware. But as long as it will do what i want. Must also tell you, i hate it to invest some money in computer hardware. Every "5" minutes there is something new. it is so frustrating. bye bye, richard

Richard, I basically share your feelings about the computer hardware.  But older ACR doesn't handle the NEFs of newer cameras.  You can still convert them to TIFF and process with the older Photoshop, though.
Title: Re: Looking for a Photoshop alternative software
Post by: Akira on December 15, 2018, 23:29:06
I guess I spend more on wine per day than I spend on Photoshop per month, ymmv. A sober day here and there will  pay for all software easily.

Without a joke It seems to me that Christian's ACR 11 is far better than any other result in this thread so far...

Frank, I don't drink alchohol and am always sober.   ;D ;D ;D

On your professionally calibrated monitor, Christian's take unleashing the fuller potential of NEF, especially its dynamic range, would look better.