My search for post processing software on Ubuntu

Since 2007 I hardly use Windows as my operating system. I only use Windows at work and occasionally when I want to play a game that can’t be easily run on Ubuntu. Other things like, reading email, viewing websites, listen to music or store my photos can easily be done with Ubuntu as well.

One of the things I really like about Ubuntu, or many other Linux distributions, is the way they present software that is ready to install in just a few clicks. The package manager of Ubuntu is really easy to use and you can easily find the software you want to try.

For organizing and post processing photos you have a lot of choices. In fact there is so much choice, that it is not easy to select the right software or combination of software. Some programs are only for organizing, some only for post processing, while others don’t support RAW.

For over a year I am trying to find a good combination of software, but I didn’t do that with a well thought idea of what I wanted the software to be able to do for me. So in this post I will list  features I need in the software and some feature that would be nice to have.

The required features:

  • RAW support
    Most of the photographs I take are in RAW format and the software should support this.
  • White balance and Colour corrections
    Since I shoot in RAW, white balance and colour corrections should be made, but if possible this should also be done for JPG photos.
  • Lens corrections
    My current lens has a little bit of vignette and perhaps a little bit of distortion (I thought I saw some, but I am not sure yet…) and I don’t want to push a lot of buttons to get rid of it…
  • Tools for Straightening, Cropping and Perspective correction
    I found that I mostly do this kind of corrections on my photos and I just want to do it without the need of loading the image in Gimp.
  • Export options
    I want to easily export the photos to JPEG, typically for the web and for normal use (showing / printing / sending to family and friends). This means that it would be nice to be able to resize the photo at export and have different exporting ‘profiles’.

The ‘would be nice’ features:

  • Non destructive editing
    When I am editing, especially when I trying to correct a perspective, I don’t know exactly how for I should go with the correction, and want to be able to change is a little bit when the result is not satisfying. This is only possible when the correction is done in a non destructive way.
  • Easy and clean interface
    I don’t want to spend time to search for options every time I need one. Editing tools should be easy to use, preferable with the mouse.
  • Photo browsing
    It would be nice to browse through my photos when I am going to edit, making the software a complete work flow tool. At this point I don’t want nor need a cataloguing system.
  • Simple ranking system
    I want to be able easily discard and hide photos I don’t want to use, but I don’t want to delete them from my computer.
  • Multiple versions of a photo
    Sometimes it is fun to play with a photo, have a correct coloured version and a black and white photo and perhaps even a photo to try different techniques and settings. Most of the time this means multiple copies of the editing, but I would like to be able to make a copy in the software.
  • Adding copyright notice
    When I place a photo on the web I want to have a visible copyright notice in my photo. I don’t want to add this copyright text over and over again, this could be automated by the export process.

I don’t care whether I have one program to do this all, or that I need multiple programs for my work flow. The greatest criteria for multiple programs is that they should work together and that I don’t need to use a lot of time processing my photos.

Although I prefer to get free (as in money) programs, I will also look at commercial software like Bibble Pro 5.

When I find (a set of) program(s) that don’t fully have the ‘would be nice’ features or when the required features are to complex and the program provide plugin or scripting support, I don’t really mind to create a plugin or script to make things easier. What I don’t want is to write yet another program to do the work flow for me.

In the coming months I will evaluate different programs according to the features that are listed in this post.

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