Software: Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0
Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0 is the latest release of raw converter software from Shortcut Software. Like competing raw image processing solutions, Silkypix can also process jpeg or tiff images, but it is really intended to be a raw processor.
Raw capture retains all of the image sensor data and allows the photographer to take advantage of the maximum tonality and detail when making adjustments to an image, which is particularly important if your artistic vision requires significant alteration. All of the decisions the camera makes to render an image are at your discretion with no loss of quality. Harnessing the control afforded by raw capture is what raw processing software is all about.
Silkypix allows you to open a single image or a folder of images in several preview layout options, including thumbnail, preview, and a split-screen that offers a little of both (Figure 1). You can delete, copy, move, batch process or color code the thumbnails. You can also add a comment that will be stored in the image’s EXIF data. For users accustomed to Adobe Lightroom’s intuitive and flexible interface, the Silkypix image annotation options will seem relatively primitive and awkward, but at least there are options.
Silkypix is a highly sophisticated program with a plethora of controls available to the photographer, mostly in development. The learning curve is rather steep if you want to take full advantage of the controls, but the software provides a number of automatic settings to allow new users to create effective conversions soon after installation.
For example, the software provides an Auto White Balance function that gives you a good starting point to accept or adjust to your artistic interpretation. Alternately Silkypix provides a number of white balance presets called tastes, which cover lighting conditions like sunset, daylight and tungsten (Figure 2).
More advanced users may opt for color temperature and color deflection sliders. An additional dark adjustment affects color casts in the dark tones of a scene, allowing for very precise white balance adjustment. If that’s not sufficient, Silkypix provides a white balance target with hue and saturation sliders (Figure 3). Additionally, you can use the skin color tool to select a patch of skin that will then be targeted for automatic adjustment to a pleasing skin tone.
Silkypix’s fine tonal controls are similarly advanced. Tastes are available for various strengths of contrast at the most basic level. For finer tuning, sliders control contrast amount, contrast center, gamma and black level. Final tweaks are possible with the tone curve, which can either affect RGB values as luminosity or as individual curves for R, G, and B.
Silkypix also includes various color tastes and variables for creative color control: two different black and white conversions, various color presets that emulate film emulsions (Figure 4), portrait styles, and other aesthetically pleasing color enhancements. A fine color enhancement tool is available for color tweaking.
Lesser-used yet high quality tools exist for addressing specific issues with images. Lens aberration correction is fairly robust, providing controls to reduce barrel or pincushion distortion as well as fringing effects. Rotation/digital shift is used to fix slightly off kilter images, or to correct perspective of, for example, tall objects photographed from the base. A cropping utility, referred to as trimming, is also provided.
Finalizing development provides additional options that can be quite helpful. In addition to saving at the images' native resolution, you have options to save interpolated files. Silkypix also allows for output sharpening (Figure 5), and this really helps improve the final appearance. Since it is incorporated into the software it saves a step, and can be adjusted according to output size. It is very useful indeed.
Silkypix provides an interesting new option for raw processing. With its sophisticated controls and fine image rendering, Silkypix offers photographers a powerful utility for enhancing and rendering raw captures. The flexibility offered by the software creates nearly limitless potential to adjust images, however it comes at a price, which is complexity. The software manual, clearly written or translated by a non-native English speaker, is reasonably complete, yet some nonstandard nomenclature and inexpert language usage tends to confuse matters. Seasoned veterans of raw capture may find much to explore and exploit in Silkypix, but novice users should be aware that the learning curve may be formidable.
Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0: $149