Most cameras come with a software disk containing an image file browser and raw file conversion software. The browser usually combines facilities for transferring images from the camera to your computer with automatic cataloguing of image and movie files. In most cases the new folders created are identified by the date and time of the upload.
Some software includes links for uploading images or movies to social networks and/or adding images to emails. Map views for cameras with geotagging capabilities and links to printers and printing services may also be provided, along with basic editing controls for assembling movies and 3D images.
The touch screen on the smart device displays a shutter button that can be used to trigger the camera’s shutter release. (Source: Olympus.)
Most manufacturers provide software for converting raw files produced by the camera into editable formats (JPEG or TIFF). Bundled raw file converters vary from powerful, intuitive programs to applications with limited capabilities that are downright frustrating.
Good raw file converters integrate effectively with your workflow ““ and your favourite editing software. This integration should include a raw file browser and batch processing capabilities (the ability to apply settings to a group of images).
The browser/viewer interface in the software supplied with a typical CSC. Some browsers include links to image and movie sharing sites.
Direct links to the user’s computer allow images to be printed from the browser interface.
Proprietary raw converters are designed specifically for each manufacturer’s cameras and may support one, several or all models in the range. Updates are often provided when new cameras are added. If these updates include additional functions and/or fixes to known problems, they are worthwhile having. (Check the manufacturer’s website for details.)
Third-party raw converters are also available and often provide more adjustments and a better end result than the bundled software. Popular editing programs like Corel’s Paint Shop Pro and Photo Impact both contain basic raw file converters, while a free plug-in, Adobe Camera Raw, is available for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.
An example of a raw file converter that integrates well with the camera’s data and settings via the Export button in the lower right corner.
The GIMP is a freeware application without raw file conversion capabilities but it integrates well with the freeware raw file converter, RawTherapee. While usually very capable, free software can be complex to use and is most suited to photographers with computer expertise.
The complex user interface in RawTherapee requires some knowledge of editing software and a good understanding of digital imaging to use effectively.
Many Playback menus include editing functions, with some or all of the options listed below available. The edited images are usually saved as separate files, keeping the original image unaltered. Popular functions include:
1. Raw file editing, with conversion into JPEG format.
2. Cropping, which either changes the image aspect ratio and maintains one of the original dimensions, or reduces both dimensions. (Cropping is also the basis of most ‘digital zoom’ functions.)
3. Conversion of files into sizes that are easily displayed on monitor screens and/or online applications. Popular options are 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels.
4. Basic editing functions include brightness, contrast and saturation adjustments, shadow adjustment (which just brightens dark areas), red-eye removal and the application of filter effects. For the latter, multiple effects can be applied, with a new image saved for each addition.
5. Movie editing is usually limited to trimming the ends of clips and combining clips to form a sequence.
6. Most cameras support conversion of images and video clips into monochrome (black and white) and sepia (brown) tones.
7. Some cameras include image overlay settings that let users superimpose up to three frames and save the end result as a separate file. This function may be restricted to images captured as raw files.
In-camera facilities are less capable than those provided by editing software and the relatively small screen of the camera’s monitor makes it difficult to be sure adjustments meet your requirements. Converted raw files are identical to JPEGs recorded by the camera so, if you want a JPEG copy of an image, it’s better to use the RAW+JPEG quality setting, particularly if the camera lets you select the size of the JPEG image.
The reason most photographers shoot raw files is to convert them into 16-bit TIFF format, which provides far greater scope for editing adjustments than 8-bit JPEG files. This isn’t possible with in-camera conversion.
An example of some of the typical JPEG editing facilities available in playback mode.
Excerpt from Compact System Camera Guide.