As some might have noticed, I’ve joined up with the Rawstudio development team to help on the 2.0 release. I’ve had a good deal of interested for photography development, ever since I did a simple proof of concept, quite some time ago. Meanwhile, I couldn’t find the energy to start a new project from scratch, so why not join the best project out there – especially since it is headed by some of my best friends.
In this post, I will sum up some of the design intentions that has gone into creating the 2.0 release, and I will follow it up with a detailed look at the features I was directly involved with.
For the 2.0 release, we have had a long look at the user experience and the overall quality of the images. We wanted to focus on a few key points and structure our changes around the experience the user should have.
In the following I will give a short description of the various goals we have shared for the 2.0 release.
For this release we have had much focus on getting people a better experience out-of-the-box. To get good results in Rawstudio 1.x you basically had to have access to an ICC profile. This did often leave a bad first impressions, since images without an ICC profile were dull and uninteresting to look at. So we felt we had to make a significant improvement, so that images felt more “right” when you first open them in Rawstudio.
This has in our experience been the Achilles heel of many of the free Raw software out there, and it highlights some of the biggest problems of free software – access to hardware, and money to analyze it. To create a proper profile we should have access to the actual hardware, and a test laboratory to create the test profile data.
We feel that it is important that there are some sensible defaults, and that it should be easy to add color profiles. The ordinary way of doing color profiles are through ICC profiles.
More recently Adobe has introduced the concept of DNG Color Profiles, which basically is a color profile type only to be used for RAW images. This specification is a lot more precise than ICC profiles, since it is fairly clear defined where in the development chain it should be applied. There are some significant advantages of these profiles – for instance color correction can be different for different whitebalances, which opens up for more precise profiles. You can read more about the difference between ICC and DCP profiles here.
A primary focus has also been on maintaining a good image quality. While there were not any significant problems in Rawstudio 1.x, except a broken image resizer, we have had a lot of focus on maintaining and improving the image quality.
An area of focus has been posterization elimination. While posterization is unavoidable even with RAW images, we have done everything to eliminate every source of unneeded rounding. A major step in this is that the color correction is done completely using float math, so there are no intermediate rounding. Also all lookups are done using interpolation to avoid accumulating rounding errors.
While Rawstudio has always had focus on speed, we had a strong focus that adding new features should not make Rawstudio slower. We feel responsiveness is a must, when you work with images, since it is an emotional process where you actions should be immediately visible.
The aim of Rawstudio is to be fast, but with no quality compromises. It should take advantage of good hardware, but also be usable on slower machines. Rawstudio 2.x will make full use of multicore machines, and has SSE2 code for most of its timeconsuming filters.
This has always been the main focus of Rawstudio – to supply the best possible workflow for processing a large amount of images. All functions should be easily available, and only require little action to give the desired results.
This is probably the single most important factor we consider before implementing a new feature. Will it be easy to use? Will you quickly be able to reach the desired result? Will it be the fastest method to use for a huge number of images?
Since most of the additions have been in the image processing department, a lot of effort has been made to fine tune the controls.
Next time I will take a tour though the specific improvements we have done, which we are all very proud of, and think very much justifies the “2.0″ label.