Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Nikon's photo editing program

As I have a Nikon camera, it seemed a good idea to check out Nikon's photo editing program, Nikon Capture NX 2, so I downloaded the free 60 days' trial and played around with it a bit.

It seems a decent, competent program at a modest price, though relatively early in its development, compared with programs that have been around for years.

However, if you buy it as your only photo editing program, bear in mind that it concentrates on photographic functions and misses out a lot of more general image editing functions that you would get with Photoshop or even Paint Shop Pro. As someone pointed out elsewhere on the Web, what if you want to write some text on top of the photo?

If you have Photoshop already, I see little point in buying Capture NX 2 as well. As far as I could tell by experiment, Photoshop imports Nikon's NEF files as well as Nikon's own program does, and provides more editing functionality.

The Nikon program offers the unique functionality of U Points, otherwise known as control points, which are a cute way of making local changes to parts of a photo. This could well be of interest to some people, but it's not my style. I feel happy manipulating a photo as a whole, but I don't want to get into messing around with parts of it.

Adobe software and prices

I started buying Adobe fonts in 1990 (I was keen on fonts in those days), but took much longer to buy Adobe programs, because my software at work was provided by the company, and at home I had other software that I was happy with.

However, in 2005 I started working from home and paying for all my own stuff, and at that time I splashed out £940 for the Adobe Creative Suite, reasoning that I needed Acrobat and Photoshop for work, and those two programs would cost about as much as the whole Suite if bought separately.

Shortly afterwards, the Creative Suite 2 was released, and Adobe allowed me a free upgrade to it. (Gold star to Adobe on this point.)

I skipped Creative Suite 3, because I didn't feel a need of it, and Adobe's upgrades are expensive enough to make you stop and think.

When Creative Suite 4 was released, I decided that I still didn't need it, but that I would rather like to have the latest Photoshop, which I use for my photography hobby as well as for work. So I ordered the Photoshop CS4 upgrade, first checking with Adobe's Web site that I was eligible for the upgrade price. It said, if you have Photoshop CS2 (which I had), you are eligible.

I got my Photoshop CS4 upgrade and it refused to install. Enquiries revealed that it will install only as an upgrade to Photoshop bought as a separate product, not to Photoshop bought as part of the Creative Suite; although this is not explained at all on Adobe's Web site.

I tried to send the upgrade back to Amazon UK, from which I'd bought it. Amazon wouldn't accept it because the box had been opened. Of course the box had been opened: I had to open the box to find out that it wouldn't work.

After long and exhausting arguments with two different Adobe customer support people, Adobe eventually agreed to unlock my upgrade (by a special secret procedure) so that I could use it.

Although Adobe as a company seems to mean well in some ways, and its software is competent, I give it demerits on several grounds.

  • The software is alarmingly expensive, unless you happen to live in North America, where it's a good deal cheaper. As I don't live in North America, I naturally resent this.
  • The documentation is not as good as it should be at that price level.
  • If you have the Creative Suite but you want to upgrade only one component of it, Adobe apparently expects you to pay full price for that component, as though you had no previous version. That's crazy. When you upgrade, all you're getting for your money is the difference between the new version and the old. At full price? No thanks, I'd stick with the old version.
  • Adobe has this crazy internal policy but doesn't explain it in public. When I pointed that out, did I get any apology? No. Did I get any assurance that the Adobe Web site would be changed to give correct information? No. I was treated as though the situation was my own fault. To give Adobe support minimal credit, however, in the end it caved in and gave me what I paid for. Possibly out of exhaustion and to get rid of me.

There is a lesson here. If you're tempted to buy the Adobe Creative Suite, bear in mind that you'll be locked into upgrading the whole suite for evermore: or else you'll have to pay full price for the latest versions of any individual components. This makes the Creative Suite much less of a bargain than it looks, unless you're confident that you'll always want to upgrade multiple components of it simultaneously. The cost of a Creative Suite upgrade is not small change; check it out in advance.

So far, the only advantages of Photoshop CS4 that I've noticed, compared with Photoshop CS2, are that it seems to start up more quickly and it has a new Vibrance control, which is similar to Saturation but more subtle in effect. I'm sure there are other novelties, but they're things I don't use. So, it was apparently for these small things that I paid £184 and wore myself out arguing with Adobe support. I should have stayed with Photoshop CS2...

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Jesus versus Santa

According to a BBC report, a Catholic priest in Novara, Italy, has caused a stir by telling children that Father Christmas doesn't exist.

The priest said he had never intended to hurt anyone, but it was his duty to distinguish the reality of Jesus from the story of Father Christmas which was a fable just like Cinderella or Snow White.

I don't know about you, but I find this really funny. All we need to complete the picture is a department-store Father Christmas teaching children to distinguish his own reality from the story of Jesus Christ, which is a fable just like Cinderella or Snow White.

In a reality contest with no holds barred, I think Father Christmas would have a distinct advantage: "Children, think about it: when did you last get a present from Jesus?"