A Linux photostation?

jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of WeirdnessRegistered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
edited November 24, 2016 in Digital Darkroom
I've started to play around with some plans for the future. Some day I'm going to buy a new camera body (currently a Nikon D700 which is working very well) and chances are pretty high that the body will have a sensor with a fairly high megapixel number on it. This would not work well with my current computer (ageing Mac mini with slow LR), in fact I'm already frustrated with how slow LR can be at times.

Anyway, I started to think about what I could do and how I was currently using that Mac mini and I realised that I'm **only** using that machine for photo management (I use other Macs for everything else, yep I'm a geek). This leaves me free to actually set up a new machine for only one thing which means less compromises :barb

So, if I want speed and storage it looks like the best option would be to put together a machine myself which basically means PC hardware and since I can't see myself using Windows it would mean Linux (which is completely fine since I'm waaaay more at home on a Linux machine than on a Windows machine). So the hardware and the OS problems are pretty easy problems to solve.

But the photo software is where my real problems are? What good software packages exists for Linux ... that also can be used on a Mac - I see myself using my laptop/iPad for photo stuff when I'm out and about but when I come home I want to add whatever I've done on my laptop/iPad to my main photo library (on that imaginary Linux machine).

I looked around and I've found several image editing programs, for example Gimp, and some organisers/editors like digiKam and AfterShots Pro 3. But I'm curious what experience people have and what you recommend I take a look at.

My requirements would be
  • Photo editing capabilities similar to LR/Aperture/etc
  • Photo management features like Aperture/LR/etc
  • That it can handle RAW files (a least a "substantial" subset of common RAW formats)
  • Preferable a Mac version of the program also

I have no problem paying for good programs (hey, I'm already paying for "not so good" programs). Currently it looks like AfterShots Pro is the best alternative but I haven't actually tried any programs yet.
Jan Erik Moström

Comments

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,310 moderator
    edited November 18, 2016
    Ubuntu Studio 16.04.1 LTS (Xenial Xerus) is a fairly complete suite of OS with multimedia software which could complement AfterShot Pro for Linux. You can get a "Live" version to test on the hardware of your choice, to see what you think.

    While I am pretty OS agnostic I am very pleased with Windows 7 and my favorite image processing software is, by far, Phase One Capture One Pro 9.3 (C1P). While its organizational components are weak compared to other notable software, and even some basic things like keystone correction are not the equal, other things are pure gold.

    By far I like the way C1P renders noise reduction and shadow/highlight compensation is truly superb. C1P Clarity adjustment also looks better than any other software Clarity adjustment, very much IMO. (Of course you can also use Curves to further customize the Clarity results as you wish.)

    Full disclosure: I am not compensated for expressing my appreciation of Capture One Pro, just a very satisfied user. thumb.gif
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • WoodButch4WoodButch4 Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 23 Big grins
    edited November 18, 2016
    On the linux side there is Gimp with is similar to Photoshop, but not as easy to use and not as many bells and whistles. And Darktable, which is similar to Lightroom. In fact you can run Darktable on a mac if you want to play with it to see. I don't know of pay programs for linux since I was only running it as a secondary platform and do my main work on a iMac.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,310 moderator
    edited November 19, 2016
    While discussing RAW image processing software there is one that is free and open-source and which runs on most available OS platforms:

    RawTherapee (RT)
    http://rawtherapee.com/downloads

    RT is purely an image processor and handles both most RAW files plus other raster image files (TIF, TIFF, JPG, etc.). It is also difficult to master in that it contains a vast number of functions which may be combined depending on image traits, user intent, and desired results.

    At the price it is certainly worth a try and I highly recommend it for everyone to try. thumb.gif
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of Weirdness Registered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
    edited November 19, 2016
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    While I am pretty OS agnostic I am very pleased with Windows 7 and my favorite image processing software is, by far, Phase One Capture One Pro 9.3 (C1P). While its organizational components are weak compared to other notable software, and even some basic things like keystone correction are not the equal, other things are pure gold.

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I've heard many good things about Capture One Pro, but I haven't tried it - when Aperture was "end-of-lifed" I went with Lightroom, I didn't do much research of different programs (I've never had heard about Capture One Pro at that time) but chose LR because "everybody" else was using it. So, yes Capture One Pro might be something that I might start using (when/if I get the time to do a switch) but I'll probably use macOS instead since Windows isn't an alternative for me (long story).
    Jan Erik Moström
  • jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of Weirdness Registered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
    edited November 19, 2016
    Jan Erik Moström
  • jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of Weirdness Registered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
    edited November 19, 2016
    WoodButch4 wrote: »
    On the linux side there is Gimp with is similar to Photoshop, but not as easy to use and not as many bells and whistles. And Darktable, which is similar to Lightroom. In fact you can run Darktable on a mac if you want to play with it to see. I don't know of pay programs for linux since I was only running it as a secondary platform and do my main work on a iMac.

    I tried Gimp many years ago ... and hated it. But it's so many years ago (probably 15-20 years ago) that all programs were bad at that time. So I should probably try again and see what has happened.

    Yes, I've seen Darktable but for some reason I've never tried it.

    Thanks for reminding me.
    Jan Erik Moström
  • JCJC Major grins Registered Users Posts: 768 Major grins
    edited November 23, 2016
    jemostrom wrote: »
    • Photo editing capabilities similar to LR/Aperture/etc
    • Photo management features like Aperture/LR/etc
    • That it can handle RAW files (a least a "substantial" subset of common RAW formats)
    • Preferable a Mac version of the program also

    I have no problem paying for good programs (hey, I'm already paying for "not so good" programs). Currently it looks like AfterShots Pro is the best alternative but I haven't actually tried any programs yet.


    I use Ubuntu and Linux tools exclusively.

    Raw conversion: Corel AftershotPro

    Photo Management and simple editing: Digikam (I tried Darktable out in it's early stages, and at that point it wasn't quite ready for primetime, so I stayed with Digikam)

    Extensive Photo-editing: Gimp

    It doesn't have all the fancy pre-sets and black box tools, but that setup can do any organizing and editing I need to do. I do get a little bit annoyed when I ask someone what their post processing was, and they say "oh, I moved slider X to the left". Ok, but what does that actually do to the DN values?

    Some examples of what I do with that setup. Extensive tagging, captioning and geocoding in Digikam- exporting to KML files from Digikam, Channel switching or black and white conversion in AftershotPro for IR photography, editing in LAB space in Gimp, etc.

    All of the programs above are available on Mac, I think.
    Yeah, if you recognize the avatar, new user name.
  • jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of Weirdness Registered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
    edited November 23, 2016
    JC wrote: »
    Raw conversion: Corel AftershotPro
    Photo Management and simple editing: Digikam
    Extensive Photo-editing: Gimp

    Thanks for your answer.

    I've played a bit with AftershotPro (on my Mac) and it seems OK, although perhaps with less features than Lightroom - but I don't use all features of LR so ...

    I'm a bit curious, why do you use Digikam (have launched it on my Mac but not actually used it) for management and simple editing instead of using AftershotPro for this? It seem like AftershotPro contains the tools for doing pretty extensive editing and from my very very very limited experience it seemed like it handled the management part also.

    I don't know if was user error on my part but when I tried it, AftershotPro didn't seem to recognise DNG files from my iPhone.
    Jan Erik Moström
  • JCJC Major grins Registered Users Posts: 768 Major grins
    edited November 23, 2016
    jemostrom wrote: »
    Thanks for your answer.

    I've played a bit with AftershotPro (on my Mac) and it seems OK, although perhaps with less features than Lightroom - but I don't use all features of LR so ...

    I'm a bit curious, why do you use Digikam (have launched it on my Mac but not actually used it) for management and simple editing instead of using AftershotPro for this? It seem like AftershotPro contains the tools for doing pretty extensive editing and from my very very very limited experience it seemed like it handled the management part also.

    I don't know if was user error on my part but when I tried it, AftershotPro didn't seem to recognise DNG files from my iPhone.


    I have a lot of photos, like, a lot, and digikam just seemed to handle the database aspects better, a cleaner interface, lots of room to display the photos in a folder style setting, easy to edit titles and add captions, easy tag organization. And when I'm working, either before I had a GPS enabled camera, or if I'm out for several days and have to turn off the GPS in my camera to save the batteries, I geotag by photos from files generated by my GPS in Digikam. Simple rotation and cropping and local contrast enhancement is easier to do in Digikam IMHO, and a raw editor is just overkill when I'm working with jpg's.

    That said, Digikam does have a very slight tendency to screw up it's database if you don't have exactly the right dependencies, so back up the database and thumbnail files if you go that route. (maybe once a year, and I am notorious for crashing programs, I've even done stress testing for software developers ;)
    Yeah, if you recognize the avatar, new user name.
  • jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of Weirdness Registered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
    edited November 23, 2016
    JC wrote: »
    I have a lot of photos, like, a lot, and digikam just seemed to handle the database aspects better, a cleaner interface, lots of room to display the photos in a folder style setting, easy to edit titles and add captions, easy tag organization.

    Ahhh, I never thought about the number of photos. So I better ask: I don't have a lot of photos, perhaps 80K at the moment, so I assume this isn't a problem for any of these programs?

    Are there any problems of handling a couple of thousand photos for each "import session"? Typically I come home with approx 2000 images after a "photo weekend", next weekend I'll probably generate somewhere 1-3000 photos (all in RAW format). Between these "burts" I probably take 40-200 photos (jpg and RAW) each month.
    Jan Erik Moström
  • JCJC Major grins Registered Users Posts: 768 Major grins
    edited November 23, 2016
    jemostrom wrote: »
    Ahhh, I never thought about the number of photos. So I better ask: I don't have a lot of photos, perhaps 80K at the moment, so I assume this isn't a problem for any of these programs?

    Are there any problems of handling a couple of thousand photos for each "import session"? Typically I come home with approx 2000 images after a "photo weekend", next weekend I'll probably generate somewhere 1-3000 photos (all in RAW format). Between these "burts" I probably take 40-200 photos (jpg and RAW) each month.


    The 32 bit Aftershot pro did, but the 64 bit version is a lot faster.

    Digikam import is fairly quick, the limiting factor is my harddrive speed I think.

    Digikam just has a much cleaner interface than Aftershotpro, file management in Aftershot pro, to me, looks like something added onto the editor. Views are always disappearing, it just isn't as user friendly, to me at least, as Digikam is. I haven't tried Darktable in the last few years though.

    When I'm shooting startrails, I'll typically import 1500 pictures at a time, and Digikam is fine.
    Yeah, if you recognize the avatar, new user name.
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator
    edited November 24, 2016
    JC wrote: »
    When I'm shooting startrails, I'll typically import 1500 pictures at a time
    You need to post more of your work. deal.gif
  • jemostromjemostrom Chief Master of Weirdness Registered Users Posts: 135 Major grins
    edited November 24, 2016
    Thanks for your answers. As soon as I get the time I'll set up one of my old machines as a test machine to see if this works for me. It's tempting to make a photo workstation using linux since I can get a pretty decent machine for a reasonable cost.
    Jan Erik Moström
  • JCJC Major grins Registered Users Posts: 768 Major grins
    edited November 24, 2016
    kdog wrote: »
    You need to post more of your work. deal.gif

    Hah! Here's a test from my balcony, to see if I can deal with the skyglow in urban settings (it's either that or go to Hungary, or north and visit jemostrom ;)

    Maybe I should change themes to plane spotting.

    i-CBcWwqb-XL.jpg

    I'm trying to find a way to be back in the U.S. in August, but I think if I want to I'll have to jump blind and by tickets soon before I have firm plans set up, I think ticket prices will start going up soon.
    jemostrom wrote: »
    Thanks for your answers. As soon as I get the time I'll set up one of my old machines as a test machine to see if this works for me. It's tempting to make a photo workstation using linux since I can get a pretty decent machine for a reasonable cost.

    Invest in a quiet fast harddrive. I bought a high capacity western digital harddrive and didn't read the pertinent reviews until after I installed it about how noisy it was.
    Yeah, if you recognize the avatar, new user name.
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