I really do not like supporting Adobe. Adobe are monopolists abusing their position to force subscription software down our throats as well and/or upgrades on every upgrade cycle. Everything awful one could write about Microsoft in the dominant Wintel Office days one could write about Adobe, despite the very talented people they have on staff.
Adobe is a company run by the bean counters without vision and without empathy for its customers. There is a single agenda: squeezing us for all they can get while making certain no one else can make any inroads into any of their markets. It doesn't help that Apple did break the lock on reasonably priced professional video editing (Final Cut Pro) and visual fx (Motion) only to drop the ball with their Pro Apps at the same time as imposing an iOSification of OS X on their pro customers. Even when it looks like there's sunshine, then there isn't.
In any case, my company owns many thousands of dollars of Adobe software but I'm always looking for a chance to support the underdog. In this case, I bought a copy of Corel AfterShot Pro during their winter sale as AfterShot Pro will work on OS X, Windows AND Linux. Might be just the trick for us to move more of our computers to Linux. AfterShot Pro used to be known as Bibble (through version 5) before the Corel purchase.
First impressions: AfterShot Pro suffers a bit from the Java cross-platform look in comparison to the sharp lines of Apple's Aperture or Adobe's Lightroom. On the other hand, AfterShot Pro is actually fast and lightweight. Unlike Lightroom, Aftershot Pro is fun to work in. You can rate, review and develop pictures at all times without switching modules. Photos seem to load faster and I feel much more in control of my pictures, more like they are in my hands than with Lightroom.
There are great keyboard shortcuts and you can customise them further yourself. There's almost no reason your hands have to go the mouse once you are used to AfterShot Pro. As there is less redundant info on the screen than in Lightroom, you enjoy seeing what you need when you need it. The folded additional panels are only a click away though.
Another great advantage over both Lightroom and Apple's Aperture is that native plugins in the former Bibble work directly with RAW data instead of on TIFFS, saving changes out to complex XML files, which is a much more storage and workflow friendly solution than either Lightroom or Aperture.
I've developed a set of photos and was getting good results until I hit a some night photos of the new Vienna Hauptbahnhof train station. I noticed my train station shots had quite a bit of chroma noise in them. I did what I could with different versions of the built in RAW noise reduction and Noise Ninja in AfterShot Pro. Nothing could get rid of the chroma and blotches. I have most of these photos in Adobe Lightroom so I opened one of them of up to compare. Perfect uniform grain instead of blotchy chroma noise.
Have a look for yourself (click to see larger versions, click titles to see full size versions):
If anyone has any suggestions on how to get better noise reduction out of AfterShot Pro quickly and efficiently (I love what Topaz Noise does but it leaves hundreds of megabytes of TIFF detritus behind each fixed photo and is much slower than a built-in solution).
Otherwise, if you are a night photographer I have to continue to recommend Adobe Lightroom 4 as your principal development tool for quality RAW photos despite the relatively weak workflow (in comparison to AfterShot Pro and Aperture).
On the other hand, if you aren't as fussy about pixel level noise, AfterShot Pro is a lot more fun and fast to work with.