Version 3.0.x – Call for Feedback

In the past, I have released large feature updates about once a year, somewhat in line with Apple’s OS updates. This year, I fell far behind that schedule. I had a lot of improvements (like the UI changes) done almost a year ago, but there were too many essential features unfinished. Also, large features like Photo library support on Mac required Catalina (actually, it required a stable Catalina).

Now that 3.0 is in the books, I have begun a different approach to development and releases. Future versions will be smaller and come out more often. 3.0.1 and 3.0.3 had a bunch of bug fixes and some improvements. Version 3.1 will continue that; it won’t be a huge release, but I plan to add a mix of fixes, minor features and few mid-sized features as well (for example, a new adjustment or two). Brushing won’t be in that release, before you ask.  That requires more work than a 3.1 can absorb (and some time to think about it).

Many of you send me emails with requests or bugs, which is a very good way of getting feedback. There is also the forum which has been more active recently.

However, sometimes I get feedback from places like YouTube comments or App Store reviews, which are not good ways to give feedback. Same with Twitter, frankly.

Still, here is another way to give feedback. I have a large list of features, so I’m not looking for any more of those right now. Instead, I’m asking you to suggest small tweaks or report annoying bugs that you would like addressed. Include the issue and your suggested fix. It’s fine to email me instead if you prefer (support@gentlemencoders.com)

I’ll get you started. “When cropping on iOS, if I miss one of the corners in the crop box by just a little, the app will resize the box from one of the edges (like the left or right edge). Instead, it should just do nothing, and it should be more forgiving about how close I have to be to a corner.”

Version 3.1 already has a bunch of improvements (like the one with crop I just mentioned), as well as improvements to swiping and zooming on iOS, Favorites on Mac, and more).

Finally, if you were not on the 3.0 beta, but want to be on the 3.1 beta, email beta@gentlemencoders.com and let me know if you want to test Mac, iOS or both. Thanks.


Aperture For Catalina

Using the excellent investigation and instructions from Tyshawn Cormier (article here), I have replicated his work and gotten Aperture to open on Catalina.

You can follow his steps where you build everything from scratch, or you can use my approach which provides most of what you need. Note: this is untested software. No promises.

EDIT: he now has an installer that does all the work, though I have no experience with it. Also, for my steps, you will need to download Xcode (free) from the Mac App Store.

Note: If you have not installed Catalina yet, then make sure to copy the NyXAudioAnalysis.framework from /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks from your Mojave or earlier OS. It’s not present on Catalina. If you have already installed Catalina and don’t have a Mojave installation, then review the steps in the medium article to see how to extract one from a Mojave installer. Previous OS installers will also work for this.

To be able to do this, you need the following:

  1. Your copy of Aperture from the Mac App Store
  2. Some degree of comfort with using the Terminal
  3. A Mojave install from which you can extract a necessary system framework
  4. A sense of adventure and detail-oriented personality 🙂

Here are the steps:

  1. Download and unzip this: Aperture For Catalina
  2. Copy Aperture to the ApertureForCatalina folder
  3. Right click on the Aperture copy and choose Show Package Contents
  4. Go into the Contents folder
  5. Replace Aperture’s Info.plist with the one you downloaded
  6. Locate the NyXAudioAnalysis framework from your Mojave install (or an earlier OS, it probably doesn’t matter) (it’s located in /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks)
  7. Copy the NyXAudioAnalysis into Aperture’s Frameworks directory
  8. Open the Terminal app and execute the following command:
  9. cd ~/Downloads/ApertureForCatalina

  10. Execute this line:
  11. sudo codesign --remove-signature Aperture.app

  12. Execute this line in the Terminal
  13. sudo install_name_tool -change "/Library/Frameworks/NyxAudioAnalysis.framework/Versions/A/NyxAudioAnalysis" "@executable_path/../Frameworks/NyxAudioAnalysis.framework/Versions/A/NyxAudioAnalysis" Aperture.app/Contents/Frameworks/iLifeSlideshow.framework/Versions/A/iLifeSlideshow

  14. Run your first test by executing the following line:
  15. DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES=ApertureFixer.framework/Versions/A/ApertureFixer Aperture.app/Contents/MacOS/Aperture

  16. You may get a gatekeeper warning about an inability to check for malicious software. If so, execute this line and retry the DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES command.
  17. sudo spctl --master-disable

  18. If it launches, then copy the ApertureFixer.framework into Aperture’s Frameworks directory
  19. Execute this line in Terminal:
  20. sudo ./insert_dylib @executable_path/../Frameworks/ApertureFixer.framework/Versions/A/ApertureFixer Aperture.app/Contents/MacOS/Aperture --inplace

  21. Test with this command in the Terminal:
  22. ./Aperture.app/Contents/MacOS/Aperture

  23. Code sign it with this command:
  24. sudo codesign -fs - Aperture.app --deep

  25. If you ran ito the GateKeeper warning, then re-enable GateKeeper with this line:
  26. sudo spctl --master-enable

You should be able to open this updated Aperture from the Finder now. You can move it into Applications if you like (I renamed my original Aperture copy before putting the patched one in.)

If you run into any failures, you can copy your Aperture installation into ApertureForCatalina and start over.

If anyone wants the source to the Fixer framework (based on the medium article), you can download it here: Framework source
Here is the source to install_dylib

Notes (including some from Tyshawn’s article):

  • Video will not import or play back because that requires 32-bit code that’s no longer supported on Catalina
  • I have used this very little, so I don’t know what issues or bugs might be lurking.
  • This has not been tested, so have backups and don’t use it with important data.
  • This will likely break again at some point in the future.

RAW Power 2.1.5 for iOS Now Available

This free update contains some important improvements.
iOS 13 Users: iOS 13 has a bug for which RAW Power 2.1.5 has a work around, so please install 2.1.5 right away

  • RAW Power is now a single purchase, including all adjustments. Existing customers who have not purchased the adjustment packs get them for free! (Please note that the price of the app for new customers is increasing to account for the additional adjustments.)
  • iOS 13 compatibility
  • Fixes for Export (both batch and single image)
  • Fixes for metadata display of portrait images
  • Fixes for crashes while editing images
  • Use the current sort order when performing batch operations.
  • Better error message for unsupported RAW, especially for Fujifilm RAWs
  • Fixes for iCloud Photo Library
  • Quality improvements when straightening images.
  • Miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes

Get the free update here

Follow RAW Power progress on Twitter: @gentcoders


RAW Power 2.1.5, with iOS 13 support, available for beta testing

Hi everyone,

While I’ve been very hard at work on RAW Power 3.0, I have also been fixing bugs in RAW Power 2.1 and working around issues in iOS 13.

There is a beta build of RAW Power 2.1.5 now available. If you would like to try it out on iOS 13, please click / tap here to email the Beta List.

Thank you!


Should I Shoot RAW or JPEG? What’s HEIF?

While many photographers are familiar with RAW images, not everyone is, and there is some misinformation out there as well. In this post, I discuss the differences between RAWs and camera-generated JPEGs, the advantages of each, and ways to decide which is best for you. I also discuss a new file format called HEIF.

 

What is RAW?

A RAW file contains the image as captured from the camera’s digital sensor, with minimal to no processing. Decoding software on your computer or device is required to turn this sensor data into an image on screen. Decoders also improve with time, so RAW files shot ten years ago often look better now, than they did when originally decoded. On the downside, different decoders will produce somewhat different results for the same RAW file.

 

Camera-generated JPEGs

JPEG is a standard file format and JPEGs look the same on all computers. All digital cameras capture RAW data, but they do not necessarily offer a way to store that RAW data in a file. Instead, cameras have specialized hardware to convert that RAW data to a JPEG file. You can influence this conversion in many cameras through their on-board menus. The controls are quite extensive in higher-end cameras. Many cameras also have built-in styles or scenes for challenging shooting conditions (like indoor portraits or fireworks). The most important thing to realize is that once the camera makes the JPEG, much of the image’s appearance is locked down and some image data has been discarded. This is not true of RAWs. RAWs contain all the data about the shot, and anything in a RAW can be changed afterward.

 

It’s Like Carry Out vs. Cooking at Home

Camera-generated JPEGs are like carrying out food from a restaurant. You usually get a nice meal, made by a professional. However, if you want it mild and the restaurant makes it spicy, you can’t completely eliminate the spice. If you ordered a pizza and the bottom is a little burned, you can’t unburn it. Similarly, you cannot turn a black and white JPEG back into color – the color information is lost. If the camera uses aggressive noise reduction and loses detail, then that’s what you’re stuck with.

Editing RAWs is like cooking at home. You can substitute freely, and you can adjust the recipe as you go. You may make mistakes but you can also correct them before you serve the dish. But it’s more work and takes more time (and like a well-equipped kitchen, you need better gear, like a faster computer and more storage space). Advanced photo editors give you full control over the RAW’s appearance.

 

Advantages of RAWs

RAWs can store all of the detail and color richness that camera sensors can record. JPEGs cannot. To explain why, let’s talk briefly about how color or gray is represented in a computer. If you want to represent black or white, you need one digital “bit” to store that. If you need to represent black, white, light gray, or dark gray, then you need two bits, as shown below:

The more bits, the more shades of color or gray you can represent. JPEGs are limited to 8 bits while RAWs can store 16 bits.

Standard digital cameras have a grid of sensor cells that are sensitive to either red, green, or blue light (a bit like the cones in the human eye). Each cell can capture a brightness value from 0 to as high as 16,383. RAW files can store the entire range of values, but because JPEGs are limited to 8 bits, they can only store brightness values up to 255. When a sensor records a brightness value larger than 255, the number is clamped to 255. This can be devastating to bright areas of the image:

The difference is staggering. RAWs can store over 260,000 times (!) more color information than an equivalent JPEG from the same camera. RAWs can simultaneously capture much darker and brighter parts of a scene (the “dynamic range”). That adds up to richer, higher quality images.

To be clear, the value of 255 is still considered “white”. When a RAW stores a large value like 1024 or 3234, those values are “brighter than white” or “super white”. You cannot normally see such super white colors on your screen, but a RAW editor lets you work with them and bring them into view. In contrast, when your camera makes a JPEG from sensor data, it makes a decision about what is “white” and what is “black.” Areas darker than this “black” value are clamped to black, and areas brighter than white are clamped to white. The extra information that the sensor captured is lost forever.

With a RAW, you can reveal at least 2 stops of detail in over-exposed (bright) areas. This is impossible to do with a JPEG. Similarly, while a JPEG has a fixed value of zero for black, the concept of black is controllable in a RAW (this is called the black floor or black point). The camera (and decoder) will have a definition of black, but you can raise or lower this definition while you edit. This can be a life-saver if all the detail in the darkest areas of an image has been smashed into a black smudge.

Here are two good examples of recovering detail. In both examples, the left image is the original RAW. For the middle image, I lowered the exposure by 2 stops, and lifted the shadows. The right image applies the same exposure and shadow operations to a JPEG. (I can make the RAW look better than this using RAW-only controls, but I made sure to do exactly the same operations on both the RAW and JPEG).

The background color and detail is revealed in the RAW, but the background in the JPEG just gets murky and gray. That’s because the camera recorded bright data in the RAW (a variety of values of 1000 or higher), but that same data was clamped to 255 in the JPEG before I could work with it. I should also mention that RAW files store “linear” data, while JPEGs store “gamma-corrected” data. Gamma-corrected data matches the way our eyes perceive light, but gamma-corrected files squash bright areas of the image, making them even harder to edit. A full discussion of linear vs. gamma corrected will have to wait for another time.

RAWs have a wider range of colors (brighter and more saturated) than most JPEGs. This range is called the color “gamut.” While some JPEGs also have a wide color gamut, such as P3 photos taken from newer iPhones, the 8-bit limitation of JPEG becomes an issue, causing banding in some images. Banding causes areas that should have a smooth transition of colors to show obvious lines or blotches. This can be particularly noticeable in the sky. Banding occurs because 8 bits is simply not enough to represent all of the colors defined in the Display P3 or the Adobe RGB color spaces. This artifact does not occur with RAWs because 12 or 14 bits is generally sufficient for P3 or Adobe RGB.

RAWs can be white-balanced better than JPEGs (especially underwater and other extreme lighting situations). In addition, after white balancing a RAW, highlights can turn out better.

Noise reduction and lens correction are much better when done to a RAW than a JPEG. This is because the best time to make such corrections is super-early in the decoding process, before changes in color or brightness have occurred. If you noise reduce a JPEG, the image has already been significantly manipulated by the camera (or software), and critical information has been lost. Some cameras have built-in lens correction for JPEGs, but not all of them, and the corrections are less sophisticated than computer-based software.


A Bit about “HEIF”

Apple has recently popularized an image format called HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format). Pronounced “heef,” this is a standardized and general-purpose format that has many improvements over JPEG, such as support for 12 and 14 bit images, and more efficient compression, which results in smaller files for the same quality. While HEIF has the ability to address a number of the weaknesses of JPEG, images shot on iPhones with HEIF are still 8-bit, and the images have been significantly processed by the camera. In practice, the advantages I list for RAW are still valid for iPhone-generated HEIFs. Apple uses the .heic file extension — those are HEIF files using a specific compression technology. HEIC-based files are roughly half the file size of equivalent JPEGs, which is a big savings, both in cloud storage and on your device.


JPEGs have their place…

I’m not saying that one cannot white balance a JPEG, or perform noise reduction to one. It just doesn’t turn out as well. JPEGs offer their own advantages. Modern cameras produce outstanding JPEGs for well-exposed images. In addition, through a field called “computational photography,” cameras can often generate high-quality JPEGs / HEIFs that exceed what’s possible with a RAW. For example, newer iPhones will often take multiple exposures and combine them into a single high-quality image. This happens automatically – you just see the one final image. These techniques help a lot in low-light, and iPhone JPEGs have less digital noise than an iPhone RAWs. Many iPhones can also create pleasing portrait images with nicely blurred backgrounds.

Panoramas and HDR images are other examples of useful built-in camera features, both of which require a lot of time and effort to replicate using multiple RAW images. Regardless, note that all camera JPEGs have the limitations listed above in terms of editing, dynamic range, sharpness, etc.

FeatureWinner
Smoothness of Colors (bits)RAW
Dynamic Range (bright and dark parts)RAW
Highlight RecoveryRAW
White BalanceRAW
Overall Editing FlexibilityRAW
Minimizing Compression ArtifactsRAW
Wider Color GamutUsually RAW
Noise Reduction / Lens CorrectionUsually RAW
Best looking right out of cameraJPEG / HEIF
Easy Panoramas / HDRsJPEG / HEIF
Smaller FilesJPEG / HEIF
Burst Mode SpeedJPEG / HEIF

Conclusion

RAWs are 16-bit lossless files containing all the information captured by the camera. They have superior color detail, a wide color gamut and extended dynamic range. They offer much better exposure and white balance latitude. They are better suited for lens correction and noise reduction as well.

On the downside, RAWs take up more disk space and take longer to open. RAW Power uses the GPU heavily, so for RAW Power, it’s best to have at least a mid-range Mac that is relatively new (within the last 5–6 years). On iOS, an iPhone 7 or later works well.

For 12 or 14-bit HEIF files, the RAW advantage is lessened, but still present, because RAW files are minimally processed, allowing the maximum latitude when editing. Remember, though, that iOS devices do not generate 12 or 14-bit HEIF files — their HEIFs are only 8 bit.


Bottom line

  • If you primarily “shoot and share” with little or no editing to your pictures, then shoot JPEG / HEIF.
  • If you are generally happy with the look of the JPEGs from your camera, shoot JPEG (or RAW+JPEG).
  • If you want panoramas, HDR, and portrait images as easily as possible, shoot JPEGs.
  • If you have limitations on disk space, or if you are going to shoot thousands of pictures quickly on a tight deadline, shoot JPEG (for this reason, professional sports photographers often shoot JPEGs).

Otherwise, if you want the best possible results, and the most flexibility when editing your images, shoot RAW. Your future self will thank you.


What do you most miss from Aperture?

I get many emails a day requesting features for upcoming releases, and questions about RAW Power in the context of Aperture.

While RAW Power is not a replacement for Aperture, I do know many customers have or had Aperture and really loved it.

I’m embedding a poll here for people to vote on their favorites.

To be clear, I’m not making any promises. I think it’s valuable for people to see each other’s opinions on this. That said, I’ll start the voting 🙂

If I missed your favorite feature, add that to the comments. If you didn’t use Aperture, but have favorite features in Lightroom or other apps, feel free to chime in as well.

What do you miss most from Aperture (choose up to 5)

View Results

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RAW Power 2.0 for iOS

RAW Power 2.0 is now available!

Like its companion, RAW Power for Mac, iOS version 2.0 will be shipping very soon!

If you are a current customer and would like to beta test the new version, tap or click here to email us. Please include what kind of iOS Device you intend to use with the beta build.

Beta testing is now closed.

RAW Power 2.0 runs on iOS 11 and 12. The hardware requirements are the same as before (so no iPhone 5s, 6, or iPad mini 3 or earlier).

Here is the list of improvements for Version 2.0:

  • New Adjustments
    • Chromatic Aberration*
    • Perspective
    • Black and White (a Monochrome Mixer)
    • Vignette with Controllable Center Point
    • Enhance including Definition
    • RAW Processing: enable / disable Lens Correction when available
      • (this is the existing [limited] lens correction with an on /off switch
    • Adjustments are 100% compatible with the Mac version and sync through iCloud Photo Library.
  • Presets
    • A selection of built-in presets
    • Ability to create your own
    • Undoable
  • Workflow improvements
    • Share to Photos
    • Export to Photos (TIFF, PNG, 16-bit images, etc)
    • Delete will consistently advance the selection forward to the next image
    • Paste Last Edit is an option in Batch Processing so you don’t have to explicitly copy in Edit before doing the batch operation
    • Adjustments can be rearranged (good for small screens). This does not affect the processing order.
  • UI Improvements
    • Indicator for which adjustments have been applied to an image
    • Space-saving UI design limits the number of adjustments that are visible at a time.
    • Easier to use sliders in landscape device orientation
  • Batch Processing in the Grid** (See important note below)
    • Batch Apply Presets
    • Batch Paste of Adjustments
    • Batch Revert to Original
    • Batch Generate JPEGs for RAWs

*Note: Chromatic Aberration, Vignette, Perspective, and Black & White will be part of Advanced Adjustments Pack #2, which is inexpensive in-app purchase (not part of the current Advanced Adjustment Pack #1). Enhance will be bundled with the app and not require an in-app purchase. Beta testers will receive a promo code to get the in-app purchase for free when it’s released.

**Batch Processing is still under development. Because iOS has a very limited memory and background processing model (compared to the Mac), it is not certain that this feature will make it into version 2.0. You’ve been warned 🙂


RAW Power 2.0 for Mac Is Coming!

RAW Power 2.0 is now available!

RAW Power for Mac 2.0 will ship in the next few weeks, and it will be a free upgrade!

If you would like to beta test the new version, tap or click here to email us. Please include what kind of Mac you intend to use with the beta build. ** Current customers only **

Beta Testing is now closed.

Important Note: RAW Power 2.0 runs on macOS High Sierra and Mojave. It does not support macOS Sierra.

Here is the list of improvements for Version 2.0:

New Adjustments

  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Perspective
  • Black and White (a Monochrome Mixer)
  • Vignette with Controllable Center Point
  • Enhance including Definition
  • RAW Processing: enable / disable Lens Correction when available
    • (this is the existing [limited] lens correction with an on /off switch)

Features for the Standalone App:

  • File Browser – browse folders on your disk, establish favorite folders
  • Batch Processing in the Background
    • Batch Apply Presets
    • Batch Paste of Adjustments
    • Batch Revert to Original
    • Batch Export with Custom Naming
    • Background Processing Task View
  • Multiple Windows
    • Multiple Browser Windows (View different parts of your disks at once)
    • Multiple Editor Windows (Open and edit multiple files at once)
    • Full Support for Tabbed Windows
    • Collapsible Panels
  • Thumbnail Grid
    • Control over thumbnail sizes
    • “Adjusted” badge in the thumbnail grid
    • Filter to show RAWs only
  • More metadata information including a map
  • Quick Look
  • Full Dark Look in macOS Mojave

What features are you most interested in?