Back in June 2006, several geological eras ago in Internet years, I wrote a blog post which started out like this:
Following earlier posts about this, today I managed to find time to evaluate Iridient RAW Developer 1.5.1 against CaptureOne Pro 3.7.4, for Olympus E-1 RAWs. The results are clear: RAW Developer is extracting more detail and more neutral colour than CaptureOne
Now over 9 years later, I’m repeating the same loop. In recent months I unhappily emigrated from Aperture, and eventually settled on returning to CaptureOne as the best compromise. I painstakingly exported my Aperture library and watched CaptureOne painfully, sluggishly import it. It didn’t do too bad a job - better than Lightroom anyway - and I was more or less able to recreate my Aperture projects within the approximation of MediaPro which has been bludgeoned into CaptureOne. And I diligently set about getting back up to speed with C1, helped by the ample, free tutorial material on Phase One’s website.
I managed to convince myself I (still) quite liked the default “Film curve”, and I was and am impressed by the exposure controls and the layer adjustments, in particular to apply local white balance. I am a lot less impressed by the total lack of luminosity, or indeed luminance curves/levels. But I guess I can live with that with some help from the saturation sliders.
But more and more I started getting a feeling that things didn’t look quite right when taking a closer look. I’m no pixel peeper, but even so, once I’ve noticed something at 100% magnification I find it hard to ignore. I was seeing a disturbing “plastic” look in low frequency areas, and lack of definition in high frequency detail like foliage. First I thought it was just a limitation of the small sensor in the Olympus camera I mainly use, or maybe the less than top-level lenses. But then I started down the rocky road of comparing Raw developers. Yet again.
The following nondescript postcard shot from Norway provides a good example - shot with an Olympus E-P5 and 17mm f1.8 lens (actually quite a good lens) at f8.0 (which, yes, is a slightly suboptimal aperture if you’re a pixel peeper), handheld. So it’s hardly a technical masterpiece, or indeed an artistic one.
Within this photo, I’ve compared two areas at 100%, one processed with Capture One 8.2, the other with Iridient Developer 3.0.3. The differences, at least to me, are obvious.
For the Iridient images, I have used default settings, including the Iridient Reveal sharpening mode and default noise reduction. On the Capture One side, I have used default settings, but with Pre-sharpening 2, and noise reduction disabled. Leaving camera default noise reduction on is a real disaster. I cannot for the life of me imagine why people say Capture One has good noise reduction. And I have tried very hard to fine tune it, I really wanted to be able live with it. At the same time I briefly tried comparing with Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop CS6) and Aperture 3. Abobe Camera Raw gave pretty much identical results to Capture One. Aperture was marginally better. But Iridient is miles ahead.
Iridient has one other ace up it’s sleeve, the Lab mode curves. Being able to apply contrast with no colour shift using the luminance curve is very nice. It’s also very good for highlight recovery, which is just as well, as Iridient “Extreme Highlight Recovery” slider is not one of it’s strong points. The sharpening and noise reduction are industry-leading, and the general level of control is outstanding. Of course, there are no layers, no local adjustments, none of that fancy stuff. But that’s what Photoshop is for.
All this really only holds for my personal experience with Olympus micro-four thirds cameras. I daresay Capture One might handle my Ricoh GR better, but that’s out of scope here. I’m sure it does an excellent job with digital backs and high-end DSLRs, but I really don’t think Phase One has much focus on us “little people” - although they’re happy to take our money.
Probably before long I’ll have changed my mind again, but for the time being I’m fully committed to an Iridient-centric workflow.
It’s pretty damned hot down here in Canton Ticino. For at least two weeks, afternoon temperatures have been well above 35C, and there hasn’t been a whisper of rain. People are getting tired and irritable - other people, that is, I’m always like that anyway. It’s hardly conducive to being out and about with a camera, but anyway, something prompted me to dig out my Sigma DP2 Merrill, and fortune favoured me with this grab shot.
This leads me on to a further note on Mylio. I’ve now decided to become a paying customer, and to try to make Mylio work for me. It isn’t perfectly suited to my needs, but it’s closer than pretty much anything else out there.
Mylio, unsurprisingly, does not support Sigma RAW files. It would be totally unreasonable to expect otherwise. But there is a workaround to this, if you happen to use Iridient Developer as your favoured processor for Sigma X3F files, as I do. Iridient has a neat feature which, when you send it a JPG or a TIFF, allows you to tell it to look for a corresponding RAW file. So, provided I first create JPGs of all my X3F files, which I can batch through Iridient (and it takes quite a while), then Mylio will catalog and display the JPG, and will allow me to send it to Iridient - which then opens the RAW. Problem solved.
Unfortunately, this particular image has a bad case of Sigma green/magenta cast disease, which in extreme cases Iridient can’t handle. So I eventually processed in Sigma Photo Pro instead. And Sigma Photo Pro, which is clearly designed by a part-time high school intern with hostility issues, naturally can’t even open a file directly (you have to use it’s browser) never mind do the JPG-X3F association trick.
Of course, trying to handle Sigma RAW files in Mylio makes me something of an edge case on an edge case, but it is nice that a reasonable workaround exists.
I have now loaded all my RAW, scanned and processed images as far back as 2010 into Mylio, for a total of 40,700 files. It’s coping quite well with this load, so far. In order to ease the process I’ve completely reorganised my file structures, and now have everything under year headings, as opposed to Original/Finished split across different devices as before. Mylio is happier with this, and it also makes it easier to archive. Actually, I think everything except Aperture, which doesn’t care either way, will be happier with this arrangement.
Unfortunately I’ve discovered that Mylio does not support the RAW format for the Olympus E-1 and E-400, which form the bulk go my pre-2010 work. So I’ve had to impose a cutoff, and use MediaPro to catalog my earlier archives.
All this administrative work has been a complete pain, especially coming after I had already spent quite some time first trying to do the same thing for PhotoSupreme, and then for CaptureOne. So I hope I haven’t made a strategic error in going with Mylio. Having finally got a coherent structure in place, with intact key wording, and a revised backup strategy up and running, I really hope I can get back to the actual objective here, enjoying photography.
After writing my initial impressions of Mylio, I have now used it “operationally” to keyword and rate a set of around 700 photos taken over 15 days in Norway. This is pretty much my usual workflow, first I concentrate on initial culling, key wording, and rough ratings, and then I start working on optimising the selects from the RAW file. I’ll then set them aside and do something else for a while - like film scanning - and then come back to do a final select.
So far I’ve most worked on the Mac version of Mylio, although I have used the sync functions to send thumbnails to my iPad and iPhone. The editing stage works well, but with some reservations. I find the select/filter tools a little awkward to get my around: once you understand that they work globally, not on the selected album or object you are working with (so the reverse to Aperture), then it becomes clear. It’s a different way of working, but probably fine. But there’s some strange view switching going on when editing the filter settings - apparently this is a bug, which will be fixed. Once I’d got everything settled down, I created a “Norway 2015” album and started working from there.
Here I did encounter a few annoyances. I’m not too wild about Mylio “inventing” keywords for me: it creates a keyword for every folder it “watches”. I don’t want it do this, it is adding useless clutter and making looking up keywords harder than it needs to be.
I’m also not sure why the EXIF data in the info panel is so small and hard to read. I often want to see what f-stop I used when rating photos. Mylio doesn’t make it easy! Yes, you can adjust the text size, but this is universal. The small size is fine for me, I just want that vital camera data to be more readable. Same goes for the keyword display in the same panel.
But so far, so good. My first pass reduced the count from 700+ to around 200. I’m casting quite a wide net to start of with. So, I sat down intending to send the whole set to Iridient Developer for stage 2. Except that I can’t. You can select “Open In…” for 1 image, but not multiple images. That is a bit deflating. In fact, that’s enough to make me give up on Mylio for now. No way am I clicking 200 times when any other comparable application would allow me to send the whole set in one action.
There are a few other issues I’ve now noticed. In the RAW development tools, Mylio does not apply embedded lens corrections, at least not from my Olympus E-P5. If I was planning to use this feature, that would be another showstopper.
Finally, it would appear that the “Mylio Cloud” has been quietly dropped. It is not longer mentioned anywhere on the website, but instead a vague reference to being able to integrate at some point (but not today) your own choice of cloud storage has appeared. This seems like a major change of strategy (and possibly a good one), and I would expect to find some official announcement or explanation. The fact that I can’t - and I have spent while searching - is a little unsettling.
So for me the jury is still out on Mylio. It looks promising, it has potential, but the message is a little confused. There seems to be a strong focus on the social media market, which of course is understandable, and mandatory if you have the usual airhead VC backers to deal with (not that I’m saying they have). But, Mylio, remember that Facebook and Flickr users expect to get stuff for free. They will not pay you, certainly not $100/year. They are not the “pro” market you seem to be addressing, intermittently. I’ve spent long enough (far too long enough) in IT startups to see the early signs of failing momentum. I do hope I’m wrong when I’m beginning to see it here. Really I do, because I want what Mylio is promising, very much.