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An open letter to Lasersoft Imaging

also known as “Silverfast”

in Silverfast , Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dear Lasersoft Imaging,

Quoting from your website, “on August 17th [2011], scanner software SilverFast 8 has been released”. Today is June 21st, 2012, and recently, Beta 10 of Silverfast HDR was released, with little obvious change, except, apparently, in fiddling around with the infrared channel which has been causing you some issues.

Silverfast HDR 8 has no features that are not present in Silverfast 6 HDR. It does, however, miss a few. Zooming doesn’t work. You can see an image at a size which fits the window (about 4% in my scans), or, if you discover the hidden workaround, 100%. That’s it. At least you can pan the 100% view. From playing around, it seems that headline features such as GANE simply don’t work, although the controls are there. There is no way to batch process, a key feature of all previous versions.  There is no equivalent to version 6’s flawed, but useful, Virtual Light Table.

You do have a completely new GUI, which is long overdue. It is an improvement, at least, but hardly earth-shaking. And, crucially, it works on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), unlike version 6. Your company’s total refusal to follow any sort of UI standard is baffling though, as well as financially counter-productive. But Lion, and Silverfast 8, were released a long time ago. In fact, OS X 10.8 is imminent, even if we allow that it is little more than a marketing wrapper for a service pack for 10.7.  And Silverfast HDR 8 is still in Beta.

I’m not holding out any hope for a Silverfast AI 8 for my Minolta Scan Multi Pro. It seems that this is just too hard for your engineers, even though it didn’t seem to be a big deal for Ed Hamrick. Anyway, I have now dedicated a semi-retired MacBook Pro to running Silverfast 6.6 AI, but I would like to reprocess the HDR output on my main machine.

I suspect that you are paying the price for years upon years of neglect of a very old, undocumented and labyrinthine code base, and quite possibly the engineers who knew how it worked are gone. For many years you watched the money roll in, and bolted on fairly useless new feature after fairly useless new feature to get the upgrade income. Of course the foundation was - and is - a very good scanning engine, but that’s no longer enough.

I bought into your Archive concept - in both senses of the word -  but it seems that your idea of “archival” is very strange. Your customers now have archive files which can only be processed on current computers with a half-baked Beta. This is a poor reward for the trust your customers have shown.

Personally, I don’t feel any need to join the rush to upgrade to OS X 10.8 - but perhaps I should consider 10.7, as 10.6 is beginning to lock me out of interesting developments. In fact, I have test 10.7.4, and of all the applications I use, including tricky things like monitor calibration and printer drivers, only Silverfast is holding me back.

I challenge to provide a roadmap to a commercial release of Silverfast HDR 8. And to also publish a list of features you intend to include on release, and a list of those which are not currently working in Beta 10 (although you have released Beta 8.0.1r12, the latest update notice on your Silverfast HDR 8 main page is for 8.0.1r4). No gloss, no half-truths, just the facts. This is part of what an open Beta entails, but you seem not to get that.

Yours, in hope of a positive response

David Mantripp



Several flickr respondents appear to share your pain ....

I would echo the comment, among others, that some features (notably AACO) appear to have no effect. Or even make matters worse. For this user, at least, NikonScan results in better scans most of the time.

By Project Hyakumeizan, on June 25, 2012

As a fellow Silverfast user I couldn't have put across these points any better and I completely agree.

As a windows user I've been testing out HDR Studio 8 beta release since it became available. Like you I 'bought' into the archive concept and really like Negafix and the ability to save the IR channel but find HDR Studio 6.6 a little buggy and it is of course now no longer being developed. I was hoping that v8 being rewritten, would be faster and more reliable. However, so far v8 seems much slower than v6.6 and even for beta software is very buggy.

I've been providing (and continue to provide) feedback to Lasersoft through their forum but I've been surprised at the relatively slow pace of bug fixing. In fact in newer releases they seem to have introduced new bugs (negative images not viewable as positives unless an action is applied!). At the very least it would be helpful for them to publish a change log with each release detailing resolved bugs and issues and those that remain to be solved.

By Lee, on July 01, 2012

Over two weeks ago, I submitted this post to the Silverfast forum. It has not been published, which is no great surprise.

"Last night I downloaded the latest version of HDR 8. I'm sure there have been various improvements under the hood, but superfically progress seems very slow. It must be 9 months since the first Beta, and there are still basic features, such as zoom, that don't work (apart from the strangely hidden 1:1 workaround), headline features such as GANE which seem to do nothing, and key functionality such as Job Manager, and some kind of replacement for the VLT which are completely missing. These are foundation stones of the "archive solution" which I and others were sold and bought into, but for Mac users at least this mission-critical functionality that we rely on Silverfast for is only available when using an obsolete operating system. I'm never in a hurry to update OS, but there are now pressing reasons to update to Lion, and of course even Lion will shortly be obsolete. This is all very disappointing, especially as no roadmap has been communicated, and we may well be in this situation for years. I'm resigned to the fact that there will never be support beyond OS X 10.6.8 for the Minolta Multi Pro scanner, and have dedicated an old laptop to running that and outputing HDR scans to my main imaging computer. But I want to process these scans in my main, fully colour managed environment. Apart from a few nice to have details, with some work there is nothing that I can do in HDR that I cannot do in Photoshop, so the selling point for me are these preview and job management features. Of course the basic Silverfast algorithms and tools still get me where I want to go faster, and often better, than Photoshop, but that's not enough.

So, are we nearly there yet? I'm sure you'd like to be able to take our money for a production release almost as much as we'd like to give it to you. Can you at least give a general idea of when you expect the release date to be?

Thanks for allowing this dscussion..."

By david mantripp, on July 10, 2012

So good to read your words. Very near to what I feel and experienced. It's so bad what they do. The only thing the seem to do good is ripping us for our money. I even cannot see anywhere what brings a r11, or a r12 or r13. My complaint, about 3 months ago was also not showed in the forum.
What really angers me also is, that they claim to have a "intuitive" user interface. That is at least ridiculous, not to say an obscene few of reality. At least they didn't have there documentation ready, so they seem to really think themselves that something like this is not needed anymore with there "great" software. :((((((((



By W. Piehler, on July 14, 2012

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