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Silverfast 8.5 first impressions

extract, and apply!

in Silverfast , Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Lasersoft Imaging recently announced the release of Silverfast 8.5 at CeBit, and shortly after it became available for download.  This is the most significant update since the complete rewrite which gave us version 8, and it has some interesting sounding enhancements. The first is a much enhanced Job Manager, and the second is the new “HDRi RAW” file format. I’ve been playing around a little with v8.5 Ai Studio, and v8.5 HDR Studio, and here are some very quick, and not terribly deeply researched first impressions.

In the past some new Silverfast features could perhaps be described as over-hyped, or poorly conceived, and on top of that were charged for. But I’m pleased to say that this time around, there seem little grounds for skepticism. First of all, it’s a free upgrade, and secondly, the new features are well designed, well integrated, and genuinely useful.

The Job Manager has gained a great time saving feature inspired by applications such as Aperture or Lightroom: the ability to copy and paste adjustments from one frame to one or more others. In Silverfast it’s called “Extract & Apply”. In Aperture, “Lift & Stamp” - whatever the name, this is really welcome and is especially useful when working on large batches of files in HDR Studio.

SilverFast HDR 8

The new “Extract & Apply” dialog in Silverfast HDR 8.5

Apart from this feature, the Job Manager, which is at the core of Silverfast’s workflow, has had a thorough refresh, and is much nicer to work with now.

The new file format, HDRi RAW, as far as I can tell retains image adjustment settings with the “HDR” file, so that they can be retained between sessions.  This is great, but so far I have to confess to being a little confused, as I thought that Silverfast HDR Studio already managed that. Possibly not, maybe it was only the case for saved Job Manager sessions.  Anyway, it works, and there is also a right-click method to reset to default within the VLT thumbnail browser.

Also, the VLT itself seems to have had some behind the scenes attention, as it feels significantly faster and responsive. Overall the application appears to have received speed and stability enhancements.

There is another new feature, the forthcoming iOS job monitor app. This seems to be more into the quirky end of Silverfast’s range of features, but I guess it might be entertaining!

In conclusion, this is one of the most comprehensive and well thought out revisions I’ve seen Silverfast receive for quite a while. It’s a good indication of the ongoing commitment of Lasersoft to their customers.

One last thing, though. The original CeBit Press Release also mentioned the re-launch, with software and hardware enhancements, of the Plustek OpticFilm 120. I haven’t seen any follow-up to that…




Hello, What Is your thoughts…Is it worth upgrading for $150 to 8.5 from 6.5? I am scanning one slide at a time and the speed enhancements are very tempting. Is the image quality better from your point of view?

By Susan, on November 26, 2015

Honestly, the image quality is about the same. The advantages of 8.5 are more to do with user interface, workflow and operating system support. The principal new feature is the native dust & scratch removal, iSRD, and if that is an advantage or not rather depends on your scanner.  In fact it all depends on your scanner - is it actually supported under 8.5 ?  And of course 6.5 no longer works with newer OS versions, at least on Mac side.  Personally I’m happy with it, but I wasn’t unhappy as such with 6.5.

By David Mantripp, on November 26, 2015

Thank you for your quick response! My scanner is a Nikon Cool Scan IV. I have Archive Suite 6.5 on a Mac Pro 2009 (1289A) and a designated Leopard Snow OS HD.
Per the SilverFast website, this scanner is supported in the 8.5 Archive suite program. I currently would use a Mountain Lion OS hard drive to install 8.5. I worry about upgrading to El Capton with 2 Sonnet Fusion 500p storage units so I am sticking to Mountain Lion.
“Native” dust and scratch removal, ISRD…Do you mean it is done “automatically”? How is it different than 6.5? I think my Archive Suite 6.5 includes this feature with the Nikon Cool Scan IV.
Is the slide scanning time is unchanged… just the color correction time is faster than 6.5?

By Susan, on November 26, 2015

Well, I cannot comment on the Coolscan IV, apart from the fact that it is a very good scanner.  My experience is basically moving from a Minolta MultiPro with SF6.5 to a Plustek Opticscan with SF8. For those two combinations, the Plustek/SF8 combination is faster.  Also, I find the new colour correction tools more intuitive and faster to use, but it’s largely the same engine under the hood.
I’m using OS X 10.9 - I tend to upgrade OS just before Apple releases a new one, in my experience it’s the stablest path :-)
For iSRD, well I think that your Nikon has DigitalICE, which is supported by 6.5.  In v8, Lasersoft did not license Kodak’s DigitalICE technology, but introduced their own infra-red methodology.  It works well enough, but I’m not convinced it is an improvement.  It does offer a lot more manual control that DigitalICE though.
Note that SF8.5 does seem to have quite a lot of bugs, especially HDR Studio.  There are bug-free workflows, but some stuff just doesn’t work. At least not in my experience.
I would say if there are other pressures requiring you to upgrade from Snow Leopard, then SF8 is a workable solution. But otherwise, and if you’re happy with SF6.5, I’d stick with it.

By David Mantripp, on November 26, 2015

Thank you, I will take your advise…If SF9 comes in a few years I may revisit it then. Happy Thanksgiving!

By Susan, on November 27, 2015

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