Photoshop vs. Helicon Filter

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Ariel
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Photoshop vs. Helicon Filter

Unread postby Ariel » 17.11.2006 23:13

Here's a question for debate:
How does Helicon Filter compare to Photoshop? How will future versions of Helicon Filter surpass Photoshop?
Last edited by Ariel on 15.12.2006 07:17, edited 2 times in total.

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Ariel
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Unread postby Ariel » 18.11.2006 01:26

I just downloaded (trials for) both Pixel and Photoshop CS2. And WOW! The two programs seem SO similar to each other and yet Photoshop is so much more popular and takes up about 30x the hard drive space. But both programs take a long time to load, and they both look much more confusing and intimidating than Helicon Filter. I'm sure that if I took the time to familiarize myself with them, they would be great, but I remember opening Helicon Filter for the first time and things seemed to click. :lol:

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Ariel
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GUYS!!! Hey!

Unread postby Ariel » 19.11.2006 19:10

I hope this isn't going to be a monologue debate! :lol:
One obvious thing in Pixel and Photoshop which Filter lacks is the ability to crop subjects out of one picture and paste them into another.

lutz
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differences?

Unread postby lutz » 20.11.2006 04:22

Hi Ariel,

I might be stating obvious things here but these are my impressions regarding your first question.

Helicon Filter on one side and Photoshop (and photoshop inspired programs like Paintshop Pro, Photoline32, Pixel, PhotoImpact, PhotoPlus,...) on the other side are two very different types of programs and thus it is more or less “impossible” for Helicon Filter to surpass the photoshops in general – it can be however for many situations and many users the far faster and easier solution to solve the vast majority of image optimization tasks; and it works for me.

Photoshop, Paintshop etc. are universal image editing programs not only for image retouching but also for illustration, design, website design, collages and more. A proper usage of their tools requires one to acquire an abstract more or less mathematical understanding of how the underlying algorithms are working. The upside of this approach is that the editing options certainly are limitless and there are always many ways to achieve a certain result. Especially the effects achievable with multiple layers, use of blend modes and layer masks are not reproducible in a program like Helicon Filter. Obviously these advanced retouching techniques require quite a bit of experience and time in the ”universal editors”. One price to pay for the multitude of options provided is a cluttered user interface, “organized” somewhat mechanistically according to tool types. This organization often requires hunting through several menu layers. By far the worst user interface for me is the one of photoshop because it requires many more mouse clicks than its competitors to achieve even the simplest tasks. It is so antique that one is more or less forced to memorize the keyboard shortcuts for all the important functions. The listed competitors are more modern in this regard and mouse-friendly. Obviously they only provide about 80-90% of the photoshop tools, but certainly the ones needed everyday.

Helicon Filter does not attempt to be a universal image editor but focuses on photo optimization. This makes the program and the user interface leaner and more straightforward. In contrast to the tool-oriented Photoshop Helicon Filter is task-oriented. The tools are well organized in tabs according to tasks (brightness, color, noise,…). Another advantage is that the images can often be edited in a "non-modal" way. This means one does not have to close a dialog box to be able to use a different tool. For example most of the brightness "Filter" tools have effects greatly interacting with settings from previous adjustments. In HF the balancing of the brightness tools is very fast as they are all openly accessible and there is no need to invoke another dedicated dialog box or tool. Together with the ability to operate it ”mouse-only”, this makes the user-interface intuitive and such a pleasure to use. I assume this is only possible because HF does not attempt to do “everything”.
My wishes for improvements would mostly be the ability to switch each tool individually on and of for the preview (to be better able to see what effects my current tweaks are having), an improved local contrast tool, and of course more speed for some previews and the final rendering might not hurt (not that HF would be slow to compared to other editors). I believe the introduction of some automatic one-click fixes could make HF attractive for a wider audience and would be very useful for batch process optimizations.

Cheers
Lutz
Last edited by lutz on 19.12.2006 06:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Dan Kozub
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Unread postby Dan Kozub » 20.11.2006 10:37

Lutz,

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. You absolutely right about the concept of Helicon Filter that we are trying to keep. We are constantly balancing between between desire to add new features and fear to make the interface too complex.

Danylo

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Ariel
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Unread postby Ariel » 20.11.2006 20:59

This is just what I was looking for. Thanks, guys! Lutz, you summed it up pretty well.

John Lai
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Re: differences?

Unread postby John Lai » 01.01.2007 18:03

lutz wrote:I believe the introduction of some automatic one-click fixes could make HF attractive for a wider audience and would be very useful for batch process optimizations.
Cheers
Lutz

Hi Lutz,
A very good essay on the difference between PS & HF and agree with the one click fix, though I would prefer to manually edit a photo, save the settings & use it to batch process photos taken in similar context.

John

BillZM
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Unread postby BillZM » 27.09.2007 04:42

I agree too about the one-click fixes. In another post in "general", I shared my experience so far trying to fix underexposed images. I believe the basic fix I found (bumping Gamma and reducing saturation by ~1/3 of the Gamma bump) could be easily inserted and parameterized as a button or checkbox for "autoexposure" correction with adjustable saturation factor on the brightness tab. "Autoexposure" might even be implemented with camera-like metering modes (uniform sensitivity, center-weighted, intelligent matrix, or spot); of these, I'd say uniform or center-weighted or spot are probably most useful and don't have to be perfect anyway as one could fine-tune from there if necessary. But what a great start, and in combination with batch processing, this would be awesome!

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Ihor
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Unread postby Ihor » 05.10.2007 01:01

That's a great explanation Lutz.
How do you find the latest version of HF since your original post.
Ihor Vilnitsky

lutz
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Unread postby lutz » 09.10.2007 04:15

Hello Ihor,

what has changed in the last year? My impression is that Helicon Filter has gotten even better in the tasks it already did very well. This thread from BillZM is a good example ( http://forum.helicon.com.ua/viewtopic.php?t=988 ). The newest version with the "linear luminance processing" (perhaps not the correct term) seems to need some delicate handling of the brightness and contrast controls. Needs some getting used to; but the results are great. Another obvious plus is, that the newer versions look more appealing.

I believe that RAW file manipulations will become even more important (for DSLR users) and that the best RAW converter applications (BTW, copying some HF designs) allow an easy and quick transfer of all or selected image settings between images. HF at present is great for working on RAW files one by one, but dealing with multiple RAWs is cumbersome for me. We will have to see if Helicon tackles the handling of "many RAW files" or if they stick to their strengths.

But what are your impressions?

lutz
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The "competition" is waking up

Unread postby lutz » 09.11.2007 01:21

Looks like the "competition" is waking up :) regarding the user interface

http://www.news.com/underexposed/8301-1 ... l?tag=head

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Ariel
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Unread postby Ariel » 09.11.2007 22:06

That's cool. Now all they have to do is reduce the price tag by a factor of 10 and it will be a realistic option compared to Helicon Filter. :wink:

lutz
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Unread postby lutz » 09.11.2007 22:37

Hi Ariel,

I agree. And most likely Adobe will invoke the new features or user interfaces with handy shortcuts like : " CTRL + ALT + F7 + S + ENTER " .
(Unfortunately Helicon Filter does not give us the opportunity for this kind of memory workout. :cry: )

kentel
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Unread postby kentel » 01.01.2008 03:59

For ease of use, and value for money, plus the best user support, there is nothing to compare with Helicon Filter. As a long time user, I'd be lost without it!
Yes! I do have a couple of other editing programs, for just the odd adjustment, but without HF, they would not be sufficient. The nearest would be LightZone, has a nice UI, but is more expensive. Also rather greedy on storage/work space.
The other I use, has very little support, and updates/upgrades are the most aggravating issues I've ever met. I won't name it, but it is a three letter word.
Anyway, just come on to wish Dan and his helpers, the Best of Health and Cheer for the coming year.
KT

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XDF
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A new HF user and the reasons why I chose it...

Unread postby XDF » 02.01.2008 01:49

I have just purchased a HF licence. I would like to tell you about the reasons why I chose HF. I have specialized on cat show photography as a hobby. I pay for my equipment, software, hotel bills etc. Because I don't get any money from my photos I have to choose very carefully what equipment to use and what software to pay for.

Since I do my shooting indoors without a flash I use large aperture lenses (f/1.4 and f/1.8 are everyday life for me) and high ISO levels (even ISO 3200 is often in use). The conditions on cat shows are far from perfect: too little light, bad light color, lots of people etc. I have found that my photos get better when post-processed. I have been using Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 for post-processing. It is a great tool. I tend to spend tremendous times on post-processing. Some days ago I started to seek alternative tools for post-processing. I would like to cut down the post-processing time without compromising the quality (at least not too much).

I studied and also evaluated several well-known and lesser-known tools from general graphics editors to raw conversion software. As a result I noticed that I don't actually need a general graphics editor (like Adobe Photoshop Elements) nor a raw conversion software (like Bibble). What I need is a photo retouching software that opens my photos quickly one by one and gives enough possibilites to make them better with a couple of mouse clicks.

At the last minute I found Helicon Filter via a some page found thru a Google search. Helicon Filter seems to fit perfectly for my needs since it supports a concept of workflow: no need to open various menus to do a simple job. It strangely has all the adjustments and filters that I need (makes me wonder how this is even possible). It operates quickly enough even on not-so-new hardware. The CA filter of HF seems to work on my photos (some brand-name raw converters have have CA filters that have no desired effect on my photos). I have spent very limited time with HF for now so better not to try to give in-depth review. HF seems to suit well on post-prosessing JPEG photos (I shoot 1500-2500 photos per a cat show so I have decided to stick with JPEG) while some raw converters are targerted for RAW only.

So it is time for the conclusion: Helicon Filter seems to be a great software and I'm looking forward to get my hands on it in more depth. It is a pity that it is not well-known or at least I wasn't aware of it. If my findings continue to be positive I'll put a word around.

Here are some links to my works and to my website.
Photo galleries: http://www.heikkisiltala.com/galleries/
Equipment's page: http://www.heikkisiltala.com/current_equipment.htm

Some shots I like (all taken in real-life cat show situations, not set up):
http://www.heikkisiltala.com/galleries/bestofbest/0002.html
http://www.heikkisiltala.com/galleries/bestofbest/0035.html
http://www.heikkisiltala.com/galleries/bestofbest/0038.html
http://www.heikkisiltala.com/galleries/bestofbest/0015.html
http://www.heikkisiltala.com/galleries/bestofbest/0031.html


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