SilverFast DC Pro
LaserSoft Imaging has won great acclaim for its excellent scanning software, SilverFast Ai, which is pretty much the industry standard when it comes to optimizing scan quality.
With SilverFast DC Pro, the company has turned its attention to digital cameras, offering a means for photographers to edit RAW-format files.
RAW files are essentially digital negatives, because they are what the digital camera’s CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) sees without any processing. When shooting in anything other than RAW (JPG or TIFF, for example) it’s the camera that determines white balance, among other settings.
One thing about DC Pro that I disliked intensely is that it looks and feels hurried. Essentially LaserSoft Imaging has taken its excellent SilverFast Ai 6 and bolted DC Pro onto it. Not only is DC Pro cluttered with SilverFast Ai 6 scanning functionality that has simply been disabled, but the manual isn’t a DC Pro guide at all; it’s an in-depth walk-through of SilverFast: finding DC Pro content involves an insane degree of index-trawling, and for a good time I thought that the company had put the wrong manual in the box.
One of DC Pro’s key features is Virtual Light Table (VLT). This provides the user with the means of viewing, organizing and managing digital assets in albums. VLT also provides image-correction tools, such as red-eye removal, colour correction, and exposure adjustment. It is, essentially, a reworking of Photoshop’s File Browser.
While VLT is undeniably useful, it’s inferior in some cases to File Browser. For example, files are searchable by name only, whereas in File Browser files can be searched by resolution, creation date, file type, copyright and even colour profile.
Although DC Pro includes an IT8 colour target, this seems to be another Ai 6 legacy. Profiling a scanner with a colour target makes real sense, but most professional photographers would agree that doing so with digital cameras is a real headache, as you can’t meaningfully create a single profile for a camera. At best, you could use the supplied targets to build a series of profiles for typical shooting conditions. However, given DC Pro’s feeble white-balance controls, I’m not sure what the point of this would be.
I’m genuinely baffled by DC Pro; the product leaves me with a strong feeling that the folk at LaserSoft somehow got wind of Photoshop CS’ bundled Camera Raw feature and improved File Browser, and decided to offer something to rival these elements. However, at €299, SilverFast DC Pro is far from frivolously priced, and Photoshop afficianados have little reason to buy it: those using Photoshop 7 can buy the excellent £78 Camera Raw plug-in, or spend £125 on upgrading to Photoshop CS, which offers Camera Raw built-in, as well as piles of other photography features (not least of which is photo-stitching.)
This seems to leave a target audience comprising non-users of Photoshop – yet I find it hard to believe that anyone who is serious about digital photography would elect to ignore Photoshop