Thursday, March 1, 2007

Comparing RAW conversion solutions


By Chuck Lee

We started with an Olympus 4040 about seven or eight years ago, then purchased a Panasonic DMC-FZ30 about two years ago. My wife is our local church photographer and we needed to find a camera capable of taking good pictures in low light conditions without flash.

"I've become quite the RAW freak."

Back in February or March 2006, I happened to see the press release for the Pentax *ist DL in my Connected Photographer newsletter and began to investigate 6.1 megapixel digital SLRs. The 3200 ISO sensitivity was impressive for the price and it appeared we had found our next camera. Without a doubt, Pentax' naming convention, using "*ist" in a product name, is one of the strangest I've encountered. But the products aren't bad.

After late nights at Steve's DigiCams, Digital Photography Review, and others, I happened across an *ist DS on clearance at Ritz. I scooped it up.

After 30 days, about 1,500 photos, and several more trips to Steve's site for photo comparisons, I traded it in and traded up to the Pentax K100D. We're spoiled from the image stabilization on the Panasonic and who wouldn't like another two stops for low light photography, both of which the K100D provides?

So, since September we've been sport'n the K100D with a 28-75 F2.8 Tamron lens, capturing all the indoor action at our local church. There have been a lot of other home and work-based shoots as well. My wife loves pictures and I enjoy developing them.

In testing out the *ist DS, I've become quite the RAW freak. Now with the K100D's enhanced color and stabilization, my mission since getting it has been to find the best digital RAW conversion solution available for our new DSLR -- and for our old Panasonic FZ30 as well. The Pentax is awesome but the Panasonic is still a great all around camera for outdoor shooting.

We still love using that old Panasonic and we both had cameras at the state fair this year. Boy, we had a lot of pictures to process!! Oh, I forgot to add that we're still using the Olympus. Not as much, but it hasn't gathered any dust and it still takes great pictures!! Almost as good as my six year old's Nikon Coolpix! Sounds a little camera crazy doesn't it?