Beginner Do I need to learn photo editing software such as photoshop?

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72
Name
Conan
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#1
Hi everyone, I hope you are all OK.

I am wondering if I need to learn to use something such as photoshop or GIMP to edit my images? I am shooting in RAW+JPEG.

My camera (Nikon D3500) is now starting to feel a lot more natural to use, even in manual mode I have managed to remember the buttons to press/dials to turn to get it to do what I want. This is a big thing for me as I have memory issues and am so happy.

I make sure to grab the camera every time I leave the house daily, and also am using it indoors as much as I can.

So now I am unsure what to do, continue practicing just with the camera for now and back up the images on my Mac as I am doing, or spend some time learning a new application as well and split my time between them?

Thank you all for your advice and help.
 
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361
Name
Dougie
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#2
Yes, if your shooting RAW as different software will display your RAW file differently, apply different defaults for sharpening, noise reduction etc. You can also post adjust loads more including white balance.

You use the software to 'develop' the digital image to your taste rather than what the camera's JPEG RAW Processor is doing.

Lightroom and Photoshop are great together but run on a subscription model which some people hate.

Dougie.
 
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369
Name
Steve
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#3
It depends what you want to do.

If you are looking to "develop" your raws then Lightroom or a free clone will be best.
It's quite an easy program to learn and intuitive to operate. Mainly just slide
the sliders until you get really deep in.

Photoshop is MUCH more difficult but only really needed if you want to get deep into pixel
level fiddling.

As a landscape photographer shooting raw Lightroom does say 98% of what I want to do with PPing.
The rest I use Photoshop elements or an ancient copy of Paint Shop Pro.
 
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3,237
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droj
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#4
I'd run the camera & processing software in harness because they're utterly complementary. You've got the raw's - they're the equivalent of negatives. Now you need to 'develop' them.

It's about making your pictures your own. You might think that you're taking a 'thing' - this or that - when you press the shutter, but you're really taking light and shadow. To produce a jpg, the camera's processing engine will process the image mechanically, so to speak. By taking control yourself and producing an image from the raw, you'll have a greater scope to give the image emotional purpose.

I wouldn't put it off. Start simply, and the learning curve, which can be daunting at first, will begin to climb.

Which just leaves which app to try. What about a free trial period of On1 raw 2019, and see how it goes. If it clogs your brain up, ignore it for a few days and come back to it. Its odd sometimes how things can percolate in.
 
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317
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#5
Get lightroom and watch youtube tutorials.

Jarad Polin used to do a lot of vids of himself doing lightroom edits and explaining what he was doing and why.

Also he used to have informal lightroom competitions where everyone would edit the same photo and then compare them etc.
 
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conanthewarrior
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72
Name
Conan
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#6
Thank you all for the helpful replies.

I will give a Lightroom clone a try from all the answers. It makes sense to me the RAW files are the digital 'negatives' and I develop them, and can do this to my taste yes as mentioned instead of the cameras processor doing so with a JPEG? That sounds more like what I want vs photoshop at the moment from what I know.

I am on a very, very tight budget - the D3500 kit was a massive amount of money to me at the moment, hence why I will try a free clone.

I have downloaded Nikon's software, is capture NX-D a Lightroom clone? It seems I can edit WB, exposure compensation, and a fair few other things but am unsure if this software is as good as another?

Could anyone suggest a clone for me, I am on a Mac if Capture NX-D isn't really what is best for me to use.
 
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361
Name
Dougie
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#7
Capture NX-D will be perfect for you for now if your on a low budget,

It's a bit more clunky than the commercial alternatives but is more than fine for now.

You'll understand what more you need / want out of your development software as you get used to capture-d.

As an example, Lightroom includes full catalogue management and image search functions which may or may not be important to you.

Dougie.
 
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conanthewarrior
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72
Name
Conan
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#8
Capture NX-D will be perfect for you for now if your on a low budget,

It's a bit more clunky than the commercial alternatives but is more than fine for now.

You'll understand what more you need / want out of your development software as you get used to capture-d.

Dougie.
Thats fantastic then, I feel very happy that I have everything I need, at least for now. I realise I will want extra things in future as I progress, but for now am set up :).
 
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361
Name
Dougie
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#9
Basic workflow is take the picture, import to Cature NX-D, do your edits, export in a format / resolution for wherever your posting to.

Web sites etc won't accept your RAW images, you process them, then export to usually a JPG.

Your RAW files always remain original, only the edits you do to them are recorded so you can always go back to your original image if desired.

Good luck and have fun trying all the sliders !

Dougie.
 
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211
Name
Tom
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#10
I'm using DarkTable, which has a layout based on Lightroom - it's free. A bit of a learning curve but very powerful raw processor. I also use GIMP as a free Photoshop substitute when you want to start getting into layers... I'd stick DarkTable first. But whatever you decide, I'd choose one and stick with it. Watch youtube tutorials etc. And remember that post processing is an art unto itself, and a skill which requires developing. Learning to use the software is just the first step.
 
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860
Edit My Images
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#11
Hi everyone, I hope you are all OK.

I am wondering if I need to learn to use something such as photoshop or GIMP to edit my images? I am shooting in RAW+JPEG.

My camera (Nikon D3500) is now starting to feel a lot more natural to use, even in manual mode I have managed to remember the buttons to press/dials to turn to get it to do what I want. This is a big thing for me as I have memory issues and am so happy.

I make sure to grab the camera every time I leave the house daily, and also am using it indoors as much as I can.

So now I am unsure what to do, continue practicing just with the camera for now and back up the images on my Mac as I am doing, or spend some time learning a new application as well and split my time between them?

Thank you all for your advice and help.
There is no law saying that after you take some photographs, you "have to" edit your photos. You do not "need" to, it is an option, it is a choice.

There are a lot of people who take photos but don't edit them. They take photos, put them into folders, display on their phones, show off to friends, that's it. Usually most photographers want to edit their photos to adjust the light levels, highlights, shadows, to make each part of their photos stand out. But that's it, they "want to" edit, it's a choice. And it is mostly the creative photographers or graphic designers or artists that are the ones who use the likes of Photoshop (or any other software) for the purpose of creative.

It is up to you as it is a personal choice for you, not something you "need to" but it would be helpful to have a go learning to use the likes of Photoshop or GIMP if you want to. You never know, one day there would be a bit of dirt on the lens that you didn't notice and failed to clean it off. So you end up with a good photo but sadly ruined by a dark blurry spot in the sky. Therefore it is a personal choice if you want to leave it to remind yourself to always check the lens is clean or prefer to retouch it to remove the dark spot.
 
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2,116
Name
Kev
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#12
Yes, if your shooting RAW as different software will display your RAW file differently, apply different defaults for sharpening, noise reduction etc. You can also post adjust loads more including white balance.

You use the software to 'develop' the digital image to your taste rather than what the camera's JPEG RAW Processor is doing.

Lightroom and Photoshop are great together but run on a subscription model which some people hate.

Dougie.
:agree:

However, Nikon Capture NX-D will read all the camera settings and apply them to the raw so if the camera settings were OK you will not need to do much editing but you can still change them if you want to. I would suggest using Capture NX-D and learning what the different settings do, once you have an idea of the changes that are possible you will know enough to decide if you need another program and which one.
 
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1,035
Name
Mike
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#13
As has been said, there is absolutely no compunction to post-process. Up to you.
This doggs back into the raw vs jpg debate. The benefits of raw, or NEF in your case, then are peculiarly limited, and essentially demand you post-process them to make a digital 'print' for display or transmission... which can significantly force the choice, and in the doing, beg you DO post-process, pretty much everything, adding 'faff' to the job you probably dont need, see much if any benefit from, and ultimately can just give umpety more opportunity for eff-upp.
In post-process. Your diddle-ability is limited essentially to changing the brightness and contrast of a picture, and cut-n-past montaging bits of different pictures in or out of it. Here the oft inflated benefits of RAW or NEF, are, IMO hugely inflated. The format may give you some small extra twiddle-ability over what you may have in jpg, but that is pretty much all. If you want to exploit montaging techniques, such as focus stacking or HDR merging, let alone more conventional blue-screen type montages combining image elements, then the whole job aught to be treated as a whole, and the individual montage shots shot to post-process, limiting again the possible merits of adjusting contrast/brightness, in any individual element shot.
So you come round to 'Clean-in-Camera' thinking. Getting it 'right' at point of capture. And you cannot change the lens you used, or the shutter speed, or the aperture, or the focus, after the event, in post-process; so there is STILL incentive to get it right CinC, which if you do, probably negates ANY benefit of ANY post-Process, in ANY format!
So start there... aim for Clean-in-Camera, and getting it as 'right' and close to what you hope at the moment you press the button, dont expect to post-process, don't expect miracles from it, if you use it.
You say you are getting to grips with shooting in manual.... ah-ha..... one bets that by that you mean manual-exposure, rather than one of the auto-or semi auto-modes, of 'exposure' All of which will be relying o the cameras Through-Taking-Lens metering to get an exposure value for you to use..... even in full manual where you pick the Aperture, Shutter and ISO setting..... you are balencing the settings against that TTL meter reading.... and so likely using the exact same shutter/apperture/iso settings that the coupled electronics of an automatic or semi auto exposure mode would anyway... at best.... you are simply making more of a faff of the job to do manually what the camera would for you automatically... at worst, giving yourself umpety more chance to eff-upp!
IF you 'really' wanted to "Go Manual', then you would switch off all the auto-easement of the camera, and use it like my old clockwork Zenit film camera, which, without even a built in light-meter, begs an external hand-held one, or a practised eye and judicious use of the f16-Sunny rule-of-thumb, then manually focusing. You could still become a 'slave to the meter' merely making the aperture/shutter settings suggested by the dial or LCD screen on the hand-held meter... but, that external hand-held meter would offer you the option of either taking an 'Ambient' light meter reading of light falling on the scene, or a 'Reflected' Light meter reading of the light being reflected from it... and beg some thought and decision by 'you' before you start twiddling knobs... then, contemplating the settings and the Depth-of-Focus you might get at any aperture, and the interplay that has on where you might manually focus, begging more thought and more decisions, and not leaving it to the electronics.....
So... factor in that sort of 'Learning', and the stuff you could do, but probably aren't, 'in camera', that has SO much more effect on the final image than anything you might do in post-process.... let alone the up-front stuff, what you can do about whats in-front of the camera; picking your scene, framing your subject, taking what 'manual' control there IS there, like combing your subjects hair, or removing a bit of distracting litter, or re-arranging the ornaments on the mantle-piece so they don't have a daffodil growing out their ear, etc, long before you even start contemplating such things as whether or not to use flash, or move a desk lamp, or just switch on some lights, or use a reflector, even a white T-Shirt as an improvised one, etc, taking control of the scene, and it's lighting, long before you need worry about 'settings'... long before you need worry about what benefit you 'may' get from anything in 'post-process'.

So, where will you likely get most benefits or most improvement in your photo's? Post-Process is but one tool in the tool-box... there are many many others. Which would you get most from learning to use? Where do you want to take control? Where can you take control? What is likely to make most difference to anything, and what, most importantly do you WANT to learn to do?

There is NO compunction to even take a photo, let alone learn how to use any and every tool in the toy-box.... but there IS compunction for YOU to make your own decisions..... are you? Or are you leaving them to serendipity and the algorithms programmed into the electronics?
 
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5,482
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Darran, Daz or ****
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#14
I’m probably in the minority but I find post processing a tedious and laborious, this perhaps shows in my photos.
I wish I were good enough to get everything correct in the camera and just shoot in jpeg.
I think I know lightroom quite well due to various tutorials online but having a break from photography from 2011-2018, I had to relearn a few things.
 
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1,152
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Tony
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#15
I'm with snapper67 on the NX software.

You only need the likes of photoshop if you want to make an image not look like the one you took.

I use the Canon bundled software (because I own a canon) for raw conversion almost exclusively.

I notice you use a mac for viewing/editing.
There is quite a nice software package called affinity photo for MAC and is reasonably priced. As far as I can tell, it does what photoshop does at a fraction of the cost.
 
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991
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#16
If you want to do it then use GIMP for a bit then if you feel you want more you can try free trials of LR and PS before buying them. If it's for you then go for it. If not then stick with what you got.

The reality of the situation is that the camera cannot produce the scene as you saw it as a sensor works differently from your eye so it'll always be different in it's own ways. People use post-processing to get it back to how they saw it. Some people do creative wizardry too with PS and make fantasy stuff etc. Whatever you decide, I think you'll always go for editing. When I first started photography I said I was never going to edit my images. I started editing them when I learned about what I've just said.
 
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5,963
Name
Terry
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#17
Light room is excellent for filing and finding your images and can process your raw images.
Photoshop is excellent fo doing all sorts and levels of image retouching and manipulation.
You can get them both on subscription which is not at all bad if you can spare the cash.

Gimp is rather more difficult than photoshop and it has a few limitations but is free.
But it does not do the filing and finding of images nor does it do raw processing.

Affinity is anothe new lower cost editor like photoshop. But its raw processor is pretty dire and even worse for (fuji raws)

Adobe photoshop elements, is a low cost, cut down version of photoshop and can do pretty much all you need.
It is some what easier to learn... but none of the learning will be wasted if you move up to photoshop and lightroom later. As it uses much the same logic.

All these programs will test your memory to start with, but all have help menus to get you out of trouble.
If like me your memory is not what it once was. You should be able to cope, though it might take a little longer, The more you use your memory muscle
The better it gets.

Have a look at photoshop elements for a start to see if you think you could cope.
 
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conanthewarrior
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Conan
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#18
@Teflon-Mike , when you mention manual mode, and what you have said, is it better to use one of the semi auto modes instead? I'm trying to learn this for a few reasons, the main is to have fun learning something new, but I also want to progress and become better for myself- I have some memory impairment and am told I am brain damaged after some bouts of serious illness, but am very happy as I have now remembered the button combinations to press for what I need on the camera. Shooting in manual mode just made me feel a bit better, like I could do something myself correctly?

However, if a semi auto mode yields the same results and doesn't really offer any benefit over manual, I might as well use that. I just want to take photos, and maybe have some I take seen by others and they can enjoy them.

@YoshiK1 that makes sense, in that a sensor is different to our eyes, and using software to make it how it looked seems like something I will need to do in future due to this.

@soupdragon I will check out affinity photo, I am only on Mac as for my music studio I use logic. It was what I learnt at college years ago and I still feel comfortable using it.
 
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1,035
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Mike
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#19
@Teflon-Mike , when you mention manual mode, and what you have said, is it better to use one of the semi auto modes instead?
What's better? Tea or Coffee? Depends a lot what you want. If I want all that 'faff', and it can be fun, I grab the old clock-work Zenit, or the Zeiss Ikonta 120 folder, and a selenium cell light-meter. Buttons? Oh! I think I got one or two of them left on my trench coat ;-)....
But.. I did NOT spend umpety hundred quid, and more, on an all singing, all dancing electric-picture-maker to turn 'off' most of that electronic easement to try use it like the old Zenit or Ikonta! I paid that money for an all electric picture maker that would do oh-so-much of the complicated stuff 'automatically' and let me worry about a) finding things to take photo's of and b) making the most of them photo-ops, moving ash-trays or crisp-packets out the way, finding the best angle of view, etc etc etc. Worrying about what is OUTSIDE the camera, not what buttons are on it.
There's only really two that matter; the 'on-off' switch, and the shutter-release!
As for 'modes'? Sticking the thing on 'sport' or 'landscape' or 'portrait' or heaven forbid the default 'green-box' auto, and leaving it there! I can concentrate on whats in front of the camera, I dont NEED to know what buttons to press for any one shot; and I have confidence that the cameras algorithms, will, likely pick the settings I would have done anyway, and done it a lot faster. There are very VERY few instances that I might 'want' to pick anything that the electrickery wouldn't... and most often, where the situation might beg the electrikery pick different shutter or aperture settings than I would, it It 'would' pick the ones I would with a little encouragement by way of a prod or two of exposure compensation.
More often than not, the first automation to get switched off, ISN'T the auto-exposure, but the Auto-Focus.... 'cos the focus system is 'hunting' trying to get a lock on a subject, that's not slap bang in the middle of the frame under a red-dot, or staying still, or whatever, and its an awful lot less faff, for me, to just turn that all off, and focus manually, than it is to spend ages prodding buttons trying to find an alternative focus scheme, or half holding the shutter button to get a focus lock on something else, and recomposing.
What's 'better' is all very very circumstance dependent; and what I find 'best' probably isn't best for every-one, let alone all the while. BUT.... All the automation and easement in the camera, is there to be exploited. All the 'expert' programming put into it, is probably as or more expert than I am, most of the time, so there is little reason NOT to use any or all of what the camera might do for you, so that you can worry about the stuff the camera just cant... as said, there's far more outside the camera than in it, spend more time looking through the thing than at it, and when it comes to the idea of 'taking control' to try get better pictures, there is far more 'control' to be found and exploited outside the camera, moving ashtrays, picking vantage points, choosing the angle of view, asking subject to 'say cheese!' etc etc etc, than there ever is to be found in the camera, prodding buttons or dials or hunting for 'modes'...
Yeah, knowing what the shutter and aperture and ISO do for your photo, is pretty key, BUT, its not the be-all-and-end all of the job, and using manual exposure, just for the sake of the errant snobbery of saying "I always shoot manual, like a PRO!" is, probably as or more short-sighted as only ever using green-box auto!
The automation is there to make the job easy... learn what its doing by all means, that is helpful, BUT, don't be a masochist to the mantra. The easement is there, there's no reason NOT to use it, an awful lot of very good reason TO use it, and STILL, there's far more to be found looking through the camera than at it.
Use what is more 'appropriate' for the job, and that is more comfortable to do.... but, dont loose sight of the fact that whats outside the camera, is far more important than whats in it.
 
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conanthewarrior
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Name
Conan
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#20
@Teflon-Mike I understand what you mean now, I was unsure at first.

I wouldn't want to use manual just for snobbery, or what 'pros' do- if I am honest I couldn't care less what I am classed as, even though at the moment I do think I am a beginner, but beginner or pro doesn't matter to me. What I DO care about is learning and trying to find some nice images I can take, and improve myself.

I was using manual specifically for what you mentioned, knowing what the shutter, aperture and ISO do for my photos, even though I do know (or think I do) what they do already.

Knowing how things work is important to me. This may stem from my other work and training where knowing the ins and outs of things made things easier, or at least for me.

Also usually a tea, but a coffee is good sometimes ;)
 
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3,237
Name
droj
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#21
Shooting in manual mode just made me feel a bit better, like I could do something myself correctly?
I like that approach. No harm in it, either.

Opinions are one thing, and finding out for yourself is another! And you can carry on doing it your way. It's personal. Along the road you might equally try semi-auto modes with exposure compensation, but at the core of setting exposure, whatever mode is chosen, is some concept of how you are metering the scene. The key is to bring the various strands together.
 
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4,583
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Dave
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#22
@conanthewarrior If you master exposure in Manual you'll soon realise you rarely need to use it, and that an auto mode is often faster. My preference is Aperture Priority but it depends what you're shooting really

IMHO - if you aren't using post production to edit your photos in a way & style that you like and is 'you' then not only are you missing 50% of the photography process but you may as well shoot with a phone instead; phone cameras are so good now, and some of the editing software on them too, that if you aren't getting the best from your raw files and printing them too you're wasting your money on camera gear!

Dave
 
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conanthewarrior
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72
Name
Conan
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#24
@conanthewarrior If you master exposure in Manual you'll soon realise you rarely need to use it, and that an auto mode is often faster. My preference is Aperture Priority but it depends what you're shooting really

IMHO - if you aren't using post production to edit your photos in a way & style that you like and is 'you' then not only are you missing 50% of the photography process but you may as well shoot with a phone instead; phone cameras are so good now, and some of the editing software on them too, that if you aren't getting the best from your raw files and printing them too you're wasting your money on camera gear!

Dave
Thank you for your honest reply. I will look more into editing then.

I don't want to shoot with a phone, if I did I would have bought a new one instead. I don't feel I have wasted my money on my camera, I am enjoying it everyday :)
 
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