Monday, March 15, 2010

As good as Windows/OSX?

Crotchety? I am fed up with Windows users telling me that Linux is OK but not good enough for photography. The same goes for Apple users. I know that they have all paid a lot more for their software. Their own personal investment is much higher than mine in financial terms. I on the other hand have invested time in helping the developers of Linux. Not a great deal but what I can afford. I do get cantankerous when people tell me it is not as good as their system.

Some myths can be blown to pieces. 16 bit colour? Of course the Gimp does not support it yet, Cinepaint and DigiKam have for some time. Just like Windows or Mac OS then? Some support it and some do not. Colour management is supposed to be none existant. I am sure that the Argyllcms project would be miffed. There are many other examples. What can Windows do that Linux cannot? I thought I could name name one, tethered shooting. But I have hit upon an old favorite, gphoto, while browsing. It does not fit into my current workflow, so I just did not bother with it. I find it can now provide remote control of cameras.

I have not looked at it in great depth but it does work. It can be used for time-lapse photography, for tweaking the settings on your macro photograhy. There are even options on my Nikon DSLR to control the flash system, giving it the potential to be used in the studio. I think it will be a toy for most of us at present, until we get a photographer friendly interface.

It can download a picture without it ever hitting the memory card! This gives me even more space for long shoots when I am tethered. For me this is no great benefit, but the ability to review a shot on a larger screen is. You can use a script to pipe the shot directly into your favorite editor or even print directly, providing a very large and expensive Polaroid PoGo camera! You may have gathered that I will not use it that much. This though is an advantage of the freedom of Linux, I am free to do what I want.

I would use it more if it were not a command line interface. I can write a few scripts if I really needed it. No GUI? There is in gtkam but this does not ship for my Fedora system (and compiling it is beyond a quick ./configure && make && make install). I have started to write a GUI based application for my Camera. I can take a snap, see it on the screen (if it is a jpeg, it does not work with RAW files). I can review lots of settings, but set none. If I get time it may work. If I can make it a little more flexible I may even release it to the world.

Does this make Linux better or worse than Windows/Mac? Both! I have to say the only solution I know of for tethering is a mere toy (multican is also available for Canon users). On the other hand I have seen several postings from Windows users asking for gphoto for Windows! Why? They are Windows users who do not want to pay for Nikon's solution, there are others who just want a command line utility. Windows users also want some freedom.

This highlights the advantages and disadvantages of Linux. You have to be willing to put the effort in. If you do not put in the effort, become part of the community then why do you expect it to give you what you want? Do I do my bit? I think I do but as with most I probably do not do enough.

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