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So long, Picture Window Pro

The digital photo processing software that I started photography with and used for thirteen years has finally succumbed to the inevitable and reached end of life. Picture Window Pro from Digital Light and Color is now no longer for sale and no new versions will be released.

When I first took up photography, back in the olden days, digital cameras were still pretty new. A professional DSLR (there weren’t many) might give you three megapixels. It was going to be a long time, so we thought, before they could supplant even 35mm film. The benefits of digital processing and printing, however, became compelling more quickly and for a brief time film scanners were the thing. I splashed out on a state of the art 4000 dpi model and a new computer to plug it into. That was the easy part. The hard part was the software (if you’ll excuse the pun). The mainstream choices were PaintShop Pro, Photoshop (v6 at the time), and Photoshop Elements. I hated them. Complex, bloated, full of stuff I didn’t need and obviously not designed for photographers. Somehow I found out about Picture Window Pro and didn’t look back.

PWP was clearly designed from the start for photographers. It had what I needed and little I didn’t. It was simple to learn, intuitive and obvious. It was also very powerful. Fully 32-bit when that was a big thing. Very powerful yet simple masking tools. Full colour management. Nice printing interface. It was also cheap. Somewhere about the £70 mark I think, when full Photoshop was about £600. PWP made processing so easy that I got a little paranoid. I’d keep reading articles about Photoshop tricks that made everything sound difficult. I wondered if I was missing something. Why did you have to jump through these hoops? I never had to do anything like that with PWP.

It was obvious that it couldn’t last. Adobe has a gzillion developers while DLC probably has about two. Lightroom came out many years ago and I heard good things about it. My friend Richard started using it and I got more interested. Like PWP, it seemed designed specifically for photographers and it didn’t have the bloat and “heritage” of Photoshop. Also like PWP it was cheap. I made the leap a couple of years ago and was convinced immediately. I hate to say that it makes PWP look so last century. I’ve barely used PWP since but I can’t forget what I owe it. Thirteen years of processing and printing. Many of my best selling pictures are still ones originally processed with PWP.

I still use PWP occasionally, for certain “special” tasks. I’ve also recently discovered it can do a much better job of sharpening after downsizing than Lightroom. If I get the time I might try experimenting with doing extra sharpening steps in PWP prior to printing.


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