A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Bibble Digital Photo Editing Software

May 17 2008

by Phil Northeast

Best known as a professional RAW converter for most digital cameras, Bibble software has powerful image processing and basic editing features for JPEG files too.

Bibble Lite version 4 gives photographers extensive control over the tone and brightness of their images. It is not for the complex digital editing tasks you would do in Photoshop, although it does have an excellent cropping tool and a new feature is a healing brush spot removal tool.

Bibble 4 lite interface

Bibble 4 lite interface

A key feature of the Bibble approach is that it does not alter the original image file, rather it creates a separate adjustments data file containing all the image settings. These are only applied when saving the image as a new file.

This is normal procedure for converting RAW files, but Bibble takes this one-step further and applies it to TIFF and JPEG image files as well. This is particularly important for JPEG files as repeated saving of the file is a lossy compression operation, degrading image quality slightly each time. With Bibble, as the original is never altered, no image information is lost.

You can download a copy from Bibble and they offer a thirty day free trial of the software. There are versions for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems and at under $70 for the Lite version it is not a major investment if you decide to buy after trying it out.

This trial used a Windows version running under Vista Home Premium. The software installed easily, and it generally runs flawlessly under Microsoft’s latest operating system. Sometimes the program would seem to hang while creating a processed copy of the current file. The save as dialog box could still be accessed and closed, then operation the can be repeated successfully, as the image, and adjustments files were not corrupted.

unedited  image

An unedited image straight from the camera

There is a slight quirk for the new user in Bibble’s integrated image browser where the file tab is at the bottom left corner of the window while there are other tabs at the top left corner. Apart from this minor quirk, the browser is very useful offering thumbnails of the current folder and the usual directory navigation tools. The relevant EXIF data from the current image is available in a box below the image display window.

A tall rectangular dialog box on the right contains a number of pages of adjusting tools starting with a standard set of options. These form the basic processing tools and include an automatic option, Perfectly Clear, from Athentech Technologies. This adjusts contrast, color and sharpening with the click of a mouse, in many cases this is all that is required. For the occasions when this does not produce a desirable result, the standard adjusters a allow variation of exposure, contrast and saturation. Then there is a slider labeled vibrance, for adjusting colors with less emphasis on the saturated colors.

Image after editng

Image after editng with Bibble 4 Lite

A highlight recovery slider helps make blown highlights slightly less obvious and the fill light slider boosts the light in shadow areas. Then there are basic adjustments for sharpening and a noise reduction.

The there are three more pages of more detailed fine tuning tools, lens corrections,  and options plus two pages of third party plug ins for specialized tasks, such as one for adjusting only skin tones.

Bibble Lite has an excellent crop tool that seems to sum up the best features of this software. While you move or adjust the crop area the software automatically superimposes a rule of thirds grid over the cropped area. The crop is never performed on the original file and the adjustment file remembers the last crop area selected. So, you can go back to the original and see the last crop box and make more adjustments if required. Bibble has the common Spot healing tool for removing skin blemishes or dust spots that seem to creep in despite all the technology.

 

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