There is an increasing number of RAW photograph developing tools out there these days. In my humble opinion, as a reasonably prolific and very keen hobbyist photographer, only two of them are worth considering. Capture One and Adobe LightRoom. The others, and I've trialled all of them, fail to meet my expectations and standards to a greater or lesser extent. The problems I've encountered usually centre around speed, features and complexity. Few can show me real time instant appearance of adjustments as I move sliders. Few export really satisfactory JPEGs. Some are hopelessly complex or attempt to cram in far too many doubtful features, such as silly filters which make it look like you shot your picture in a red fog.
But, to me very important, only two *worthwhile* applications (happy to be corrected if I'm wrong) can be driven by external control surfaces. Turn a knob or press a button on a piece of hardware on the desk rather than finding and mousing sliders on the screen. The only two RAW software packages which satisfy my general expectations AND are fully controllable from hardware control surfaces are Capture One and LightRoom. They're good, they're fast, and they're highly satisfactory. AND they are externally controllable. In my case, Capture One via a Loupedeck and a clever piece of software, and LightRoom via a Behringer MIDI controller and a different clever piece of software.
In a side note, I will add that one of my trial sessions was with Alien Skin Exposure 4, which seems to be receiving favourable reviews. At first it looked promising and, lo and behold, it offered many keyboard shortcuts which, I thought, I could be useful if I wanted to use it with a control surface. But then, a major problem: there seems to be shortcuts for the likes of exposure, clarity, saturation - the basics in other words. Where is the shortcut for one major adjustment - sharpening? What? Quite inexplicably there isn't one, and there is apparently no way to make one. Other controllables than sharpening are missing in this respect, but for me, sharpening was the deal buster. Very few photographs are perfect without having some sharpening applied - it's the nature of digital photography. So that, I'm afraid, was the end of Alien Skin. It's pretty slow anyway compared to my prime suspects, C1 and LR, so I can't call it *worthwhile*.
So starting with Capture One, and moving on to LightRoom, I present my guides to using control surfaces with the two *worthwhile* packages.