Much of your digital workflow is going to be dictated by the software tools you select to do your basic image manipulation and organizing. The tools you select will in part be determined by the type of computer you have and your budget.
Your digital workflow is really composed of two elements: Image organization and image manipulation.
The gold standard for most commercial photographers is still Adobe Creative Suite, now at version 5.5 with 6 expected soon. The advantage to Adobe products is the fit, finish and integrated workflow. The downside is the price tag. The full version of Design Premium is just short of $2,000, more than many of you paid for your camera! Design Standard is still over $1,200. Recently, Adobe has started sticking it to their user base on upgrade pricing as well and limiting the older versions that qualify for upgrade pricing.
It’s my opinion that Adobe products are over-priced for what you get, but there are certainly compelling arguments to the contrary.
GIMP has been around forever but lacks the sophistication and polish of Photoshop. The advantages of GIMP are the price tag and huge user base of support.
GIMP keeps getting better every year, so do check in it from time to time. You might be surprised.
Lightroom is the application you’ll find in most professional studios using Windows. You’ll find it in some Mac shops as well, but more Mac users are using Aperture.
Known to users of Linux for a long time, Digikam was recently packaged for Windows users as well. I use Digikam because it runs on both my Linux and Windows boxes and I like it.
Digikam puts professional level image organization and basic corrections in your hands for free. What I can’t live without in Digikam is the automated batch processing.
I don’t like Phocus as well as Lightroom or Digikam but I want to give Hasselblad credit for coming up with a very polished application that’s available for the trouble of a free registration. Originally developed to work only with Hasselblad raw images, they have opened it up to other users and image formats.
After some initial issues with DirectX, I found Phocus to be a very nice application for cropping, straightening and color corrections. I’d highly recommend giving it a try.