Pictures as smooth as silk? A SilkyPix overview from South East Asia.


SilkyPix is not one of the mainstream raw development tools, and as a result is not well understood and often not well-liked.  Since there isn’t a great deal of information about it on the internet, this article is intended to explain some of the most commonly used features in SilkyPix, highlighting where they differ from other software, and giving some guidance about how and when to use them. 

It is not intended as a complete guide to either raw development or give a comprehensive description of all the features of SilkyPix, although Ichikawa do have an excellent user manual as part of the installation that contains a detailed guide of all its features. 


Penang, Malaysia : Quayside : 1/1600s f3.2 ISO100 : SilkyPix : Natural standard colour + red filtered black and white


This article contains the following sections, which describe the various features of SilkyPix in more detail:

  • Overview
  • Presets and Tastes
  • Colour
  • Exposure
  • Highlight Controller
  • Sharpening and Noise Reduction
  • Export
  • Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Comparison with Capture One
  • Final Words



This section provides an overview of the SilkyPix Pro v8 raw development tool, and describes:

• Catalog and file locations;
• Main window and workspace;
• Tools.

SilkyPix is a raw development tool with simple editing features, runs on Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX, and works with files from almost all modern digital cameras, including Sigma Foveon. Ichikawa Software are quite responsive and add support for new cameras via version updates every few months, with major releases which require a new license around every 18 months. The current version is v8, and the software comes in 2 versions, a “standard” version and a more expensive “pro” version which includes additional functionality. A license allows the software to be installed and used on up to 3 computers and can be transferred between machines. My description of the features of the software relates to the “Pro” version, as it offers additional features such as local adjustments and portrait air brushing. You can check the differences between the versions by looking at the SilkyPix website.

Penang, Malaysia : Hair do & Make up : 1/60s f1.8 ISO800 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour K + fine colour adjustment

One of the major differences between SilkyPix and other software such as Lightroom or Capture One is that it has no catalogue. As a result, there is no need to import files before you can work on them – you can open a folder or a single image and start making adjustments. It has a simple system of star ratings and coloured flags, and all your ratings and adjustments are kept in a “silkypix_ds” sub-folder alongside the images in a series of “sidecar” files named after each image file. This makes it very easy to work with files on different computers, as the directory with the images will also have a subfolder with all your adjustments which can be copied between computers or kept on external storage with the raw files. From the file menu you can either select an individual raw file to develop, or you can open the file browser and choose a folder to work on, browsing thumbnails and adjusting them as you wish.

The main window should be quite familiar to anyone who has used Lightroom or Capture One, offering a file browser, a thumbnail view, an enlarged development view, and a toolbar from which adjustments can be made. The layout of the interface can be customised using the “view” menu – I place the browser on the left and the tools on the right. If you use a computer with a screen with a resolution equivalent to “HD” or higher (1920 pixels wide), you are advised to select a “skin” from the “settings->options” sub-menu as it allows skins that scale the fonts and icons for higher resolution screens. Many of the concepts and much of the use of the software is very similar to other raw development tools. The various views are controlled from the view menu, or using the icons on the tool bar below the menus.

The tools to the right contain the most used controls for adjusting images, and by default shows histogram, exposure, HDR, contrast, colour, sharpness, and noise reduction. These are pinned to the tools and clicking one of the icons or selecting one of the values from the drop downs brings up a palette below the tools with all the relevant controls, although they can be unpinned and “float” anywhere on the screen in you prefer. In the screen shot of the tools below, I have labelled the primary tools, and you can see that the white balance is currently selected (the icon has a border around it) and at the bottom are a range of settings related to white balance.

Below these main tools are icons for additional controls. When any of these icons are clicked, the options for that control will appear as a floating tool, although they can be docked depending on your preference. These are labelled in the screen shot below.

Rather confusingly, some of the functions represented by these icons also appear on the “tools” menu, some on the “view” menu, and some also on the toolbar below the menu bar. I think this is one of the sources of confusion for new users, as it isn’t always obvious where to find a control, or why it is replicated in more than one place. Generally, I use the icons on the toolbar and on the tools palette.

Continue reading the following section which describes the use of Presets and Tastes, or return to the Introduction to see the list of sections in the article.


Presets and Tastes

This section describes the use of presets and “tastes” in SilkyPix Pro v8, and includes:

  • Tastes
  • Applying presets and changes to multiple images.

Once an individual raw file has been opened or you select one from the thumbnail browser, you can immediately start to adjust it using the tools, and if you switch to a different image your settings are automatically saved so there is no need to “save” your changes. I find this makes it much quicker to find images you want to work on and start adjusting them, without any unnecessary step of importing into catalogues and creating copies of files, which I always found somewhat confusing and frustrating with other raw development tools.

Penang, Malaysia : Cat mural : 1/200s f5.6 ISO100 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour A

All of the adjustments in SilkyPix allow you to add a preset which is known as a “taste”. When you have made a change to a control that you want to store and use again, you can click on the “+” symbol usually at the top right of the tool, and a dialogue appears which allows you to name it and save it. Additionally, a complete set of all the development parameters that have been changed can also be grouped into a global “taste”, which appears as a drop down at the very top of the tools above the exposure slider. Again, by clicking the “+” you can choose which of the settings you want to include within the taste, and then name it for later use. The dialogue is shown below.

The “taste list” on the left contains a list of all the tastes for the control being added (in this example, it is the list of global tastes), with a user enterable name for the new taste being added. The list on the right lists all the parameters that are included in the taste. As this example is a global taste, it includes all development parameters, although you can remove some parameters from the global taste by deselecting the check boxes. If the taste is being added for a single parameter (e.g. white balance), then only that check box will be selected as the user taste only applies to that parameter.

When you want to re-use a taste during development of an image, it appears in the drop down list for the parameter for which it applies (e.g. in the list of white balance values). Alternatively, you can apply tastes to one or more images by simply selecting one or more images from the thumbnail browser and then choosing the taste you want to apply. All the selected images will have those settings applied. This is the SilkyPix equivalent to presets on import in other software. At any point you can selected multiple files in the thumbnail browser and then adjust any of the development settings, and it will be applied to all the images selected. This is also true of “auto” settings (e.g. auto white balance and auto exposure), where each image will be individually assessed and a value applied.

Penang, Malaysia : Egg cellar : 1/80s f9 ISO2000 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour K + green-yellow filtered black and white




This section describes the colour control features of SilkyPix and includes:

  • Colour presets
  • Fine colour control.

I am assuming that any readers of this article have a basic understanding of raw development software, so I don’t propose to talk about every tool and feature but instead to concentrate on some of the differences between SilkyPix and Lightroom or Capture One, as I hope that will be most helpful to anyone trying to work with SilkyPix for the first time.

One difference from other tools are the colour settings, which include a “profile” and a “colour representation”. The “profile” drop down includes the options shown below, and apply to all the colour representations. “V4 compatible” can be ignored unless you are a long time user and want to match colours with files produced by V4 or earlier versions of the software; “Natural” is the standard setting using the newer SilkyPix colour process implemented in version 5; “Faithful” gives very muted and slightly flat looking colours that could be a good starting point for some types of image; “monochrome” gives access to the 2 monochrome presets. The “colour representation”, also shown below, contains a list of SilkyPix standard colour profiles that adjust the colour response to the basic raw data, and are combined with a saturation slider. The colour responses are in many cases given generic film names, and although not named after actual film emulsions (e.g. “film type A”), I have my own opinions about which films they may be attempting to mimic.

The different options in the colour response drop-down can be used to create very different looks for an image, as they vary both the colour responses and the saturation and density. As the different settings can have such a dramatic effect on some photos I would suggest that you choose the colour response before spending much time on exposure, contrast, dodging and burning etc as these will often need to be adjusted differently depending on the colour representation chosen. My general approach is to work on white balance, then choose colour representation, then move back to exposure, HDR settings and contrast.

Penang, Malaysia : Incense sticks : 1/80s f4 ISO125 : SilkyPix : Faithful Standard Colour

It is worth experimenting with the colour representation presets with a number of different types of photo (landscapes, portraits, night scenes etc) as I find that by understanding the look they give may help you decide which setting will give you the right “feel” for certain types of picture. I find that in some cases it may be necessary to go back and further adjust white balance as a few of the colour representations can add a green or magenta tint to some pictures that if not desirable can be reduced by adjusting the white balance hue.

Below are a few examples of different colour representations on some sample pictures, all opened with default settings.

A common criticism online seems to be that the output is too saturated. I don’t feel that the “standard” colour rendering is more saturated than other raw development tools, although some of the other colour responses do boost colours in ways that suit some images and not others. If you do feel the colour is too strong, I would suggest changing the colour type to “faithful”, which creates a much less saturated and more realistic output which can then be tailored to your preferences.

Penang, Malaysia : Lion dance graffiti : 1/160s f2.8 ISO 100 : SilkyPix : Natural Portrait Colour 3

For even more control over colour, SIlkyPix has a “fine colour controller” which is similar to the colour adjustment tools in software such as Capture One, although less comprehensive. The tool is shown below, and allows segments of the colour wheel to have their hue, saturation and brightness adjusted. This can be useful either to tweak colours in the colour representation presets to further fine tune them – for example, to tame the reds where the red channel response is too bright, or to fine tune colour in mixed lighting. I sometimes use the fine colour controller to tweak skin tone in portraits particularly where mixed lighting has caused colour shifts in shadows or highlights. It’s not the most sophisticated fine colour control tool, but it’s generally enough to make subtle adjustments.

Continue to the next section to see the Exposure controls in SilkyPix and how to use them, or return to the Introduction to see the list of sections in the article.



This section describes the various features offer by SilkyPix to manage exposure and tone mapping, and includes:

  • Highlight and shadow warnings
  • Exposure adjustment
  • HDR, Dodging and Burning.

SilkyPix lacks the simplistic “whites”, “blacks”, “shadows” and “highlights” sliders of other software, so I will briefly talk about it’s equivalent features – levels, black point, and a selection of HDR and dodging and burning tools, plus a very comprehensive highlight controller tool. The highlight and shadow warnings can be turned on from the tool bar at the top, or from the “view” drop-down menu. The screen shot below shows the options on the toolbar.

With default settings, the software will warn of many issues with highlight clipping, but it is different from other software as it warns not only of white clipping but also colour highlight clipping. The warnings flash in complimentary colours, so pure white flashes black, whilst clipped colours flash in opposite colours (e.g. yellows flash green). On the “settings” drop-down menu, the “function settings” option opens a dialogue that allows you to customise the highlight and shadow levels that will trigger the clipping warning. I show this dialogue below. I would suggest you increase the highlight value and lower the shadow value (e.g. 99 and 2 respectively), but your choice will depend in part on your chosen output media (screen or print) as different media handle highlight and shadows differently (e.g. prints tend to crush blacks, whilst on screen may still show shadow details).

Before using the highlight controller tool, it is obviously best to make the necessary exposure adjustments to get the image density where you want it, which will involve using the exposure and HDR tools. The exposure slider is obvious, but you can also automatically adjust the exposure using the icon to the right above the slider (image below), or you can adjust where the highlights or shadows fall by adjusting one “end” of the values on the slider, to lighten or darken the image (image below).

The HDR options are shown below, and include dodge, colour burn and dodge + colour burn, plus equivalent HDR variants. You can only use one of the options on an image, which may seem limiting if you are used to having independent highlight and shadow sliders. However, by using this control in tandem with the exposure control above it, as suggested by Ichikawa, it is possible to manage the full range of tone within a file.

For example, where both highlights need to be darkened and shadows need to be lightened, selecting the “dodge / colour burn” option allows both to be adjusted together. If this creates an image that is then too light or too dark, the exposure slider can be used to fine tune the overall density. Where only shadows or highlights need to be adjust, choosing only “dodge” or “colour burn” allows just one of them to be adjusted.

The HDR feature is an alternative to dodging and burning, as it will lift shadows and lower highlights, although the result can look different to dodging and burning as HDR performs localised tone mapping, whilst the dodge and burn controls work at the global image level. It is worth experimenting with the settings, although as a general rule I would say the HDR option is better for localized tone mapping across all areas of the image with shadow and highlights, whereas the dodge and burn options are better for images where the overall image needs shadow or highlight adjustment. The dodge and burn options are more subtle than the HDR effect, and tend to avoid the “flat” look of heavily tone mapped HDR images.

Penang, Malaysia : Chinese temple statue : 1/30 f5.6 ISO1600 : SIlkyPix : Natural Film Colour K

The “tone” controls are used to adjust image contrast. These provides a contrast slider, a mid point value, a gamma slider, a black point, and a clarity slider. The contrast slider itself has the obvious effect of adding an S curve to the histogram, and this can be seen by checking the “show on tone curve” option and opening the tone curve control to see the effect on curves and levels. The contrast mid point moves the mid point of the curve up or down, affecting the shape of the “S”, and the gamma control shifts the entire curve to the left or right, therefore adjusting exposure and shifting the entire curve and it’s mid-point. The tone control settings and the tone curve tool are shown below.

The black point is the equivalent of the “blacks” slider in other software, and can be set in 3 ways: using the “black level” slider on the contrast tools; using the tone curve tool and adjusting the black point value using the “level correction” value; or by using the “black point” dropper found on the tool bar to select the darkest point on an image to make it a zero black point. These 3 tools are shown below.



Highlight Controller

This section describes how to use the SilkyPix Highlight Controller tool to manage highlight and colour clipping, and includes:
• Highlight controller tool;
• Managing colour clipping;
• Restoring highlights and managing dynamic range;
• Highlight control compared with Capture One.

The final tool to manage highlight clipping is the highlight controller tool, shown below. This offers rather more than the usual “highlights” slider that performs tone mapping and curves adjustment in other tools, but as a result is often not understood, and creates the impression that SIlkyPix creates a lot of clipping. The tool has 4 sliders: “chroma / luminance”, “saturation / hue”, “luminance restoration”, and “dynamic range”, as seen below.

The dynamic range slider is the nearest equivalent of a highlights slider, but we will discuss the other sliders first as they can be used to manage some of the clipping warnings that apply to coloured areas of an image. The “chroma / luminance” and “saturation / hue” manage how colour highlights are rendered within the raw development process. Put simply, one biases rendering towards either colour or brightness, the other more towards colour density or colour tone (saturation and hue). This is probably best seen in action in the samples below, where the sliders have been dragged to their extremes to exaggerate their effect on a deliberately over-exposed colour image.

Left hand column, top to bottom: basic image, showing highlight clipping warning, example with highlight controller adjustment showing no clipping Right hand column, highlight controller settings, top to bottom: chroma to maximum, luminance to maximum, saturation to maximum, hue to maximum

The luminance restoration feature is intended to put back highlight luminance where an image has had negative exposure compensation applied to darken an over-exposed photograph with blown highlights. Luminance restoration lifts the highlight tones to add highlight data back into a photograph, and can be used to make extreme highlights look more natural by making them brighter.

Finally, the dynamic range tool is the equivalent of the “highlights” slider in other tools. It acts only on the highlight data captured in a raw image, and effectively reduces the exposure only of that area of the histogram. If your camera captures 2ev of additional highlight data in raw, then you can adjust the slider to -2ev to darken the highlight area exposure to recover detail. Ichikawa state that this is best used when a photograph has been deliberately under-exposed to retain highlight data, and then the exposure is increased within SilkyPix, where the dynamic range slider can recover the highlight data in the original file but clipped by the increase in exposure. As with many highlight recovery tools, it is important not to apply too much as you will create flat areas without tonal detail where the underlying data in the raw file does not exist. In practice, where your photograph has a combination of clipping to both the whites and coloured highlight area, you can use all 4 sliders together to both influence how bright colours are rendered (luminance / chroma and hue / saturation) and recover highlight details (dynamic range and luminance restoration).

The highlight management is probably one of the “weakest” areas of SilkyPix, not because it doesn’t work but because it lacks the convenience of a single slider, although it gives considerable control over the way in which highlight data is interpreted by the development engine. In my opinion the result is a greater degree of control but at the expense of being more difficult to use.

The comparison below shows a night cityscape with very bright point light sources, with no adjustment to exposure or HDR added. On the left of each pair is the file processed with Capture One v8 with highlights set to 100, with clipping highlighted in red. On the right is the same file processed with SilkyPix with the highlight controller dynamic range set to +3ev and other adjustments made to chroma/luminance and hue/saturation rendering, with clipping highlighted in green.

I used one of the more saturated colour responses in SilkyPix (“memory colour 2”) which has created some clipping in the yellow-oranges of the tungsten lighting on the buildings – using a more neutral colour response such as “standard” or “portrait 1” reduces the problem, but doesn’t completely remove it. The Fine Colour Controller tool can be used to reduce the saturation and brightness of those colours to also cure the colour clipping. Note that the reflections in the water retain more luminance in the Capture One version, whereas in SilkyPix the highlight controller has made them a little flat. Adding negative exposure compensation and some dodge and burn further reduces the problem so that the highlight controller settings can be reduced. This flattening of highlight colour clipping in one of the weaknesses of the SilkyPix highlight controller.

When exposure, HDR/dodge&burn, contrast and the highlights controller are all used together, it is possible to have great control over the global exposure and manage shadows, midtones and highlights, and although it appears to lack the simplicity of the more typical sliders found in other tools, I feel that SilkyPix offers the user more control. The downside of this approach is that it needs time to understand how to use the settings to achieve what you want.

Penang, Malaysia : Little India shop : 1/60s f1.8 ISO200 : SilkyPix : Natural Portrait Colour 1


Sharpening and Noise Reduction

This section describes the SilkyPix tools to manage:

• Input sharpening types;
• Noise reduction.


The last areas to understand are the sharpening and noise reduction. The last 2 icons on the vertical tools are the sharpness and noise reduction settings. Sharpness relates to input sharpness, and is intended to put back pixel level detail and contrast that can be lost as a result of sensor pixel layout. The default settings will vary by camera model and ISO value. Version 7 of the software introduced a new sharpening process called “natural sharp”, which gives exceptional results in my experience, offering very good pixel level detail without any negative effects of excessive sharpening. Alternatively, “normal sharp” or “pure detail” can be selected from the “type” drop down, which were the previous sharpness processes and offer 2 controls to manage both “outline” and “detail”. Alternatively, a more typical “unsharp mask” process is available with the normal amount, radius and threshold sliders.

The screen shots below show the different sharpness processes applied to the same photo, with 400% enlargements showing fine detail.

Top to bottom: natural sharp, normal sharp, pure detail, unsharp mask

With Bayer files from Sony cameras I always use the new “natural sharp” process and generally leave it at default settings. With X Trans raw files from Fuji cameras, which generally suffer from poor fine detail acutance because of the different demosaicing process required to sample a greater number of pixels to recover colour data, I often found the need to experiment with the different sharpness processes to get the best result, and in some cases significantly increase the settings.

If you feel that pixel level detail is not offering the level of fine detail you expect, SilkyPix also offers an additional control which affects the way detail is rendered by the demosaicing process. This is found on the “development settings” controls, which contains a slider “demosaic sharper” (as seen below). This slider defaults to different values depending on the camera and ISO used, and affects the sharpness of the demosaicing process before any further input sharpening is applied. Manually increasing the value can increase sharpness of fine detail, but sometimes at the expense of noise and subtle artefacting. Generally I do not adjust this setting, but with X Trans files I often found the need to push the value higher to try to improve fine detail rendering.

The noise reduction controls are accessed from the icon below the sharpness settings, and contain the sliders in the image below. The 2 main sliders are “colour distortion”, which decreases chroma (colour) noise, and “smoothness” which deals with luminance noise. Both of these values will default depending on the camera and ISO used, although I find that as ISO rises the default values are too high for my taste and they are set to remove all noise and produce a very smooth image. I generally prefer to lower the values for higher ISO files, which can be done via your own “taste” for the noise reduction settings or a global taste that contains lower noise reduction values. The “fringing” noise reduction slider is intended to deal with fringing on high contrast edges, and the “neat noise” slider is designed to deal with low frequency noise such as banding and uneven brightness that can occur in files with very high ISO settings from some cameras. I rarely use either of these latter controls with raw files from my cameras.

Penang, Malaysia : Odeon 1921 : 1/60s f5.6 ISO2500 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour V2 + green-yellow filtered B&W




This section describes the export features of SilkyPix using the batch development tool.
Once you have adjusted your photograph and you are happy with it, you will want to export the result, which in SilkyPix is managed via the “development” process, as found on the Development menu on the menu-bar. You can develop a single image that you are working on, or you can mark images in the thumbnail browser using the context menu (or by pressing f6) to add a “development mark” and then use the “batch development” option on the development menu. This opens the dialogue shown below.

The various sections of the dialogue that I have marked in colour allow you to specify the output location, file naming, file type and jpeg quality, resize the output image, apply output sharpening, and add a watermark from a template. The sharpness settings have a number of SilkyPix defaults in the drop down menu for web, large format prints etc, or you can add your own settings for your intended output size and media. All the images that were selected or have been marked for development will then be added to a batch queue, and the software will develop and output them in the background. Note that this is very processor intensive, and if you want the files to be output more quickly it is best to stop editing further files and allow the batch to run. You can continue to adjust images, but as this puts high demands on the processor your batch may be paused or be output more slowly as it runs when the processor is idle or has spare capacity.

Penang, Malaysia : Flower market : 1/80s f8 ISO640 : SilkyPix : Natural Standard Colour


Strengths and Weaknesses

Having discussed some of the main concepts of SilkyPix and highlighted differences between other raw development software, you may be wondering why I choose to use it instead of some of the more common alternatives, so I wanted to give my personal view of some strengths and weaknesses.
Firstly, I have a near pathological dislike for raw development cataloguing systems. I have worked with PCs for over 3 decades, and the catalogue in Capture One is still completely unfathomable to me. I often ended up with duplicate files in more than one location, couldn’t find the files I had previously imported, and if I dared to keep my files on external storage then invariably all hope was lost and finding the images again would take from minutes to hours of my time. Catalogues just become something to slow you down, create unnecessary complexity, and prevent you from easily working on your photographs on more than one computer. I often edit as I go on an ultrabook as I travel, then continue further work at home on a more powerful computer, or I may want to work on some photographs on my tablet: catalogues conspire against this and the process becomes difficult, error prone and tiresome. How much easier to just plug external storage into a machine, copy the folders you want, and carry on working; I even work on images in the same directory on multiple machines and then simply copy and merge the most recently modified SIlkyPix sidecar files back into the master directory.

Penang, Malaysia : Kapitan Keling mosque : 1/60s f2.8 ISO2000 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour V1 + red filtered black and white

Secondly, I like the ability to switch between colour responses and easily give different photographs different looks that suit them. I don’t have to put up with some junior trainee at the Adobe office doing a half-baked job of deciding how the colour in my camera files should look. I have a choice of 22 different colour responses, with the ability to fine tune them myself, all of which give quite different looks to an image without adding silly grain to try and pretend it’s film. This may seem like a minor point to other people, but I can’t stress enough how much easier it makes the process of toning an image and giving it a “look”.

Penang, Malaysia : Take away : 1/100s f1.8 ISO100 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour K

Thirdly, in my opinion the input sharpening and noise reduction processes are as good as any I have tried. Capture One lacks input and output sharpening, and their online help fails to make it clear exactly what the sharpening controls are for (input sharpening or output sharpening – who knows?). Worse, the Capture One noise reduction sometimes doesn’t deal properly with very high ISO colour noise and can leave images with that bruised, mottled look. The last time I used Lightroom on Fuji X-Trans raw files, they looked far too smooth and it was very difficult to make them look properly sharp without creating artefacts or water colour effects on fine detail. The “natural sharp” process in SilkyPix seems to reveal excellent levels of detail without exaggerating excessive levels of noise, and the noise reduction process creates images that still retain good levels of detail at “normal” viewing sizes.

Penang, Malaysia : Telephone box : 1/60s f2.8 ISO12800 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour K

Finally, the latest version now includes local adjustments, portrait airbrushing, perspective correction, black and white conversion with colour filters, and spotting tools. Together these allow me to do almost everything I want to do in the raw domain, without the need to export the file to other software. This is far better because if I later decide I want to change the colour representation or switch to black and white then all my adjustments, local adjustments and retouching are already applied and I don’t need to repeat the tedious process of exporting and then re-doing work in an external editing tool.

Penang, Malaysia : Behind bars : 1/60s f2.8 ISO320 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour A

Of course, SilkyPix isn’t without it’s negative points too. Depending on your hardware and raw file size, the screen can take a couple of seconds to refresh and show your changes. It seems to perform better on machines with discrete graphics cards, although Ichikawa Software make no statement that it uses the abilities of a graphics co-processor, so I can’t say for sure if this is true. Turning off chroma noise reduction and setting demosaic sharp to zero makes it run faster during editing and development. It is worth selecting all the images to be worked on and setting these to zero, or using a “taste” to do so, before later resetting them as required before final export, as it makes a noticeable difference to the speed at which adjustments are rendered. The display settings also allows you to choose a coarse preview to speed up screen refresh times, so it’s worth experimenting with this setting to speed up rendering speed.

The spotting tool allows spot healing and cloning, but is rather inflexible in the way that it works as it has no cloning “brush” and can only clone spot points, and it is also painfully slow. I have grown accustomed to it, have found ways to use its spot cloning feature to do what I want, and just accept that it’s rather slow. On a positive note, you can continue to clone and heal before your last action has been refreshed on the screen, but it’s hardly ideal and I have contacted them to let them know that the performance isn’t very good.

The highlight controller is rather complicated, and even after years of use it’s often an exercise in informed trial and error to see the effects on colour clipping. I also find that recovering clipped colours can be troublesome, although I’m not sure if that’s a failing of the software or simply that my files don’t have the highlight headroom to allow it. In fairness, I have found that negative exposure compensation combined with HDR or dodging and contrast centre and gamma adjustment to lift mid-tones is a perfectly acceptable alternative approach, but lacks the simplicity of a couple of sliders that don’t require any understanding.

Penang, Malaysia : Recycling Centre : 1/80s f6.3 ISO3200 : SilkyPix : Natural Film Colour K

There is no getting around the fact that it’s not quite as fully featured as Lightroom or Capture One – for example, the local adjustments tool isn’t as comprehensive, it offers no ability to use plug-ins or third party software support, and it has no panorama stitching feature – but extra features don’t add much to the user experience if you never use them or the quality of the resultant image isn’t that great. Often there are workarounds or alternative ways to achieve similar results in SilkyPix, but these may require a bit more creative thought by the user. Overall, the image quality, the ability to work easily across multiple machines, and the latest features have made it a tool that satisfies my needs for almost every image I want to edit.



Comparison with Capture One

This section compares SilkyPix Pro v8 output to Capture One v8 on the same raw files from a Sony A7Rii, looking at colour, highlights and fine detail.
Previously, I often used different development tools with different raw files to try and get the best out of them. More recently when I have made the odd comparison between the output of other software the results were mostly “different” mostly because of colour representation, but the images were not obviously “better”.

Below are a couple of examples comparing the results of images I have previously processed with SilkyPix Pro v8, with the same files re-processed using Capture One version 8.

The first example is a night cityscape of Singapore shot at ISO100, the upper half of the images a full photo resized for the web, the lower half a 100% crop showing detail.

SilkyPix processed to taste, -0.5 exposure compensation, dodge/colour burn +50

Capture One processed to taste, -1ev exposure compensation, highlight +100, shadow +50

Ignoring colour differences, the SilkyPix version has notably better sharpness and detail at 100%. Highlights and handled slightly better – bright point sources are slightly crisper with better starbursts and for example, and the red in the HSBC logo is red in the SilkyPix image whereas it’s a washed out red-orange in the Capture One version. In the dark buildings to the left, the SIlkyPix version contains much better shadow detail and reveals the structure of the glass fronted buildings. In fairness to Capture One, I feel the multiple light sources are handled slightly better, and the default colours are pleasing.

A second comparison with a temple interior in Penang, taken at ISO2000. In this case the right half of the image is a 100% enlargement showing detail.

SilkyPix to taste, -0.3ev exposure compensation, dodge 75, NR chroma 50, luminance 15

Capture One to taste, highlight 29, shadow 44, NR chroma 42, luminance 17

Strangely although both developments used the camera white balance setting, they show different kelvin values (3135K vs. 3480K) and this probably accounts for the slightly warmer Capture One image. There appears to be very little difference in colour rendition between Capture One and SilkyPix using the “standard” colour representation, although I did lower the saturation to 0.9 (from 1.0) to better match saturation levels. Again, the SilkyPix version has better sharpness on fine details such as the embroidery of the robes and the statues face, although the Capture One version has slightly less dense shadows and better highlight detail retention in the dragon picture in the background of the 100% enlargement. Further adjustment of the dodge and burn and highlight controller in SilkyPix could probably have got the highlights and shadows much closer, although again at the expense of a little more work by the user.


Final Words

I hope this article and the sample images help to dispel any suggestions that SilkyPix output is too saturated, and it clearly shows excellent detail and noise management, and for me it is just as much a professional tool as other raw development software I have used, provided you understand how to get the best out of it.

Penang, Malaysia : Temple guard : 1/60s f2.8 ISO800 : SilkyPix : Natural Portrait Colour 2

Should you wish to try SilkyPix, a free download is available from Ichikawa Software which offers a 1 month free trial. Should you wish to continue with a purchase, Ichikawa Software’s webstore allows you to enter the license numbers of any previous versions you have purchased, and doing so will give you a discount against a new license. If you have more than 1 license, it is worth adding all of them, as they may not all give the same level of discount. If you have a camera from a brand that provides a badge-engineered version of SilkyPix version 3 (Fuji, Samsung, Panasonic and others) then the “free” license for your version 3 manufacturers copy can also be used to obtain a discount against the latest version – details of pricing can be found on this page (*). Note that from time to time Ichikawa have additional discounts, often before or after the release of a new version, and this is generally in addition to any discount offered by upgrading an existing license, so it is always worth checking for pricing details. If you contact them via their website I have found them responsive and helpful to requests.

I have no commercial relationship with Ichikawa Software or Sony beyond being a customer and user of their products. Should you have any questions or need any help or advice about SilkyPix please feel free to leave a comment below or contact Dear Susan.

The photos used in this article were taken in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand with a variety of Sony E Mount cameras and lenses including the Sony Alpha A7ii, Sony Alpha A7Rii, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM, Sony 55mm f1.8 ZA Sonnar, and Sony 16-35mm f4 ZA OSS Vario-Tessar.

(*) Note: rather confusingly, Ichikawa software have a Japanese website in Japanese and English languages, and a European website in English. The software installation pack and the license purchased must both come from the same website (either the Japanese version, or the European version) otherwise the license will not be recognized by the software when the license is entered and authenticated online.


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