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Bibble 1.0 released; and then there were 4  
Saturday, April 29, 2000 | by
Eric Hyman has released version 1.0 of Bibble, a Windows-only program for decoding D1 raw format files that includes an image browser, colour management support, a companion Photoshop plug-in and more. What began as a personal project for Hyman has turned into a full-fledged, US$50 (introductory price) shareware application for working with D1 photos. The program is fully-functional for 10 days; after that, only a handful of functions operate until an unlock code is entered. The registration process is a bit clunky at this point: Hyman only accepts cheques for payment.

Bibble 1.0 joins QImage Pro 8.0 (updated today), DigiCam Pal 0.63 and of course Nikon's own Capture as the only applications able to turn the D1's raw .NEF format files into usable pictures. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses:

  • Nikon Capture 1.0 (Mac/Windows) offers remote control of the D1 over a FireWire connection, lots of Photoshop-like image adjustment tools and .NEF decoding that most closely simulates in-camera colour processing. Capture, however, is pokey in operation, its interface is not well-suited to anything other than direct camera control, and the colour of resulting images have the same deficiencies as in-camera processed images: reds may shift to the magenta, bright and/or overexposed yellows go green.

  • DigiCam Pal 0.63 (Windows) has limited .NEF conversion options and is better known for its banding removal filter. The development status of the freeware program isn't known.

  • QImage Pro 8.0 (Windows) began life as a batch printing program, and has recently morphed into a top-notch batch decoder for .NEF files, with some control over the colour and brightness during the conversion process. Author Michael Chaney's claim that his program offers the best D1 colour is about right, though Bibble has gained ground through its development cycle. The US$30 QImage Pro also offers what is definitely the best D1 noise filter, easily surpassing DigiCam Pal at removing both the luminance pitting and banding that can degrade high-ISO D1 files when printed. Qimage Pro's batch processor-centric nature makes it difficult to apply noise filtering or .NEF colour correction changes picture by picture, as most shooters working outside a studio require.

  • Bibble 1.0's (Windows) development pace has been staggering. Four months ago it was but a twinkle in author Eric Hyman's eye; now, it's the only image browser I know of capable of decoding .NEF files with some control over colour and brightness that can also apply colour management profiles and can output high-bit TIFFs for final editing in Photoshop. Bibble incorporates many other D1 firsts, including a Photoshop file format plug-in for decoding .NEF files. Bibble has the same limitation as QImage Pro for those photogs needing to apply different correction parameters on a per-picture basis: it's simply too cumbersome and slow to continually change correction options, then re-process the picture.
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