by Joseph LaQuiere

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through photography of His created world"
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  copyright 2007 by Joseph LaQuiere
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Bibble 4.9 Raw Conversion Software
Review Update!

Update!  October, 2006

Bibble is now on version 4.9 with the long awaited addition of a Healing and Cloning tool as well as support for Sony a100, Nikon D80, and Canon 400D XTi.

I have been using this version of Bibble for about a month now and I can say that it is one of the most stable releases in recent times.  I am somewhat disappointed however in the new "Spot Healing" tool.  Most of us are familiar with the cloning tool that is available in Photoshop and I had anticipated a tool that was as easy to use and as effective as the Photoshop one; the reality is not as I had hoped. 

Below is a screen shot of the new tool's dialog box and what it looks like on screen.  The tool is outlined by a yellow circle with a dashed inner line that represents the "feathering".  There are two modes one is to "Heal" which takes surrounding pixels and tries to blend the spot away.  The second mode is  "Patch" which allows you to choose another section of the image via a tethered cursor and then it uses this spot to patch the selection.  You can also set the patch or heal modes for both the Luma (brightness) and Croma (color) channels or leave one of the channels off (Preserve Original).  I found that while this all sounds like a lot of flexibility in practice it takes quite a bit of playing around with each of the options to get just the blending that is desired.  You will also see from the screen shot below that the blending radiates from a point in the center of the circle creating a cone shaped healing pattern.  The most effective use of the tool is with the feathering set nearer 100.  Healing works well on even toned areas but when you are trying to heal a spot that is for instance on the shadow line of the face it does not come up with a very good blend.  For these types of areas the patch setting is the only answer.  The tool does work just fine for most dust spots which is what it was really designed for.
While it does take some work, the Bibble tool can be used to eliminate unwanted items from an image by creating overlapping circles and setting the "Mode" to "Patch".  Beware though, that when you do this, Bibble will display odd  uncorrected corners where the circles overlap.  Fortunately this does not appear in the final conversion. On the Bibble support forum this odd display behavior is referenced under "Things that may seem like bugs, but aren't " and they have this to say about it "Overlapping patch targets cause a square artifact to appear. This is an issue with the preview and zoom windows, and the final image should look OK. Unfortunately it had to be done this way due to Bibble's multithreaded non-destructive processing. "
Bibble shows odd corners in preview where healing tools overlap but converted image looks fine
Spot Heal Tool works well for dust spots
(roll mouse over image to see change)
Spot Heal Tool
(selection circles and dialog box)
This is a screen shot showing the Bibble tool to clone out
a distracting branch from a cropped image.
Here is the image before and after the removal of the branch.
It certainly would have been nice if the Bibble tool was as easy to use as the Photoshop clone and healing tool to but for me it is more cumbersome and and not as flexible.  For the removal of simple dust spots it works ok; but I would have personally been much happier even if I had to wait a few moments for Bibble to generate a different preview that was more conducive to the technical side of programing but would allow better and more Photoshop like implementation of the cloning and healing.  As it stands if I have more than just the simplest cloning or healing to do I will still take it into Photoshop which is another step I would prefer not to take.

Lest I seem too negative I still must applaud Bibble for implementing this option as well as the many others that makes it by far the most capable RAW converter.  I hope in the future Bibble can improve the Cloning and Healing and make it more freeform (like Photoshop).

Please see my full review of Bibble 4.5 here.

October, 2006