Sony Image Data Converter SR comes free with Sony digital SLRs, together with a companion package called Image Data Lightbox SR.

First impressions aren't good. Both applications look crude and dated, and it's annoying to have to use two programs.

Awkward interface

Image Data Converter SR is very untidy, using up to four different floating palettes which don't dock to the side of the screen, so you spend much of your time trying to move them out of the way.

The options themselves are very good and can mimic the camera's various colour and tone controls, as well as adjusting EV compensation, while balance and so on.

It also includes the D-Range Optimiser feature found on the cameras. This doesn't produce as strong an effect as the D-Lighting on Nikon SLRs, for example, but it can help balance shadows and highlights a little better.

Straightforward image editing

The JPEGs from Sony cameras appear to be averagely good, but maybe not as crisp as Nikon's.

The results from RAW files are a little sharper. Not only that, it's possible to adjust the contrast and saturation to produce very vivid, 'punchy' images that still look natural.

The Tone Curve combines a histogram display with Curves adjustments, and making changes to the brightness contrast and overall tonal balance is very straightforward.

It's worth experimenting with the automatic and manual noise reduction settings too. The results are pretty good, and all the better for being simple to apply.

The clumsy and technical interface is a problem, that aside, Image Data Converter SR is a very good tool.