The changes in soft- and hardware I haven't noticed so much because I've been using GNU / Linux for years, simply because UNIX generally compresses more gentle. But in recent weeks certain technical photographs had been requested by a ship-yard and I had to have a good RAW converter. The thing is, they are running mostly on Windows or Mac. Adobes CC and Microsoft Win 8 versions which would make me a subscriber are useless if I do not have a interet connection, so I installed the 32bit version on a Windows7 virtual machine and then installed CapterOne 7.
Using for a long time mostly digiKam for RAW processing to work on images from the D800, E3/E5 and from a databack of an older Hasselblad my mind got blown away as I opened one image at random in Capture One Pro 7. I always knew my lenses and cameras would do better.
More detail, better contrast, magnificent colors. Even images I've taken with with the D800 at 3200 ISO had lost their noise considerably ! Skin color of portraits was exceptional on old images I had taken with the old Olympus. Pushing the highlight slider, then color balance, it is simple and easy to do with Capture One. Looking at the results: Details appeared everywhere, without the rest of the image losing clarity.
Sadly, digiKam was nowhere near the results of Capture One. Nor DarkTable, another RAW converter, was even coming close, even if it surface is a bit similar to this of Capture One's. Now I have to find a machine with 64 bit to run on Win 7 only to work with Capture One because the workflow is faster and most of all the results are much better. The price of the program is nothing comparing to Photoshop, - but it looks we are reaching the post Photoshop time anyway.