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Thread: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    Hi All,


    Lately, I've been thinking about my RAW workflow, and how it might be improved in terms of image quality.


    [poll]


    I'm curious about what people are using, and why. I'm sure there's no 'perfect' program for this, but there are certainly differences among the available options. Personally, I'm most interested in resulting image quality, secondarily interested in ease of use, and not really interested in photo organization - but I know for some that may be a big factor.


    For those that don't use DPP, does the lack of Canon's automatic lens-specific corrections (vignetting, distortion) and/or lack of support for Picture Styles bother you? I really like those features (although DxO would seem to be a good alternative for thelens-specific corrections).


    Also, if you use special-purpose software for one part of your RAW workflow (e.g. Noise Ninja), chime in!


    Obviously, DPP has a big cost advantage. But given that any of the other software licenses cost less than almost any of the lenses in the Canon lineup, and such software has the potential to improve every image that comes out of the camera, a couple of hundred dollars would seem like a worthwhile investment.


    Any and all thoughts appreciated!


    Thanks,


    --John

  2. #2
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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    I use Aperture 3


    Why: When the 5D2 came out Adobe refused to update CS3 to support it because CS4 had just been announced essentially bullying people to upgrade or buy Lightroom. Since I had to buy new software I figured I'd buy Aperture.


    I personally find Aperture's rendering more pleasing. I feel like I am able to retrieve more highlights and shadow detail when I blow a shot. It seems like it is able to eek a little more dynamic range from the image. I don't know the specifics but I did a side by side with Aperture 2 and CS3 ACR and the Aperture 2 was far better. I also found the ACR image looked a little aliased (not necessarily sharper) compared to the Aperture's. This may be different with CS4 & 5 but I'm already an Aperture believer.


    I really like Aperture's interface also. v2's zoom was a little quirky but v3 is way better. v3 also runs a lot faster than 2.


    I don't miss DPP auto lens correction, I rarely fix vignetting but if I need to it only takes a few seconds to do so in Aperture. I rarely reduce noise, Sometimes I actually add it. Especially if the focus is off in a shot. I did consider noise reduction software when I had the 7D.Once I get my 1Ds2 I may reconsider NR though.

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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    No Adobe Lightroom? [:|]

  4. #4
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    Quote Originally Posted by iso79


    No Adobe Lightroom?



    Sorry! I updated the poll; as I understand it, the same RAW conversion engine is used in all the Adobe products so I lumped them all together. I clarified that, but if I'm wrong and LR and ACR are different in terms of RAW processing, please let me know!

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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist
    what people are using, and why.

    For 95% of my photos, I use Lightroom 3. For me, it's much faster and more convenient than the alternatives. For the other 5%, I use RawTherapee, RPP, or DPP to eek out a bit higher quality (if I have the time). The quality of LR3 has really improved over version 2, so now I'm not quite as disappointed with its output compared to the rest.



    <meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="content-type" />
    DPP has great color and usually pretty good with noise, but one thing I dislike about DPP is the demosaic artifacts, especially mazing (when the shot has noise).


    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist
    For those that don't use DPP, does the lack of Canon's automatic lens-specific corrections (vignetting, distortion) and/or lack of support for Picture Styles bother you?

    Yes, it bothers me. Now that Adobe users can build their own lens-specific corrections, it will be a little bit less of an issue for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist


    Obviously, DPP has a big cost advantage. But given that any of the other software licenses cost less than almost any of the lenses in the Canon lineup, and such software has the potential to improve every image that comes out of the camera, a couple of hundred dollars would seem like a worthwhile investment.


    That is very true. To me, the highest quality results is usually from RawTherapee, which happens to be an open source program. But it's slow, cumbersome, buggy, missing features, etc. SoI pay a few hundred bucks for LR to get what is (to me) the ultimate in convenience and speed.

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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    Quote Originally Posted by Keith B
    I feel like I am able to retrieve more highlights and shadow detail when I blow a shot. It seems like it is able to eek a little more dynamic range from the image.

    Oh yeah, I forgot that one -- that's one of my favorite features of Lightroom. It's highlight "guessing" software. When the pixel is blown, it tries to guess what the value would have been. Other programs have that feature too (including RawTherapee), but none of them can guess as good as Adobe. The only thing I hate about it is that you can't control it or disable it -- even when the guess is completely wrong and looks really unnatural (sometimes blown whites would be better than a bad guess).

  7. #7

    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    I'd be interested in which of those mentioned has the most user friendly tutorials.


    I hear Aperture has a much more friendlier platform than Lightroom?



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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    Quote Originally Posted by Bombsight


    I hear Aperture has a much more friendlier platform than Lightroom?


    Maybe, but I can't imagine how LR could be any more friendly. It practically fetches your coffee for you. []

  9. #9

    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?



    I use Adobe Lightroom 3 to import my photos so that they automatically save sorted on my external hard drive, and then for basic edits I simply do it in lightroom and export to Photoshop CS5 to resize and save/print. For more complex post processing I'll take the RAW file to PS and do everything there.


    I plan on moving over to Mac soon, so I'll be able to try out Aperture.

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    Re: RAW processing - what do you use, and why?




    <div>


    I downloaded the trial versions for Aperture 3, Lightroom 2 and Lightroom 3 beta for 30 days each.


    I thought they all did an excellent job with post processing Image quality. At the time,Lightroom 2 couldn't handle Video files and Lightroom 3 was stuck in beta hell. So, those factors played a role in my decision.


    Ultimately, I ended up purchasingAperture 3 for its; handling of video files, more intuitive interface, ease of use, and tight integration with Mac OS X.


    It did appear to me that Lightroom had some advanced professional features that I didn't require.


    Rich
    </div>

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