Are Pixelmator's / OS X RAW conversions this bad??

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by GBNova, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. GBNova macrumors member

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    Sep 19, 2009
    #1
    Just playing around with Pixelmator and I’m a little “disturbed” how it’s treating raw files. To some extent exposure and levels adjustment, but more so the saturation adjustment really struck me as how inaccurate the colors look almost right away with any amount of saturation boost. It’s like the color values shift dramatically creating a very unnatural color shift.

    Is the built in OS raw converter that bad or is it the way Pixelmator is implementing the built in converter? Or maybe I’m doing something wrong?

    Thanks,
     
  2. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    #2
    Unless something has changed lately, Pixelmator isn't a RAW processor.

    It's an image editor, like PS, and like PS uses something else to render RAW prior to editing. PS uses ACR; Pixelmator uses the OS X raw processors. With PS you have the option when opening the RAW in ACR to make tweaks at the RAW processing level; Pixelmator seems to use the rendered image without allowing that step, although I may be wrong about that (I use other stuff for RAW conversion). Probably some sort of TIFF.

    So if you don't like the RAW processing, try a raw processing application; there are tons of 'em that do a better job than OS X.
     
  3. GBNova thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Yeah I know it doesn't have it's own built in RAW processor that's why I referenced the OS X Raw processor. Anyway, whatever it's using it sucks.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #4
    Just two quick questions: Have you used RAW converters before? And is your monitor calibrated?

    Usually, the default conversions are very timid and less sharp than in-camera jpg conversions. This is on purpose, because RAW files have to be processed by a tool such as Aperture, Lightroom or whatever RAW converter you happen to prefer. Sharpening, for instance, is applied last. If you open RAW files in Preview and expect to see something pleasing, forget about it. I have a hard time understanding what your actual criticism is, but it seems to me that you're new to RAW conversions. The color shifts you describe could easily be the result of an incorrect white balance and just cranking up the saturation (which makes skin tones look very unnatural). This is not necessarily the fault of OS X's RAW converter, these effects do happen with all RAW converters and also depend on your taste. Some people here post pictures which look way too saturated to me, and this isn't the fault of, say, Lightroom, Capture One or Aperture, but their creative choice. Is their conversion »wrong«? If it meets the artist's expectations, then no, it isn't.

    Differences in RAW conversions are usually at a much higher level (e. g. the quality of noise reduction or lens correction), and the effect which you describe does not seem to be OS X's fault.
     
  5. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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  6. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Are you talking about the default render or after you've applied adjustments with Pixelmator? If its the default render, then you're not satisfied with Apple's raw converter. Quite surprising as its highly regarded. In many systems, viewed better than the king of the hill.

    If its after you've made adjustments, then...
     
  7. GBNova thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    My monitor is not calibrated but I have used Capture NX2 for several years for my NEF file adjustments.

    Since my move from PC to Mac I am trying out the CC in and thought I would try Pixelmator to see if maybe I could do without committing to a subscription with Adobe.

    My test image is one that I had already post processed with CNX2 and I was trying the image from scratch in both the CC and Pixelmator so that I would be comparing apples with apples.

    My understanding was that Pixelmator used the built-in RAW converter in OS X for the conversion and basic RAW adjustments. The adjustments just seem very rudimentary by comparison to LR and ACR. I can't say what is happening to the colors when I make adjustments to a NEF file in Pixelmator only to say the results are very unnatural. I'll keep playing with it to see if I'm missing something.
     
  8. FredT2 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I don't use Pixelmator to process RAWS, but after reading your post opened up a few sample images and found them to be quite good. In fact pretty much identical to what Aperture does with them, which I guess makes sense.
     
  9. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    #9
    I would imagine they'd start as identical, since it's the same converter. Pixelmator is more like PS than LR or Aperture, it's not gonna focus on raw tweaking. It's not that kind of application. Adobe lets you mess with the RAW BEFORE you get started with the pixel painting in PS by opening the ACR window; the OS X conversion doesn't have such a beast. But you could try one of the open source converters and see if you get a better result, and just pass the rendered images to Pixelmator for editing.
     
  10. GBNova thread starter macrumors member

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    #10
    Here is what I'm talking about after a modest 20% boost in saturation.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. FredT2 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    OK, I get what you're saying. Ya, it really goes nuts. I trying saving a file as a TIFF and editing that, does the same thing. Weird. I tried some old PSDs, and it seems to be just the way Pixelmator works.
     
  12. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    #12
    Maybe try Affinity Photo beta. It's very beta, but it does its own raw conversion for a limited set of file types. And although it is quite a ways from release, it does do some amazing stuff.
     
  13. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #13
    Raws don't respond that way. It looks like you opened an embedded thumbnail or something of that sort. I don't think it works as intended because it can't decode what you expect it to decode. Either way you're not getting adjustments that you would think of as raw adjustments, meaning adjustments made to an unclamped image in something near a gamma 1.0 space. Basically you don't have anything equivalent to a raw processor there, which is why you're having trouble. There are options. Capture One, Darktable, Lightroom, RawTherapee, etc.

    Just don't assume that because something opens a raw file, that you're obtaining what you would normally think of as raw file adjustments, because you aren't here.
     
  14. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #14
    I still think you should invest a little more into understanding how RAW converters work. Nikon's Capture NX works differently than Aperture or Lightroom, because (at least by default) it'll check which in-camera settings for RAW conversion you have chosen, and then start off with that. Other RAW converters will usually start with a relatively neutral conversion. To someone who is used to punchy colors from in-camera jpgs they will seem dull and lacking saturation -- which is why I think you crank the saturation up to 11, expecting to see what »you naturally get« from the camera. It's not as simple as dialing up the saturation. Moreover, you're saying that you just boosted everything 20 %. I assume you chose a slider setting of 0.2 instead of 0 or something to that effect. For most sliders the numerical values in the settings have nothing to do with the actual increase, they are just arbitrary numerical values. Note that different RAW converters have different sliders, and even if they have the same name, they don't necessarily do the same thing. Apple's RAW converter works just fine if you know what you're doing. Put another way, the problem here is that your expectations don't match with what actually happens.

    All in all, I think that maybe Apple's new Photos which it will release in April may be the right tool to start.
     
  15. GBNova thread starter macrumors member

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    #15
    Again, I'm more than happy with how Lightroom handles the raw file, or ACR, or Capture NX2. It's not a case where I can't achieve my desired result in anything but NX2, it's just Pixelmator that I noticed this odd handling of the colors. I think my question was answered as to why the results were as they were, and it was because Pixelmator isn't a raw processing program at it's heart.

    You can see my slider setting in the pic above, and it's at 20%. As you say a value of 20% in Pixelmator may not mean the same thing as 20% in Lightroom as it's just an arbitrary number, but never the less the colors shift unnaturally very quickly in Pixelmator. I have found you have about a 1-5% window in Pixelmator's saturation adjustment before the colors go wonky. This happens much farther up the slider in Lightroom which gives you much more flexibility. This isn't necessarily a knock on Pixelmator if it doesn't proport itself to be a raw file editing tool. Just an observation for someone who might be wondering if Pixelmator could serve as a "one stop" photo editing tool.

    As far as not knowing what I am doing with Apple's raw converter, that may be, but I would like to know what you think I'm doing wrong specifically in the example above? It seems to me a boost in saturation should boost the color intensity, not throw the hue off drastically at the very start of the adjustment slider.
     
  16. FredT2 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Other than opening a RAW file in Pixelmator, you're not doing anything wrong. The program seems to be very aggressive with the Saturation adjustment.
     
  17. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #17
    As I have mentioned in my first post (and others have, too), you're mistaking Pixelmator, an image editing app, for a RAW converter.
     

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