Comparing RAW conversion with DPP, Aperture, C1, and LR

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by VirtualRain, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. VirtualRain, Feb 7, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #1
    I've been evaluating Capture One Pro over the past few days as a possible Aperture replacement. The more time I spend with it, the more I like it and feel it's actually an upgrade rather than a replacement.

    One thing I noticed when I was playing around with C1 was the difference in how it rendered RAW images, particularly with red tones.

    This morning I actually spent a few minutes evaluating DPP, C1, Aperture, and LR5 RAW conversion with a few recent photos from Paris that had some serious red tones in them. No adjustments were applied to any of the images.

    Notes:
    - The app used is in the title bar of each image... from Left to Right: DPP (Faithful), DPP (Standard), Aperture, C1, LR
    - DPP is Canon's software, so ought to reproduce the RAW file the most accurately of the bunch. I used the "Faithful" picture setting for the first image in each series which offers no adjustment, and then used the "Standard" picture setting for the second image in each series which shows how Canon likes to render their JPEG images for reference.

    Comments (to my eyes):
    - Aperture is significantly more saturated than the DPP Faithful or Standard but a bit towards orange
    - C1 is less saturated and offers slightly better contrast and detail (see the design on the coat in the 2nd series) - it looks great in the shade, but I don't like the look in the sun
    - In the two shade shots, Aperture and C1 look closest to Canon's standard JPEG setting
    - LR is saturated to a similar extent as Aperture but towards magenta to the point it almost looks a bit purple
    - Most people probably wouldn't know the tones were off except in a side-by-side comparison.
    - I'm actually amazed at how much different there is between RAW conversions.

    Here's the results. Click through for larger sizes...

    [​IMG]Shot 1 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Shot 2 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Shot 3 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    I'll do some more comparisons later in the weekend if I get some time.

    (EDIT: Updated the images to include a DPP RAW rendered in both "Faithful" and "Standard" picture mode)
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    I think C1 does the best job out of the box, that is importing an image and hitting the auto adjust button.

    That said, Aperture and LR can come pretty close what C1 does, as long as you take the time to work on each image. Aperture does the worst in noise reduction, and C1 does the best imo in pulling out detail from blown highlights.
     
  3. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #3
    Agreed. I think you could make any of these look like the other, but the RAW converter that gets you closest to what you want out of the initial conversion is the one that will save you the most time in the long run.

    I'll have to look at pulling shadows and noise as part of this evaluation too.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #4
    No argument there. For me, in my research that was C1, hands down. What I had trouble with, was the UI and DAM. Since I'd be using the app quite often, if I can't easily make it work, then that is a problem.
     
  5. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #5
    Thanks for the comparisons. You've peaked my interest in C1, especially since NIK is usable with it. I'm not always happy with Aperture's RAW conversion. Sometimes it does seem oversaturated or punchy. It's always fixable though. As much as I don't like using Capture NXD from Nikon, I do like it's RAW conversion.

    I'll keep watching how all this develops in the coming months. I'm in no hurry. I'm wondering if someone will step into the gap Apple is leaving to truly compete with LR.
     
  6. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #6
    In this comparison, I lifted the shadows on this underexposed photo...

    [​IMG]5DM32746 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    It's hardly a scientific test as you can recover shadows in a variety of ways (exposure, black levels, shadows, etc.) and I typically used a combination of all three here where possible to try and achieve a similar result. Noise reduction was not used (I actually had to turn it off in DPP as it applies overly aggressive NR as a default).

    Here's some 100% crops of the lower right after shadow recovery. (Click through for bigger sizes)

    [​IMG]
    Shadow Noise Compared by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    C1's noise looks fairly good... You could probably use this without further adjustment at web sizes and it's NR tool will allow you to clean it a little bit more. LR looks pretty noisy, but thanks to it's superior NR tools, you can clean this up completely in a jiffy. Aperture is pretty noisy and as everyone knows, there's not much you can do to clean this up in Aperture.
     
  7. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #7
    Thanks for this comparison, I too am looking at C1 as an alternative to Aperture .
     
  8. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #8
    Try Dxoptics. Best raw converter and lens correction I saw for my previous 35mm equipment.
     
  9. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #9
    I downloaded the trial and opened it up and couldn't even figure out how to import images. It's probably very capable, but it's almost like you need to be an optical scientist to understand it. It was NOT intuitive for me at all so I closed it and haven't reopened it since.
     
  10. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #10
    I used it as plugin with LR. Did not have a problem. But I am waiting to see what will be in LR6 to decide if I want to pay for DxO.
     
  11. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #11
    Thanks; you can also see a comparison with even more detail here:

    http://www.nomadlens.com/raw-converters-comparison

    One very important thing to consider is that since RAW conversion is sort of a reverse-engineering of data, the camera make and model matters. My Oly RAWs tend toward a certain vividness and such by default, if you use either in camera or Oly software processing. The various software may NOT do that, but by default make it more neutral, if you will. Or not. So I might like one program's default for CR2 files, another for ORF files. And of course you can fiddle with setting up presets.

    I liked Capture One a lot and had Express, mainly for ORF landscapes. Didn't have to do much. But when they dumped Express I moved to DxO, and found I liked their default processing but was especially wowed by the dehaze tool; it's amazing. But probably useless with portraits.
     
  12. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #12
    So I looked at the default RAW conversion in DxO for the same images as I used above which emphasis red tones which seem to be the toughest for RAW converters to handle. (DxO is the right most image)

    As you can see, DxO produces the most saturated images with the one in the sunlight not being very attractive at all.

    Click through for larger versions...

    [​IMG]
    with DxO 1 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    with DxO 2 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr

    [​IMG]with DxO 3 by Virtual.Rain, on Flickr
     
  13. v3rlon macrumors 6502

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    #13
    This is very helpful. Thanks for doing it. I have read in other places that C1>Aperture>LR for raw conversion out of the box, but hadn't seen DXO added to the mix. Also, I have read that LR has been improving lately.

    As Apple is claiming better RAW in the native OS (and thus Photos), it will be interesting to see how that looks. And they mention better noise reduction specifically.
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #14
    I found Aperture (and thus Photos) to be close to LR in my experience. Thanks to LR's tool set you can pull more out of an image and clean it up better.

    I've just started comparing DX0 and LR, I think I started this last year but I'm re-looking again. So far for me, I'm content with LR's RAW handling.
     
  15. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #15
  16. v3rlon macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I am not sure what your copious free time looks like, but would you consider adding some more to the list (or are the RAW files parked somewhere easy)?

    Corel Aftershot Pro 2 (the update to Bibble and quite reasonably priced)
    Darktable (Open source, but I some of those Linux guys swear buy it).


    I looked at digiKam (has facial recognition), but the Mac install procedure was difficult)

    I really want to not go through this again any time soon.
     
  17. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #17
    That's because it's awesome. The ui is a mess and the mac version isn't perfect, but it gets a lot of cool stuff. Consider that academics often work in Linux, so these projects sometimes receive contributions from researchers iwth newer stuff than you would find in one of the "commercial" ones.
     
  18. v3rlon macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Yeah, I was loading it up as I submitted it.

    I've felt the same about Gimp and Blender: Really powerful, but isn't there a FOSS UI guy somewhere in the world?
     
  19. joemod macrumors regular

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    #19
    Would you mind trying Affinity Photo too? It's in public beta stage.
     
  20. BJMRamage macrumors 68020

    BJMRamage

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    #20
    This is an AWESOME resource.

    Thank you for taking the time to edit/write and show us the examples and taking time to add in another(s) RAW conversion.

    Red seems the hardest to accurately pull from import. It always seems off to me from iPhone to DSLR (the latter being much better though) but that could also be my colorblindness affecting it somewhat.


    I was an iPhoto user that switched to Aperture (sure, as some may say in this forum like an 'idiot' to switch to an Apple application, but I did and really liked Aperture) and will stay with Aperture until I see that Photos is either a complimentary application in usability or make the dreaded switch. I like to have my RAW edits adjustable and tweak them sometime when I come across a better editing technique.

    Many thanks!!:D
     
  21. oakrrl macrumors member

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    #21
    RAW comparisons and UIs

    Thanks for this. I've found DxO does a very nice job, but the UI is awkward. I've tried LR several times but just don't like the interface.
    All told, Aperture still works best for me, except for the poor NR. Sorry to see it go - I wish Apple would let someone buy it and continue it.
     
  22. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #22
    Sorry, but I don't have any more time to spend on this at the moment. I may do another round when LR6 hits and I can throw Aftershot in the mix then.

    However, if you're super keen to do the analysis, I can provide you the same RAW files so you can do the analysis. PM me if you want to go that route.

    Thanks... that was my conclusion as well... Red tones are the hardest range for these apps and since skin tones often have red in them the differences will be subtle but likely equally skewed towards orange or magenta.

    I thought I was one of the last to abandon Aperture... I guess there are a few more like you who are even more die hard than me. :) I'm working with Capture One Pro now, but will definitely put LR6 through it's paces when it surfaces before fully committing.

    You're welcome! Yeah, I don't much like LR either and the learning curve on DxO was too steep for me to invest much more time in it. Life is too short for unintuitive software. :p
     
  23. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #23
    I feel the same way in a sense, I found LR to be intuitive and I keep coming back to that over C1 and DX0. DX0 is a poor replacement Aperture, its great with RAW but poor DAM capabilities. C1 is probably the strongest alternative to Aperture aside from LR.
     
  24. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #24
    It seems that LR either works well for people or not at all. I haven't spent a lot of time looking, but it seems that if you don't like it, there's not a lot you can do to customize it.
     
  25. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #25
    The module interface is workable, and I've largely gotten used to it. I'm at a point now that I want to investigate the tools, do a deeper dive on them to better use the product to increase the quality of my images.
     

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