iPad RAW processing lacks detail

phobos

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Feb 25, 2008
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Hey everyone
I've posted this on Reddit as well so if you've seen this issue already I apologise.

I've been meaning to do this for ages but I always kept postponing it. I always had the feeling that the final quality of the images when being processed on the iPad was always lacking. So today I finally did some comparisons.

And it appears that this is very much true.

Here's my process:

I'm shooting an image with the GH5 in RAW.

I then import that in to Photoshop. I don't make any adjustments and I just hit open.

I then use Affinity Photo on the iPad to import the image from the Photos app.

Again I don't process anything and then just hit develop. I then export that as a psd.



Aside from the fact that there differences in color and brightness which is probably due to different ways of processing the RAW there's a distinct lack of detail on the image processed on the iPad.

When I compare both images side by side in photoshop it's obvious that the iPad image lacks detail and everything is smeared in to a blur.



Initially I thought that maybe Affinity Photo is the reason but I get the same result no matter what the app is.

For example RAW Power another iPad App gives the same results so I'm guessing it has to do with the RAW processing Apple and as a result the apps use to process the image.



Is there anything I'm missing?



It's obvious it's not just difference in sharpening. There's a lot of detail missing. Check the car plates on the image below.



Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Test 1.jpg
Test 2.jpg
 

gnomeisland

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Jul 30, 2008
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I'm also struggling with this too but I'm coming from Capture One, which in my *opinion* has an even better RAW processing engine (at least for Sony files) than Light room and the difference can be very stark!

Partly it is the default adjustments done on import (all RAW interpreters perform some adjustments). For example, this seems to be the biggest difference between Capture One and Lightroom as with tweaking you can get RAW images on both to look very similar.

It also seems to be partly the poor quality of Apple's RAW file interpreter. I was an Aperture user and it was the same story then. No amount of tweaking will give you similar sharpness vs noise.
 

phobos

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Feb 25, 2008
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I totally agree with you it depends on how good the RAW interpreter is.
But I have the feeling the iPad is using a lower res version of the image to do the converting. There's a distinctive lack of details. For example look at the number plates on the Car. You can barely distinguish the numbers on the iPad processed image.

Right now because I'm desperate I've enabled the Download and Keep Originals option instead of the Optimise iPad storage just to make sure that the iPad will always use the RAW file. Even though it certainly looks like it's doing that when I'm using the apps. But I need to make sure that's not the issue.
 

dwig

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Jan 4, 2015
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Key West FL
...
Is there anything I'm missing?
...
Yes, you're definitely missing something, but that may not be the only factor involved.

Your tests totally ignore the fact that RAW processing requires that the processing engine needs a set of default settings for all of the properties that can be altered. Those default settings at not the same between processing engines. A few of these can be altered automatically by the RAW processing engine by extracting metadata from the RAW file, but there are only an extremely few such attributes that are standard. Beyond those, the RAW processor must have very specific custom information about the specific camera and about the RAW processing engine built into the camera for creating its own JPEGs from the native sensor data.

Using the application's defaults, as you do in your test, adds a large layer of confusion on such comparisons. The differences you've found may be more that applications, Ps vs Affinity, that the RAW processors, ACR vs iOS's RAW. A more valid test would be to use the conversion controls on both systems to attempt to get matching results, possibly a set of 2 or 3 different pairs from the same image to show different adjustment settings.

One area where there can be a massive difference in detail is the noise reduction. This has way way more influence on detail retention that any "sharpness" adjustment.
 

sparksd

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I have not see that discrepancy when comparing results from processing my Canon RAW images on my 10.5" iPP with my desktop, using Lightroom Classic CC.
 
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phobos

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Feb 25, 2008
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I have not see that discrepancy when comparing results from processing my Canon RAW images on my 10.5" iPP with my desktop, using Lightroom Classic CC.
That is good to know! I'm trying to avoid using Lightroom on the iPad but I might actually give it a try
[doublepost=1542474071][/doublepost]
Yes, you're definitely missing something, but that may not be the only factor involved.

Your tests totally ignore the fact that RAW processing requires that the processing engine needs a set of default settings for all of the properties that can be altered. Those default settings at not the same between processing engines. A few of these can be altered automatically by the RAW processing engine by extracting metadata from the RAW file, but there are only an extremely few such attributes that are standard. Beyond those, the RAW processor must have very specific custom information about the specific camera and about the RAW processing engine built into the camera for creating its own JPEGs from the native sensor data.
Sure I'm aware of that so that's why I'm not discussing the differences in color visible in the images. I'm also making sure not to have any sharpening enabled in both cases. Sharpening is at zero.
But it doesn't have to do with sharpening. It's obvious the iPad image is lacking detail.

A more valid test would be to use the conversion controls on both systems to attempt to get matching results, possibly a set of 2 or 3 different pairs from the same image to show different adjustment settings.

One area where there can be a massive difference in detail is the noise reduction. This has way way more influence on detail retention that any "sharpness" adjustment.
How would you go about doing that? I'm not sure I understand.
At the moment I'm not interested in matching color. I'm just interested getting the same amount of detail. Sharpening the iPad image won't really resolve the detail seen in the Photoshop processed image.


EDIT:
Looks like Sparksd you are right.
Editing an image with Lightroom on the iPad maintains all detail. Damn I wanted to avoid using Lightroom but I guess there are no real alternatives
 
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Donka

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Can you share your RAW file somewhere for us to take a look? I’d be curious to see how the files are handled. I’ve been getting good results from my Fuji RAW files developing in Affinity Photo.
 

phobos

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Feb 25, 2008
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Can you share your RAW file somewhere for us to take a look? I’d be curious to see how the files are handled. I’ve been getting good results from my Fuji RAW files developing in Affinity Photo.
Sure! Here you go!
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hv6bnp7fq58haql/P1011516.zip?dl=0

I'm very interested to see your findings. If you're going to use Affinity photo to process this please let me know what it the resolution info when you process the image. Because when I process it it gives me a lower resolution. But when the file is saved the resolution is the same as the original.

I'm wondering if the "Keep Optimized Media" option on the photos app is messing things up.
Unfortunately though I cannot disable it because I have 200GB of Photos on the iCloud and a 128GB iPad.

I'm glad I now ordered the 1TB iPad Pro. I can't wait to get it in my hands
 
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sparksd

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Sure! Here you go!
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hv6bnp7fq58haql/P1011516.zip?dl=0

I'm very interested to see your findings. If you're going to use Affinity photo to process this please let me know what it the resolution info when you process the image. Because when I process it it gives me a lower resolution. But when the file is saved the resolution is the same as the original.

I'm wondering if the "Keep Optimized Media" option on the photos app is messing things up.
Unfortunately though I cannot disable it because I have 200GB of Photos on the iCloud and a 128GB iPad.

I'm glad I now ordered the 1TB iPad Pro. I can't wait to get it in my hands
I gave it a try using Lightroom on my 10.5 iPP and my desktop, using the exact same processing parameters (just brightened & lightened shadows). Here is a screenshot of blowups of the two images, iPad on the right, desktop on the left:
 

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flur

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Nov 12, 2012
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Just a quick thought, is your device set to keep originals or are you “optimized”? If you’re set to optimize, the the photos app is likely serving thumbnails to Affinity Photo, not your full-size images.
 

sparksd

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Just a quick thought, is your device set to keep originals or are you “optimized”? If you’re set to optimize, the the photos app is likely serving thumbnails to Affinity Photo, not your full-size images.
Throws out the RAW image itself?
 

flur

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Nov 12, 2012
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Throws out the RAW image itself?
Maybe? I don’t know what it does, I just know it doesn’t hold the originals at all. I’m just tossing the idea out there. I haven’t had this issue, but I only use Lightroom and I’m new to photo editing on the iPad. I have had other issues with the optimization feature, particularly with backing up to Dropbox, so I don’t use it anymore.
 

sparksd

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Maybe? I don’t know what it does, I just know it doesn’t hold the originals at all. I’m just tossing the idea out there. I haven’t had this issue, but I only use Lightroom and I’m new to photo editing on the iPad. I have had other issues with the optimization feature, particularly with backing up to Dropbox, so I don’t use it anymore.
I have "Optimize iPad Storage" on and still have original RAW images in Photos.
 

dwig

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Jan 4, 2015
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Key West FL
...I'm also making sure not to have any sharpening enabled in both cases. Sharpening is at zero.
But it doesn't have to do with sharpening. It's obvious the iPad image is lacking detail.
...
As I said, it doesn't seem to be a "sharpening" issue, but a "noise reduction" issue. The iPad images appear to have been smoothed by noise reduction, which will remove fine detail.
 

phobos

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Feb 25, 2008
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Maybe? I don’t know what it does, I just know it doesn’t hold the originals at all. I’m just tossing the idea out there. I haven’t had this issue, but I only use Lightroom and I’m new to photo editing on the iPad. I have had other issues with the optimization feature, particularly with backing up to Dropbox, so I don’t use it anymore.
It looks like it grabs the RAW file because it starts to immediately download a higher res version but at the end of the day I'm not sure it's actually doing anything with it. It's super confusing!

What weird is Affinity Photo takes the raw file straight into Develop module but if I open the raw file in Snapseed, it doesn’t offer the develop tool. I wonder if Snapseed has an issue because it does the same with my Fuji raw files.

Here is a quick develop from Affinity Photo and exported as jpg with no other editing.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/87evs2s735roc2e/IMG_0770.JPG?dl=0
Your image looks good but I think it's compensating by turning the clarity up.
Can you tell me what kind of resolution Affinity gives you when developing the image?
Because when I do that it gives me almost half the resolution. (1920x1440)
But when I go out of the develop mode it gives me the native resolution. (5184x3888)
Have a look at the 2 images below
https://imgur.com/a/IsEqXaA
 

Donka

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Yes, this is a known issue with Affinity Photo - I’ve just updated a thread on their forum regarding this. It is just the resolution being reporting in the develop module that is incorrect:

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/54782-beginners-question-raw-file-resolution/

As for the image I developed, I did do some basic adjustments in the develop module including clarity - RAW files unadjusted typically appear a little soft as there is no processing involved. This is why they offer more latitude for editing but take more work to get a final image. If you just develop with making any adjustments then things will not look as good as they should. Some RAW converters do have default profiles or processing that negates the need to do anything during the develop process.
 

phobos

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Feb 25, 2008
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Yes, this is a known issue with Affinity Photo - I’ve just updated a thread on their forum regarding this. It is just the resolution being reporting in the develop module that is incorrect:

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/54782-beginners-question-raw-file-resolution/

As for the image I developed, I did do some basic adjustments in the develop module including clarity - RAW files unadjusted typically appear a little soft as there is no processing involved. This is why they offer more latitude for editing but take more work to get a final image. If you just develop with making any adjustments then things will not look as good as they should. Some RAW converters do have default profiles or processing that negates the need to do anything during the develop process.

A very interesting bug on their side.

It seems that Lightroom gives the best process since they use their own converter but I don't really want to splurge on a subscription just for the ability to edit photos on the iPad.

I'll do some more tests tomorrow with some more images and see how things will turn out.

Thanks for taking the time to test the image!!
 

Donka

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Also you can turn off the default tone curve that is applied to raw images which will help with extra latitude when editing:

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/56386-remove-tone-curve-in-develop-persona/
[doublepost=1542492977][/doublepost]
A very interesting bug on their side.

It seems that Lightroom gives the best process since they use their own converter but I don't really want to splurge on a subscription just for the ability to edit photos on the iPad.

I'll do some more tests tomorrow with some more images and see how things will turn out.

Thanks for taking the time to test the image!!

Not just Affinity. Snapseed has the same issue so I suspect it may be an underlying Apple bug .
 

phobos

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Also you can turn off the default tone curve that is applied to raw images which will help with extra latitude when editing:

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/56386-remove-tone-curve-in-develop-persona/
[doublepost=1542492977][/doublepost]


Not just Affinity. Snapseed has the same issue so I suspect it may be an underlying Apple bug .

That's perfect! Thanks.
I've now disabled the tone curve.


What I also find disconcerting is how slow the histogram on Affinity photo updates. You make a change and it takes easily a second or two until it updates to the new values. Makes it feel super slow
 
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Azathoth123

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This is a pretty good intro to RAW on iOS. Note the part on the appearance unprocessed RAW files and that RAW is work - you can’t really have a RAW workflow that just uses ‘develop’ or ‘process’. You kind of need to understand basic image editing or otherwise using Apple’s (or Google’s) ‘secret sauce’ is usually better.

https://luminous-landscape.com/iphone-raw-seriously/

Apple (and others) put a lot of work and money into the basic image processing of their camera’s sensor data. It is not always easy to do better. You can of course, because you can tailor the RAW processing to each individual image. But you have to have the experience (which is really fun, you’ll learn a LOT about digital photography), you can’t just use RAW processing defaults on every image, just like you had to expose and develop film for the medium that you would be printing on; platinum, silver gelatin, carbon, ....
 

phobos

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I did some further testing and finally I think the issue is solved.

First off I was shooting Raw+Jpeg. When importing in the Photos app it can recognise that there are 2 photos one RAW and one JPG but it kinda looked like it was still using the JPEG to process things.

Which explains why you guys didn't notice a difference when editing the RAW file, because I only shared the RAW here. But in the Photos roll they are bound together.

So I switched to shooting just RAW and then did some further tests.

Now it looks like I'm getting the full detail when processing on the iPad in specific apps.
But the situation in general is not the best when it comes to RAW processing on the iPad.

Affinity Photo along with Lightroom are the kings and process everything correctly. All other apps are different kinds of bad.

Snapseed seems to use the embedded preview of the RAW file for processing which in my camera's case is less than 50% of the actual RAW file. The rest of the apps follow suit and are a hit and miss affair.
Some will use the embedded preview of the RAW others will use the actual RAW.

RAW Power seems to process the RAW file correctly but if you let it modify the RAW file then Photoshop won't be able to read it ever again! I have no clue why is that! The only way to actually do your job is by exporting it to a different format. But then you hit some other issues. For example exporting a tiff in 16 bits comes in photoshop as a 32 bit file. It also takes an insanely long time to add the file to iCloud and it doesn't have an airdrop option.

It was kinda shocking to see how bad the quality is with these apps when they're actually advertising hardcore RAW processing and they're just using the embedded preview of the RAW. The only way I managed to find that is because my camera saves a really low res embedded preview. Otherwise I would be under the impression that these apps work fine.

I didn't expect much by apps costing just a few euros but I was hoping they would at least do the bare minimum and use the actual RAW file.

I will stick with Affinity Photo for now. It looks like it's doing a great job now that it's not confused with the RAW+JPG photos I was using before.
 
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