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Adobe Camera Raw really does suck at E-M1 high ISO RAW. Iridient Rocks.

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by jonbrisbincreative, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2014
    I downloaded the new beta of Iridient Developer 3 to see how it handles my E-M1 and X-T1 RAW files. This image demonstrates just how ridiculously horrible Camera Raw is at dealing with high ISO in my ORF (Olympus) files.

    ISO 2500 in Camera Raw (on the left) and Iridient Developer (on the right) with just default settings:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    It can handle images up to around ISO 800 before it starts to absolutely fall over. This isn't just pointless pixel-peeping either. There is a noticeable difference on-screen between the Camera Raw and Iridient renderings of these images. When pulled into Lightroom, the Adobe version has dramatically less detail thanks to the pronounced noise. The Iridient rendering of the same file (with no adjustments) shows better color and better details in things like freckles on skin.

    And here's a comparison in Lightroom (settings defaulted to what comes out of the camera; Iridient on the left and Lightroom on the right):

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The Lightroom version has noticeably less interesting color even though extreme highlights like around the hair are somewhat better retained. But freckles on the skin are completely washed out by Lightroom where Iridient preserves those almost imperceptible details. When noise reduction is turned up the Iridient version starts to clearly pull away from Lightroom. This is somewhat deflating to know that I pay Adobe good money for the use of Photoshop, Lightroom, and the rest, and yet I still have to pay $99 to go get a "real" RAW converter. At least that's just a one-time fee, unlike Adobe's subscription.

    But I love Lightroom! I use the VSCO presets and cataloging features and it's really a great organizational tool. I love having all those settings easily accessible and it does a reasonable job at B&W conversion. But noise is a real issue for me with micro 4/3 and this drastic difference in handling it at relatively modest ISO (2500 is not that high any more) means I'll just have to bite the bullet and go with Iridient for "real" RAW processing and use Lightroom for TIFFs and JPGs. This might also mean I may just alter my workflow to use RAW+JPG and work with the JPGs more directly rather than relying on RAW only.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    What you see when you open a file in any RAW processor is what the people making the application want you to see. No program shows you the actual RAW data, every program applies some level of processing. It's just a question of what processing and how much of it they apply. There is no more noise in the RAW file in LR than there is in Iridient. What you are seeing is a difference in how much noise reduction is being applied before you get shown the image.

    I'm not saying that one of them is wrong and the other is right, just that some very different decisions were made as to what to present to the photographer as a starting point for them to work on. You say that the LR version has "noticeably less interesting color even though extreme highlights like around the hair are somewhat better retained. But freckles on the skin are completely washed out by Lightroom where Iridient preserves those almost imperceptible details". What I see contributing to that is higher contrast in the Iridient example. Once again, that's a choice the developers make.

    I have no problems with anyone preferring one RAW conversion program over another but I do get annoyed when people use comparisons of the image that each program presents as it's default starting point in order to build a case for one program being 'better' than another. That comparison doesn't tell you whether one program is better or worse, it simply shows you what each group of developers think presents the best starting point. If you want to try and show comparisons to illustrate that one program is 'better' than another then you really have to show comparisons of final results in order to show what each application is capable of and things really start to get difficult then because your skill and experience with each application starts to come into play as well.

    You're definitely right about what the default processing images show. Unfortunately that doesn't prove that Lightroom is starting to "absolutely fall over" or that it sucks at high ISO conversion. It just shows a very different set of choices about what starting point to present to you. What really counts is what each program can deliver after you've processed the image to your taste, and which one lets you get closer to the result you want to get.
    • Like Like x 5
  3. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's why I use Olympus Viewer 3 when I want the maximum quality out of a file.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    Welcome to seeing what your camera captures and the choices which must be made (and which the camera was making without your knowledge in jpgs) when dealing with higher ISO.

    Personally I didn't see anything in your post that would make a big difference in a print, mainly in 100% pixel views.
  5. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2014
    From my testing, Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom obscure subtle details which I can never get back, no matter how much I fiddle with the settings. The files from Lightroom (at high ISO...I don't notice this as much otherwise) are problematic because of the way they interpret the RAW data. Whether that's through the gain increase or whatever the method is, Iridient doesn't seem to exhibit that.

    And this isn't just pixel peeping. This difference in RAW processing shows up in a print. It can't be completely obfuscated by pumping up saturation and contrast. Those subtle details that are amongst the noise are simply not there for Lightroom to work with given the way it chooses to process the data.

    I'll be interested to see how this compares to my Fuji RAF files...
  6. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    You can rest LR defaults to whatever you want.

    Looks to me that you have the defaults at too high of contrast, clarity and sharpening in LR. Inherit problem with high ISO, it lowers contrast, but doesn't take contrast adjustments well because of the nature of the noise which will be compounded by any sharpening.

    I'm not going to disagree in that ACR is showing a bit of age and wear. But I can't blame poor contrast adjustments here. I'm more curious to why on earth is the iridient file so yellow.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    Honestly, I prefer the Lightroom conversion in the example you've shown. It's noisier, yes, but the noise appears like salt and pepper on top of a crisp image. The result from Iridient just looks mushy. On top of that, in the full picture the Iridient version looks over-contrasted, with orange-y skin tones. The flatter look from LR makes for a more flattering portrait.

    Then again, I basically never use noise reduction on my files, even at 1600 or 3200, so I'm clearly an aberrant. I prefer detail to "smoothness" any day.

    Just goes to show how almost all of photography comes down to preference.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Huff

    Huff Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 30, 2014
    I'm not sure that first image is even a valid comparison. To me, it looks like a screen capture of Bridge in zoom...which is really (as I understand it) just a magnification of the embedded jpeg. IMHO, that would clearly be a mis-matched comparison.

    I don't recall seeing that popup/magnified viewer in anything but Bridge. My very limited work with Irident has found it to be okay at best. Not something I felt was worth investing in
    • Like Like x 1
  9. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    I think exactly the same...
    I think there is too much noise reduction in the example in Iridient.

    And there's no way comparing "default settings" in RAW developers.
    You should compare the rendering with similar parameters.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    no point in comparing "default" settings because one never publishes or prints images developed with default settings
    • Like Like x 1
  11. slau

    slau Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jan 26, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    +1 :smile:
  12. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2014
    "I think it’s pretty safe to say that “out of the can,” Irident Developer produces the sharpest, most detail-rich images from X-Trans sensors. It’s actually pretty astounding. The developer seems to have figured out just the right amount of sharpening to apply to his demosaicing algorithms. I can’t believe this is one guy (with a little help from the open source RAW decoding program, dcraw)."

    I see similar results with my ORF files so I don't think it's limited to RAF files.

  13. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    Can a DAM like LR or Aperture invoke it and get a TIF or PSD from it so that other plugins can continue the editing process?

    Is it part of structureed workflow or a standalone?
  14. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Another one that looks to do a reasonably good job is Raw therapee - again the demosaicing algorithm coupled with RL deconvolution sharpening (which does a better job at capture sharpening than unsharp mask) is really good.
    The best for noise handling and detail retention (after OV3 which looks to pull the most detail but I feel oversharpens the image and does not leave much room for selective sharpening without worm like artifacts) is DXO with a close second of Iridient/PhotoNinja.

    One thing that I have found is that while it is possible to edit colour in post - pretty much every raw convertor that I have tried does not get skin caucasian skin tones right except OV3.

    DXO default color profile (for EM1 body profile included with the elite edition) is the worst of the lot - it adds a horrible red cast to caucasian skin.

    LR does have fairly close EM1 profiles which are not bad, but i've found can look a little jaundice.

    PhotoNinja goes way too vibrant IMHO.

    I actually had and lost an excellent custom color profile that was made by our own Rob Collins on these forums (I found this excellent)).

    As was already said, if you want to keep those Oly colours - or if you want to have a really good starting point for reasonably good skin tones, then OV3 is the best place to start IMHO.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    What you see is what you get, if the detail slider of the sharpening setting is too high. The default value of 25 is way too high! At high ISO it just sharpens the noise which makes the image looking horrible. At ISO 2500 I set the detail slider to 0. The problem concerning the inadequate default sharpening is significant for ISO above 800.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    We agree very much, however, the grain gets much more beautiful with lower settings of the details slider of the sharpening settings. I also like to set luminance noise reduction to 10 sometimes, which makes the grain just a little bit more pleasant without loosing details.
  17. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I like some noise reduction but I rarely use a setting higher than 15 which is my usual setting. I think a little bit helps, but just a little bit. I find the more I apply, the more I go back and start increasing sharpening settings in order to get back detail I lose as a result of increasing noise reduction and the more "artificial" I think my end result looks. I've had a friend comment that he sees noise in my finished images but that noise looks like fine grain to me and I don't find it objectionable. I think my images start to look artificially smooth as that fine grain appearance disappears.

    I also find that over time I'm reducing the amount I apply with a number of settings and noise reduction has been one of them. I wouldn't be at all surprised if in a year's time I look at how much noise reduction I'm applying and find myself much closer to 10 or even lower rather than to 15.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    LR or PS settings?

  19. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Lightroom. I don't use PhotoShop.
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    I use LR as well, but so many people use PS that settings are often assumed to be for PS instead of LR. I will have to give your technique a try the next time I am dealing with NR issues.


    • Like Like x 1
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