Raw processors compared

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Amin Sabet, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
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  2. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    When I decided to move on from Aperture, I tried a bunch of different ones to see which would be the best for my needs. The ones I tried out were:

    - Lightroom
    - Capture One
    - DxO Optics Pro
    - Iridient Developer

    For the most part, I'd pretty much agree with the article although the results achieved are camera dependent so the results may swing one way or the other. In any case, a nice write up and comparison.

    But for me at least, what it boiled down to was that I needed a one stop shop for DAM and RAW processing as well as ease of use when it comes to plugins for other apps. With that said, Lightroom was the most obvious choice for my needs even though it was probably the worst of the four listed above in terms of RAW processing. However, the differences between all four were subtle and to some extent, requires a bit of pixel peeping which I'm not really into.
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  3. tm3

    tm3 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 17, 2011
    Interesting article. He complains about the price of DXO but it looks like Capture 1 is now more expensive, $300 vs $200.

    It would be interesting to see some examples ie compare the final edited images from a LR session to those from the top rated ones.
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Nice find Amin. A very well-written article that has clearly had a lot of effort spent on its preparation. I'm an LR user and sometimes get frustrated with its noise/detail handling, so it's interesting to see that there are better options out there. Having said that, the hassle of swapping workflow and moving over to a new DAM really doesn't appeal and for 95% of my images, I doubt I'd notice the difference. However, if I were starting again, I'd go with Capture One.

    I often think that getting a good noise reduction standalone program would be the right thing to do for those 5% of cases where I need it - the author's use of Topaz in conjunction with LR/PS is probably the way to go.
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  5. YantaYo

    YantaYo Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    I agree with this review in regards to Lightroom, Capture One and DXO 9 (I have not used the others in the review). Lightroom just lacks in the noise and detail department.
  6. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    I'm quite surprised with the conclusion...
    I think it's a very subjective matter: what counts is what YOU manage to do with one software or the other.

    I tried C1 lately and was very disappointed with the results: awful colors with my E-M10, very aggressive default sharpening, no way to correct green fringing (which appear a lot with Oly 45 and Panasonic 25), no distorsion correction for my 12-32 on my Oly body.
    In comparison, I can get a pleasing result with Lightroom in no time (I sometimes have to struggle a little with white balance on m43 bodies, though).

    It's probable that I'm just very bad in using Capture One, and maybe pretty good in using Ligthroom.
    I also must say that I believe in very few capture sharpening, and later output sharpening (depending on the use of the picture), which is very easy to handle with Lightroom...
    So in the post-processing stage, I mostly focus of the global rendering of the image.
  7. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    A very detailed set of findings. However I wonder if comparisons like these are a case of not being able to see the forest through the trees.

    While the details are important the real proof is the final overall image. And how you determine to view the final image, print or screen, will make a major difference in visual perception.
    And that final image is going to vary for each individual that processes it, let alone the difference each individual may do differently at a different time and date. And then there can always be – one is not better than the other, just different. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    I have my favorite programs I use, because I can accomplish many times as much with them as what I could accomplish 7 years ago. For me it is not just about the details, but the overall process.
    Pick the program that accomplishes the most for you, and learn it well.
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  8. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    I like that the author admits that:

    Don't sweat the micenuts.
  9. TransientEye

    TransientEye Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 18, 2013
    I have been trying to write up a review of C1, coming from Lightroom. The differences in the RAW conversion are very very small - you have to look at 400% to see them clearly, and at 100% output is indistinguishable if you have figured out how to tune the settings in each program.

    I suspect that a lot of people who note that C1 offers more detail than Lightroom are simply being tricked by the much stronger default noise reduction and sharpening. When you apply comparable settings in Lightroom, any difference usually vanishes - even at 400%.

    However, there are some important gotchas to the above. Firstly, both programs handle different cameras differently - particularly if they are not mainstream Canikon. With an E-M5 I think that C1 handles saturated colours at higher ISOs (1600+) better - without loosing detail or colour artefacts (think over saturated reds). This is not so much a difference in the RAW processor as a difference in the colour profile. Alternatively, Lightroom seems to handle high ISO NR better, leaving noise that looks more like fine grain than the smeared plastic effect of C1.

    To be honest, the main reason to use one software over the other really boils down to which UI you prefer...
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  10. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    First of all, thanks for the great link!

    Too bad I just signed up for 1 year Adobe CC subscription so I'm not going to try others. It's not a surprise that Lightroom doesn't handle noise well. That's why I use noise reduction plugins in Photoshop to get rid of the noise - and do (local) sharpening in Photoshop as well. Maybe I'll try out other converters next summer. :p
  11. Drdul

    Drdul Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    May 16, 2015
    Vancouver, BC
    I use Iridient Developer and recently gave Capture One a try. In both cases I didn't find any great improvements over Lightroom for well-exposed images at low ISOs, so I'm sticking with Lightroom. I occasionally use Iridient Developer to recover the edges of an image that are cropped off when Lightroom automatically applies the embedded lens profile, but I don't find the RAW conversion results noticeably better, and I find the UI and adjustment controls more difficult to use (despite having read through all available help documents many times). The only situation where Capture One did a slightly better job than Lightroom was on images over 2000 ISO, but in all cases I got significantly better results on the same high-ISO images using Imagenomic's Noiseware plugin in Photoshop. FWIW, all images were from a E-PL5.
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  12. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I left Lightroom about 3 years ago. I was unhappy with the results I was getting and with the workflow. In my opinion, workflow is almost as important a decision point as the results we get. Specifically, I felt I didn't have enough control over the flow of work towards a finished product. It was the "Lr way or the Highway".

    As a PC user, I've found for me, that ACDSee Ultimate offers the best combination of results and workflow. I also like how it handles ORF files, in general. I like that the ACDSee line maintains the logical separation of photo management, raw development, and bit mapped editing. It doesn't try to blur those lines. And if I ever feel that, say, the Raw development is no longer adequate, it would be pretty easy to insert a different raw developer into my flow of work without undue disruption of my overall workflow.
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