RAW Image Converters - Conclusion (on-going)
Imaging - Imaging
These are -my- impressions about the various products. Please note that these are to some degree subjective - your mileage will probably differ to some degree in categories like color quality , handling or the aggressiveness of the filter settings used for the analysis. I'm sorry that I can't have a look at Mac or Linux solutions at this stage.

(Windows XP-) Application Resolution Sharpening / Noise Balance Noise Reduction Exposure Quality (*) Color Quality (*) Handling Speed Features Pricing
ACDSee Pro poor to sub-average good good to very good very good good average (RAW aspect) very slow excellent 130 US$
Raw Therapee v2.1.1 good very good good very good good average extremely slow good Freeware!
LightZone v3.0 very good good good good good average average good 249 US$
DxO Optics Pro v4.1 sub-average very good very good very good very good good good average (profile n/a) to very good (profile available) 149US$ (standard edition) or 299US$ (pro edition)
RawShooter Premium (discontinued) excellent very good good to very good very good good very good extremely fast very good discontinued
Adobe Camera RAW v4.1 very good very good good good to very good good to very good good (plug-in) fast good
(plug-in)
free but requires Photoshop CS2
Adobe Lightroom v1.0 Beta4.1 very good good to very good good very good very good very good quite fast very good to excellent yet to be announced
Helicon Filter 4.50 good very good very good very good good average slow very good 40 US$
Bibble Pro 4.9 average very good excellent very good very good very good slow with active distortion correction, otherwise quite fast very good 130 US$
SilkyPix Developer 3.0 good
(default: soft)
good to very good sub-average very good very good very good average very good 16.000 YEN (130 US$ or 100 EUR)
Lasersoft Silverfast DCPro 6.5 very good good to very good good to very good very good good to very good sub-average sub-average good 249 EUR

(*) achievable in a reasonable amount of time and assuming an average skilled user

As you can conclude from the table above I would have preferred an ongoing support for RawShooter Premium. Unfortunately Adobe took over the company and discontinued the product in the process. They promised to migrate some of the technologies into Adobe Lightroom vX.X. Well, we'll see. However, Adobe did already a good job with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and Lightroom looks like the next logical step. Even in its current version it is my favorite among the reviewed converters - the combination of Adobe Bridge v2 and ACR4 in the Adobe Photoshop CS3 package is pretty much comparable as a variant. If you're more looking into a budget tool I'd suggest to have a deeper look at either SilkyPix or Bibble. DxO Optics Pro may not produce the sharpest results among the tested products but if you just don't want to invest too much time into the tuning of your images it could be something for you - especially if you rely on budget- to medium-grade zoom lenses which a higher than average need of lens flaw correction (assuming Optics Pro profiles for your lenses exist).

Technical Findings

Here're some of the technical findings based on the image analysis of a resolution and color chart (RAWs taken with the Canon EOS 350D) by the Imatest toolkit. Similar to the lens test data you shouldn't interpret any deeper meaning into the sheer numbers other than for the purpose of comparison between the different products. Please take these numbers as a rough guidance only - a really valid comparison is difficult because of the different effects of detail and edge sharpening on the noise ratio as well as the sharpening characteristic.

Think of the LW/PH value as an abstract representation for the (vertical) resolution - the higher the number the higher the resolution. The over/undersharpening values can be taken as a quality measurement for the sharpening algorithm - the sweet spot is close to 0%. Negative or positive values are hints for soft or harsh edge transitions. The last column represents the noise analysis of a color chart taken at ISO 400. There're four result values - the noise levels for middle-red, -green, -blue and -gray given as a percentage value between black (0%) and white (100%). Values less than 1% can be considered as "very low noise" - something close to or even beyond 2% is quite pronounced image noise. Please be especially careful regarding the figures involving luminance noise reduction - some algorithms have a smart edge detecting so the LW/Ph (resolution) values remain very high but fine, low contrast details can still be severely smeared - all conclusions (see above) were based on the technical numbers PLUS a visual inspection of images with critical shadow details.

Application Sharpening / Noise Reduction Setting LW/PH (uncorrected @ ISO 100) over(+)/under(-)
sharpening
RGBY noise
(%white-black)
@ ISO 400
Raw Therapee v2.1.1 default (USM 0.5/250/300, no NR) 1702 -18.5% 1.58 1.39 1.42 1.37
USM w/halo control, color NR w/edge sensitity 1708 -18.8% 1.15 1.02 1.04 1.01
no sharpening, color + luminance NR 1445 -26.9% 0.65 0.39 0.48 0.34
RawShooter Premium (discontinued) default 2594 +7.73% 1.27 1.04 1.07 1.01
sharpening=-10, NR=15 2464 +2.8% 1.00 0.85 0.85 0.81
Adobe Camera RAW v4.1 default 1721 -16.6% 0.92 0.85 0.85 0.84
detail/sharpening=25 (0.5), luminance NR=10, color NR=25 1718 -16.6% 0.90 0.82 0.82 0.81
detail/sharpening=50 (0.5), luminance NR=0, color NR=25 1961 -11.6% 1.61 1.57 1.58 1.57
detail/sharpening=50 (0.5), luminance NR=10, color NR=25 1968 -11.5% 1.47 1.43 1.44 1.42
Adobe Camera RAW v3.6 & / Lightroom Beta default: sharpening=25, color NR=25 2022 -6.34% 1.46 1.41 1.41 1.41
sharpening=10, luminance NR=10, color NR=25 1623 -16.1% 1.03 0.97 0.97 0.96
sharpening=25, color NR=25, luminance NR=25 1988 -6.52% 0.98 0.93 0.93 0.92
sharpening=0, color NR=25 1275 -23.9% 0.94 0.88 0.88 0.87
Bibble Pro v4.9 sharpening=100, no NR 1473 -3.33% 1.48 0.94 1.06 0.86
sharpening=100, NoiseNinja=10 (NR) 1444 -4.4% 0.69 0.48 0.52 0.41
Perfectly Clear (*), no NR 1363 -19% 1.92 1.42 1.55 1.33
Perfectly Clear (*), NoiseNinja=10 (NR) 1323 -19.2% 0.89 0.68 0.74 0.62
SilkyPix v3.0 normal sharp (all default inc. NR) 1310 -14.1% 0.83 0.67 0.73 0.65
normal sharp (NR off, USM 200) 1887 +1.49% 1.88 1.05 1.34 1.05
pure detail, USM, color NR only 1503 -15.3% 1.74 1.03 1.28 1.01
pure detail, no USM, color NR only 1133 -24.9% 1.72 1.01 1.27 0.98
Helicon Filter v4.5b fine sharpening=5, no NR 1574 +5.4% 1.35 1.11 1.20 1.09
fine sharpening=10, default NR 1576 +5.38% 1.24 0.9 0.95 0.87
Silverfast DCPro v6.5 low GANE (NR) 1035 -32.7% 0.83 0.57 0.66 0.51
auto-sharpen, color NR=10 1968 -8.42% 1.30 1.13 0.93 1.09
auto-sharpen, all NR=20 1939 -5.28% 0.95 0.87 0.89 0.86
DxO Optics Pro v4.1 no profile, USM 200, NR off 1530 -6.18% 1.04 0.70 0.81 0.65
no profile, default USM, default NR 1418 -11.4% 0.69 0.43 0.59 0.38
profile exists - lens softness=0, no USM, no NR 1567
(ACR4: 2096) (*!)
+5.02%
(ACR4: -6.7%)
n/a
LightZone v3.0 USM100/1/20 (default), no NR 1967 -9.44% 2.96 1.85 2.37 1.87
USM 200/0.5/3, default color NR 1878 -11.5% 2.11 1.91 1.96 1.88
USM200/0.5/3, color + luminance NR 1863 -11.3% 1.32 1.18 1.20 1.14
ACDSee Pro USM100/1/5 (default), no NR 1306 -22.2% 1.73 1.23 1.36 1.20
USM100/1/5 (default), default NR 1312 -21.7% 0.97 0.66 0.71 0.63
USM100/1/5 (default), color NR only 1311 -22.3% 1.56 1.01 1.17 0.96
CaptureOne LE 3.7.6 RAW 1130 -26.5% 2.28 1.45 1.87 1.20
High-Pass-Sharpening 1529 -6.36% 2.59 1.91 2.07 1.71
NR + High-Pass-Sharpening 1461 -12.5% 2.49 1.85 2.03 1.65
Paint Shop Pro XI Photo raw imported 1130 -26.5% 2.28 1.45 1.87 1.20
High-Pass-Sharpening 1529 -6.36% 2.59 1.91 2.07 1.71
NR + High-Pass-Sharpening 1461 -12.5% 2.49 1.85 2.03 1.65
Canon Digital Photo Professional v2.2 all default (no NR) 1145 -25.9% 1.19 0.94 1.09 0.89
Canon RAW Image Task 2.4 all default (no NR) 1514 -0.6% 1.27 0.98 1.11 0.93

(*!) Optics Pro did not perform a "Lens Softness Correction" on the standard test target file. A secondary chart file obtained at a different focal length was used - see the reference data from ACR for a comparison.

NR=noise reduction
USM=unsharp masking

(*) PerfectlyClear performs uncontrollable auto-correction inc. black/white point and exposure changes which usually yield in higher noise ratios.


© by photozone.de