November 08, 2009

Feedback, please: Adobe raw processing vs. others

Competition is a great thing, and over the last few years photographers have benefitted as numerous companies sought to make their raw image processing tools. Various apps have leapfrogged one another, making it possible to extract better image quality even from existing cameras.

Comparing quality can be tricky. To some extent it’s subjective (“I prefer skin tone A to skin tone B”), and it’s influenced by default values (i.e. the starting point each app chooses) and user familiarity (“I personally am able to get better results in X than in Y”). Add to that a possible lack of awareness of the power enabled by the DNG Profile Editor.

Over the years I’ve heard fans of Capture One tout the image conversion quality possible in that app. Unfortunately, I’ve always found it difficult to get any actual, concrete demonstrations of what they’re talking about. Lately a number of people (all using fake email addresses, oddly enough) have commented here about how C1 produces “better quality,” yet none of them have been able to back up their claims.

So, I ask–not to pick fights, not to start any holy wars, but out of constructive curiosity: Are you getting better results with a raw image processor besides Camera Raw or Lightroom*, and if so, are you willing to share your images (raw & processed) so that we can see exactly what you like/dislike? This sort of concrete data is precisely what we need in order to keep making progress. If you’re interested in participating, please add a comment or drop me a line.



* The Lightroom 3 beta includes an improved demosaicing algorithm, so it’s the best basis for comparison.

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