RAW image processing software?

Discussion in 'Photography / Video' started by Kent Lufkin, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. A friend introduced me to DxO Optics Pro software a few weeks ago. Besides offering powerful and intuitive batch processing for RAW images, I was particularly impressed by its camera body and lens-specific ability to correct for a variety of optical distortions.

    I live and breathe Photoshop and its Camera Raw module. I have used LightRoom, which I don't find particularly intuitive.

    Has anybody else tried DxO Optics? Anyone here use Aperture? I'd appreciate hearing your experiences with either, but especially a comparison.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. I have a version of DxO from a couple years ago, but haven't bothered to upgrade it yet since I've been kind of lazy with photography for the past year and a half. I'm not exactly a power user, but I really like it. It's great for batch processing, then going back and individually manipulating your best shots. The body/lens specific correction stuff is really cool and is what I use it for most. It seems a lot more straightforward to get my desired result than hacking through Photoshop with my limited knowledge of that application, but a Photoshop guru might not agree. With DxO, you just download the modules you need from their website to match your gear. I use Light Room as well, but mostly just for library management and simple manipulations.
  3. Photoshop or Bibble are the only two I have used regularly.
  4. Here's an example of an uncorrected RAW image shot indoors on a tripod with my Canon 40D and a Canon 17-85mm IS USM lens. Beside the reddish color cast and soft contrast, notice the way the horizontal lines above the door are tilted to the left (magenta line) and especially how the vertical line to the right of the door tilts and curves inward (the green line), a symptom of the pincushion distortion inherent in the lens toward the extreme wide angle focal length of its range.


    The image below was processed with three clicks in DxO: the force horizontals button; the force verticals button; and the factory DxO standard preset. The first forced the horizontal line above the door (magenta) to true horizontal while the second corrected the tilted lines in the door in the center of the image.

    The DxO standard preset eliminated the color cast, improved contrast, lightened midtones; sharpened and reduced noise - all at once. But the best trick is that the preset compared the body/lens/focal length combination and corrected for the pincushion distortion, turning the curved line to the right of the door (green) into a straight line.


    Photoshop Camera Raw and Lightroom could have achieved similar color, contrast and sharpening (with some twiddling), and noise could have been reduced using the Noise Ninja plug in. But I've spend hours trying to reduce lens distortion in Photoshop with far poorer results than the three clicks it took to fix all in DxO Optics.

    I don't mean this to sound like a commercial for DxO, because it's not. I'm just wondering what other products might be out there that can produce such dramatic results with so little effort.

    Kerry, to answer your PM online, I feel that while powerful, Lightroom is best suited for managing a database of many, many images. Instead of cataloging and processing dozens or hundreds of images, I usually find myself working with just one or two for a specific project. From my limited experience with Lightroom, I've found that coaxing image processing results from it takes too much effort, so I tend to reply on Photoshop instead, at least until I tried DxO Optics Pro.

  5. Don't mean to be picky, but it appears that DxO just rotated the image to fix the lines, and streched it a little, and the new one looks kind of "wrong".

    One problem I'm more interested in solving is on how to manage thousands of raw image, is Lightroom really good at this? how about Aperture? I one tried feeding my picture colection to iPhoto and the software "choked and died"

    so far the only software I have found that can organize that many pictures (last time I checked it was north of 60000) is Microsoft Expression Media on a Mac, but the other features (photo editing, searching, etc) leave a lot to be desired, what I want is something like iPhoto, but with better large library support.
  6. I work with a lot of architectural images, and trust me, my clients don't want to see tilted and curved walls on their expensive homes!

    I achieve similar results in Photoshop using the Distort function. It's just a lot easier using DxO. Either way it results in the black triangles at every corner where adjustments were mnade, so the final image needs cropping to fit into a rectangle.

  7. I see the point, but with the software going for about 300, doesn't it make sense to get a better lens? I know that Canon L series of lens are pricey, but if you are doing this professionally, you could get the 24-105 for about three times the price of the software and get better results, or get fixed non-zoom one, the 50 mm f/1.4 is sweet.
  8. for some tilted and distorted images mentioned above, That is not the issue of quality of the lens. (Although some high end lens have better control (distortion)). Instead, is the issue of optic design. Canon and Nikon have designed several lens for "swing" the panels. Achieving the effect of the big format camera that for architecture need. e.g. Canon TS-E 45 and TS-E 90mm lens.

    I mainly shoot wildlife and documentary. So the distortion are less a important issue to me. But I do (sometimes) use photoshop for some light (not heavy) touch... I have to agree though.... I dislike some "overdo" products that show extra high contrast and unreal saturation ...
  9. Actually the DxO Pro runs about $170 for 'pro-sumer' level cameras like mine. The $300 version is for those who have higher end cameras (Canon 5D and up, Nikon DS etc.) than mine.

    I'm not trying to sell you on DxO. I'm just sayin' it works for me the way I use it. If the software isn't for you, then disregard my opinions about it.

  10. BTW. good photo example!
    It improved the original image significantly. The preset works like magic wound. I think it might suitable for people (me) that need quick photo fix. I will check it out. Thanks.
  11. I understand, I didn't mean to imply otherwise, I was just expressing my frustration with the current available choices, it seems like there should be something that addresses the prosumer market as you point out, but that can take care of all our needs, I really hate needing different applications for dealing with my pictures.

    Perhaps it's time to top whining and roll my own....but then again, I rather use my sparse free time to fish :beer2:
  12. I downloaded dxo today, can't figure out how to apply the noise filter with my camera modules setting for canon raw
  13. Absolutely! :beer2:

    I'm not a pro shooter and don't mean to imply so. I'm a graphic/web designer who works with pro-shot images on a regular basis. Although my degree is in graphic design, I took a bunch of photo classes in art school and once upon a time had a home darkroom.

    A photo professor of mine once pointed out that of all the artistic media, photography was among those with the greatest number of steps between artistic vision and the final product. For example drawing, dance, music performance and theater are all immediate art forms - you do it and get immediate results.

    In film photography, once you click the shutter button, there are many, often technical steps between then and when you can finally share the finished image with someone. (That 'distance' between concept and finished piece is often the province of geeks who become absorbed in the technology instead of focusing on the story the images actually tell.)

    For me, the single main attraction of digital photography is that path from concept to execution has been shortened dramatically.

    Yes, there's still post-production which is what all this software thread is about, but it's waaaay simpler than the bad old days of water baths to maintain 68ยบ processing temps, developer-fixer-water baths baths, noxious chemicals and dry mount presses.

  14. Didja open the image in DxO first? The noise module is in the stack along the right hand side most of the way down. Just turn it on (the blue button in the upper left) and it'll set itself automatically. You have to be at 75% size view or higher to see the effects. Use the split screen before/after view option to see the difference.

  15. Kent,

    Do you know of a free software out there that does RAW conversion? My wife has photoshop elements and it apparently can't do RAW.

  16. if you have a Canon DSLR camera, then the included CD has Digital Photo Profesional, that can do that, although it's a pain to use...

    most cameras that support RAW have a utility to convert in the box, or check the manufacturers web site.
  17. There are several free plugins for GIMP (also free and great!) that process and convert RAW formatted images.

  18. Irfan
  19. I didn't read your post all that well when I recommended irfan but if you are using Elements you should be able to do RAW. Not sure what version you are using or what camera you have but I have ver. 6 and have no problems with the latest Nikon DSLRs including the 700. Make sure you have the latest patches for the software.

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