RAW files with ACR or DPP

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by neil_swanson, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. Hi all

    I don't currently shoot a Canon DSLR but may soon (5D). I shoot the other
    brand. The question is when you process the Canon RAW files do you find any
    advantage to using Canons DPP vs ACR.

    In the "other " world the Capture and NX software does in some cases, mostly hi
    ISO give a better end product. Also some other features are best used before
    making a TIFF and going to ACR.

    So does the same hold true with Canons? ACR crushs N*(&^ns own RAW developers
    for speed working far far faster. How does DPP's speed compare to ACR?

    I know that Bibble/CaptureOne etc are out there but I'm just wondering about
    these two right now.

    I would still use NX for some work on TIFFs as it has some amazing editing
    features that work on anyones TIFF and JPG files.

    Thanks for the answers.

  2. Comparisons of various RAW converters come up for discussion fairly frequently, and there is no solid consensus. Name any RAW converter; you'll find some people who feel it is the best for their use, or the best for faithful colour reproduction, or the best at extracting highlight and shadow detail, or the fastest, or whatever.
    Some of the DSLR tests at dpreview.com include some testing of various RAW converters for things like colour reproduction and how they deal with detail at around the highest spatial frequency the sensor can record. Certainly, these tests don't tell you everything you might need to know about RAW converters, but they're not really intended to, and they may give you some extra data points.
    Personally, I use ACR. I like the workflow, and unlike DPP, it has a noise reduction feature that's actually useful in the real world, where noise reduction needs to be set on a per-picture basis and with far more control than merely choosing from a few preset options. I have not done any serious testing between these two and EVU so I can't provide any objective reason why one is better than another.
  3. M. Barbu:

    Thanks for the link - guess I'll be sticking with DPP.
  4. ted_marcus|1

    ted_marcus|1 Ted R. Marcus

    I think the best approach is to amass a collection of as many different raw converters as you can afford. The differences between them mean that if you're not getting results you like from your favorite converter on a particular image, another just might give you what you want.
    I mostly use ACR, not because I think it's inherently superior but because it integrates well with Adobe Bridge and CS2 and I've been happy with it. I also have the extinct RawShooter Essentials (RSE), which was my preferred raw converter before I got CS2, along with DPP and ZoomBrowser/RIT.
    I use RSE when I have an image that needs its "fill light" slider to bring out shadow detail. CS2's Shadow/Highlight tool does much the same thing, but RSE does it at an earlier stage while converting sensor data into an image. That should mean less noise. The version of ACR scheduled to ship with CS3 includes a fill slider, along with a "vibrance" control taken from RawShooter Premium (which Adobe bought and discontinued). So it's possible that I'll retire RSE when I upgrade to CS3.
    I normally don't use DPP because I find its user interface unfriendly. I also don't think its output is any better than ACR, so I see no particular reason to use it. But it proved valuable for this picture of a Maui sunset. In ACR and RSE there were visible artifacts in the blown-out highlight area above the clouds, and also where the sun's rays emerged below the clouds. I thought the image would be unusable, until I read a post in a forum (I forget which one) that said DPP handles blown-out highlights better than ACR. So I tried it and finally got a usable picture. So you never know.
    ZoomBrowser's Raw Image Task (RIT) emulates the camera's firmware. So its output is identical to the JPEG the camera produces, except you can save it as an 24-bit or 48-bit TIFF. I don't really see much advantage to it, since the available controls also duplicate the camera's settings, which are much less comprehensive than a "professional" raw converter. But I keep it available because I know that some day I'll have an image that just works better with RIT than with ACR, DPP, or RSE.
  5. I was very comfortable with DPP and found ACR hard to use at first but much easier when I turned off all the automatic tick boxes.

    Now I use ACR all the time. The main advantages are a fully integrated workflow. DPP is however a very useful application and does give very good results.

    You may be interested in my comparison between the two http://www.zen20934.zen.co.uk/photography/convertertests.htm a bit out of date but it might be interesting.

    The only other thing is don't let ACR do you sharpening, set the sharpening to preview only.

    If you want really good quality sharpening you might like to try http://www.thelightsrightstudio.com/TLRSharpeningToolkit.htm and http://www.thelightsrightstudio.com/TLRProfessionalSharpeningToolkit.htm

    I have more info on the worklow I use here http://www.zen20934.zen.co.uk/photography/Workflow.htm which may be of help if you will be new to DSLRs.
  6. The integrated nature of ACR makes it much more convenient to use than DPP, but in my experience, the color and exposure look much more accurate when the image is first opened in DPP than in ACR. So I've been using DPP, since it takes me less time to get the images the way I want them.

    However, due to Lester Wareham's comments above, I'm going to try ACR with all the "automatic tic boxes" deselected, to see how that changes the initial appearance of the images.
  7. my experience has been that the default profiles for ACR are lousy. this is true for most makes of high end cameras. how can it be otherwise? adobe is a software company, not specifically a professional imaging company, and they support thousands of cameras. In fact they may have no color profile whatsoever, and merely map the color channels directly to pure R, G, and B values with no correction.

    There are numerous options for applying color calibration routines to alter the default ACR color rendering (including simply copying the numbers other people have come up with). the numbers will be lighting-dependent; most people end up happy with one set for natural light and another for tungsten.

    personally I've tried a few sets and settled on one for my 5D that yields very saturated and contrasty results in daylight, which suits my taste. It looks dreadful under tungsten, where I prefer the soft pastel rendering of the default profile with no correction.
  8. Glenn,

    The link provided only tests ACR's beta 5D support. I would hesitate to draw strong conclusions from this.

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