My issues with Adobe Raw Conversion.

Update 1/30/2010

I have recently discovered that a JPG white balance correction in DPP is superior to Lightroom white balance correction. In fact it is so good that if you are close there will be no benefit from shooting raw!


This is from a LR JPG with WB dropper placed in the center cloud.


Eye Dropper placed in center cloud with Same JPG in DPP

Conclusion is that the DPP conversion even from a JPG is superior. For those of us that have been duped into shooting raw because white balance correction is so obviously better in LR with raw files it makes me wish adobe would fix this!!

Next I want to show the raw conversions as a referance.


Lighroom 3 Raw corrected WB



DPP CR2 WB corrected


As you can see here the JPG from the raw in LR3 is better and more correct but has much less dynamic range.

If this was a fire there would be no detail in the flames in LR3 conversion.

Why can't canon make a plugin for raw conversion available for Adobe??

Next I want to show how the color is efected by diffirent exposures when making an HDR. The following were made with Photomatix software using the Fuse exposure command from JPG files that were made in DPP and LR3


LR3 converted JPG HDR


DPP converted HDR


The improved dynamic range with DPP is very visible in HDR as is the vast difference in color.

Next check out the dynamic range of the LR3 conversion. The next two photos are as shot raw plus JPG with a 5D2


JPG file converted to this size in LR3


This is the Raw CR2 file converted in LR.

If this was done in DPP the JPG and raw files would look about the same. Note the lack of detail in the fire!!!

Just for science here is the dpp conversion from raw to JPG


DPP conversion from CR2




Previous entry Below

What I have to say about this subject is unique and I have not seen any of my issues with raw discussed on any other websites.

There is much written about whether or not to shoot raw and the answer in theory is easy. Raw images have more dynamic range and an underexposed or poorly white balanced image is easily brought back. But you already knew that!
What you don't know is that Adobe raw conversion whether it is done in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), Lightroom (LR), Bridge or anything else othe then the camera company software is awful. This is the “dirty little secret” that Adobe hides from you by making the default setting in LR to hide the raw so that you only see the JPG! Prove this to yourself by shooting a colorful subject preferably with shades of blue red and green with the camera set to Raw plus JPG. If you are using bridge skip to the next paragraph. Follow my directions if you are using LR to be sure that you are actually seeing the raw file; Go to preferences in LR and then "file handling" look at the box- "Treat jpg files next to raw as separate photos". unchecked is (the default), now check the box "Treat jpg files next to raw as separate photos" and import the same photo. Be sure that it will import the duplicates in the import dialogue box. Now you will clearly see that you are looking at the JPG even when it says you are looking at a Raw File!!! LR maintains this setting for all images that were imported, in the default setting so that you will not be able to look at any of the old raw files without removing the JPG's and synchronizing the folder. Now before we continue, go back and check the "Treat jpg files next to raw as separate photos" or remove the JPG's and synchronize the folder so that when you are looking at a raw file it is a Raw file and not the JPG. Now open the Raw image on the screen in LR or Bridge and open the same file using Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) or Nikon Capture (NX) by navigating to the file in DPP or NX and here is where you will see that the raw files in DPP or NX now look IDENTICAL, in color, to the JPG's from the camera except that the raws show a bit more shadow detail. The discrepancy between what the Raw files look like in Adobe and what they look like in DPP or NX is the same as the side by side files in LR with the Raw and the JPG from the camera. The discrepancy is even greater if the image is poorly exposed. This presents the biggest problem for those shooting High Dynamic Range (HDR). If you shoot a blue sky you actually get banding in the blue sky. I will update this page with an example when I photograph a blue sky here in NYC.

If you find looking at charts stupid as I do then look at some real photographs that were perfectly exposed with flash. You will be looking at D300 flower images shot in Raw, processed in JPG in LR side by side with JPGS processed in NX. The Charts shown here were shot in Standard Mode at 50 ISO with a 5D and 50mm lens. The camera was set to Raw plus JPG large.

RAW V JPG part one


The more you play with this the greater variations you will see. In all, these are not that bad. But if you do this yourself with real world subjects you will massive variations. In some images there are sharpness variations and in others there are optical corrections that are performed in the camera but cannot be "seen" by adobe in the raw file. As I write this I think I see that even in my examples below there is a bit less barrel distortion in the jpgs! I am not talking about the final image. as that one has optical correction in DPP. Try a sunset or a portrait to see wild variations and swings from red to yellow and from nice skin tone to a green cast. This does not happen to every image but it happens to many and the only way to find out is to do several shoots with Raw plus JPG.

When looking at the images below, look at individual colors on the left and right. Not all colors are affected the same way at each exposure level. For example, the orange square at V3 H1 goes to mustard on the left in the “Plus One” image.
The Purple at V2 H5 has the greatest variation in the under exposed image.
And in the correct image they match pretty well. But this my point they should always match but adobe can't do it.



Raw on left Plus One


Raw on left Minus One


Camera exposure Raw on left.



This final image is the chart processed from Raw in DPP with the optic correction. This is so simple to do that you can add optical correction to everything that you shoot in Raw if you process it with DPP or NX. Not every color matches the LR converted Raw image but it does match the JPG one. The difference in saturation is only because there is more dynamic range in the DPP conversion. The Camera does a rougher conversion than DPP and has less dynamic range.
The point of all this is that if you use Adobe , your colors can be anywhere depending on the level of exposure correction. The final image shows that a JPG processed in DPP has more dynamic range then a JPG shot in camera, plus there is the added advantage of simple distortion correction. This makes sense because the camera makes a jpeg in milliseconds and DPP takes much longer. My workflow now is to shoot raw and process for exposure and White balance in DPP and then make Jpgs and finish the work in LR. If something is important I will make a tiff in DPP. The raw files are then burned to DVD. This I believe is the best of both worlds. You get the best possible JPG's from your camera into LR. LR runs so much better with JPG's and you don't bloat your harddrive with raw files that don't even look right unless you are using DPP.

By the way DPP is far easier to run than NX or even Bridge. You select all and then go to edit view and you get near LR like ease of adjustment and settings copy and adjustment.

Please shoot raw plus JPG for a bit and you will become as frustrated with Adobe as I am. Perhaps someone reading this will be able to get Adobe to address this problem.

There is another advantage to using DPP or NX and that is that you can make adjustments just as if you made them in camera. I know Adobe has Beta programs that do this but go ahead and play with them and you will see even more variations from the JPG or from the camera software.

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