November 24, 2007 Update

I have downloaded a copy of DxO Optics Pro 5.0, and I wanted to see how good or bad the raw decoding was for my EOS 5D. I've sort of backed into a hybrid workflow at the moment which uses PhotoMechanic for thumbnails and grading, because it's really fast, and Photoshop for final processing, because it's familiar and flexible to a fault. However, I liked some of DxO's sales pitch - particularly the idea of noise reduction before Bayer mask decoding - and Version 4 was quite highly praised in a workshop I attended earlier this year.

Here is a small (about 119 by 163 pixels) scrap of the panorama at (the scrap is about 35 degrees left of center - full image width is 360 degrees and 25969 pixels). I was using Rawshooter when I processed the pano (June 2006), and noticed this sign was causing problems. I switched to Adobe Camera Raw (probably 4.0) and that's what the pano was finished with.

I decoded the original frame with each of the below-cited programs, then cropped to about 119 x 163, then enlarged with smoothing up to 300 by about 400. They are more or less ranked in order of increasing impairment (and streaks are considered worse than color fringing), although PhotoMechanic is a special case - it's intended for quick grading, with enough raw decode ability to verify focus, but not for inline workflow processing. It looks as though Photomechanic tries to stay within the Nyquist limit for color sampling, with the result that the colors are close and resolution is lost.

There may be some other differences between images, particularly in sharpening and white balance, but the intent of these tests was to examine Bayer mask decoding artifacts, and I didn't spend any time changing default settings for other parameters. This may be an issue, judging by the differences between the two ACR versions below.

One more important point is that these tests were done with a single test image that I happened to run into while shooting. There could easily be others that show impairments - and rank the decoders - differently, and it's just that I haven't found them.

Update: Adam Wilt has contributed three Intel Mac based decodes - one with Photoshop CS3 using ACR 4.3 (confusingly reported as 29.8.0), CS3 with ACR 4.0 (reported as 224.8.0), and Aperture 1.5.6 with default settings.

Update #2: Added Raw Therapee 2.2.

....Don Craig



















Adobe Camera Raw 4.3 / Lightroom 1.3 Windows Version

Probably hard to spot because of the smoothing, but there are some color fringing artifacts introduced. Slight magenta fringing in the middle of "permitted", "groups", and "EXHIBITORS", and slight yellow fringing in "materials" and "premises", among others. I did verify that Lightroom 1.3 produced the same result.


Adobe Camera Raw 4.3 (reported as 29.8.0) Intel Mac CS3 OS X 10.4.10

Adam Wilt performed the same decode operations on an Intel Mac, where it looks like Adobe's version number reporting is a bit flawed. Adam did his original test converting from Raw to 8-bit , then resampling - this produced slightly more fringing than converting from Raw to 16-bit, resampling, then converting to 8-bits for the jpeg. This is the 16-bit Raw conversion.


Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.0.2

Has quite similar fringing to Windows ACR 4.3 (the yellow is better controlled, magenta about the same), but there are horizontal monochrome streaks between, for example, the 't' and the 'h' in "this", the 'l' and the 'i' in "policy", and the 'u' and 'l' in "adult", which obscure the text significantly.

Adobe Camera Raw 4.0 (reported as 224.8.0) Intel Mac CS3 OS X 10.4.10

This is Adam's original conversion which turned out to be in ACR 4.0. It's also Raw->8bits then resampled, which produces accentuated fringing.

Bibble Pro 4.9.8b

Significant fringing, but not a lot of streaking.


Raw Therapee 2.2

Starting to see streaking as well as fringing.


DxO Optics Pro Elite 4.5.1

Worse than Bibble for fringing, but not too bad for streaking, unlike...


DxO Optics Pro Elite 5.0

The new release, which seems to have added rather nasty horizontal stripes very similar to the late, lamented RawShooter.



RawShooter Premium 1.0.3

RawShooter was swallowed up by Adobe for Camera Raw development resource, but the Bayer decoder in RawShooter's last release has not appeared in ACR. RawShooter's artifacts look very similar to DxO 5.0.

Apple Aperture 1.5.6 OS X 10.4.10

This has the default chroma blur of 2.0. Setting chroma blur to 0.0 gives fringing similar to Picasa (very bad), setting chroma blur to 4.0 gives fringing similar to ACR (very good). There still remain all those horizontal bars. Contributed by Adam Wilt.

Photomechanic 4.5.2 (Snagit Screen Grab)

Purple fringing about the same as ACR, but pretty hard to spot because of the low resolution decode - but at least they are calling black and white, black and white, unlike


Picasa 2.7 (screen grab of raw decode)

- Our Google friends, who seem to be reporting all of the colors of the imager.