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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:03 pm 
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I was just preparing a crop from a tree with fine twigs against the glaring winter sky for this post when I happened to look a little closer at what Lightroom2 was doing compared to the conversion with CaptureNX2.
As I shot only RAW (=NEF) with my Nikon some software has to convert the RAW-data to somethin that can be viewed, printed, uploaded to the web. This piece of software is called RAW-converter and every image-processing software I know has some RAW-converter built in.
As to you Nikon users it was always claimed that Nikon's own converter (as built into e.g. CaptureNX) is "simply the best". Well I never really looked too hard into this because for all my critical conversions I used CaptureNX.
But if you're a lazy guy like me, you tend to use the LR2 converter every now and then, or if I'm honest 95% of all times :shock:
Why? Because I view all my images in Lightroom and 95% of those are RAW-images :idea:

Now have a close look at the following image - click through to the large original (only 300kB):
Image
You see a screenshot comparing side-by-side both converters. Look at the marked areas and tell me: where have all the twigs gone?

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Last edited by Thomas on Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:53 pm 
Not all de-mosaicing algorithms are created equal. Some are just more equal than others :). Remember, pixel data in your RAW files are in the straight from the sensor and thus they are in the Bayer filter format, i.e. individual red, blue and green pixels. It's up to your RAW converter to read in this data and interpolate the pixels to produce the final image.

To see this even more obviously, process your RAW files in Rawtherapee where you have a choice of 3 different de-mosaicing algorithms. Each algorithm has it's own advantage and I'm not surprised that Nikon's own Capture NX has the best algorithm for Nikon NEF files.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:06 pm 
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Btw.: Converting in Photoshop CS4 does only reveal a tiny-weeny bit more of the twigs vs Lightroom2.
But as a Adobe customer I might ask: Why is LR2 using Camera RAW 4.x while PS4 is using Camera Raw 5.1? And why are their RAW-converters not up to scratch with Nikon's de-mosaicing?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:32 pm 
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Thomas wrote:
...while PS4 is using Camera Raw 5.1?...

Not that I think there would be any difference in conversion quality but Camera Raw 5.2 is now released.

Up to now I've usually been happy to let the software supplied with my camera do the RAW conversion but with Photoshop CS4 on it's way here, which adds compatibility with my cameras, that might change. So my question is whether the amount of detail recovered by the PS CS4 converter can be varied by user settings? If so is it possible for you to use settings that get you to the best you can achieve with the Nikon software?

Bob.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:53 pm 
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If you use PS then you get the option to parametrize Camera RAW. There is an option called "Reparatur" in the German user interface (perhaps "healing" in the english UI) which is set to 0 as standard. If you pull this to 30 the twigs come back similar to the CaptureNX conversion. But still the conversion in PS4 looks worse than in CNX2.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:01 pm 
Interesting, that your pointing this out. So your saying that CNx is a lot better converting the RAW images to "viewable" files then PS4 for example? What about convention to jpg or conversion to some sort of "editable" format?

p.s the image is not viewable anymore Thomas


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:13 pm 
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Ooops, thanks for the heads-up, Alex!
I had exchanged the image for a slightly more compact version and forgot that flickr will change all *.jpg adresses with that :oops:
Yeah there seams to be some truth to the rumours that Nikon's own RAW-conversion is better than the rest. Btw. that holds true for any conversion to whichever fileformat you're using!
Bob: just updated to Camera Raw 5.2: no visible difference!

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:43 pm 
No problem!

I was just wondering what crops are we looking at here? Because that looks like something at +200% or something, there is a difference, but i m going to be honest here: not big enough for me to get Capture Nx :P

Were talking a few extra pixels per photo, but its always good to know there is a difference.

Thanks Thomas, for sharing this


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:00 am 
What I've noticed is that it's not easy to get LR and CNX to produce the similar images when the same steps are taken in editing. The results are quite different and CNX is even better I think, detail aside.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:07 am 
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If you click through to the large original, that's a 100% crop.
Don't worry about the sharpness: The focus was not perfect.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:26 pm 
Just for comparison, could you shoot in RAW + JPEG and then process the RAW in LR and CNx. Then we get to see a comparison of Adobe Camera Raw, your D300's JPEG engine, and Capture NX :)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:07 pm 
Since I don't have a camera that is capable of delivering RAW files I haven't looked into this too deeply but if I would have one I'd more or less expect the manufacturer to supply support for it not only by means of dedicated software but also in the form of a plug-in that could be used with other software. In the form of an Adobe type .8BF plug-in for instance. You can use these with lots of software. Even Irfanview can use them.

Am I to understand no such plug-ins are supplied by the camera manufacturers? If they don't they really should change that. If their customers collectively start asking them for such plug-ins sooner or later I'd expect them to comply with such a demand.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:19 pm 
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I'll test the D300 in-camera conversion to jpg soon and will get back to you with the results...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:55 am 
Cam-I-Am wrote:
Am I to understand no such plug-ins are supplied by the camera manufacturers?


That is currently the case: No manufacturer releases plugins for Adobe Camera RAW. Possibly because Adobe Camera RAW itself is a plugin, but I'm sure they can reengineer it somehow.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:00 pm 
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First tests indicated that the in-camera RAW to JPG conversion is a little less sophisticated than the RAW-conversion with CaptureNX2. The in-camera jpg seems to recover less detail against a glaring sky and those details also looked a littel less sharp. But the test-image was not so ideal that you could easily see the differences.
Trying to get a better example...

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