Adobe Lightroom 3.0 and DxO Optics Pro 6.2 Test

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. I've been having a play with both side by side. (Trial versions are
    available). I've been using a midday mixed urban scene containing a range of
    light and textures including brick, cars, trees, glass, sky, shade.

    I was impressed with how Lightroom 3 handled things once I'd grabbed the G9
    lens profile and good noise and sharpening presets. Optics Pro impressed me
    equally with its out of the box performance which was another level up.
    Since then I've played with Lightroom sharpening and been able to find a
    better setting than what I'm able to achieve with Optics Pro.

    Lightroom's weak spot is chromatic aberration. I've been unable to correct
    blue fringing as well as Optics Pro. But, Optics Pro is screwed with red.
    Practically, Optics Pro has the clear lead here as most obviously
    problematic CA issues will hammer blue.

    I'm not sure what to think about this but, I don't think, the Lightroom
    effort is as sharp as Optics Pro image. One issue is I've been finding it
    difficult to get edge sharpness without kicking up gritty detail. I'm not
    sure if that's because I've got more to learn or if there's a fundamental
    issue with Lightroom I'm not going to be able to work around.

    Warning: Large (2071x1553) images when clicking on the thumbnails.
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 10, 2010
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  2. I've got another image where I've fiddled in Lightroom with the colour and
    tone to get closer to how Optics Pro handles it as an attempt to neutralise
    the colour and tone differences but the CA, noise, and sharpening is still
    different. (New link includes this image).

    Peeping shows the Optics Pro image is sharper and the CA is fixed as you've
    noticed and, I think, it would look better at normal viewing distance. I can
    get the sharpness or the smoothness but can't nail the grid under the window
    whatever I do.

    Looking closely at the original full size images shows that Optics Pro is
    noisier on flat areas like glass and dyed timber *but* Lightroom doesn't
    match the tree detail or larger edges like on the fence or car. I hadn't
    noticed before but the sky is probably a percentage noisier.

    Notable issues: top right trees, top right retracted window blinds, bottom
    right sign lettering, centre middle fence grid, bottom left tarmac, middle
    left gate, top left trees, other edges and shiny surface edges.

    I've gone with the lens distortion correction defaults in both. Haven't been
    able to compare with PTLens as I have some daft install issue. Another test
    shot with a longer focal length that only has mild pincushing might be
    useful as a comparison.

    I've got a dark ISO 800 image I'm playing with. I've fiddled both to look
    close but out of the two I prefer Lightroom. It's less blotchy and Optics
    Pro's better overall sharpness on edges is less noticeable in comparison.

    I've added links to a fresh batch of three photos, and two reviews which
    highlight the edge detection and CA issues, and noise.

    It's slight but I'm leaning towards thinking Optics Pro is the better
    overall if you step back and look at the overall image. It's slight but
    Lightroom is fuzzier around the edges or acquires sharpness for more noise
    in smooth areas. It's not hugely noticeable but, I think, we're talking
    about overall impression some of which is a subconscious decision.


    Warning: Large (2071x1553) images when clicking on the thumbnails.
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 10, 2010
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  3. Charles E Hardwidge

    Pete Guest

    Even with your new image the difference in the colour still concerns
    me: DxO sky chroma is 12 degrees higher (more blue), which is a lot;
    the number plate is around 5 degrees lower (more red).

    I prefer the DxO image for many reasons, but I have no idea which is
    the more accurate.

    On the comparison site the images are totally different - I get these
    differences by selecting picture controls. Yikes! I won't be changing
    my editing software.
    Pete, Jun 10, 2010
  4. Charles E Hardwidge

    Pete Guest

    It's taken me a year to get the hang of setting white balance, although
    I'm still unable to match corporate colours under difficult lighting.
    Dark areas in your images look fine to me, even after torturing them in
    the editor.
    That was my impression, but see below.
    I was going to suggest that comparison.
    Hope some of this will be useful. Not a lecture, just sharing my thoughts...

    Your G9 seems very good. I generally set my camera to auto white
    balance and the picture controls to standard. The camera JPEG is my
    "high-tech processed" reference. If I can do better by editing the RAW
    output then I've quite done well as an amateur.

    It's too easy to get bogged down with sharpening, especially with
    wide-angle shots. I have a book showing pictures of my local area: none
    of them are sharp, but they are superb and delightful. The colours,
    textures, and natural lighting steal the show. Most of them were shot
    on medium format film. The photographer took advantage of this format
    by using heavily stopped down lenses: diffraction limited the
    resolution giving virtually infinite depth of field; the long exposure
    time added softness to areas of movement - water and everything swaying
    in the breeze. In the same way that some artists use this effect in
    their paintings.

    Yes, with film the colour and tone ware baked in. Luckily, I acquired a
    set of colour balancing filters marked in the mired scale (never
    managed to remember the Wratten numbers), which saved many shots from
    the rubbish bin and paved the way to understanding digital.

    As I'm sure you know, there is rarely a right or a best edit of a shot.
    While experimenting with the many degrees of freedom it's all too easy
    to get stuck in a local minima. Having a break or another distraction
    is the best way to get out of it, even it's just concentrating on
    colour instead of sharpness.

    I have a particular hatred of too much cyan, to such an extent that if
    the sky really was cyan I either delete the image or change the chroma
    in that region. With that defect in mind, if you would like my opinion
    about colour in your photos, just ask.
    Pete, Jun 11, 2010
  5. Charles E Hardwidge

    Peter Guest

    Try taking a sample shot with a Macbeth color chart in the image. It then
    becomes trivial to adjust the color of other images taken under that
    lighting condition.
    Peter, Jun 11, 2010
  6. Charles E Hardwidge

    Pete Guest

    Not being argumentative in any way whatsoever and I appreciate your feedback.

    Macbeth does not work for colours that aren't on the chart. The camera
    reviews that include a Macbeth colour checker show this very clearly.
    Corporate colours are rarely on the chart, at least, not for long ;-

    My pictures are taken from quite a distance and illuminated by a
    mixture of twilight, sodium, mercury vapour, and various fluorescent
    lamps. All sources are at different angles; the location and influence
    of some sources vary considerably during the required shutter interval.

    To its credit, auto white balance produces the most aesthetically
    pleasing colour rendition and tonal differentiation yet it is,
    understandably, hopelessly wrong from a corporate standpoint. Until I
    get this figured out I have no chance of getting my images accepted for
    anything other than entertainment.

    I'm 99.999% sure I'll never achieve my goal so I must learn to enjoy
    the journey instead - I may achieve that one...
    Pete, Jun 11, 2010
  7. Some good comment there.

    On the Canon G9 I always shoot raw and superfine. Jpegs are set to Canon
    Neutral with the noise and sharpening turned down. It's always there as a
    reference and can be post-processed if the raw is lost. Canon's app produces
    camera identical images from the raws but better quality.

    I only played with a camera a few times when I was young and arrived late to
    the digital party so it's taken a while to get my head around the
    differences between film and digital. My Canon A590 was adequate as a start
    but wasn't the greatest. The G9 was such a leap I never bothered much with
    noise and sharpening until now.

    I had a mess the other week and after trying some Lightroom presets saw more
    clearly how it made a difference. I spent the last week trying to get the
    hang of both so when Lightroom 3 came out it was no bother to give it a spin
    and compare it with Optics Pro. It was a bit of a roadcrash but I've got a
    better grip on the technicalities and aesthetics.

    It looks like I can get a colour match in Optics Pro if I use one of the
    Canon profiles (which I never noticed earlier) and white balance the shots
    on a target. Something for you next time? I've also found since then that
    LR3 and DxO swap subjective sharpness depending on whether you print sharpen
    them which was a surprise. LR3 was way closer to DxO then.

    I've read the accounts on Luminous Landscape of comparing a G9 to a MF
    camera and out and about in Japan. Given its limitations and proper care
    getting technically good and viewer acceptable images isn't a problem. When
    I've had a break and got my head out of my ass I might take another run at
    this. It's easy to obsess this stuff and lose sight of having fun.
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 11, 2010
  8. Charles E Hardwidge

    Pete Guest

    Yes! Enjoy the fun bit.

    I have to keep reminding myself that fun, creativity, art,
    understanding, technical excellence, and self-expression are multiple
    dimensions. I love setting unachievable goals...
    Pete, Jun 11, 2010
  9. I've got a Macbeth chart but apart from using it to create a custom DNG
    profile have pretty much done nothing with it. Not really sure what to do
    with it apart from the grey patch, and I have a card for that.


    One option I'd thought of was to blend multiple images of different white
    balances. Ricoh (in the links) are taking a ham fisted stab at that.

    The brain handles post-processing very well even under insane lighting
    conditions. If I had a better grip on the maths it would be tempting to have
    a mess with writing a plugin.

    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 11, 2010
  10. Anyone who is scared of failure is scared of success, or so I've read. It's
    easy to obsess and throw a bitch fit over something which is why I backed
    off the noise and sharpening thing. Done enough eyeballing and chewing the
    carpet like Hitler to last a lifetime.

    You can get yourself in a jam and forget why they hell you're doing it. Not
    having a dig at John but in an equal and opposite way that's how I see his
    Photoshopping and superzoom stuff. But, that cloudy conditions thread worked
    out which wasn't a bad thing.

    The other day I bumped into a girl I knew from years ago. Her brother lives
    on the other side of the road and we all know the same people (and have the
    same lawyer). Neither of us had the foggiest idea where we met. She wanted
    to be a singer songwriter but never did anything with it. Funny, that.

    Here we are... o_O
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 11, 2010
  11. Update:

    Just reading through the DxO Optics Pro 6.2 user guide for the first (duh)
    and I notice it supports multi-point white balance. Not sure how it works or
    whether it's any good but you could check it out.
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 11, 2010
  12. I didn't know what you used or your preferences so that helps put things in
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 12, 2010
  13. Charles E Hardwidge

    Peter Guest

    Didn't think you were being argumentative. I am taking you response as a
    further explanation of the problem.
    Maybe I don't understand waht you are trying. I adjust WB to the Macbeth
    colors. The rest fall into line fairly closely.
    Alternatively, you can make a test shot through a gray translucent filter
    to establish requisite lighting balance, or use a gray card. Any of the
    foregoing will at least help you set a neutral white balance.
    Many of my desires may never be achieved. But with a negative attitude, they
    never will be.
    But like with a sexy woman, there is a lot of pleasure in the hunt.
    Peter, Jun 12, 2010
  14. Charles E Hardwidge

    Peter Guest

    I've heard a lot of good things about Capture NX2. I have downloaded, but
    not installed the trial version. I am too busy learning CS5. Probably by the
    time I learn it, CS7 will be out.
    Peter, Jun 12, 2010
  15. Charles E Hardwidge

    Pete Guest

    It took me ages to learn Capture NX2. Those who use layers may detest
    it. I would not recommend the Windows version because it has too many
    bugs; the Mac version is much better.

    The best editor is the one we're most familiar with.
    Pete, Jun 12, 2010
  16. Charles E Hardwidge

    Peter Guest

    True. The main reason I would consider Capture NX2 is for its allegedly
    superior correction of Nikon lenses, especially my 10.5 semi fisheye..
    Peter, Jun 12, 2010
  17. I always shoot raw+jpeg for similar reasons. It's a handy reference and disk
    space is cheap. I preset my in-camera jpegs to something realistic and turn
    down the processing settings. It makes for a more accurate in-camera
    histogram and cleaner post if I ever have to do it.

    Did a bit more reading around at the fundamentals, comparing more shots, and
    other peoples impression of the different software. Hmmm.

    Technique and aesthetics isn't a big deal. More practice just refines
    working method and judgement. I've seen some pretty amazing results with
    noise and sharpening even on high ISO (for a G9). Got the camera correction,
    creative, and print sharpening sussed. I just need to raise my game and get
    my head around selective adjustment.

    The software is a bitch. I like Lightroom's usability and asset management,
    DxO's superior camera correction, and I've read positive things about
    Capture One's colour quality. Sadly, Lightroom isn't that great. It's the
    Visual Studio 6 of photography: usable interface riding on the back of the
    Photoshop juggernaut but it won't allow seamless integration of alternatives
    like DxO so won't enable replacement equivalents like the Intel Compiler. I
    also have issues with Camera RAW and DNG.
    Charles E Hardwidge, Jun 13, 2010
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