New Raw converter looks promising

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Bart van der Wolf, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. I'm currently having a look at a new Raw converter software
    (http://www.pixmantec.com/index2.html) for Win XP. The software is for
    free at the time. There are some issues with Athlon based systems, but
    they will be resolved and the update will also be free. Later versions
    will have more features, but pricing details for those are not yet
    available.

    So far it is doing fine on some Canon Raw files I've tested. The
    conversion quality is very good IMHO, although it is best to start
    with (the innovative) Sharpening turned all the way down if you want
    to avoid Luminance aliasing (but color aliasing is hardly visible).
    That would be especially important for cameras with very mild low-pass
    filters (e.g. D70) or no filter (e.g. Kodak Pro SLR/c). Most Canon
    cameras can get away with higher settings, but restraint is adviced.

    I have yet to test color accuracy but it looks promising sofar.
    Noise handling is not as good as with Neat Image/Noise Ninja, but may
    still be useable at low settings.

    The workflow takes a bit getting used to, but it looks logical enough
    to be no real issue. The whole interface is very well thought through
    and intuitive, but then the software is from a former C1 programmer so
    he had a good reference. There is lots of informative feedback about
    clipping and such, so combined with the large preview the results will
    be predictable even before the actual conversion, which is done in
    batch-mode as you prepare the next image.

    Bart
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Feb 25, 2005
    #1
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  2. Bart van der Wolf

    Hannah Guest

    I've been playing with it extensively today, and I really really like it.
    Just about any image looks better straight out of the box, before any tweaks
    whatsoever, than with C1Pro. About a fifth of my RAWs went straight through
    without being touched - something that I have never really seen with C1,
    which almost invariably requires some fiddling. I have not personally seen
    the black screen syndrome that others have talked about, but then I'm on a
    vanilla-flavour XPPro Dell, albeit a pretty beefy one. It's missing some of
    the niceties that C1 has at the moment, but I understand they're in the
    pipeline. One example is C1's ability to upsize - to date I've found nothing
    better than C1 for directly outputting 60Mb TIFFs for the agency. Certainly
    is strange to adjust one's workflow to get by without levels and curves
    though, but you get used to the alternatives soon enough. I'm hooked.
    H.
     
    Hannah, Feb 25, 2005
    #2
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  3. Bart van der Wolf

    Florian Guest

    I like it, it fits perfectly in the workflow of someone shooting raw.
    However, I miss a black point setting and a global contrast control.

    Florian.
     
    Florian, Feb 25, 2005
    #3
  4. Bart van der Wolf

    Florian Guest

    I like it, it fits perfectly in the workflow of someone shooting raw.
    However, I miss a black point setting and a global contrast control.

    Florian.
     
    Florian, Feb 25, 2005
    #4
  5. Bart van der Wolf

    rafe bustin Guest


    Hannah, I wonder... does it bother you that this
    freebie works better than C1Pro -- for which you
    spent considerable $$$?

    I don't mean this in a nasty way, I'm just curious.
    If I'd spent $700 on Photoshop CS, only to find
    out that the Acme Image Editor was better, and for
    free, I'd be pretty annoyed.

    I use C1LE, so I've got somewhat less at stake
    than you, I think. (Besides which, I've got an
    Athlon running Win2K, so this new product isn't
    for me, yet.)

    In any case, I remain vaguely skeptical that
    Raw Converter Y can produce output that is so
    much markedly better than Raw Converter X.
    Unless the folks that wrote X were just plain
    incompetent.


    rafe b.
    http://www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    rafe bustin, Feb 25, 2005
    #5
  6. I like it, it fits perfectly in the workflow of someone shooting raw.
    However, I miss a black point setting and a global contrast control.

    Florian.
     
    Florian Xhumari, Feb 25, 2005
    #6

  7. I've downloaded it but none of the sharpening and noise setting seem to be
    enabled. Any one know why?
     
    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Feb 25, 2005
    #7
  8. Bart van der Wolf

    Hannah Guest

    Well rafe, some of the same people wrote it as originally wrote C1, and it's
    easy to see the similarities, but I agree, it's a bit bothersome that the
    product is (at the moment) free, and apparently time unlimited. I spent a
    lot on C1P sure, and I have generally liked it, but always with some
    niggling reservations. I've tried the others out there, but always stuck
    with C1P until now, having discovered RSE. It all seems too good to be
    true, I'll agree. RAW conversion is a mystical process, and it's odd to me
    that different products can produce such markedly different results, but
    certainly, opening the same RAW in C1P and RSE and immediately saving as
    TIFF without touching any controls gives *very* different results. I will
    keep playing with it but so far, after a whole day of experimentation (oww,
    my aching neck!) I'm *very* impressed.
    H.
     
    Hannah, Feb 25, 2005
    #8
  9. Bart van der Wolf

    rafe bustin Guest


    Ah, I think I see. It sounds like what's changed
    may either be some automatic actions (replacing
    what you had to do manually in C1Pro) or better
    default settings for conversions.

    Do you have a feeling yet for how the "best case"
    results might be different? Did you typically
    do a lot of tweaking of the images in C1Pro?

    Can you describe what's better about the images?
    Better color? Contrast? Sharper?



    rafe b.
    http://www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    rafe bustin, Feb 25, 2005
    #9
  10. SNIP
    It only becomes active if you zoom in to 100% or more.
    That actually makes perfect sense because you cannot judge sharpness
    at lower levels.

    Bart
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Feb 25, 2005
    #10
  11. Bart van der Wolf

    Hannah Guest

    Yes, I'm sure the default untweaked settings in RSE are kinder than C1's.

    Some of the things I like:
    Cleaner colour. C1 could often muddy and oversaturate my liking for
    colours, whereas RSE seems to keep them cleaner and better defined
    More accurate colour. During autumn and winter I've been seeing C1 give dead
    leaves on the ground and on trees an ugly magenta cast which is quite tricky
    to correct. RSE seems to get them browner.
    Highlights. Often tricky to avoid blown highlights and get a balanced
    finish with C1. It seems I can keep things more evenly spread with RSE. RSE
    doesn't use curves and levels so you have to play with different concepts.
    There's a slider called Fill Light which is uncanny in getting things up out
    of the shadows in ways I often couldn't do so well with C1.
    RSE gives better sharpness, no doubt on that, even with the slider on zero
    (which still sharpens somewhat). It looks like a good algorithm.
    Faster to develop when you hit the Go button (the insert key). Haven't timed
    it but it feels much faster.

    One prob I've identified with RSE: good heavy reds (say a poppy in sunlight
    for example) can look quite artificial, almost posterised, with RSE; C1 got
    it better.

    Well anyway, I'm just finishing off a batch for Alamy using RSE entirely, so
    let's see what the punters think!

    H.
     
    Hannah, Feb 26, 2005
    #11
  12. Bart van der Wolf

    Hannah Guest

    Although they are apparently greyed out, those sliders CAN be used at best
    fit.
     
    Hannah, Feb 26, 2005
    #12
  13. Bart van der Wolf

    Ken Ellis Guest

    Say, I have a question...trying to download the converter i got the
    email that gives a link to get the actual proggy; say's it's a trial
    version,,,,am i on the same page with you here? Specifically,
    is it a limited use issuance?

    thanks

    Ken
     
    Ken Ellis, Feb 26, 2005
    #13
  14. Bart van der Wolf

    Stacey Guest

    Why? Do you always get annoyed if something comes out that is better than
    what you bought for less money? Hmm never mind....



    Why, because =you= paid money for converter X so it must be the best product
    on the planet? Since you always seem to "remain skeptical" about anything
    you don't own without ever using it to find out, this is nothing new.
     
    Stacey, Feb 26, 2005
    #14
  15. Bart van der Wolf

    Bill Hilton Guest

    rafe bustin writes
    Rafe, I played with RSE a couple of hours (it's easy to pick up for C1
    users) and there are several things it offers that are improvements
    over C1 (which I've used since last April ... I feel it's the best
    converter available, after having tested the Canon converters,
    BreezeBrowser and Photoshop's ACR). Here are some things that make RSE
    easier to use than C1:

    1) Snapshots let you freeze the image at any given group of settings,
    then make more changes and take another snapshot etc. By clicking a
    tab you can then display the original vs the changed preview at any
    point you've saved off. C1 has nothing like this and it's very handy.

    2) I'm not a fan of auto-anything but the auto exposure does a good job
    of getting you real close real fast, at least on the images I tried it
    on.

    3) With C1 you get clean previews at 100/25% or 400/100% (after a
    delay while the preview is regenerated) but not at the intermediate
    views (200/50, 300/75). With RSE you get clean non-pixelated previews
    at any %, just like with ACR. Nice.

    4) "Fill Light" works like the shadow part of Photoshop's
    Shadow/Highlight tool and there is no comparable tool in C1.

    5) The preview files are less than half the size of the C1 preview
    files, which is a big deal to me when traveling and checking several
    thousand files on a laptop.

    6) 'Appearance' gives you a quick look at seven different tone curves.
    C1 has three (plus linear) and they aren't as wide ranging as these,
    unless you have Magne's custom profiles (another $30 per camera model).

    For the most part the program is similar to C1 (even has the same ISO
    50 exposure bug for the 1Ds and 1D M II cameras) but the interface
    gives you more options for getting better looking conversions faster,
    and the extraneous stuff for tethered backs is gone. I'm going to run
    thru my test suite of images today (the ones I use to compare ACR to
    DPP etc) and see if the conversions are actually better but at first
    glance it appears they are on the files I've converted so far.

    Phase One has some catching up to do, I feel.

    Bill
     
    Bill Hilton, Feb 26, 2005
    #15
  16. Bart van der Wolf

    Bill Hilton Guest

    Florian writes
    Turn on the clipping warning and move the 'shadow contrast' slider to
    set the black point while watching the histogram. You'll see the
    clipping indicator when you've gone too far.
    I prefer having the contrast controls split into shadow and highlight,
    makes it easier to fine-tune the contrast. I guess it boils down to
    taste.

    Bill
     
    Bill Hilton, Feb 26, 2005
    #16
  17. SNIP
    It is not a time-out version, but a fully functional (within the
    restrictions of the XP operating system as noted on their webpage)
    version for free, to try and see if you like it. There will be future
    versions out with more functionality, but those will require payment.
    The free product will get the job done with high quality output as the
    result.

    Bart
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Feb 26, 2005
    #17
  18. Bart van der Wolf

    John DH Guest

    Download this yesterday, unfortunately no go. I have checked the authors web
    site and found in the forums a number of issues where it wont work with
    certain files, namely the raf files from Fuji and some Nikon files. The
    authors say that this is a known problem and are going to have an update
    soon. So if anyone reading this has difficulties have a look at the forum on
    the web site, there's a fair chance that others have hit the same glitch.

    Hopefully it wont be too long before an update comes along

    John D
     
    John DH, Feb 27, 2005
    #18
  19. Bart van der Wolf

    rafe bustin Guest


    Well, actually Bill Hilton gave a useful
    response, but thanks for trying.

    The "skepticism" I'm referring to is this
    naive thing I often see among digital
    newbies and rubes who thing some new hunk
    of software is going to turn their Nikon
    Coolpix 950 into a Canon 1Ds MKII.

    You can process images eight ways till
    Sunday but you can't invent new information.

    You might find a *better* way to process
    existing information, but seeing as how
    C1 Pro was generally considered top-end
    to begin with, it's hard to imagine that
    they'd so completely missed the boat.

    (And it's not like I haven't toyed with
    a few other RAW converters.)


    rafe b.
    http://www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    rafe bustin, Feb 28, 2005
    #19
  20. Bart van der Wolf

    rafe bustin Guest


    I'd like to add that I also appreciated
    Hanna's reply, and did not mean to include
    Hanna among the "newbies and rubes."

    Still and all, I'm generally skeptical of
    this product category and some others like
    it (eg. Genuine Fractals, many "sharpening"
    plugins and addons, etc.)

    I certainly understand that RAW converters
    can vary with regard to UI, general "usability,"
    convenience, robustness, etc. Some might be
    better suited for a hands-off approach, others
    might be better for compulsive fiddlers and tweakers.

    Where I'm skeptical is the suggestion that a
    new-and-improved RAW converter will vastly
    improve the images from either of the
    digicams I now own.

    I wouldn't mind being proven wrong, but I
    don't think I will be. Meanwhile, two
    "known limitations" of this new product
    preclude my even trying it (won't work
    on Win2K or on Athlon PCs.)


    rafe b.
    http://www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    rafe bustin, Feb 28, 2005
    #20
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