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10-01-2014, 09:06 AM   #1
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RAW image developing comparison

I'm sure such a comparison has been posted before, but over the weekend I decided to compare the different RAW developing softwares that are installed on my computer, just to see how each fared and what would be the differences between them. I developed the same RAW image (PEF format) with these 3 softwares: Pentax Digital Camera Utility, Adobe Camera Raw and Silkypix Developer Studio. Unfortunately I don't have Lightroom installed any longer, so I couldn't add that one to the list.

As I expected, the best image was produced by Silkypix Developer Studio. The worst by Pentax DCU, which surprised me a little because I thought a) that DCU was a Silkypix product; and b) that DCU is such a ressource hog on my aging computer that it could at least deliver a decent image. Not so apparently.

Photos below are in the following order:

1/ Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4.40
2/ Adobe Camera Raw 7.2
3/ Silkypix Developer Studio Pro 6

[edit] Since I started this thread, a friend of mine has kindly developed the RAW image with Adobe Lightroom 5.3, with the default settings as well, and the image is identical to the one produced by Adobe Camera Raw 7.2 which I posted here, so there's no point adding it, I can't see any difference at all between the two.

Attached Images
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PENTAX K-5  Photo 
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PENTAX K-5  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-5  Photo 

Last edited by vzbx; 10-01-2014 at 11:37 AM. Reason: Adding more info
10-01-2014, 09:10 AM   #2
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Do you have the default image - as captured by camera?
Just to have a baseline comparison...
10-01-2014, 09:22 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
Do you have the default image - as captured by camera?
Just to have a baseline comparison...
Do you mean the original PEF file?
I don't shoot in RAW + JPEG, just RAW, so that would be my default image, but maybe I misunderstood you.
Btw, there was no post processing, the PEF image was developed with the default settings of each software.
10-01-2014, 09:33 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by vzbx Quote
Do you mean the original PEF file?
I don't shoot in RAW + JPEG, just RAW, so that would be my default image, but maybe I misunderstood you.
Btw, there was no post processing, the PEF image was developed with the default settings of each software.
When you open the image, before you modify it or apply changes to it.
Even if is just a "RAW image", will be interesting to see how each software interpreted the base/default image.

10-01-2014, 09:57 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
When you open the image, before you modify it or apply changes to it.
Even if is just a "RAW image", will be interesting to see how each software interpreted the base/default image.
Problem is the file is 22 MB, I don't have enough storage space here to post it.
10-01-2014, 10:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vzbx Quote
Problem is the file is 22 MB, I don't have enough storage space here to post it.
But you can save a JPEG as is - before doing any modifications to it - from the RAW file no?
10-01-2014, 11:06 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
But you can save a JPEG as is - before doing any modifications to it - from the RAW file no?
I think that's what he did. Loaded the RAW file into the three applications, then exported a JPEG with no adjustments (he stated no processing done), so this is the interpretation of the RAW file without tweeks other than default settings. I'd be curious if the apps have hte same default settings (i.e. my Lightroom defaults to 25 sharpening).
10-01-2014, 11:10 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrpower10 Quote
I think that's what he did. Loaded the RAW file into the three applications, then exported a JPEG with no adjustments (he stated no processing done), so this is the interpretation of the RAW file without tweeks other than default settings. I'd be curious if the apps have hte same default settings (i.e. my Lightroom defaults to 25 sharpening).
OH... missed that part... sorry ...

10-01-2014, 11:21 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrpower10 Quote
Loaded the RAW file into the three applications, then exported a JPEG with no adjustments (he stated no processing done), so this is the interpretation of the RAW file without tweeks other than default settings.
Correct.

The default settings for Silkypix Developer Studio Pro 6 are "average contrast" and "no sharpness". For Camera Raw, sharpness is +25. Pentax DCU I don't know.
10-01-2014, 11:43 AM   #10
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Lightroom likes that +25 sharpness for all my cameras. I really doubt they have carefully chosen the same number for each model, so I reset it to 0. Open a RAW photo from the camera you want to change in the Develop module. Change the sharpness to whatever you want as a default. In the top menu bar, where it says File, Edit, Develop... choose Develop, then Set Default Settings, then Update to Current Settings. Now the Develop module will open files from that camera every time with the new settings. I think you can do the same thing in ACR.
10-01-2014, 12:10 PM   #11
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Hi vzbx

I tried a similar test 2 years ago with the similar 3 software(exception being SilkyPix Dev Studio Pro 5 and forgot the Adobe Raw version?? at that time) and had the same impression. I was floored by how good the SilkyPix Raw converter was, the pics were noticeably better. I'm no 'raw file' converter expert so maybe others can chime in and explain whether or not it's the default settings in Adobe or Pentax Utility software that made the differences or that the SilkpyPix software is simply awesome.
10-01-2014, 12:27 PM   #12
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I have been a long time SilkyPix users. First SP3 then SP5. At some point I switched to DxO and Lightroom, because SilkyPix was not as flexible when it came to highlights and shadows and not good enough at noise reduction. Recently I downloaded a trial version of SP6 and I was amazed by the new possibilities to deal with highlights and shadows (dodge / colour burn etc.). I managed to achieve better results when processing images taken under harsh lighting conditions compared to DxO and Lightroom 5.6. I am now seriously considering to purchase an upgrade license for my SP 5.
10-01-2014, 01:19 PM   #13
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Iridient Developer (Macs only) is the best pure RAW processing engine I know of. I only use it in special circumstances, favoring Lightroom for total convenience and good quality.

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10-01-2014, 03:30 PM   #14
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Just installed silkypix and tried out a couple of different things. I can't help but feel a little bit disappointed. I have a raw file that's 3.5 stops overexposed, Adobe's camera raw allows me to fully recover without even touching the highlight slider but with Silkypix there are a lot of blown out highlights and weird artifacts. It does seem to do a better job with color rendering, a subtle difference that make the color seem a little more natural.
I don't know what engine camera RAW 7.2 uses (the 2010 or the 2012 one) but the 2012 one is significantly better than the 2010 one. You can find out which one you have in the camera calibration tab in camera RAW.
10-02-2014, 12:22 AM   #15
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- OOC JPG
- Lightroom 5,6
- SilkyPix 6

Pentax K-3 and Sigma 18-35 F1,8. The image produced by SP 6 has some weird colour gradient in the left corner (the part that was overexposed the most). Click for the full-size images.
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