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11-16-2018, 08:42 AM - 7 Likes   #1
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23 RAW converters for Pentax compared

Hi All,

I've been writing a frequently Pentax-themed blog for over five years now, and also read his forum every now and then. I just produced a longer piece that I think might really be worth reading, so I'll for once commit the sin of self-promotion in the hope that the information is useful enough that I can be forgiven.

I tested 23 RAW converters for Pentax - if this generates some interest, there may be further parts to the series - part 1, see here:

23 RAW converters compared, including On1 Photo RAW 2019 breakfastographer

And thanks for the times you've linked to my blog in the past!

Looking forward to your opinions and feedback

11-16-2018, 12:14 PM   #2
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I used Aftershot for quite some time and I still like the workflow. After a while though I started to notice that it was softening the output images weirdly and other RAW developers did a much better job with high detail areas.

I'm now using Darktable which I absolutely love.. it's a little confusing at first but there are some excellent YouTube tutorials which sorted me right out.
11-16-2018, 12:22 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by selfnoise Quote
I used Aftershot for quite some time and I still like the workflow. After a while though I started to notice that it was softening the output images weirdly and other RAW developers did a much better job with high detail areas.

I'm now using Darktable which I absolutely love.. it's a little confusing at first but there are some excellent YouTube tutorials which sorted me right out.
Funny, I made the same journey. From Aftershot Pro to finally ending up with Darktable, which I also love. I used RawTherapee in the meantime which I still like, but Darktable has the features and the workflow that reminds me of Aftershot Pro - with much better RAW conversion. Aftershot's problem is that they don't use standard RAW converters, preferring to create their own. The conversion was fine for the old K10D, K20D and K-r when I had those cameras, but for the K-50 and K-S1 the results are smudgy/unsharp and the colors are off. Highlights were always an issue as you said, but you would expect them to have gotten better. And the workflow/UI got worse with ASP 3 compared to 1, which I liked quite a lot.

I still like RawTherapee though, and every once in a while I'll still use it - it's a very capable program.

@Breakfastographer - thanks for the article!
11-16-2018, 12:42 PM   #4
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Good write-up. I was an Adobe user for years, but won’t go subscription. When I finally got fed up with Windows, I went back to Linux. I use both Darktable and Rawtherapee, as I find each has their own strengths and weaknesses. The one weakness both seem to have is a good print module, to which I ended up purchasing Turbo Print.

11-16-2018, 12:49 PM   #5
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Curious why "phone home" behavior was blocked. Not allowing DXO access to the optics modules means more than simply geometry it corrects colors based on sensor profiles etc. The watermark from DXO looks awful - it makes it hard to view the image and understand what benefits you would get. I think they made a mistake there.
11-16-2018, 12:56 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forums, and thanks for the article

My own experience with Aftershot Pro wasn't so positive, for two reasons - firstly, it is fussy about importing raw files that aren't on the supported camera list, which makes it a "no go" for a couple of my cameras. Secondly, I found the colour noise reduction capabilities on high ISO files to be inferior to some of the competing products. But for those who shoot any of the supported cameras at reasonable ISO settings, it's a decent bit of software for the price.

Having been a dedicated Lightroom 6 user for some time, I settled on Darktable as a replacement, and I'm extremely happy with it. For raw development, it's just as capable as Lightroom - although there are a few areas where each is slightly better than the other.

For anyone considering Darktable, note that it's not just for Linux users. It's available for Windows too
11-16-2018, 02:14 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Thanks for the article - great idea and hope you carry on!

As I'm a linux user (and Windows now drives me utterly nuts when I have to use it), the main options for me are Darktable and RawTherapee. I don't think either are lacking for general use.

Other than that, its worth noting that selecting the right Raw converter has a lot to do with the work flow the photographer prefers. Personally (after using Darktable for 6 months prior to going to RawTherapee), I much prefer RawTherapee and for what I do I get better results, but I know other people have the opposite experience.

Last edited by kiwi_jono; 11-16-2018 at 04:26 PM.
11-16-2018, 03:24 PM   #8
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Interesting that this is turning into an AfterShot/darktable/RawTherapee discussion. I thought there would be more diversity out there.

11-16-2018, 03:46 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Breakfastographer Quote
Interesting that this is turning into an AfterShot/darktable/RawTherapee discussion. I thought there would be more diversity out there.
CaptureOne and DxO were fussy about supported cameras, as with AfterShot. That ruled them out for me.

I tried Phocus, which - believe it or not - wouldn't open the raw files from my Hasselblad HV

I tried ON1, but back when I tried it there was no option for removing impulse noise, which made it of limited use for cameras that don't include their own pixel mapping functionality - which includes some popular older Pentax models. Plus, the version I tried was slow. I'm sure it's improved by now.

RawTherapee is great - I like it a lot - but I'm happy with Darktable. I don't think either is better than the other... just different.

I will say, Darktable is missing one key capability that I really miss from Lightroom, and that is the ability to carry out simple barrel / pin-cushion distortion corrections without applying a lens profile. Lens support is still rather limited in Darktable, so for many of my lenses I have to create profiles using Hugin Calibrate Lens, or do the distortion correction further down the workflow in GIMP, and the UI for that function is basic in the extreme, and way too small.
11-16-2018, 03:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Breakfastographer Quote
Interesting that this is turning into an AfterShot/darktable/RawTherapee discussion. I thought there would be more diversity out there.
I think Adobe set the bar pretty high with Lightroom. Most of us that used Lightroom for years, myself going back to the very first version, expect a lot out of a program, especially if we're paying what some of these companies are asking for them.

When I compared a few of them for myself, it really came down to three that worked the way I did, DxO, Rawtherapee and Darktable. Since I shoot digital and film, I found Rawtherapee worked best for my digital files, (I've really come to like the wavelets tab) and Darktable works best with my scanned film. I still have a version of DxO on one of my dual-boot computers, but it doesn't see much use. It takes time to generate a workflow with a new program, but these two programs seem to have a good system, albeit different.
11-16-2018, 04:50 PM - 1 Like   #11
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@UncleVanya: Yeah, the watermark is pretty heavy. I've now fixed it, in good faith.
11-16-2018, 05:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Breakfastographer Quote
@UncleVanya: Yeah, the watermark is pretty heavy. I've now fixed it, in good faith.
That's good. I really like dxo but I can see that experience was suboptimal.
11-16-2018, 06:25 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Breakfastographer Quote
@UncleVanya: Yeah, the watermark is pretty heavy. I've now fixed it, in good faith.
Just curious why you had so many problems with DXO. Did you download the trial version of PhotoLab2 Elite? I think I read that you could not get prime to work, prime only works in PL2 Elite. Also, not having access to the modules probably was a major problem for you with DXO PhotoLab2 as @UncleVanya stated.
11-17-2018, 02:54 AM - 1 Like   #14
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It seems that DxO sits in a grey area between trials that will just refuse to work offline (ACDSee, Luminar, Aurora, Perfectly Clear, Lightroom) and those that will work fine. The symptoms of that include the watermark and PRIME not working.

And I would put Photo Ninja into that bracket, too, as not exporting anything really prevents a complete test of a software's abilities.
11-17-2018, 08:58 AM - 1 Like   #15
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It would be good to know if these converters work with the 645Z, and if they support pixel-shift images, HDR images, etc.
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