RAW conversion anomalies

Started Jun 20, 2006 | Discussions thread
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Travis
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RAW conversion anomalies
Jun 20, 2006

I have a workflow that works pretty well with my 20D:

I shoot in RAW+JPG mode. For snapshot photos (or ones that require very little PP), I just archive the RAW image and keep the JPG for normal viewing and printing. For photos that need some slight adjustment (like Exposure Compensation or White Balance), I use BreezeBrowser to make the adjustments and then convert to JPG. For photos that need a lot of adjustments and/or ones that require the best photo quality, I'll either convert to TIFF in BreezeBrowser or I've been trying to use Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) or Digital Photo Professional (DPP).

But there's the rub! Any time I convert from RAW to JPG using anything other than Breezebrowser, there seems to be an increase in NOISE. Specifically, when I compare the image converted from DPP or ACR to the JPG image created by the camera in RAW+JPG mode, there is visibly more noise in the converted JPG than the one processed in-camera. The increased noise is mainly visible in areas like skin tones and mainly when the image is viewed at > = 100% on-screen. But to me it is certainly objectionable.

So I thought I must be doing something wrong. I spent some considerable time making various changes to the settings in both programs, but I am still seeing visibly more noise in the converted images. I have tried reducing the sharpening and that will reduce the noise a bit, but not only is it still noiser than the in-camera JPG, but it is then softer as well so that didn't help. I tried using some of the Luminance settings in ACR and that helped with the noise a bit, but again reduced detail and sharpness when compared to the in-camera JPG. I also made sure the brightness/contrast/saturation were not any different since that can induce noise as well.

Indeed, the ONLY way I can seem to get an image that is as clean as the in-camera JPG is by converting from RAW to JPG using BreezeBrowser. And that, quite simply, gives me EXACTLY the same image as the in-camera JPG because it uses Canon's SDK and only allows you to change settings that you could change on the camera itself for JPG output. I'm not sure why Canon's own program (DPP) gives me different results than BreezeBrowser, but it does. Of course, BreezeBrowser does not offer most of the options that DPP and ACR have so it is mainly useful for quick conversions that only require Exposure or White Balance adjustments (which is mainly what I do). However, BreezeBrowser gives me consistent results so I'll continue to use it. I'm hoping Chris adds a crop lock option soon that allows you to stay at a certain aspect ratio when cropping during RAW conversion because that would be very useful (and both DPP and ACR have it).

Anyway, has anyone else noticed more noise in converted images using ACR and DPP (or other RAW programs) than the in-camera JPG's? If not, then what do you think I might be doing wrong? If so, then why do you think this would be?

Thanks for any help,
Travis
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