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Software and RAW conversion contd...

ISO 1600 Studio shot comparison

ACR reveals just how noisy ISO 1600 is, and just how heavy Canon's noise reduction is. You'll preserve a little more detail by converting from raw using ACR, but you'll also have a large amount of noise to deal with. DPP at default settings produces images with noise levels similar to the in camera JPEG.

Out of camera JPEG, Super Fine, default settings
Adobe Camera Raw , RAW-TIFF, default (auto) settings
Canon Photo Professional , RAW-TIFF, default settings

Noise reduction options (ISO 1600)

ACR and Canon's Digital Photo Professional offer a level of control over noise reduction. Both ACR and DPP produces very noisy results with the sliders set to 0. Apart from the different colour treatment, the levels are very similar, with ACR producing a little more chroma noise. With the noise reduction sliders set to max, DPP has managed to get rid of almost all the noise, in addition of all the fine detail. ACR manages to retain more detail and more noise. What you can see here, is that neither RAW converter's max setting is particularly useful, and that if you are going to make extensive use of ISO settings on the G10, specialist noise reduction software is a good idea, though don't expect miracles.

Canon Photo Professional
Noise Reduction Sliders set to 0
Canon Photo Professional
Noise Reduction Sliders set to 20
Adobe Camera Raw
All noise reduction set to 0
Adobe Camera Raw
All noise reduction set to maximum

Shadow detail recovery

Here is a fairly extreme example of low contrast detail recovery from RAW. While the image from ACR is rather noisy, there is a lot more detail available, and the colour produced is for the most part accurate. When performing shadow recovery more and more noise is introduced into the image as more and more shadow detail is recovered.

Out of camera JPEG, ISO 80
Fine, default settings
Adobe Camera Raw, ISO 80
ACR 5.2, +2.55 EV

Highlight detail recovery

In situations where an image is overexposed or there was too much dynamic range in the image to capture both the shadow and highlight detail, it is possible to recover some of the highlight detail with a G10 RAW. To see how much recovery latitude is available, here is an image processed at -1.5EV, and -3.0 EV in ACR.

Out of camera JPEG, ISO 200
Fine, default settings
Adobe Camera Raw, ISO 200
ACR 5.2, -1.5 EV
Adobe Camera Raw, ISO 200
ACR 5.2, -3.0 EV

The brick work from the original JPEG is almost completely white. At -1.5 EV there is some detail coming back, and it is possible to see that they are indeed bricks. Going all the way to -3 EV does not improve the situation. The bricks are turning gray at this point meaning that none of the colour information is left in the RAW file and so cannot be recovered. The crop of hair is a little more dramatic than the brick work, as there is less detail recoverable in the hair. By -1.5 EV all the detail available in RAW has already been recovered.

Dynamic range RAW vs Jpeg

The G10, like all small sensor cameras suffers from dynamic range issues, most specifically the rather harsh clipping of highlights in high contrast scenes. This has been shown in other parts of this review. The difference between the G10 and most other compacts is that it offers RAW mode, including the option of shooting RAW+JPEG - which gives the user a immediately usable file and a digital negative for those times when the camera cannot capture the whole dynamic range of a scene in one image.

After spending some time with RAW files from the G10, I can say that while there is some detail recoverable in the highlights, it is not a cure-all situation and where parts of an image looks completely white in the JPEG, chances are it is not possible to recover much detail from the RAW image. The news on the shadow detail is better, as adding fill light or increasing the exposure on the RAW image provides better detail with less noise than performing a levels or curves on a JPEG. Combining both highlight recovery and shadow recovery on a RAW image can produce a result that is quite impressive.

Here is an example of an image which requires both highlight recovery and shadow recovery. The image below was taken as a single image in RAW+JPEG mode at ISO 80. This is a very demanding scene with bright patches of the sky, the sun shining into the lens from behind the trees and the darker shadow detail of the trees. The JPEG image could not capture the detail from the trees as well as the cloud detail from the sky at the same time. The RAW image processed in ACR allowed both the leaf detail from the tree to be shown in the same image as the cloud detail from the sky.

Out of camera JPEG, ISO 80
Fine, default settings
Adobe Camera Raw, ISO 80
ACR 5.2, revovery 100, fill light 58, custom tone curve

Overall the G10 has a little more headroom in the shadows and highlights available in RAW compared to JPEG, making some of those over and under exposed files actually usable - for those users willing to put in the time during post processing.

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Still a fantastic camera, and how wrong the conclusion was about how popular the G10 would be :). It's certainly not easy to predict camera sales or popularity, however, the G10 offered so much right I can't see how the conclusion could be anything other than highly recommended. Having owned the G10 before, twice, I still crave using it despite the fact that I've owned the G11,12, 15, and now 16 since. Although the G16 is infinitely better in many respects, the G10 remains the kind of camera that challenges the photographer to do everything right - and when he/she does, it rewards you with fantastic image quality.

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