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Software: Photo Desk vs. Adobe Camera RAW

In the comparisons below the JPEG and RAW images were taken within seconds of each other. The labels beside each sample equate to:

  • JPEG - JPEG straight from the camera (Quality Best III)
  • Photo Desk - Kodak Professional DCS Photo Desk 4.0.1.2
  • Adobe RAW - Adobe Camera RAW 2.3 (early beta) via Adobe Photoshop CS

RAW Conversion speed

It's difficult to directly compare DCS Photo Desk and Adobe RAW because Adobe RAW is an import plugin for Adobe Photoshop and doesn't provide direct conversion to an output format such as JPEG or TIFF. For comparison purposes I've included the time it takes to open the RAW file and then save it as a TIFF. Even in this case Adobe RAW is considerably faster than Kodak DCS Photo Desk (10.5 sec total vs. 16.1 sec).

Application Time taken
Kodak DCS Photo Desk (Save As TIFF) 16.1 sec
Adobe RAW (Open) 8.1 sec
Adobe Photoshop CS (Save As TIFF) 2.4 sec

Color reproduction

Below you can see our standard 'Watch & Crayons' shot as used on page 11 (Output image file quality) of this review. As you can see there are noticeable differences between the color response of the in-camera's processing algorithms and converted RAW. The JPEG image green looks slightly odd and subdued, using Photo Desk the color accuracy is considerably better, the green of the crayon pretty much perfect. Adobe RAW color is good except for reds which look a little under saturated.

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Detail / Sharpness

As you can see by default both the camera and Photo Desk sharpen the image more than Adobe RAW, that said the sharpening algorithm used by Adobe RAW is much cleaner with no halo type artifacts. In this small crop it is difficult to see very much difference, and that was our experience of comparing several RAW images converted in both Photo Desk and Adobe RAW, both revealed approximately the same levels of detail but the Adobe RAW image looked 'cleaner' with almost no sharpening artifacts.

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Resolution

Important: the crops below are taken from a standard resolution chart shot from twice the standard distance, hence measured resolution is double that indicated (10= 2000 LPH).

Absolute resolution in the horizontal direction was measured as approximately 2400 LPH for all development methods the only noticeable difference being how Adobe RAW dealt with moiré compared to in-camera JPEG and Photo Desk (which appear virtually identical).

 
JPEG from camera  
Kodak DCS Photo Desk (from RAW) Adobe RAW (from RAW)

Important: the crops below are taken from a standard resolution chart shot from twice the standard distance, hence measured resolution is double that indicated (10 = 2000 LPH).

Noise reduction, ISO 1600 (RAW)

Kodak DCS Photo Desk provides three methods of noise reduction; Advanced, Advanced with Moiré Reduction and Expert. The samples below were converted from the same ISO 1600 RAW image and developed with different noise reduction methods and levels. As you can see at ISO 1600 SLR/c images are very noisy and prove to be quite difficult to 'repair', Kodak's own "Expert" noise reduction delivering the least luminance noise (but with an obvious watercolor style artifact), Adobe RAW on the noise reduction default setting maintaining the best detail but at the expense of noticeable residual noise.

Kodak DCS Photo Desk, Advanced NR 0%, 5,929 KB JPEG
Kodak DCS Photo Desk, Expert NR 50% (Low preset), 3,977 KB JPEG
Kodak DCS Photo Desk, Expert NR 80% (High preset), 3,949 KB JPEG
Adobe RAW, Luminance Smoothing 0, Color NR 25 (default), 3,001 KB JPEG
Adobe RAW, Luminance Smoothing 100 (max), Color NR 100 (max), 1,739 KB JPEG

Noise reduction: affect on detail

The crops below are from the same images used above, Kodak's "Advanced" noise reduction and Adobe RAW at the default setting have the least affect on detail.

Kodak DCS Photo Desk, Advanced NR 0% Kodak DCS Photo Desk, Expert NR 50%
 
Kodak DCS Photo Desk, Expert NR 80%  
Adobe RAW, 0 / 25 (default) Adobe RAW, 100 / 100 (max)
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