Raw and raw Conversion
The Sony SLT-A77 is provided with the following software:
- Picture Motion Browser 5.2 (Windows) - An easy to use and fast image
cataloging and browsing application with a fairly unique calendar based animated interface and - new with version 5.2 - an interface to display images on Google maps.
- Image Data Lightbox SR 2.2 (Windows / Mac) - An image browsing and workflow
application designed for rating and selecting images from a large collection. Provides synchronized
side-by-side comparison of images.
- Image Data Converter SR 4.0 (Windows / Mac) - A further development of the previously
seen Image Data Converter SR, provides advanced raw conversion capabilities, adjustments
include Creative Style, Sharpness (including overshoot / undershoot tuning), Highlight Color
Distortion reduction and Noise Reduction.
Image Data Converter 4, the raw converter that is bundled with the A77, is relatively simple compared to most third party packages but nevertheless offers all the usual conversion parameters and is easy to use. It provides for the fine-tuning of brightness, color, white balance, sharpness, noise reduction and tone-curve and also lets you choose your preferred Creative Style, reduce the effects of vignetting and change the in-camera setting of the D-Range Optimizer. There are no browsing, tagging or catalogue functions.
As is normal in our reviews we like to compare the supplied raw conversion software, any optional manufacturer raw conversion software and some third party raw converter. As is often the case, the only converters available at the time of writing the review are the manufacturer's software and Adobe Camera raw. Here we compare these two converters to the camera's JPEG engine to see how each of them pulls detail out of the images.
- JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
- IDC - Image Data Converter 4
- ACR - Adobe Camera raw 6.6 (Beta)
Sharpness and Detail
Unsusprisingly, Image Data Converter gives almost identical results from raw files as the A77's in-camera JPEG processing, but it does provide a better starting point for further adjustments, including sharpening and white balance fine-tuning. Adobe Camera raw gets more detail out of the A77's raw files at its default settings and as you can see, it does a much better job of the fine styrations in the brown feathers.
|Sony Image Data Converter ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
|Adobe ACR 6.6 raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
|JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
Here we can see that Sony's supplied Image Data Converter software is extracting similar levels of fine detail to the A77's JPEG engine, but default sharpening is relatively low by comparison. The camera's JPEG output is slightly more heavily sharpened, making everything look crisper (but if you sharpen the IDC file, actual detail rendition is very similar). At default settings, ACR treads a path somewhere between the two in terms of sharpening, but manages to extract a fraction more detail from the files than the others, and without the level of moiré patterning which Sony's Image Data Converter has introduced. With careful further sharpening, the ACR conversion gives the best - and most - detail rendition.
|JPEG from camera||Sony Image Data Converter (raw)|
|Adobe Camera raw (raw)|
Raw files for download
Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the A77's raw files for youself, and run them through your own software and preferred conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the A77's studio scene shots, you can download original raw files from our compared to (raw) page.