Eric Hyman is the first developer to have cracked Canon's new compressed RAW format and Bibble 2.5 now offers Canon EOS-D30 owners a real opportunity for the improved flexibility, image quality and speed that it can offer in the RAW conversion process. Having had a few days to digest Bibble 2.5 we've put together a couple of samples comparing native JPEG, Bibble converted and Canon converted RAW files.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Canon 3.6.1 USB TWAIN drivers have a new option which allows you to disable the "false colour filter", with this disabled conversion speeds are almost halved, however some artifacts may creep in to certain image types. There is no way to disable the "false colour filter" for the new CRW to TIFF converter (so still 20+ seconds per image on a fast PIII).

Bibble offers far more flexibility than you'll find in the rather simplistic Canon TWAIN converter (Sorry Canon but you really dropped the ball there...). With Bibble's RAW file conversion you can:

  • Auto level
  • Preset tone, gamma
  • Preset ICC colour profile (we used sRGB for the samples below for commonality but I'd recommend Adobe 1998 for more serious work)
  • Program colour, hue/sat/value or curves
  • Sharpening
  • Noise reduction
  • Preset or custom white balances (including fine tuning)
  • Exposure compensation +/-4 EV in 0.05 EV steps

All of these settings are memorised and can be run against a batch of images or just tweaked for an individual image. Images can then be output as either 8 or 16-bit TIFF or JPEG of varying quality.

Best of all it would seem, Bibble is about twice as fast as (even the latest) Canon TWAIN / RAW conversion tools (for the image above, PIII 933Mhz):

  • Canon RAW to TIFF converter: 21.4 seconds (false colour filter enabled)
  • Canon TWAIN acquire: 12.8 seconds (false colour filter disabled)
  • Bibble 2.5 - "Batch process" single image: 11.2 seconds (1.9x faster)

Detailed long-range shot comparison

Below are some samples comparing the camera's native JPEG output, then a RAW file converted to JPEG using first the Canon RAW to TIFF converter (new with 3.6.1 drivers) and then Bibble 2.5 (no apologies, subject matter is boring, I know):

Exposure: Tripod mounted, Sigma 105 mm F2.8, ISO 100, 1/200s @ F10
Click here for original: CRW and THM

D30 Native JPEG Canon RAW to TIFF Bibble 2.5 CRW converter

The final set of crops goes some of the way to explaining why the Canon RAW converter is so much slower than Bibble, my understanding is that it carries out a second pass of the converted image to remove "false colour", that is artifacts which have arisen from the Bayer interpolation process, typically moiré patterns which can be seen in the Bibble image (near the top of the roof) but which have been "cleaned up" on the native JPEG and Canon RAW converted image. That said it's hardly a distraction from the overall good quality and sharpness of the Bibble image and (IMHO) is a small price to pay.

Something else which is interesting is that the converted RAW image has slightly better white balance than the in camera generated native JPEG.

Colour patch comparison

Exposure: Tripod mounted, Sigma 105 mm F2.8, ISO 100, 1/2s @ F10
Click here for original: CRW and THM

D30 Native JPEG Canon RAW to TIFF Bibble 2.5 CRW converter

Probably not immediately obvious from the above thumbnails (so click to get the bigger picture) but Bibble's colour reproduction is noticeably better than either in camera native JPEG or Canon's own RAW to TIFF converter.. Kudos Eric.

Higher sensitivity / longer exposure comparison

Exposure: Tripod mounted, Sigma 105 mm F2.8, ISO 400, 1s @ F11
Click here for original: CRW and THM

Canon RAW to TIFF Bibble 2.5 CRW converter

Note, noise reduction was not enabled in the Bibble conversion and would have removed some of the speckled noise.

Overall impressions: Over the standard Canon TWAIN / RAW to TIFF converter Bibble offers faster conversion with better colour, slightly more sharpness (though in some instances moire artifacts) and most importantly considerably more flexibility and "photographic controls" for the ultimate "digital darkroom". If you're a D30 owner you should at least TRY Bibble 2.5.

Note to Canon: Guys, please, please, please come out with something more substantial than the current inflexible and limited TWAIN module / RAW to TIFF converter, if you need something to model it after take a look at Kodak's DCS acquire module...

Click here to visit the Bibble website