Need help with 450D RAW workflow with DPP

Started Sep 9, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Erik Bailey Regular Member • Posts: 147
Need help with 450D RAW workflow with DPP

Hi --

After a couple of months of shooting my 450D with 17-55 2.8 IS JPEG-only, with some occasional RAW+JPEG for some HDR shots, I tried something new a few days ago - shooting RAW only. The occasion was my daughter's 6th birthday, held in the evening in our basement.

I was very pleased with the shots - out of 110 shot, I got about 10 keepers (a rate I'm perfectly happy with, given the low light and high motion). The trouble is that I am really struggling with the conversion from RAW to JPEG.

When I did RAW-> JPEG processing through DPP (latest version from Canon website) using the default settings, it looked terrible when later rendered! Completely pixelated and distorted. This is not JPEG artifacting - it is noise like excessive sharpening. There is no discernable difference between JPEG Quality 7 and 10. It appears differently in different JPEG viewers - probably due to different algorithms for downscaling to fit on the screen.

For comparison, I installed the trial version of Lightroom 2 and did a conversion with that (which seems to be the same back end as ACR but with a different UI). It looked totally fine - no distortion. Interestingly, it looks very different from DPP!

Then on a hunch, I tried setting all of the sliders on the RAW toolbar of DPP to 0 and converted. No distortion! (of course, a soft image, but still - much nicer).

So I seem to be in a bind. I can pay $300 for LR2 (or twice that for CS3) to get great RAW processing. I can use DPP for free, but at the defaults I get total distortion. Or I can set the sliders to 0 and get somewhat decent results. What is the best thing to do? I really want to move to RAW, to maximize my flexibility, but I am really frustrated by this.

See below for a representative shot (my daughter is the one in the middle). First, a small downsize of the whole shot, with DPP processing all Zeros. Then a 100% crop that I have sliced into thirds - one for DPP Defaults, one for DPP all Zeros, and one for LR2. Scroll to the right to see the annotations. None of these three look the same. Is one any more "right" than another? This shot was f3.2 1/20 sec ISO 800 with Tungsten WB.

I should note that I am hoping to avoid huge amounts of post-processing. I'm loving the camera, but I've done a lot with Photoshop over the years (trusty old 6.0 from 2001 is my workhorse; other than not having ACR I'm perfectly happy with it) and don't really want to do lots of manual work. I just want the fastest, easiest way to get the best results out of my (amazing) camera.

Here are the DPP settings I used; default first followed by all zeros:

Finally, if anyone wants to see the original full-sized versions, here's a link to a SmugMug gallery that has them:

I have noticed a few other folks posting about similar issues, so I don't think I'm the only one having this issue. But I'm not sure the best way around it, so any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks --Erik

 Erik Bailey's gear list:Erik Bailey's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM +3 more
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