Learning to use RAW files

Started Aug 14, 2022 | Questions thread
AlwynS Veteran Member • Posts: 4,555
Re: Learning to use RAW files

Digital Nigel wrote:

AlwynS wrote:

Digital Nigel wrote:

Ab S wrote:

Digital Nigel wrote:

Ab S wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Ab S wrote:

If Capture One Express for Sony is still free of charge than that is a perfect way to start with RAW processing. However, I read at DPR that C1 stopped with this free version. But I would say just give it a try.

At this time I would not recommend a full C1 to start with; DxO PL-5 with DeepPrime NR would be a better choice for non-professional use.

Why wouldn't a professional use it? Yes, Photoshop is preferable for publishing but most professionals are not in the publishing industry.

C1 has the tethering option; in C1 you see real time the effect of NR (okay, that would also be possible with DxO non-AI options)..

C1's NR is really inadequate; I'm often shocked at the poor quality images it produces. I couldn't tolerate using C1 for that reason, quite apart from the clunky UI.

Tom, I am sorry to say so but I am really afraid that you did not master to use C1..

I'm sure you're right.

C1 seemed to take much more effort to use, and produced worse quality results, so I saw no point in wasting time mastering it. PhotoLab just seemed a much better solution: much easier to use, highly productive workflow, better quality results. So why would I want to master C1?

Should a person not have bought any of these programmes yet, I consider C1 to be an excellent FREE piece of software as an entrée to RAW processing. I found it very easy to get used to, the workflow is quite simple and quick and I find the results very good in by far the majority of cases. I am curious as to your implied comment that PL-5's workflow is better: seeing as I am not that familiar with PL-5, could you expand on in which way you found it superior to C1? I really find C1 very straight forward for my use, so I find it interesting that you would consider PL-5 superior in that regard.

PL includes a number of best-of-class capabilities that can be invoked automatically, leaving very little additional editing effort required. For example, try this raw file in C1:


This is what I got from it simply by opening the raw file in PL5, and exporting the processed result to a JPEG. Simply opening it causes my default preset to be applied, and I can then do further tweaks as needed. I have all my commonly used tools arranged in a logical order in my custom palette, so if I do want to adjust any setting it's really quick and easy. I normally do make a few tweaks, but in this case I deliberately didn't make any manual adjustments at all. So this is the zero-click option:

My default preset applied automatically, with no further tweaks or adjustments

My guess is that you will find it much harder to edit this in C1, and simply won't be able to properly replicate this result, however much you try.

In principle: human nature being what it is, I would be quite surprised if most people would not find the programme that they happened to start with and are familiar with the easiest to use and the other daunting. Any relatively powerful piece of software has a learning curve and unless there is a compelling reason to change, not something to be taken on lightly.

Yes, agreed. But knowing the poor quality results that C1 produces, I saw no point in making that effort.

I tried the trial version of PL-5 earlier this year and I did not like it... most likely because I was proficient with C1 and comfortable with its UI and workflow. I accept that PL-5 could give better noise reduction, upscaling (not something I do) and sharpening.

Yes, PL5 can do upscaling, but it's not very good at it. If you want the highest quality, you need to use something like the Topaz apps. For example, here's a raw file I took last month of a distant polar bear:


I took a small (2.31mp) crop of the image, and upsized it 2x (9.63mp) using both bicubic sharper in PL5 and Topaz Sharpen and Gigapixel AI:

Upsized 2x in PL5

Upsized using the Topaz apps

I suggest comparing these at 100%

But because C1 gives me results that I am happy with 99% (an arbitrary number... ) of the time and changing would cost me US$200+, so, just as you could not be bothered to change to C1, so I could not be bothered to change to PL-5. FOR ME, the improvements that I could potentially get in a relatively small number of cases did not justify the price plus going through the learning curve.

I found it the prefect solution to a non-existent problem

Non-existent for you perhaps, but C1 simply wouldn't be able to produce results that I find acceptable, even despite the extra effort those inadequate results require.

Thanks Nigel, appreciate the very good response. For me, the takeaways from this are:

1. As expected, noise reduction is way, way better than C1. This is not something I normally use much so not such a big deal for me. However, I agree that this would absolutely be a critical differentiator if you expect to/need to do significant noise reduction.

2. No click edit is good. Closest C1 can come is two clicks with a style that you define and save for future use. Again on the personal needs/preference thing: I tend to treat each image individually by choice. If I do have a burst that has very similar/identical characteristics and which I want to treat similarly, I copy and apply settings from an edited image in the burst.

And then back to the personal requirements thing: I totally agree that PL is superior in certain respects, particularly noise reduction. At this time, based on my photography and what I want to do, those features, while significant, are not sufficiently important  in my use case for me to pay $200 and go through the learning to make the change. Maybe if it comes up on a special at 50% off I might be tempted. But at that time I would have to do a careful review/comparison of for instance individual Topaz tools vs. DxO.

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