Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Started Sep 18, 2011 | Discussions
Michael Berg
Michael Berg Contributing Member • Posts: 865
Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Hi all,

As a long time KM 5D owner I've been used to shooting almost entirely in RAW, because of the vastly improved image quality that was possible using conversion tools such as Capture One.

However, as a very recent A580 owner, I find myself shooting mostly JPEG for a couple of reasons:

  • Capture One doesn't appear to have a dedicated A580 profile (as of this writing)

  • JPEG shooting give you DRO, Auto HDR and MFNR

  • The images look great straight out of the camera

All good reasons right? And hey, no more long nights spent polishing up on that ever increasing backlog of RAW stockpile.

NONE THE LESS. Some foliage and low light shots look absolutely awful close-up, with horrendous smearing of detail and water coloring worthy of John Singer Sargent. So I'm probably going to use RAW with Capture One, at least for some shots.

But I was wondering if anyone had some experience with Sony's own Image Data Converter. As I understand it, it will reproduce the DRO effect correctly, right? And it will not perform the same crude noise reduction as the in-camera engine does, hopefully?

I'm guessing it won't be able to do HDR and MFNR by itself. For HDR there are some nice options available already (PhotoMatix etc), but what about MFNR? Is there something available to do RAW multiframe noise reduction using the raw files that come out of an A580?

What is the general consensus on the quality of Sony IDC's RAW conversions, compared to Adobe, Bibble, Capture One and RawTherapee? Did anyone post a comparison online perhaps?

(The workflow is going to be staggering... RAW -> MFNR/HDR software -> Capture One/Sony IDC -> JPG ... multiplied by 1000 images

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Gavin 11 Senior Member • Posts: 2,271
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Raw Therapee 3.0 is all over Sony IDC

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"Pru, it's kicking off!"
I am a Toadie and proud!

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Ron Poelman
Ron Poelman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
Almost any alternative is preferable.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1018&message=39111620
Consider batching the lot to JPEG before any other process (like HDR);
all you have to do, is first work up a basic minimum profile to use.
That should break the back of 900 plus of your 1000, I guess.

There's a lot of Lightroom fans out there, I prefer Bibble
not least, for it's speed.

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imarollingstone Veteran Member • Posts: 3,642
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

I shoot RAW + JPEG to have the best of both worlds. If the output is fine, I don't have to do any processing at all. If I need to adjust things, I use lightroom 90-95% of the time.

With lightroom there is no worry about the conversion to JPEG - although it seems to lighten Sony files way too much, that easily correctable. It has excellent noise reduction.

If I need to tweak DR, I will give Image Data Converter a go, for major processing I use Photoshop CS5, but that is pretty rare these days.
--
Shawn

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 18,083
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Michael Berg wrote:

... I was wondering if anyone had some experience with Sony's own Image Data Converter. As I understand it, it will reproduce the DRO effect correctly, right?

It will closely (enough for most people) approximate the in-camera process, but not duplicate it exactly.

And it will not perform the same crude noise reduction as the in-camera engine does, hopefully?

Noise reduction in IDC is controllable.

I'm guessing it won't be able to do HDR and MFNR by itself.

Correct.

For HDR there are some nice options available already (PhotoMatix etc), but what about MFNR? Is there something available to do RAW multiframe noise reduction using the raw files that come out of an A580?

Maybe. Others here might know.

What is the general consensus on the quality of Sony IDC's RAW conversions...

Some people love what it does, others hate it. The program is pretty slow, but I find it adequate for occasional use. You should just try it for yourself - it won't cost you anything.

tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 47,842
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Michael Berg wrote:

NONE THE LESS. Some foliage and low light shots look absolutely awful close-up, with horrendous smearing of detail and water coloring worthy of John Singer Sargent. So I'm probably going to use RAW with Capture One, at least for some shots.

At what iso do they look this way?

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Tom

Look at the picture, not the pixels

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

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dw73 Contributing Member • Posts: 863
LR3

For noise removal to detail retention - LR3 is the best, period.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,138
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

I use IDC for all of my work, and love it. I have tried all the rest, but I much prefer IDC.

Glen
http://www.FocusOnNewfoundland.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fogoislanders/

busch
busch Forum Pro • Posts: 32,841
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Like most things, some like it and some do not! I find it to be pretty darn good.

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Busch

Take the scenic route! Life is too short to do otherwise.

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 47,842
Re: LR3

dw73 wrote:

For noise removal to detail retention - LR3 is the best, period.

That's a pretty bold statement. What is the source of your information?

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Tom

Look at the picture, not the pixels

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

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splugnut2000 Regular Member • Posts: 351
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

Earlier versions weren't so great, but as of the release of the A55 I found it improved significantly and actually find it produces more pleasing images to my eye than LR3. I also tend to find that per image its quicker as its starting point seems to be better, so less mods required. However, for high volume batch conversion LR3 is probably a better bet. Cant speak for Bibble ACDSsee or C1 etc as I've never gone further than playing with the trials. Key benefit for IDC though is obviously the price.

Michael Berg
OP Michael Berg Contributing Member • Posts: 865
Batching to JPG

Hi,

Actually this is part of my old workflow: Shoot in RAW+jpeg, then browse the jpegs and roughly delete those shots that I can see immediately don't make sense to process further.

For the actual adjustments I prefer to work with the original RAW files, since I will have no jpeg compression artifacts and other problems introduced by jpeg compression to worry about. Also I tend to adjust the white balance, which is possible in RAW but not really in jpeg.

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Michael Berg
OP Michael Berg Contributing Member • Posts: 865
Best of both worlds - really?

imarollingstone wrote:

I shoot RAW + JPEG to have the best of both worlds. If the output is fine, I don't have to do any processing at all. If I need to adjust things, I use lightroom 90-95% of the time.

But it's not the best of both worlds. If you shoot RAW+JPEG you no longer have the option to use DRO, HDR or MFNR in the camera. The options are disabled and you have to optimize the dynamic range by hand in post processing, from the RAW files.

The ideal solution would be if Sony allowed these options to work in the RAW+JPEG mode, except that the effects were not applied to RAW. Difficult to understand why this isn't possible.

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Michael Berg
OP Michael Berg Contributing Member • Posts: 865
Re: Sony Image Data Converter - how good is it?

tbcass wrote:

At what iso do they look this way?

Worse at high iso, of course. I have some early morning shots that the camera auto-iso'ed to 1600, and they look very bad I think. I can post some examples later if you like. It's a complete watercolor mush at 100%-

At lower iso values you hardly ever notice it, fortunately. Distant foliage/grass is almost always a problem, however.

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Michael Berg
OP Michael Berg Contributing Member • Posts: 865
What's to like?

camperbc wrote:

I use IDC for all of my work, and love it. I have tried all the rest, but I much prefer IDC.

What is it about IDC that you like? Is it the ease of use or do you find that the image quality it makes it worthwhile shooting in RAW? If you have some examples that would be great

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imarollingstone Veteran Member • Posts: 3,642
The 580 must be different

Michael Berg wrote:

imarollingstone wrote:

I shoot RAW + JPEG to have the best of both worlds. If the output is fine, I don't have to do any processing at all. If I need to adjust things, I use lightroom 90-95% of the time.

But it's not the best of both worlds. If you shoot RAW+JPEG you no longer have the option to use DRO, HDR or MFNR in the camera. The options are disabled and you have to optimize the dynamic range by hand in post processing, from the RAW files.

The ideal solution would be if Sony allowed these options to work in the RAW+JPEG mode, except that the effects were not applied to RAW. Difficult to understand why this isn't possible.

I use both an A700 and A55 and DRO is available in both with RAW +JPEG. It does appear that the DRO does get applied to RAW, but in order to see the effects, you need to use Image Data Converter. Other processing programs don't take advantage of this.

I would agree with you on HDR and MFNR though.
--
Shawn

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,138
Re: What's to like?

Michael Berg wrote:

camperbc wrote:

I use IDC for all of my work, and love it. I have tried all the rest, but I much prefer IDC.

What is it about IDC that you like? Is it the ease of use or do you find that the image quality it makes it worthwhile shooting in RAW? If you have some examples that would be great

Hi Mike,

Well, I love the fact that it is very simple and straight forward to work with, (and let's not forget free!) and for me at least, gives perfect reproduction of colour, WB, etc. I normally use it for adjusting initial brightness, contrast, and often the R-Range Optimizer, prior to converting to tiff, and then I finish any pp'ing in PSP.

I never post partially finished photographs, so any examples will have to be of the finished product, and for these see my website.

IDC was considered substandard right from the start, (for good reason!) but Version 3 has been a dream, and is exactly what I want it to be. It definitely does not deserve some of the hard knocks it regularly gets around here from the die-hard LR crowd. Give it a try, and if you like it, (and you will) you're all set!

Glen
http://www.FocusOnNewfoundland.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fogoislanders/

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