Capture One Example
David Kilpatrick (publisher of PhotoWorld) has a wonderful article comparing no less than SEVEN 3rd-party RAW processing software (you can find it here: http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2008/02/21/a700-6400-iso-seven-raw-processors), and I was rather surprised to learn that, according to his test results, the new Capture One version 4 software actually produced less noise from high-ISO shots than all the others, including Sonyís own IDC software. Whatís more, Capture One (produced by Phase One) had a free trial offer of their Version 4 software, available at http://www.phaseone.com/Content/Downloads/CO4.aspx.
I wonder how it would do on older RAW files, specifically those shot with my trusty A2 (a great travel camera if you donít need things like responsiveness or low noise at high ISO settings). I pulled up an old shot I took in Chicago at night, a shot where I completely forgot to set the camera to its lowest ISO to minimize noise, making the image unsellable. (The sensor on this camera is so small that even shots taken at ISO 200, as this image was, can show considerable noise overall.) I had shot this image in RAW + JPG mode; here's a 72-dpi version of the .JPG shot:
It's a mediocre shot at best, but great for experimentation. Below is my first attempt to improve it by going back to the RAW file, adjusting the color balance and curves via Adobe Camera RAW, and then transferring that to Photoshop where it was saved as a .jpg:
A little different, but still not out of the "Yuk" stage. What's worse: Have a look at the noise and splotchy color in this 100% crop:
A tough image, and not at all to my liking!
On to the Beta version of the Capture One software. The software is still kind of unstable Ė it hung a few times on my XP laptop but after several reboots I was able to get it to do amazing things with this difficult shot.
Okay, it's not a night-and-day difference, but interestingly you can see a definite difference in the way the noise is handled and the colors are not so splotchy. How did the final image come out?
Summary: Capture One did a much better job, and once you get used to the user interface you can actually tweak any given image using fewer mouse clicks than any other software Iíve tried so far Ė a welcome change! I think I've found my new favorite RAW processing and workflow tool. Thanks, David!
Original images are available for download for those who are interested:
Original RAW file
File processed via Minolta's RAW file processor
File processed via Capture One
Readers of this newsletter can subscribe to PhotoWorld at a special rate, by the way. It is a great magazine and Davidís efforts often save me a great deal of time. You can be the recipient of this outstanding publication by subscribing here: http://friedmanarchives.com/photoclubalpha.htm .
Since publishing the above, I received a very enthusiastic series of emails from Conrad Ware, who took my sample RAW image and ran it through his copy of Noise Ninja, with which he was very familiar and sent me the results for comparison. He also sent me a plethora of Noise Ninja noise profile files which characterize the A2's noise structure. Here are his results, followed by some of his explanations of what he did:
Capture One version
Noise Ninja version
Quite an improvement! Here's the full-sized image, and the rest of Conrad's email, where he describes how he did it:
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