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  • RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

    I have started to work and try RAW with my new Olympus E-PL1.
    There is a BIG difference in appearance and quality of processed images being done with PS5 ACR and Olympus Studio 2. See samples cropped 100 percent.
    The images from PS5 ACR (and Lightroom) are much more grainy and "dirty" than the images from the Studio 2.
    Any idea why?
    What is your experience?
    How the problem with ACR can be solved?
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

    RAW processing is a complex task. Did you make any adjustments before making these sample crops? Most RAW converters will present you with a vanilla starting point with basic default adjustments. It's then up to you to use your skill to adjust white balance, levels, saturation, contrast, sharpness, noise management, etc. in order to get the best looking result. Some RAW converters have better starting points than others and Olympus Studio (actually not the best choice for Pens - I would recommend Viewer 2) has a distinct advantage because it is modelled on the way Olympus cameras work, so camera settings like the noise filter, sharpness, white balance, etc, will be applied to the base raw conversion. In other words, your Studio (and Viewer) default image quality will be further along the road of adjustments. That's not to say that the default adjustments in these programs will necessarily be what you really want.

    The algorithms for sharpening and noise management in Studio are quite old compared to Adobe Camera RAW 6 which is used in Photoshop CS5. Without any doubt you will get better results using PS CS5 than Studio (or Viewer, although Viewer 2 should produce better results than Studio in theory).

    To summarise, with RAW don't expect best results without some additional adjustments.

    Ian
    Founder/editor
    Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
    Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
    Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
    Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
    Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

      Originally posted by Ian View Post
      RAW processing is a complex task. Did you make any adjustments before making these sample crops? Most RAW converters will present you with a vanilla starting point with basic default adjustments. It's then up to you to use your skill to adjust white balance, levels, saturation, contrast, sharpness, noise management, etc. in order to get the best looking result. Some RAW converters have better starting points than others and Olympus Studio (actually not the best choice for Pens - I would recommend Viewer 2) has a distinct advantage because it is modelled on the way Olympus cameras work, so camera settings like the noise filter, sharpness, white balance, etc, will be applied to the base raw conversion. In other words, your Studio (and Viewer) default image quality will be further along the road of adjustments. That's not to say that the default adjustments in these programs will necessarily be what you really want.

      The algorithms for sharpening and noise management in Studio are quite old compared to Adobe Camera RAW 6 which is used in Photoshop CS5. Without any doubt you will get better results using PS CS5 than Studio (or Viewer, although Viewer 2 should produce better results than Studio in theory).

      To summarise, with RAW don't expect best results without some additional adjustments.

      Ian
      Many thanks, Ian!
      I have many years of experience with RAW process and I am fully aware of all the additional adjustments. My samples were done just by opening the RAW files without ANY adjustments and they show CLEAR noise in ACR compared to Studio 2 - this is why my question was posted.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

        As Ian said, the Studio can read more info from EXIF and use noise filter settings, while ACR will not use these settings and will use default values (0 smoothing for luminance noise and 25 for chroma noise). This can make a HUGE difference, even Standart noise filter is very strong. Just check the value inside Studio...
        Regards, Pavel.

        E-1(x2) | ZD 14-45 | ZD 14-54 | ZD 40-150 Mk.1 | ZD 70-300 | FL-50 | Velbon Sherpa 750R
        M42(Pancolar 50/1.8, Pentacon 200/4)+ M42->4/3 reduction

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        • #5
          Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

          Thanks! It is the noise settings filter and after changing them in ACR / Lightroom it is OK.

          Another thing that I fail to understand. The phenomena of grainy. noisy and perhaps "dirty" images being processed with PS-PSE ACR / Lightroom and clean images with Studio 2 / Viewer 2 does not happen when working on iamges from Olympus E-1. I can recall it DID happen with Olympus E-520. Perhaps it has something to do with Panasonic sensor?...

          I do not have this problem of grainy / dirty RAW images from my Sony DSC R1 (BTW - a great camera with a fantastic Zeiss lens) being developed with ACR / Lightroom - images are completely clean.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

            Originally posted by ronyzmbow View Post
            Many thanks, Ian!
            I have many years of experience with RAW process and I am fully aware of all the additional adjustments. My samples were done just by opening the RAW files without ANY adjustments and they show CLEAR noise in ACR compared to Studio 2 - this is why my question was posted.
            I hesitate to say this, and I mean no insult, but you are contradicting yourself here. By opening any RAW file without making any additional adjustments in ACR or Lighhtroom (which uses the ACR engine) you are simply seeing a default result without any meaningful optimisations. So your question about comparing the ACR result you got and the Studio 2 result, assuming you understand the RAW process, doesn't make any sense. Why should you expect an optimal result from ACR - it's just a vanilla conversion which provides a starting point for optimisation. Viewer 2, using the camera's proprietary settings, has a head start on ACR. Only if you are using camera profiles in ACR will you see an optimised result immediately after initial conversion.

            Ian
            Founder/editor
            Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
            Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
            Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
            Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
            Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
            Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
            Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

              Originally posted by Ian View Post
              I hesitate to say this, and I mean no insult, but you are contradicting yourself here. By opening any RAW file without making any additional adjustments in ACR or Lighhtroom (which uses the ACR engine) you are simply seeing a default result without any meaningful optimisations. So your question about comparing the ACR result you got and the Studio 2 result, assuming you understand the RAW process, doesn't make any sense. Why should you expect an optimal result from ACR - it's just a vanilla conversion which provides a starting point for optimisation. Viewer 2, using the camera's proprietary settings, has a head start on ACR. Only if you are using camera profiles in ACR will you see an optimised result immediately after initial conversion.

              Ian
              No insult at all, Ian.
              I am learning something new almost every day.
              Still cannot understand why under the same conditions I NEVER had this problem with the Olympus E-1...

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                Originally posted by ronyzmbow View Post
                No insult at all, Ian.
                I am learning something new almost every day.
                Still cannot understand why under the same conditions I NEVER had this problem with the Olympus E-1...
                I think at base-ISO the E-1 sensor was fundamentally less noisy. But noise became a problem at modest ISO settings. With MOS-type sensors, these are inherently more noisy because their fill-factor (the ratio of light sensitive area of the sensor surface to the non-sensitive area) is much lower. The E-1 used a CCD and a full frame type, too. MOS-type sensors waste more surface area, so sensitivity is reduced and there is more noise. It's just a theory. Oh, and the E-1 only had 5 megapixels, which also boosts sensitivity and minimises noise at low ISO settings.

                Ian
                Founder/editor
                Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
                Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                  Originally posted by ronyzmbow View Post
                  I have started to work and try RAW with my new Olympus E-PL1.
                  There is a BIG difference in appearance and quality of processed images being done with PS5 ACR and Olympus Studio 2. See samples cropped 100 percent.
                  The images from PS5 ACR (and Lightroom) are much more grainy and "dirty" than the images from the Studio 2.
                  Any idea why?
                  What is your experience?
                  How the problem with ACR can be solved?


                  My confusion goes on - When you open a RAW image in ACR the colors are pale - almost dead - compared to the colors in the Olympus programs which are alive, well saturated and very close to the Jpeg (which are always good in Olympus cameras).
                  To make sure I have checked the White Balance and Tint values in ACR - and they were different than the Olympus Viewer. I have changed these values and made them equal to the Olympus Viewer - and to my surprise the change in colors and appearance was very small - still pale and lifeless colors (see samples of screen shots)
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                    Originally posted by ronyzmbow View Post
                    My confusion goes on - When you open a RAW image in ACR the colors are pale - almost dead - compared to the colors in the Olympus programs which are alive, well saturated and very close to the Jpeg (which are always good in Olympus cameras).
                    To make sure I have checked the White Balance and Tint values in ACR - and they were different than the Olympus Viewer. I have changed these values and made them equal to the Olympus Viewer - and to my surprise the change in colors and appearance was very small - still pale and lifeless colors (see samples of screen shots)
                    Hi - with the the utmost respect and absolutely no offence intended at all, you aren't really getting the message I am trying to convey. ACR does not and is not designed to give you a perfect picture out of the box. It only gives you a starting point to develop the image. I never ever use ACR or Lightroom without making any adjustments to an image as it is presented to me at first. It is perfectly normal. ACR, unless you load a camera profile, does not know enough about the camera and its characteristics to produce a finely tuned image from a RAW file without human intervention.

                    Studio, on the other hand, is produced by Olympus for its cameras. The program is based on the imaging system in the cameras and so it can very accurately reproduce what the camera reproduces as a JPEG. Olympus camera JPEG quality is among the best, so this is why Studio (and Viewer 2) will produce very good RAW conversions to start with.

                    BUT a skilled user of Photoshop or Lightroom should be able to adjust an Olympus RAW image via ACR and produce a better result than what you get with Studio or Viewer 2.

                    I would even say that if you never intend to adjust a RAW file, whether it's in Studio, Viewer 2, or ACR, you should forget about RAW and just shoot JPEGs.

                    Ian

                    PS Just reading on - adjusting white balance and tint is very minor change. You should be looking at Vibrance, possibly Saturation, HSL/Colour adjustments for fine-tuned adjustment to colour, contrast and even the black level, all of which can have a significant effect. White balance only scratches at the surface of what is possible.

                    PPS. If it will help - send me the RAW files and I will adjust it for you and you can see what changes I made in the process.
                    Founder/editor
                    Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                    Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                    Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                    Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
                    Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                    Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                      Ian,

                      I am not offended at all and willing to learn always.

                      I NEVER take ACR - Lightroom - Studio - Capture - or any of the other RAW programs as is without any further adjustments - I ALWAYS make my adjustments AFTER opening the RAW image in any of the programs.

                      But, I NEVER before saw such phenomena in ACR as I see with the Olympus E-PL1! I do not have this phenomena with Olympus E-1, Sony DSC R1, Pentax K-10 or Canon G-10
                      The starting point with the E-PL1 is bad and you have to work a LOT to get the right color.

                      I have to mention that most of my RAW images are well made and also sell well in various Microstock web sites.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                        OK, thanks for being patient with me

                        The only explanation I can give is that the formulation of the base starting point in ACR for the E-PL1 is not very good - which would mean pointing the finger at Adobe. It's an interesting observation.

                        But I also should mention that I have produced very acceptable results in ACR from E-PL1 RAW files. In fact there are some here on FTU who think the E-PL1 is rathe special in terms of Pen image quality

                        Ian
                        Founder/editor
                        Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                        Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                        Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                        Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
                        Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                        Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                        Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                          Agree Ian, the E-PL1 produces great images - but to get it in ACR from RAW - one has to work hard!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                            Originally posted by ronyzmbow View Post
                            Agree Ian, the E-PL1 produces great images - but to get it in ACR from RAW - one has to work hard!
                            Maybe a little harder!

                            Ian
                            Founder/editor
                            Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                            Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                            Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                            Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
                            Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                            Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                            Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: RAW - ACR vs. Studio 2

                              Originally posted by Ian View Post
                              Maybe a little harder!

                              Ian

                              I have followed this thread to Tal Ninio of PSKiss

                              http://pskiss.com/

                              It is interesting to see his reply -


                              The answer is very simple - in-camera definitions. Olympus's native app, reads them. ACR and LR, don't.
                              It is the most discussed issue in digital photography - to use or to ignore in-camera definitions...
                              Since many people prefer the flexibility of ACR/LR over camera colors, we sell more profile packages

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