Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Comparisons plus Artifical Sunsets

Finally got around to comparing RAW Therapee to Adobe Camera RAW.  The crop on the right was converted using the next to last build (1313) of the 3.1 beta version of RT.  The one on the left was converted with the Photoshop CS3 version of ACR.  I took the image the last time I went out with the D60--my DSLR camera that works with my version of ACR.

As you can see (click to view large) there is more fine detail on the leaf  (circled in blue) than there is in  the ACR version (circled in red).  Not that the ACR image is a disaster.  If Adobe had been a nice company and didn't demand I pay a $200 to $400 upgrade fee just to get a version of ACR that works with my D7000, I never would have considered trying out something as unknown as RAW Therapee.

Now I have the fuzzy nice feelings.  I'd hoped to prove that RT was just as good as ACR.  Instead I've discovered that RT is better.

Why?  I think there are three main reasons.

RT now does flowing point arithmetic instead of integer arithmetic. In people talk that mean the program does not build up errors while is doing the multitude of  calculations needed to turn a RAW file into a photo. It also has the Richardson-Lucy Contrast by Details routine that I've talked about in earlier posts. And finally it uses the Amaze demosaicing algorithm which is pretty  much state of the art. Not bad for a freebie program.

Here another RT feature I don't think you will find in another RAW converter. I took this shelter photo a few hundred feet from where I shot the Spring Flowers photo  Once I had it on the computer, I felt it needed a little something extra.  Like a minor tweak on the LAB color channels to bath the shelter in golden sunshine.

With the tweak

And without the tweak.

 And, yup, I know the shadows aren't right.  So lets pretend--despite the evidence outside my window--that Madison is the capitol of the new Golden Sunshine State.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RAW Therapee Helps Charlotte at the Zoo

Big news.  RAW Therapee 3.0 now has a manual. All of RT's secrets--well, most of them anyway--are explained. And if things go as planned finished version of the manual will be on line by the end of the week. If you can't wait for that version you can find today's version at  http://paul.matthijsse.pagespro-orange.fr/tmp/UnfinishedUsersManualRawTherapee3.0.pdf  

It is well written. I've been following the development of RT for 9 months and thought I had it almost figured out but now I've read the manual I know a number of new tricks.  Great job, Paul.

But back to Charlotte.  She went to the zoo yesterday--this time with my first digital camera, a 3.2 mp Oly 3020Z, hanging around her neck.

Over the years her interest in photography has had its ups and downs. At one and a half, a camera was a great toy that made a flash when she managed to find and push the right button  At two and a half came the  "LOOK Grandpa! Feet! MY FEET!" moment when she realized her "flashy toy" took pictures of real things like feet. Then came the preschool days when we took long 'nature' walks that always seemed to end at the swing set in the park up the street. Her camera came along with her favorite doll. Now and then she might even stop to snap a picture or two.

Then came her grown up years.  In kindergarten she learned there are many more fun things to do than push buttons on a boring old camera. So except for an occasional moment, photography became her really old grandpa's hobby.

Until yesterday. That's when this recent graduate from the third grade decided pushing a shutter button might become fun again.  She did very well for herself, running through a set of batteries and coming close to filling up the camera's memory card.

But when it became time to learn about the great joy of post  processing with  RAW Therapee--alas, that was trumped by on-line video games. On this computer no less.  So the rhino image in the blog is pure Charlotte.  Only the relative minimal cleanup and cropping is by scribble.

The Oly 3020 was not sold with a RAW mode on its menu. Charlotte could only shoot jpgs.  So one of the great features of RT came into play.  It works almost as well on jpgs as it does on RAW files.

Because of the bright foreground the subjects, the rhino and photographer above it are under exposed.

That was easily fixed using the LAB mode adjustments.  This could have been done in the RGB mode.  While I prefer the LAB adjustments,  the manual has a section on the advantages and differences between the two modes.

The camera's default sharpening tend to be a bit soft.  RT has several ways to sharpen but I find Contrast by Details the most useful. The upper image with the blue circles has CbD disabled, the lower one with the red circles has CbD enabled.  Click on the  two images to view the difference in the lettering of the photographer's T shirt.

While Charlotte had zoomed the camera out as far as it would go, the image could also use a crop.  Notice the grid marks for rule of thirds. RT has a fill set including a few for rule of --- that I've never read about.

And finally the masterpiece.  More are posted on flickr