Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

 

The Art of Raw Conversion #014

 

Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 1.0.0.5

review by Uwe Steinmueller (4/11/2004)

 

 
 
 

With all digital SLRs before the Canon EOS 1D Mark II Canon delivered a software package called "File Viewer Utility" to convert Canon raw files. The output results of this software were actually not bad at all. But the lack of real time processing made its workflow pretty slow:

  • No real time corrections, like exposure (EV) and white balance (WB)
  • No proper color management support

Phase One's Capture One (C1) was the first raw converter that presented a radical improved workflow in November 2002. C1 implemented a very elegant and efficient workflow and also provided good image quality.

Adobe Camera Raw 2.0 (ACR) as part of Photoshop CS improved a lot from version 1. Today some users prefer ACR because of its tight PS integration and others C1 because of its great workflow.

Now Canon released for the first time with the EOS 1D Mark II a new raw converter called "Digital Photo Professional". Canon's clear goal is to to provide a software package that is in the same league as C1 and ACR.

 
Digital Photo Professional (DPP)
 

We do not intend to go into every detail of DPP. We just want to find out how useful this application is for all Canon photographers.

The first surprise is that only the 1D, 1Ds and 1D Mark II are supported and no other Canon digital cameras. We find that hard to understand.

 
Color Management
 


Color Management settings

DPP supports color management (although you have to select manually your monitor profile. This is a Windows property).

DPP comes with ICC profiles for the different camera models. We don't find a supported way to change these profiles to custom profiles (like in C1).

 
Main Workflow
 


Browser Window

You can easily toggle between two major modes:

  • Browser Window
  • Edit Image Window


Edit Image Widow

The idea is to browse files, select multiple images and then work on these files in the edit window. In the edit window all corrections work in real time and there are two sets of controls.

1. Raw Adjustments Tab


Raw Adjustments

Even if the raw adjustments are very powerful they will more often than not be confusing to many users.

  • Brightness (called Exposure in all other raw converters). The histogram seems to show the histogram of the linear file and is not very helpful for adjusting brightness (EV)
  • White Balance (WB) offers the normal tools:
    • Click white/gray
    • Shot settings
    • WB presets
  • Dynamic Range Adjust: You can even perform corrections to the tone curves (this maybe good for advanced users)
  • Color Adjust: We leave this for PS

RGB Adjustment Tab


RGB Adjustments

 

Most of our corrections will be made here (but we may also learn the benefits of using the raw adjustments)

  • Tone Curve Adjustment - full featured curves tool with RGB channel histogram
  • Brightness (called Exposure in all other raw converters)
  • Contrast - often needed operation
  • White Balance (WB) - supports only click white in this window (more options in the raw adjustment tap)
  • Color Adjustment: We leave this for PS

We did not find any sharpening tool if we save the files as TIFFs. We cannot really complain as we sharpen only in PS. But some users might miss a proper sharpening option.

You can now correct all your images in the edit window and then perform a batch conversion:


Batch Processing Dialog

DPP learned from C1 and allows the processing to be performed in the background.


Batch Processing Status

In principle this works fine in the background. We are afraid that the developers rushed this software out.

1. The status dialog stays open even if the batch processing is finished. This means that you may get multiple open status windows.

2. If you try to process a file a second time (TIFF and keep image name) then this is not possible in batch:


Cannot process identical image

Of course overwriting is not a good option in batch. C1 will then append "_01" .... "_0n" to the images which is much more user friendly.

Bugs

Try (or perhaps better not) to browse in the Windows version a folder with layered TIFFs produced by Photoshop CS. DPP will just crash. It will also crash the next time as it will try this folder again. Solutions:

  • On start switch directory very fast
  • Rename the folder that created the problem

Quality

Canon also replaced the File Viewer Utility with a new version called: EOS Viewer Utility.

But here are some surprises:

1. The applications do not seem to be well integrated

2. They use different demosaicing algorithms with the EOS Viewer apparently producing better results.


500% magnification (EOS Viewer)


500% magnification (DPP)

DPP shows more:

1. Demosaicing artifacts

2. Stronger purple fringing (probably from the chromatic aberration of the 17-40mm lens).

The question is: Why do they use different demosaicing algorithms?

We got from Chuck Westfall (Canon USA) the information that EVU and DPP were developed independently.

Correction: We wrote earlier and misunderstood a statement by Canon "were developed by different teams".This is not correct, sorry for the confusion.

Actually the new EVU (EOS Viewer Utility) is a much improved version of the old File Viewer Utility. Now the EV and WB corrections are much faster.

Mac Version

We also installed the Mac version and it has the identical user interface.

Summary

DPP is clearly a very improved application in terms of workflow compared to the old File Viewer Utility. We would still rank C1 and ACR above DPP. C1's workflow is smoother and the previews are also faster. ACR's strength is in the tight Photoshop integration. Overall DPP is a very useable raw converter (considering it is a version 1.0). Also it comes free with the new professional cameras and should also be available for download soon.

Our wish list:

  • Support all Canon raw formats (many use a 1D and 10D)
  • Fix the bugs
  • Investigate the demosaicing differences

Clearly Canon listened to the user complaints and got one step up with DPP.

 
Canon will probably make EVU and DPP available for free download about May 15th 2004.
 
 
 
 
   

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