Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


The Art of Raw Conversion #015


Raw Converter Bibble 4.0/4.1 (PC, Mac, Linux)

review by Uwe Steinmueller (10/9/2004)


Bibble 4.1

Bibble 4.1 is not just a minor update (if you don't know Bibble read first our 4.0 review below). It should be reason enough for you to reevaluate Bibble again.

Here are the main new features:

  • Support for the Canon 1Ds Mk. II (first 3rd party raw converter available for this camera)
  • Highlight recovery (see below)
  • Improved Sharpening
  • New noise handling
  • Better demosaicing and detail rendering

The key new feature is Bibble new highlight recovery Bibble introduces a new highlight recovery slider that lets the user control the recovery process.

EV and Highlight Sliders

Here is a sample:

Images at sunset tend to have a high amount of red light and also cover a wide dynamic range (shadows to strong sunlight).

Let's have a look at this image with different EV and Highlight settings:

Mainly the red channel is clipped

EV -0.5 recovers part of the highlights but more would make the image too dark.

Highlight recovery tones down the aggressive highlights without darkening the whole image


We found that the new highlight recovery works quite nicely and helps in situations like this (actually not rare at all if you photograph near sunset or at sunrise).

The new sharpening


helps to avoid also the sharpening of the noise.

We did not yet try the new noise removal feature in Bibble 4.1.

We find that Bibble 4.1 is a serious improvement and makes Bibble one of the finest raw converters available.



Bibble 4.0

Bibble is back

We know now Bibble for over 4 years. Unfortunately the last version Bibble 3 (read our review) was not updated for quite some time. Eric Hyman (the Bibble author, Bibble is his cat’s name) took his time and created an all new version 4. We think it was worth the wait. Bibble 4 supports most digital SLRs on the market and also some digicams. Bibble’s goal is to provide good image quality with excellent workflow. This preview is partly based on a beta version that was close to a release candidate but some screenshot details may have changed last minute.

Note: Really forget all about the old version of Bibble as Bibble 4.0 is all new! Especially users of Canon cameras should have a look as Canon is now as well supported as Nikon, Olympus and the new Kodak DSLRs. Even the new Canon 20D works with this version and the new 1Ds Mark II will be soon.

Bibble 4

The user interface is highly customizable (a wizard helps to set it up). We only show the interface we use (thumbnails in filmstrip mode).



Preferences Dialog

We recommend not to check the “Fit to screen” option as this speeds up your workflow quite a bit.


There are a couple of things to setup. You should use especially a cache folder that can hold lots of data (at least 1GB).

For the other setting refer to the help.

Color Management

Color Management

Bibble is fully color managed. You can even add your own camera profiles and also change settings on image by image basis.

Main Features

As mentioned Bibble can be highly configured, once we browse a folder we use this view:

Our Main View (based on our 1600x1200 screen)

Bibble 4 supports all the needed tools for raw conversion (but even works on JPGs too).

  • Picture Options (holds crucial parameters)
  • White Balance (WB)
  • Curves/Histogram
  • Sharpen/Noise
  • Color

White Balance (WB)

Besides EV the other main task in B4 is getting the white balance (WB) correct. There are two ways to correct WB.

Setting the color temperature

WB: Setting Color Temperature

Color Temperature Presets

We are more interested in the subjective color temperature than absolute values. We use method 2 if we have some neutral object in our photos or if we shot a Color Checker for reference.

Setting the Gray Point

Setting WB Gray Point

Correcting the WB by clicking on a gray object in the photo (e.g. a gray card or ColorChecker) is the method of choice if you need the best objective WB correction and you have a gray area inside your photo.

Picture Options

EV compensation

This is a crucial dialog (we only mention the main controls here):

  • Exposure (EV)
  • Tone Curves
  • Auto levels

As usual during EV correction you have to watch the image and histogram very carefully to avoid data clipping (highlights and shadows)

B4 tone curves are very, very useful to adjust contrast:

Tone Curve Settings

The differences are between the different levels maybe subtle but can result in a significant change in tonality.

Note: We think Bibble 4 should have a contrast and brightness slider. Although the contrast can be tuned using the tone curves and the brightness easily using a gamma curve in the curves tool.

Auto levels can be nice or to strong (just give it a shot). We leave the highlight clipping always to zero (you can define the default settings for new images). But sometimes auto levels gives you the snap you need.

Curve/ Histogram (RGB TAB)

Curve adjustment

Bibble 4 provides a powerful curves tool with a full RGB histogram.

Color Adjustment

Color Rendering

Be careful to use the hue slider. But using the saturation slider may make more sense. We often rather lower the saturation then make the saturation stronger. As explained in our workflow e-books you better should think of a more selective saturation enhancement.

Sharpening / Noise Removal


We use sharpening at the level “low” or turn it off.

Fringe Reduction is to lower fringes (mostly green or magenta) at high contrast edges. This helps to keep artifacts down from chromatic aberration (CA).

Most of the time we keep noise reduction off or set it to a very low level. If your image really needs more noise removal then use some dedicated tools like Noise Ninja.


Here are some elements of a good workflow:

  • Fast thumbnail creation
  • Fast image preview
  • Easy real time image corrections
  • Apply settings to other selected files
  • Render images in the background

Bibble 4 does a good job in all these areas.

A very powerful feature is the so called “Batch Queue”:

Batch Queue Settings

This is our standard setting for running the conversion in the background and then launching the converted files into Photoshop. You also can attach a keyboard letter to any batch queue (here we used “P”). If you then hit ‘P’ the image gets converted in the background and the result launched into Photoshop. We also have a queue attached to ‘T’ which does the same but does not open the file in PS.

This is by no means a full description of all Bibble 4 features. Some of the other interesting features are:

  • Work Queues: You can group files from different original folders to virtual groups and work with them as if they would be long to the same folder. If you work on a project you can create different work queues and collect keeper images in these queues by subject. E.g.:
    • Landscape
    • Wildflowers
    • Wildlife/Birds
  • Print Queues: We did not even touch this feature yet as we print from Photoshop, Qimage or Image Print.
  • Working tethered: We did not test it as we hardly ever use tethered.

Image Quality

We find that the image quality is very good but here everybody may have his own opinion. We also like the colors:

  • Green in nature is excellent
  • Red can be strong at times (if the original colors are saturated)

Bibble creates without a lot of work images that have the right contrast (snap).


Working with JPGs

Although Bibble 4 is a raw converter you can also use it for working with JPGs. Especially correcting the white balance of JPGs can come in handy.


We are very pleased that Bibble is back and think it is a good alternative to C1 and Adobe Camera Raw.

Workflow: In terms of workflow B4 is in the same class as C1 and at this time more productive than Camera Raw (mainly due to the lack of integration between the PS file browser and ACR).

Image Quality: B4, C1 and ACR all produce excellent image quality. We are sure there will be strong debates which one is best. In the end it will be very subjective as they are mainly different and not so much better or worse.

There is no single raw converter that does the best job for all the images. That is why it is always good to have alternatives.

We will keep our readers updated when Bibble will ship.

Pricing: Pro: $129 and Lite $69 (check out the Bibble website to find out which version covers what features)

Highly Recommended


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