Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Bibble 2.0 Review

by Uwe Steinmueller (9/18/2000)

(c) 2000 Uwe Steinmueller, this review and/or photos might not be used for commercial purposes without written permission

Introduction

With Bibble 1.09 and Qimage 8.52 we got a very much improved sense of color from Nikon D1 NEF files. I am a longtime Bibble user as it fits more into my workflow (especially the Photoshop plug-in).

Bibble 2.0 builds on the strengths of 1.09 and adds a lot of support for optimizing the capturing process. Recently my complaints about Bibble were not about the quality it delivers but is was kind of a time consuming process. For example images shot with ISO 400 and underexposed have a lot of noise.

(You can find the EXIF information if you open the file in Photoshop and look into the File->File Info)

Bibble 2.0 without noise filter (including USM in Bibble) Bibble 2.0 with medium noise filter (including USM in Bibble)

 

You could with Bibble 1.09 get close to this result but could not do in in the PS. So you would need to open the file in Bibble, apply the noise filter (which was quite capable in 1.09 and is now improved), save it as 16bit TIF, open it in PS and do whatever you wanted. So I was among those who urged Eric to include this into the input dialog.

As usual I will concentrate only on NEF processing although Bibble also seems to be quite capable in dealing with D1 JPG files.

The new improved input dialog

Why put so much information all in one input dialog. There are many advantages of this approach:

  • the same settings can be used for Batch, Plug-In and the normal Bibble open.

  • With some experience a user knows the settings he wants to apply

  • It allows Bibble to apply the options in the order which is best to the image quality

  • In the future it will probably be possible to save settings and reload them if needed.

 

Lets have a look at the different sections

Preview Window

The preview is a bit larger than in version 1.09. Bibble has to balance real time processing, different monitor sizes (800x600 still is reality) and visual feedback. For me the preview as it is now is very useful. I easily can see the effect of changing the WB override.

Automatic image options

AutoLevel

Defines a percentage above (highlights) or below (Shadows) pixels are ignored. You might uncheck this with high contrast photos (as with our white pelicans)

Rotate

  • No Rotate

  • Rotate CCW (counter clock wise)

  • Rotate CW (clock wise)

Gamma

Selects a gamma curve to be applied on the photo (not active if Tone is selected)

Tone

This works like the Tone setting in the D1 (CSM 24). As this is not applied to the image inside the camera for NEF files

  • Camera (use the setting made for CSM 24)

  • low (use for hard contrasts, most of my photos are using low)

  • normal (the standard)

  • high (use for low contrast photos)

EXIF as txt

Writes a text file with the EXIF (camera setting recording) info

Display EXIF

Shows EXIF info

Preview Options

If selected it shows the input dialog. If not selected it applies the last settings and does not show this dialog. You have to deselect for batch processing

Rapid Preview

This feature is new in 2.0 and allows the preview to be updated much fasted as it does not render the image in full resolution. This is a time saver

Apply to JPEGs

Allows to use the input dialog also for JPG files

Color Management

Bibble started very early to use color spaces and provide monitor profile compensation. I believe this is essential for a good capturing process.

Color Management

  • No (no color management). I would not recommend this

  • ICC. You can select an ICC profile. I use Adobe RGB 1998

  • Monitor Corrected (if you use a calibrated monitor profile, I use Optical and X-Rite on NT4.0 with Matrox G400 16MB)

Colorspace

Select here your preferred working profile

Old CC

To please users which liked the older color correction better, 2.0 has this feature diasabled. Eric about this topic "It is one of my older meothds/attempts at establishing correct color for the camera. It tended to add a bit too much red to the image (red tinge), and would up with more subdued greens.". But it also great that he values his users and color requirements are very different for flsh, portrait and outdoor. I keep this feature disabled.

Monitor

Select the monitor profile you created during the monitor calibration process

Adjustments

Bibble makes a difference between interactive and non-interactive adjustments. This is just making the difference between features where Bibble can display the feedback in reasonable time (depends on the PC) or where the computation is that intense that it would frustrate the user,

Interactive Adjustments

Colors

Standard color correction (I do not use it much)

HSV

Hue, Saturation, Value (Sometimes a add a bit saturation)

Curves

Allows to apply curves to the image. Bibble's curves are quite useful and well implemented

NonInteractive Adjustments

Sharpen

Allows 4 different levels of sharpening. I am not yet sure that I will use it)

Remove Noise

Very powerful noise removal (comes in 4 levels). Consider to use it for all ISO400 photos and above

Unsharp Mask

Allows USM in 16 bit

ISO

Shows the ISO settings for that picture (I twisted Eric's Arm to get that info, as it is useful to make decisions about the needed noise reduction. Thanks Eric!)

Here are my usual settings

  • ISO 200: no noise filter

  • ISO 400: medium noise filter

  • ISO: 800 (not yet test, will be added later)

  • ISO 1600 (is not likely I use it)

White Balance Override

The white balance override feature of Bibble is a class by itself and worth alone to get Bibble.

The idea is that you use fixed settings with your D1 (it is not that great idea to use AUTO anyway, as these results are kind of arbitrary. Then Bibble can change the WB of that image to all the other settings the D1 provides. Bibble even implements the compensation values from -3 to +3 (7 steps). I set my camera mostly to cloudy as I move between often between sun, cloudy area to shade. Bibble lets me fix that later.

Consult you D1 manual what these different settings mean. I mostly tend to compensate a bit on the warm (yellow) side.

New WB

You can enable the feature and then can set the compensation values

Original

Shows WB of the camera setting

Click White

This allows you to correct the white ballance in clicking on a neutral grey in the photo. Best you include a grey card in one of your photos and correct with this setting all other photos.

Exposure Adjustment

The the exposure adjustment feature of Bibble is is again a very great feature (second to WB).

Exposure Adjustment

Allows corrections from -4 to +4 EV. This is not a replacement for good exposure in the first place. There is nothing better than having a well exposed picture. But if we photograph flying pelicans we cannot take some sample shots and repeat with optimal exposure. In these cases this feature saves your day.

Here are my rules for D1 camera exposure settings (got also convinced by Rob Galbraiths rules)

  • High contrast scene -0.3 EV(with a lot of white objects even -0.7 EV)

  • Normal (0 EV)

  • Lowkey +03 EV - +0.7 EV

How much you might need to compensate in Bibble depends then on you images.

Warning: Underexposure will result in more noise as the D1 has much more noise in the shadow part of the photo than in the midtones or highlights. With contrasty photos you always have to choose between higher noise or blown out highlights (mostly never acceptable).

Histograms

When Eric told me he planned to have the before and the after histogram displayed I was not really too much excited. When I then have seen it the first time in reality I was! This is an other classy feature in the Bibble input dialog.

Original Histogram

Histogram of the original NEF picture

Final Histogram

Histogram after applying all active options in the input dialog

Now you can analyze the effect of all the options on the final image. I cannot understand how I could have used Bibble before without it :-).

Example

White Pelican at Shoreline, Mountain View, CA
Camera Settings

Make: NIKON CORPORATION
Model: NIKON D1
Day/Time: 2000:08:19 13:41:02
Software: Ver.1.05
Exposure: 1/800 sec - F/7.6
Lens: 80-200mm F/2.8 (AF-S + TC-14E)
Focal Len: 280mm
Format: 12 bit
MeterMode: Multi-Segment
ProgMode: Shutter Priority
ExpBias: -0.333333
Speed: 200 ISO
ToneComp: LOW (if I would not set this I gets close to unusable in Nikon Capture)
WhiteBal CLOUDY

Input dialog

Stange histogram but it only has white, black, blue and yellow.

Curves Dialog
USM Dialog

Later I only added a very little USM in Photoshop

What else?

This powerful input dialog is impressive enough but there is more (hard to get in one shot).

  • Can now browse and load images straight from a FireWire-connected camera (not of much relevance for me at this moment as the read speed of the D1 reader would limit me too much. I use a PC-Card adapter for my Microdrives and copy it to my disk (5-8 minutes for 340MB)

  • Can use the input dialog for batch processing settings

  • Batches are now multithreaded.

  • Batch process selected files in the browser (select files and batch process them, great feature).

  • Added multiple renaming options in batch processing.

  • Added thumbnails to Batch Processing dialog.

  • Added ability to batch process more than one folder at a time (most useful on multiprocessor PC's).

  • Added "EXIF Only" type to batch output EXIF image info to a text file without processing the associated image.

  • Batch processing is now easier to cancel.

  • Fixed a bug in the "Ctrl-S" method of saving of a .NEF in which a corrupted .NEF file would result.

  • Changed scale of S & V in HSV to give finer control over result (I demonstrated with a sample photo to Eric the problems with the old settings)

  • Bibble now remembers the last input and output directories for batch processing as well as the selected file types.

  • Bibble now remembers the last opened file type and the last directory browsed.

Summary

What can I say? Great job Eric and I think that 0.001% is also the result of others folks and me pushing you into the right direction. Eric probably also remembers that I was insisting on the red cast before he released version 1.09. Please don't misunderstand me: the honor only belongs to Eric. But I just wanted to point out that I cannot count the hours of frustration using Bibble. The frustration was not about Bibble or Eric,but I did not know where the obvious limitation were: D1, Software or me. Of course it was all three. But now the D1 is as it is, the software is much, much better and I am willing to learn. Now I am not anymore frustrated using Bibble. It was a good combination as Eric did a technically excellent job while we users formulated the photographic requirements. Yes Eric, you made me quite happy. Now I can much more concentrate on the photographic content than the technical issues (want to make photos and not 3 Megabits).

Is everything perfect? Of course not. Eric will fix one or the other bug and add nice features.

 

 

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