DP2 in Camera Raw 5.4 vs Sigma Photo Pro 3.3

Go to my youtube channel to play in HD (too big for my blog).

Here’s the RAW file used in the movie: Right click and select save as. This is a naked RAW and might be read as some text junk. 

Alright, this is my very first public test of ACR 5.4 and as you will hear this is a test done in realtime! Which also means that whatever I say might have a different solution. I have never been a fan of how Adobe reads any of my Sigma raw files (with Lightroom or ACR) and I thought that perhaps this time would be different. I saw many comparisons made over at the dpreview Sigma forum but none of them really sticked (whatever that means).

So I selected a random shot from yesterday, a 6s exposure done in evening just before sunset, you will see how I develop in SPP (might give you a few clues to how things are done my way) and you will see what I do in ACR in order to really make a mess. ;)

This movie is uploaded with a very very carefully compressed x264 codec (open source) so that gamma info is correct and uploaded with 1280×720 to youtube – I’m corny as usual but you can live with that!

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
This entry was posted in Adobe Camera Raw, All, Full size, How to, Movie, RAW, Review, Sigma DP2 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to DP2 in Camera Raw 5.4 vs Sigma Photo Pro 3.3

  1. Philippe says:

    Hi carl,

    I agree that if you want natural looking pictures Sigma PhotoPRO is the way to go, in terms of sheer image quality it really pulls out the best from the file. I only think that in terms of creative adjustments the program somewhat lacks possibilities … I just love the selective highlight / shadow adjustments in ARC, the curves, the fast presets. I do agree that ARC produces a mediocre quality when seen at 100% … I basically consider ARC as a great ‘sketch’ tool, you can explore your images creatively, fast … the adjustments are stored in the sidecar file so your Raw file stays intact. If afterwards you feel inclined to do some quality print you take the ‘sketch’ as a reference and find the right workflow to get to the best possible result.
    I think the ideal solution would be if CaptureOne and DXO Optics would open up to the X3F Format, Capture One delivers a beautifully calculated document and has more creative options, it is also reasonably fast and has great batch functionalities. DXO has a lot of impressive capabilities and algorithms in terms of simulating different stock of films and grain. I hope both programs will offer support for the Sigma at some point.


  2. Rytterfalk says:

    Hi Philippe!

    I agree that options and playability inside ACR is much better – and I know that I used it for some shots but for many other shots taken recently with the DP2 ACR just don’t cut it. It’s really like two different images with one taken with slide film and the other with a bayern camera.

    Will have another go soon, with a normal day shot and later with skin and perhaps studio. Not sure if SPP always wins or if ACR has it’s real strength and qualities. :)

  3. chunsum Choi says:

    Looking good Carl. Thanks for the interesting little comparison and something to blog about at 3:00am. hope you don’t mind. http://www.chunsum.com/393


  4. Carl @ work says:

    Chunsum! :D What a lovely note, if you have a crush on Carl.. haha

  5. Bob van Ooik says:

    Hi Carl, nice comparison. I too feel that SPP is doing a better job if the parameters are right. On some images SPP just totally messes up, still not sure what it is though. To get better looking results from ACR try the following. Set everything to zero (also brightness & contrast) then set your white point and black point. using exposure and blacks. Then adjust the rest to your liking. Oopss, first set WB of course. Open the file without (!) sharpening. Use NIK’s RAW presharpener to sharpen (or if you don’t have smart sharpen will give better results too). Part of ACR’s problem is the sharpening IMHO. The problem with all the tools is that they all score points on different areas. None of the tools is a do it all, definitely best solution. Same goes for the Nikons… At the momenty I am most happy with the results from Aperture but Lightroom is more creative, Capture one gives more bang and Capture NX is great with all the lens corrections but slow… It is a constant search and fight :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Carl,
    Working through a VPN it’s going to take me a long time to finish dowmloading the Youtube files so apologies if this is dealt with…
    I have the DP2 and there seems to be a colour shift between what one chooses in SPP 3.5.1 and what SPP outputs to Tiffs or Jpegs. The colour shifts away from yellow and towards blue. This is very visible if you compare the file in SPP to the saved image.
    This was not the case with SPP 2.5 and your Sigma SD14 Rawpack. Raw files and output colours display as identical.
    What are your thoughts? Do you think that they will fix this?

  7. Paul Cooper says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to post the last message anonymous.

  8. Bob van Ooik says:

    Just processed a few in SPP and ACR and they are awfully close. In the end I preferred in this case actually for 3 out of 4 shots the ACR version with sharpening by NIK. Those shots had very smooth and silky OOF areas, in SPP they were simply not as smooth. It looked more or less like clarity had been pushed till 50 or so. Maybe there in is the big difference. SPP has a higher degree of microcontrast on default. That is great for a lot of shots but not always :)

  9. Paul Cooper says:

    Carl, please ignore my prior post. I have a problem with ACDSee not reading my SPP output jpegs correctly. Other viewers do. No problem with SPP it turns out. (I’m glad because I like SPP more all the time.)
    Great Youtube video. I learned a lot. Thanks!

  10. Ted Johnson says:


    I agree with Bob van Ooik that ACR can be made to work well, and that the out of focus areas seem smoother. RE: microcontrast, I use the clarity slider in ACR as well, which seems to give the extra pop that makes a DP2 shot so wonderful. One thing I haven’t completely dealt with is an overall “veiling flare” appearance to the ACR conversion. Resetting the white and black points as Bob outlines above seems to help.



  11. Pierre says:

    Well, how about trying to deal with ACR sharpening settings, if it’s the same than in LR, the default is not suited for the sharpness of foveon files. The default radius is too large for example : try something like 40/0.7/60/0. With a little clarity as it was just said before I think it’s possible to get this “pop” we see in SPP.

  12. Pingback: DP2 in Camera Raw 5.4 vs Sigma Photo Pro 3.3 | Carl Rytterfalk …

  13. Pedro says:

    Hi Carl,

    I am still amazed by your ability to take those marvelous shots !
    I am also still new to my sd14 so before developping any raw, I wanted to know your opinion concerning SPP vs Aperture vs Lightroom vs Raw Dev…

    It may be a long answer to this question I think, and probably enough to have quite an entire post on this ‘Software Fight’, but definitively being so in awe in front of your shots I really wanted to know which one you prefer and for what reason…

    Thanks a lot for those pictures and the time you’ve spent on reading my message

    Hoping to hear from you soon



  14. Clinton says:

    Enjoying your reviews/input as usual. Can’t wait to try a Dp2 when someone i know gets one! ; ))

  15. Bob and everyone else with the heart beating some for the ACR, I’ve been developing my skills since last movie and will soon add a new one. It does look a lot better with improved settings. I ALMOST get the same now, which is actually very very good. SPP does however have a bit better noise reduction when it comes to green issues within hair and skin – and also in bad light (yellow) the skin color mode helps a lot. Well, everything is tweakable in ACR I guess so I’ll probably just have to fight some more. :D

    Thanks for all input!

  16. Carl, when you’ve got Lightroom settings you’re satisfied with, please post it here so we can load it into our own Lightroom presets lists. I have my own which I am very happy with, but I’m curious to see what you come up with since your photographs are so beautiful.

  17. Bob van Ooik says:

    Ha, see, a bit of kicking in the *ss helps ;) Do agree though that sharpening on details in combination with noise is better handled in SPP. In bad light I like the color rendition in SPP on default better. But if you start using the calibration sliders in ACR/LR, sometimes the colors there are better again… Maybe the biggest problem of LR/ACR is that there is too much possible. For Nikon I switched over to Aperture for now. Faster and easier with very natural results. What is what I’m looking for at the moment. LR often resulted in too much “creativity”… Oh always on the search…

  18. Långskånk says:

    Jag måste bara tacka för denna jämförelse! Jag fick verkligen upp ögonen för SPP! Mina bilder har aldrig sett bättre ut, de har hela tiden funnits där men med hjälp av SPP så har de kommit fram! :)
    Kommer endast använda Lightroom för att fixa till horisonten o dyl. Annars blir det SPP!
    Tack igen!

  19. Rytterfalk says:

    Hej Långskånk!

    Va bra! :D Kul att man får hjälpa till.

  20. Pingback: Blog.Chunsum.Choi » Carl Rytterfalk’s New Video

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