Silkypix First look and Mixed raw pack!

Updated! Now including the RAW from Flyingrooster and Biggydogs english fix.

Movie is now OK. ;)

I also baked a nice little raw pack for you so that if you don’t currently have a Sigma, you can at least play around with some files. It’s a small collection of recent pictures taken with SD14, DP1 and DP2.

The above movie is recorded as HD (1280×720) so view full screen with HD turned on for best experience. It’s currently processed and might be done when you watch. :)

Download the Silkypix Raw Pack.. 109MB ZIP file.
Screen shot 2009-10-02 at 16.03.57
Get the Silkypix beta software, go here for info.
Get flyingroosters test RAW file (used in his comments below). Download.
Get BiggyDogs English menu fix (read comment for install help). Download

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 Flash, Full size, How to, Movie, Portraits, RAW, Review, Sigma DP1, Sigma DP2, Sigma SD14, Silkypix and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Silkypix First look and Mixed raw pack!

  1. fiatlux says:

    The movie does not show up as HD.

    Have you tried running Silkypix with Darwine? I seems previous versions ran fairly well.

  2. It’s HD soon, it’s still processing. I have not tried Darwine – Didn’t know it worked! :D Will try!

  3. Scott Greiff says:

    I’d be surprised if Silkypix doesn’t use the Sigma libraries for decoding. It’s my understanding that Sigma gladly shares those libraries with companies wanting to support X3F, which is why Adobe has X3F support. However, again, it’s my understanding, that they don’t help companies reverse-engineer the format, which is probably why we don’t see X3F support natively on the Mac, or or DP2 support in RawDeveloper.

    I’m interested in knowing if you find any difference in handling of X3F in Silky.

  4. Duarte Lourenço says:

    Hi Carl,

    I couldn’t hear you after 7:35, could you re-upload this?

    I was enjoying your walk through, congrats on the Japanese! =D

    What do you think of the denoising of silkypix? I think you must hve mentioned in the part with no sound.

  5. BiggyDog says:

    I found a way to display menu in english. Just replace the silkypixstr.dat file where SilkyPix for Foveon is installed with this one:
    1254512139-SILKYPIXStr.dat

    I just tried it few minutes, but this program looks great !

    FYI: To answer to one of your question: PhotoStudio Darkroom is now available by the ArcSoft web site and includes everything the German version included ! The Interface of the 2.0 version is now cloned on Lightroom…

  6. Bruce Kraus says:

    Thanks BiggyDog…works great!

  7. Carl on trip says:

    BiggyDog! Thanks for your english fix, will try as soon as I get home. My glasses didn’t really help. I lied.

    Also about Darkroom, hope you’re right! I found a demo version for Mac which I will try when I get home. :) http://www.arcsoft.com/estore/software_title.asp?ProductCode=PSDR2#submenu

  8. pedro penola says:

    I have PSD2. Odered it over US-market, which is cheaper than in the European. Perhaps one can find a rebate-coupon somewhere in web like me which is then 20% off the price of 99$.

    PSD2 works fairly well, especially with raw-files from bayer-sensors. Also quite good with x3f but spp3.5 is better. Amazing in PSD2 is the possibilities of adjustments. Great software in its class and perhaps comparabel to more expensive ones. Let us see the future experiences and results …

    pedro

  9. BiggyDog says:

    Carl, thank to YOU for sharing all these experiences ! I bought the SD14 after visiting your blog, and I’m very happy with it !

    Back to SilkyPix: the english manual I submitted helps a lot ! The Silkypix feeling is quite different than any other software I tried before…
    After some tests, my first impression is that SilkyPix strong points is optical corrections and “spot” mode (which fore example allows to erase a dust grain on the lens). I aLso think that the default image rendering is not bad.

    About Photostudio Darkroom: the version 1.7 is still available free of charge here: http://techpp.com/2009/07/09/arcsoft-photostudio-darkroom-15-panorama-maker-4-pro-free-download/

    I think the version 1.7 is very good, but I upgraded to the version 2.0… just to get the last version… V 2.0 has some additionnal controls, but is a bit more complex (same as Lightroom)
    I discovered that you need to increase sharpness and the chroma noise reduction (don’t ask my why for this one) to match the SPP default rendering. The white balance adjustement is not as flexible as in SPP, but the trick is to use the “color effect” to add some more control. Noise and sharpening are the area where, I think, Darkroom is better than other RAW tools.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My previous attempt to post this seems to have ailed, so I retry…

    As SilkyPix is not really easy to use, I think that the english manual can help as well:

    uncompress this file in the installation directory to replace de html files in the “manual” subdirectory.

    1254597073-manual.zip

  11. pedro penola says:

    Beware of the sharpness-controller in PSD(2), the sharping algorithm works completely different than that in SPP. Compare results under magnification 400%. PSD is making halos and noise, SPP does not.

    pedro

  12. pedro says:

    Hi there, to explain a bit what I said before:

    Here in addition to illustrate the behaviour of SPP3.5 and PSD2 while sharpening. SPP does this very smoothly PSD not.


    Regards

    pedro

  13. Hi Pedro, I don’t remember PSD 1.5 (german version again) created such bad conversions as you posted above. hmm.. Will download that 2.0 demo and check it out. :)

  14. flyingrooster says:

    Hello to everyone.

    First of all, thanks to Carl for the links to the new Silkypix version for Sigma files and thanks to Biggydog for the english fix.
    I wanted to know how the results of the three following RAW developers differ: Sigma Photo Pro (v3.5), Adobe Camera Raw (v4.6) and SilkyPix Developer Studio (the one in discussion here).
    Since my usual workflow (with every camera) consists of –
    a) RAW converter: adjusting white balance and converting the file into a 16bit TIF
    b) Photoshop: doing everything else with this TIF except denoising
    – i will only have a short look at how the RAW itself is being treated in these RAW converters. I don’t care at all how the rest of the processing might be better or worse in one or the other application, since i don’t use them for that. Never found a convincing reason not doing almost all image optimization steps in Photoshop. It offers all the important tools of any RAW converter i know of and most of the time even some more. But that’s just me… ;)
    The results of Lightroom should be the same as the ones taken from ACR here. If not, please don’t hesitate to correct me.
    All software corrections were set to zero, e.g. contrast, sharpening, denoising, brightness, saturation,…

    So, on to the pictures:


    SPP


    ACR


    Silkypix


    Silkypix with color noise correction

    ad SPP:
    It’s clearly visible that we don’t get an unaltered RAW. At least contrast got bumped, color noise was reduced and sharpening was applied (best visible at the borders of the white letters and the “1806″). You can’t stop doing SPP any of this and in general, that’s not my idea of a perfect RAW converter. It shouldn’t do anything unless being told to do so. However, SPP still delivers great results and i quite like it.

    ad ACR:
    Business as usual and known from other cameras. ACR (and Lightroom too) also tend to correct what they think should be done to a picture, without offering the possibility to “just say no”. Again visible denoising here, but this time color and luminance noise (SPP only corrected color noise). Contrary to SPP, no changes in contrast or sharpening were applied. As a result the picture looks cleanest, but is also the softest one and has the least details. Exactly the reason why i don’t like ACR and Lightroom very much on my other cameras. Still, no question about that, the results are very good and the reduction of luminance noise works really fine. At least compared to Silkypix, Neatimage,… There seems to be quite some trouble getting rid of luminance noise with Sigma files. Because most denoising algorithms are being optimized for Bayer-pictures???
    Please disregard the strange colors in the ACR sample. For some unknown reason to me, ACR often completely messes up with white balance from Sigma files and this is the best i could work up in the time available.

    ad Silkypix:
    Now that’s what i call a RAW converter. This seems to be a completely unaltered original RAW file. Don’t you see how ugly it looks? That must be original! ;)
    Well ok, the only thing that makes it ugly, is the more than expected color noise (ISO 200 used here!). At least now we know why SPP gets rid of color noise automatically!
    For a better comparison and to show how easily color noise can be banished, i also got rid of it in Silkypix. And there we have the second picture for the Silkypix sample.
    So now we see a picture without any automatic noise correction, sharpening, contrast adjustments,… and highlight roll-off therefore is also visibly smoother. This looks like a completely untouched RAW, finally!

    So, Silkypix definitely looks like my next RAW converter for my beloved DP2. SPP also has some advantages, especially it’s fill light function and color modes, but it’s not the real RAW… And yes, considering denoising, ACR is the best here. Might be helpful with high ISO files, but haven’t tested yet.

    Any additional tests by other users are very welcome!

    Greetings

  15. flyingrooster says:

    Addendum: The slightly dark border around parts of the “1806″ is not a sharpening artefact (except the much darker one in the SPP version), that’s how it really looks like. ;)

  16. pedro says:

    Hi Carl,

    regarding PhotoStudioDarkroom2: Shame on me, if I did that comparision wrongly for I just compared sharpening. Perhaps with wrong preconditions? Above I have read that SPP also does luminance-smoothing without asking you.

    I will have another try. Didn’t want to mess up anything.

    Thank to all in this thread: gives me a lot of information.

    pedro

  17. pedro says:

    @flyingrooster

    Would you be so kind to load your test-file hereup? Would be really nice to handle this in comparision with your results.

    Greetings#

    pedro

  18. Pingback: A Silkypix developed studio shot.. | Carl Rytterfalk Fotografi

  19. Flyingrooster, thanks for the comparison. Your ACR version looks way off, why is that? If you send me the RAW I can try with RD and post results with and without noise reduction as it looks very different from Silkypix without NR.

  20. BigyDog says:

    @flyingrooster

    I agree with you about the output of these raw developpers. I think that you should have a look at PhotoStudio Darkroom because it behaves quite the same than Silkypix: default image looks noisier than in SPP.

    SilkyPix provides an interesting stuff that works quite well: white balance adjustement based on the skin color ! This feature is called “skin color tool” and can be accessed with the F4 key.

  21. flyingrooster says:

    Hi,

    I several times tried to upload my test RAW, but it didn’t work. Too big with 10.8 MB?
    However, I sent Carl the file via Email and hope he will post it here for everyone to use. I would be glad if more pictures for all kinds of comparisons would be made with it. My sections are in 400% view.

    @ pedro:
    <>
    No, SPP only does color noise smoothing, not luminance. ACR does both, Silkypix none (by default).

    Greetings

  22. flyingrooster says:

    Hmmm, @ pedro again:
    The lines between the quotes were deleted. There should be “Above I have read that SPP also does luminance-smoothing without asking you.”

  23. flyingrooster says:

    @ Carl:
    I have no idea why my ACR shot messed up completely with white balance. As with the other software, I wanted to use the W provided by the camera in order to have exactly the same WB in every sample. In ACR that was a total failure, colorwise, and all of the presets too, so I tried to manually adjust WB. I didn’t get it better than that and yes, it’s still significantly messed up. Other Sigma files had no WB problem at all, but some look like this one. Only Sigma files and only with ACR. I used version 4.6, perhaps the problem is solved with later ones?
    However, for my comparisons of sharpening and denoising, the wrong WB doesn’t matter.

  24. flyingrooster says:

    @ BigyDog:
    I wanted to include a sample of PhotoStudio Darkroom. Followed the download link you provided above and this gets me the version 2.0, not 1.7 as you mentioned. No problem, a later one should be better, but it can not open X3F files at all. So, no comparison yet…
    Do you have another link or do I need some update for Sigma files? I really would appreciate some help concerning this problem with Darkroom and I definitely would compare results with it.

    Raw Developer was also on my list, but I didn’t find a free version…

    The skin color tool looks quite nice, a good idea.

  25. pedro says:

    @flyingrooster: Thanks for correcting me. Anyway if luminance or noise it does something with the x3f-file and I really want to know what because it is most of the time fine but not always.

    And that is the point. To use the best workflow for each shot is my goal (if there is enough time, hehe).

    I am working on it. Sooner or later I’ll post my results.

    pedro

  26. BiggyDog says:

    @flyinrooster did you try the following link mentionned on the page ?
    ftp://ftp7.avanquest.com/pub/.temp/PhotoStudioDarkroom_Retail_DL_All.exe

    It points to the version 1.5. Once installed, you should normally be able to update to v1.7 from the menu.

  27. pedro says:

    @BiggyDog and flyingrooster: I recently heard that PSD neither 1.7 nor 2 can open x3f-files from the dp1 and 2 nor the foveon-polaroid-camera. With sd-files it is no problem.

    Does this help?

    pedro

  28. flyingrooster says:

    @ BiggyDog & pedro:
    I tried v1.5 from your link, the update to v1.7 and v2.0. None of them is able to open my .X3F files made with my DP2. As i only have a DP2, i can’t test anything else. So, unfortunately i can confirm pedro’s assumption…
    Anyway, thanks for the links!

  29. pedro says:

    @flyingrooster: Your experiment comparing different sw for x3f-files is quite interesting. If you are interested to do the same using an sd-x3f (for example a bottle, but I have no Wodka here ;-)) tell me and I will try to load hereup a similar looking picture like yours.

    pedro

  30. flyingrooster says:

    @ pedro:
    I definitely would be interested comparing files from an SD with above software. As my only Sigma camera is a DP2, it would be great if you provide an SD shot. If Darkroom can open SD files, i would also include a sample.
    As i was especially interested in how denoising and sharpening were treated or if they occured at all, i chose this example file for the following reasons:
    a) sharpening: Sharpening artefacts can be best seen on high contrast edges. I found that light, uniformly colored letters on dark, uniformly colored background (as seen here) or vice versa work very good. The letters should be relatively small (here about 12 pixels high). That way even slight sharpening halos are easily evident.
    b) color noise: Again uniformly colored areas are best. Avoid colorful patterns e.g. closeup of a carpet or butterfly wings. The more uniform the color, the better noise sticks out.
    The colored “1806″ letters are quite good for showing the blotchy color patterns that occur at higher ISO values, because the color of the only a few pixels wide letters “1806″ is spread out way beyond its borders onto the dark blue area. Also overdone color-denoising is visible, as “1806″ visibly loses it’s color that way.
    c) luminance noise: Here we go again, uniformly colored areas are best. They also should be rather dark as luminance noise sticks out on dark areas. In my example, it would be the big dark blue area.
    d) contrast: Changes in contrast are better seen on already high contrast areas. Here the white letters on dark blue.
    e) highlight rolloff: Automated contrast correction blows highlights rather easy. Here best seen on the round glass sections that make up a crown as a whole located on the upper parts of the picture.

    That’s it. So you see, it’s much more to it than just a bottle of vodka ;) Take a picture of whatever object seems fine to you, but in general the points mentioned above make things a lot easier to see and compare. I found that especially bottles are very good examples and i like the design of the one used here a lot.
    And by the way, the bottle is still full up to the top… ;)

    Try to upload your file here, but not as x3f, as Carl told me that it won’t be recognized. That’s why i failed uploading mine and Carl had to to it. He thinks that it should work as a zipped file. If nothing works, just send it to Carl (thanks Carl!) or mail it directly to me (michaelsauberer@hotmail.com).

    greetings

  31. pedro says:

    @flyingrooster:

    Fine, give me two days (weekend or so) to find the best object and suitable light for this purpose. Then I will try first to load it hereup as a zip, so that others can also try out this fine experiment of yours.
    I am looking forward your results (and the photo for).

    Greetings

  32. pedro says:

    Hi to all

    and especially to flyingrooster:

    I am back. And I think I have found a model for your further experiments with raw-conversion. Because the set is about 50 megs I have put it on our server. Set means: shot at all ISO-speeds available, WB only when starting (normally the sd-cameras need wb for each ISO-speed differently). You can load it here: http://federargumenteuropa2.eu/pedro/experiment.zip

    Below is an example. Will this suit your needs?

    Greetings

    pedro

  33. flyingrooster says:

    Hi

    Thanks for the files, they suit my needs quite good.
    In the following examples, i took the ISO 200 shot. At 200, IQ is very good, while noise, at the extreme pixel peeping that’s being done, is clearly visible. By no means meant as an offence to Sigma, at that magnification every camera shows noise in dark areas even at base ISO. In fact ISO 50 at the DP2 (or other Sigmas that offer ISO 50) yields such an incredibly low amount of noise as i have never seen anywhere else, regardless of price or sensor size. Whoa, that’s smooth and razor-sharp at the same time – extremely close to absolute perfection. But enough of that, we all like to stare at Foveon-pics…

    As Darkroom can handle SD14 files, i also included this software.
    If i should find any differences concerning other ISO values, i will post them.

    So, here are the results:


    SPP


    ACR


    Darkroom


    Silkypix

    All the pics are split in three parts, numbered 1, 3 and 4. For Silkypix i again included a fourth one (numbered 2), which is the completely unaltered RAW showing lots of color noise. Because this color noise automatically gets corrected in the other software packs, and is rather disturbing for comparison, i got rid of color noise in the rest of the Silkypix pics (1, 3 and 4).

    ad 1: SPP and Darkroom automatically raise contrast up to a value they think is fine. ACR and Silkypix leave contrast as it is. That’s why the SPP and Darkroom samples are always more colorful than the others, as raising contrast also bumps colors.
    ACR reduces luminance noise, no other software does that. Best seen because, well surprise, surprise – the lower half shows significantly less luminance noise and the banded pattern in the upper half shows less detail and is smoother than the other’s.
    At first glance it looks like the banded pattern in Silkypix is also getting smoothed, but that’s not the case. In SPP and Darkroom the banded pattern just seems more detailed because both automatically sharpen the image, whereas Silkypix does not. You can easily sharpen the Silkypix image to the same amount to perfectly match SPP and Darkroom if you wish, but with SPP and Darkroom you can never go back to the original Silkypix-state.

    ad 2: As mentioned, this is the Silkypix sample with all the original colornoise, just to show that it’s really there. All the other programs automatically get rid of that, without offering the possibility of adjusting to your own taste. Therefore only Silkypix has #2 included.

    ad 3: Here the effect of automatic sharpening is easily visible. Silkypix and ACR don’t sharpen at all, but SPP and Darkroom do so. Just watch the halos around the borders of the letters. Again, for this reason the SPP and Darkroom samples seem to be more detailed, but are not. ACR’s pic is smoothest and less detailed because of the luminance noise reduction.

    ad 4: An example for highlight rolloff. Watch the diagonal reflective white “stripe”. Most details and less clipped areas has the Silkypix sample. ACR doesn’t clip any different, but smooths out quite some details again because of luminance noise reduction. SPP’s and Darkroom’s white areas clip earlier, because of their boost in contrast.

    So, in general the results are pretty much the same as in my DP2 test above. Foveon files (at least from the DP2 and SD14) seem to be treated very much the same with used software and i highly doubt it will be different for the SD9, SD10 or DP1.
    Nice being able to have a look at Darkroom’s RAW processing too.

    Let’s resume:

    SPP and Darkroom behave almost like siamese twins. I couldn’t find any notable difference in RAW developing. Both automatically bump contrast, reduce color noise and sharpen the image, all of that at pretty much the same amounts. Darkroom definitely gives you more options, but if you just want a “RAW-16bitTIF” to export and work on in Photoshop like me, then it doesn’t really matter. And SPP still has it’s Fill-Light…

    ACR (and Lightroom too) automatically reduces color and luminace noise, and does nothing else. Quite ok, but if you ask me even that is too much already. Even the best denoising algorithm costs image detail and why should i have to be forced to denoise when it’s not necessary? This is especially true for Foveon-files with their relative small absolute-pixel-dimensions (2640×1780). The smaller the absolute picture dimensions, the more details get lost with pixel based denoising. And it would be a shame smoothing up those razor-sharp Foveon pics without any reason at all.

    Silkypix gives you a 100% unaltered RAW. No automatic sharpening, contrast “optimization”, noise reduction of any kind or whatever. If wanted, all of those steps that are being done automatically in the other three programs (and therefor with every single RAW even if you don’t want them being done), can easily be done in Silkypix too. You could also even let them get automated in Silkypix, but exactly to the extent YOU want them, not like some programmer wants it being done.

    Still – while all of the tested software gives you very good results from RAW files – Silkypix without any question is my favorite and to be perfectly honest, the only software that deserves the title “RAW-Developer”.

    Comments, criticism and additional ideas are as usual very welcome.

    Greetings

  34. pedro says:

    Hi,

    thank you flyingrooster for your test. One question left: Which version of Darkroom did you use for the test? 1.7 The reason for I do ask is that version 2 behaves totally different than 1.7. To illustrate that 2 pictures attached. It looks like that Arcsoft changed something for v2. The unaltered result of v17 looks to me more similar to silkypix. Or am I wrong?

    pedro


  35. pedro says:

    Hi,

    this keeps me upset. Just for more reason to discuss things I attach a comparison of PSD1 and PSD2. To say it again: they behave different.
    In DSP1 I have set down contrast to -100. In DSP2 the same, but furthermore have set BLACK (5 default) to 0, too.

    Is this puzzling?

    pedro

  36. flyingrooster says:

    @ pedro:
    Good observation. The “funny” thing is that i have a little problem with both Darkroom versions. v1.7 always crashes when i open the tone curve tab, and only with this tab. So i can not say for sure if the applied tone curve is a linear one like in all the other tested programs. But as v2.0 by default applies a liniear tone curve and the results of v1.7 and v2.0 regarding the tone curve look very much the same, i guess v1.7′s default tone curve is also linear. But even for the rae case that my assumption is wrong, it really doesn’t matter much.

    The problem with v2.0 is that it won’t let me export any format in original size without buying an activation code. Since i don’t believe in buying software, that is unlikely to happen ;)
    So the version i used for the test is v1.7.

    Regarding any differences in RAW converting between v1.7 and v2.0, all i can see is that v2.0 applies slightly stronger contrast enhancement or by default applied gamma/tone curve is slightly different. Your sample pictures show exactly the region where this can be seen the best – the dark region on the blue glass object where the other glass sphere is reflected.

    In v2.0 more of the dark reflection clips to complete black than in v1.7. The same can be seen in the ACR sample of the same region, also more pure black pixels. Silkypix looks best again in this regard – so clips the least. I think that this phenomenon is based upon different internal gamma curves that cannot be changed. Because of that, even with every single parameter being equal, results from various programs still look slightly different.

    So, your assumption that v1.7′s result looks slightly more like Silkypix’s than v2.0′s you are right. But every other automatic adjustment in v2.0 is still exactly the same as it was on v1.7.

    Another difference between Darkroom v1.7 and 2.0 is also strikingly evident when directly compared to each other: v1.7 smooths the picture while still working on it inside the software to such an extreme amount that you don’t see individual pixels even when extremely zoomed in. v2.0 doesn’t. But this is only done as long as you work on the picture inside of Darkroom. The final exported pic looks exactly the same as in v2.0 without any smoothing applied. So it doesn’t really matter, but still is unique. Just have both running and look at that.

    Thanks for your addition, it’s definitely a slight difference for very dark regions. If you find something else just tell us, at least i’d be happy to see more comparisons.

    Greetings

  37. flyingrooster says:

    Hi

    Your last comment was posted while i was writing my own.
    What you see here in your last post with the 3 vs 3 pics example is exactly what i was referring above concerning the extreme smoothing while still inside of v1.7. This explains the softer look and reduced noise. Your pics are screenshots right from inside the software, right? Once exported as TIF or JPG, those differences disappear.

    Greetings

  38. pedro says:

    Hi,

    still puzzling and upsetting me your results. And what I am thinking is: There is so many sliders etc. in Darkroom, can these silkypix-result be achieved too? Is the details and information lost?

    I think the details are still there. What darkroom is presenting you is a fine offer if you do not want to work too much on a photo or do not have the time to.

    So I tried to reveal the details in Darkroom. The crops in the combine below are from an exported picture
    So, could I achieve that richness of details you prefer from a raw-converter?
    And another question: the silkypix-results are looking really poor especially regarding colours, can you keep then all the details whilst preparing a useable picture for for example offset-printing?

    A small comment on the sample: just wanted to show that details are not lost after conversion in Darkroom2 and that this app gives you the options of getting them back.

    At this moment I am thinking about the possibility to show the original Ilford Foto-Paper-Box so that we can see how each proggy is narrowing the truth. ;-)

    Greetings

  39. pedro says:

    Another. The upper-right is shown badly cause of smallness and the browser. So here a better crop as replacement.

    pedro

  40. flyingrooster says:

    Hi pedro,

    Nice to see that you show a lot of enthusiasm comparing results of the different software packs. At least I’m not the only one often getting lost in details ;)

    Here is the reason why I prefer Silkypix as a RAW converter over every other tested software above.
    The camera computes it’s produced picture from all the information it gets from it’s three different sensor types (red/green/blue) for every single pixel (only Foveon sensors). This resulting RAW output is the most original picture you as a user can get. Now we have to ways of coping with that file.

    Some RAW converters by default do absolutely nothing to the picture, e.g. Silkypix. The pic looks rather dull, noisy, low on contrast and color and sometimes soft (especially with Bayer patterns, less so with Foveon). The pic has to be worked on in several ways to make it look really good.

    Other RAW converters, e.g. SPP, ACR, Darkroom, decide to make automatic adjustments for different parameters. Most of them remove color noise, some bump the contrast or colors, some sharpen and so on. All of the steps described above for each software. The pic they work on is exactly the same RAW as the unaltered one in Silkypix. But by removing noise they always remove some detail, by bumping contrast they clip whites or blacks, by sharpening they produce halos and so on. In general there’s nothing wrong with that because when removing noise, bumping contrast and so on in Silkypix you also lose detail, clip and halo around – there is no way to avoid that with any software. But the big difference is that in Silkypix those steps are not done automatically. Some pics need more denoising, some (e.g. high ISO) less. Some pics need a lot of contrast enhancement, some are already quite contrasty (does that word really exist?).

    Some pics need a huge amount of sharpening for showing small details better, some don’t need any at all. And so on – Different pictures need different treatment. In Silkypix you can chose freely what should be done by the amount you like. In the other software too, but you can never take back those automated basic steps that are applied every time at every single picture at the exactly same amounts. Perhaps the automatic contrast enhancement clips just those frail highlights that are important in a shot, perhaps the automatic noise reduction smears extremely fine details away you were after, and so on. Those automatically lost details can never be brought back.

    In Silkypix you chose what to lose and what to keep by a bigger amount than in SPP, ACR and Darkroom. And again: With Silkypix you also lose detail when denoising (and you will denoise at least the color noise – just look how awful it looks if you don’t), you also clip and blow with every single adjustment just like anywhere else, but you have 100% control of what to to and what not and not just 95%.
    Still, any RAW converter gives you a whole lot more potential for tailoring a picture to your needs than a fully automated JPG out of cam, but some RAW converters are more RAW than others… ;)

    Your samples are optimized by yourself for getting a good looking picture out of the RAW. And you have to do that with any RAW, because if you don’t, it will look like the dull noisy basic RAW from Silkypix. When adjusting that to your liking it will look quite similar to your Darkroom sample. The only difference is that you can avoid some basic steps or apply them yourself a lot lighter.
    But you can never get back detail once it’s lost. So, in your sample, you have slight halos around the letters, enhanced luminance noise in the dark areas by automated contrast and sharpening and blown highlights on that bright “stripe”.

    “And another question: the silkypix-results are looking really poor especially regarding colours, can you keep then all the details whilst preparing a useable picture for for example offset-printing?”
    a) Yes, it looks poor. Because the automatic adjustment steps of the other programs are absent. You have to do it yourself (or let Silkypix do it automatically).
    b) No, you can not keep all the details when optimising the picture to make it good looking. By making adjustments you lose detail like anywhere else. But you have more freedom of choosing what should be sacrificed to what amount for making it look better.

    “At this moment I am thinking about the possibility to show the original Ilford Foto-Paper-Box so that we can see how each proggy is narrowing the truth. ;-)”
    Yes, that is always helpful. The best is taking a picture of a scene and sitting next to it with your notebook. So you can compare the best.

    But anyway, we can never really see the truth. Every picture, sound, smell, etc. is just a subjective interpretation of reality. And so are pictures from cameras. In the end all of our input from the senses, all our thoughts and knowledge is nothing more than neural signals that are made up of an endless series of on and offs or 0 and 1 if you want it that way. Quite an irritating scientific discovery…

    But enough of that! See your Ilford Foto-Paper-Box any way you like. ;)

    Greetings

  41. flyingrooster says:

    Hell, my posts are always long…

  42. flyingrooster says:

    Forgot one point:

    “What darkroom is presenting you is a fine offer if you do not want to work too much on a photo or do not have the time to.”
    Yes, absolutely. I also like SPP very much for delivering very good pictures without having really anything to do about them most of the time. When having to work on hundreds of holiday pics on an individual basis you would go nuts. Because of that many of my pictures are just JPGs out of cam (not with my DP2 ;)). I only do exhaustive work on a few pics that are special to me or more or less planed as “nice shots”…

  43. pedro says:

    Hi,

    flyingrooster, thank you for your long and elaborately reply. Off course I already got what you are explaining. It is an interesting statement for anyone who wants to understand raw-conversion better.

    Not to exceed the discussion now: My interest is to have one tool giving me good results for many purposes for most cases (sometimes it is recommended to go into another but …)and in short time.

    Because I do not really like ACR nor Lightroom and want a app for more than just x3f (we have cr2 and sr2 files also to convert here) reliable and giving good image quality. But in some cases we really need max quality pictures and for that reason we need the possibility to step back all the automatically done picture amendments by the software. For example for enlarged prints or likes.

    You are happy if you can start (sometimes) with really raw files. I am happy if I can have these (when there is need and enough time) but I do work an raws daily, not only sometimes. Ok, there is also jpeg but you know there is less possible then. So you have more to plan and if you have a record with photos shot in advance jpegs make mostly no sense.

    So my strategy here is to convince myself ;-) about the quality and usability of Darkroom 2. Fact is that spp and Darkroom1.7 and ACR and and and (except for Silkypix as you have shown) often do not make it possible to step back behind what the software has already done. This especially true for spp, that noise removing can’t be undone (but I love that special fill-light I could not imitate in other apps yet).

    And I want to believe (and trying to prove this) that Darkroom2 will allow it.

    That is it. Thank you very much for engaging yourself in this discussion and making things clearer too. Hope you had a bit fun with this ‘proceeding’ and the research for it. Fine that you have found YOUR raw converter, hope I will find mine soon.

    If new insights are occuring I will post them.

    btw: I had a closer look to the paper-box today and found that the dark halos around the letters are truly there, they are only partly artefacts.

    pedro

    pedro

  44. flyingrooster says:

    Hi pedro,

    Ok, I understand what you are looking for. If I were you, I’d take whatever RAW converter is able to work with all the different types of files you need. If Darkroom meets that condition just go with it.

    In my opinion it doesn’t really matter that much if it’s SPP, ACR, Lightroom, Darkroom or Silkypix. All of these programs provide great quality pics without any doubt. Billions of breath taking artworks with excellent image quality have been produced with ACR/Lightroom for example – although these programs have some auto adjustments. Silkypix just gives you the little additional option of quitting auto adjustments completely. Chances are high you’ll never be able to tell which software was used if done right, all of the above choices don’t make or break the image at all. And without the slightest doubt, you can print up to any size you want with each of these programs.

    I, for example, will use SPP as I have done before Silkypix came along because it gives you extremely good results “out of the box” without having to do much more with the pictures. That’s just great for most pictures. For the few cases I want to play some more around and really make nearly every single pixel as perfect as possible, i will go with Silkypix.

    So, if Darkroom fulfills your needs, just take it. As I mentioned in my tests above, the result is almost completely the identical to the one from SPP. And since SPP gives excellent results, so does Darkroom. In addition Darkroom offers a lot more options than SPP, e.g. white balance and color adjustments. If Darkroom also supports your required file types, i wouldn’t hesitate at all.

    Greetings

    P.S.: Two of my latest pictures with the DP2 (and SPP) – in case someone is interested… ;)

  45. pedro says:

    Hi,

    that was really a fine final comment. Btw. that cat’s (?) skull looks well. Do you like isolated objects for your pics?

    Perhaps will silkypix be a future option for me. I had only little time to test the app and I was wondering about CMS. Is it possible to work entirely in PhotoProRGB? So workroom in, export in and so. While looking recently I could only find an option for sRGB and AdobeRGB, but for export also PhotoPro. At least for me it was then not possible to export a file in that colourspace.

    So is workflow in PhotoProRGB in SilkyPix possible?

    pedro

  46. Alright guys, I fixed uploaded image size, a bit easier on the eye now. :D I also must add that I follow your discussion with interest. I just wonder if none of you use Raw Developer? :D A fourth or is it fifth possibility.

  47. Flyingrooster, your flowershot is stunning and VERY beautiful! How sould you develop if you used Silkypix? :D

  48. pedro says:

    Hi carl,

    oh we could use a few more. ;-) There is some on-the-fly developers like photoscape and there is photoline with a fully featured raw-developer also for (at least sd) x3f. The number of possiblities for processing x3f is increasing todays.

    Because at least we are here not on Macs raw-developer is not available. So we can’t.

    Nice playground here. ;-)

    pedro

  49. flyingrooster says:

    Hi,

    It’s a tiger’s skull, anyway, just a bigger cat ;)
    Now that you mention it, I like isolating objects by color or blurry backgrounds. That way they just pop out easily. In both pics this has almost exclusively been done with SPP’s fill light and some darkening of shadows.

    I didn’t find the option to work in PhotoProRGB colorspace inside of Silkypix, also just the PhotoProRGB export option. But I don’t know if this is really useful or just a conversion of the workflow colorspace.
    Since I use my pics most of the time onscreen with occasional (also bigger) prints, I simply stick to sRGB for not messing up the whole story, as you sure know that even a little fault in the whole process almost ruins your pics colorwise.
    But as you seem to print on a professional base PhotoProRGB sure is an interesting option. Darkroom has no problem also doing that, but I’m afraid Silkypix does not.

    Greetings

  50. Hi Pedro, I wanna make it even more nice. I’m currently trying to find a way for uploading bigger files and share. At least up to 20MB per upload, so anyone can share a RAW. Or even better. Five!

    My dreamhost account has “unlimited space” and a couple of RAW here and there shouldn’t be a problem.

    Also, if you or anyone else reading this has any good suggestions for further developments then please tell. I’d like to to have a screen share session with many viewers if possible. That would be cool. :D Live sessions.

    Oh well, if you or anyone know anything cool, tell me.

  51. flyingrooster says:

    Hello,

    Well Carl, I definitely would have given Raw Developer a chance too, but can’t find a version for windows. And to be honest – Macs stink :P
    Thanks for the comment on my flower picture. Actually this was just a by-product of some insect-hunting with my new closeup lenses for the DP2…

    Live session – looking forward to this!

  52. Well, if someone wanna see raw developer in action, skype me: rytterfalk and using the latest skype we now have Share Screen! :) Works great!

  53. pedro says:

    Hi to all,

    just have seen that several people around the world have been interested in my test-package for flyingrooster’s experiment comparing raw-converters. Sorry that the package was not available. I am now uploading it again. So, if anyone is waiting to proceed his/her experiments, you can go on: http://federargumenteuropa2.eu/pedro/experiment.zip (from 3 pm MEZ on the package should be available again).

    Have fun if possible ;-)

    pedro

  54. Hi all,
    Thanks for your comments which have opened my eyes. I thought that using any Raw converter I could play with the original RAW image, but of course I was wrong !
    I’ve just bought a DP1 and, while waiting for it, I’ve started to play with Carl pictures. My major concern is about stair stepping that easily shows off when sharpening in high contrasted areas.
    Silkypix is probably more conservative than other converters, but not so conservative either.
    I’ve played with DCRAW, the famous converter used by many other programs, like ACR, and I can say that the softness remarked here above in ACR pictures is probably due to the dematricing algorithm employed (AHD or other), which certainly doesn’t fit foveon characteristics.
    DCRAW used without any algorithm produces a picture that might be a tad more detailed and sharper than Silkypix one – but also showing more chromatic aberrations.
    Here you will find the ISO 200 picture treated with DCRAW and AHD algorithm (16 bit Tiff, I’ve only applied automatic contrast in Photoshop, then converted into jpeg) : http://www.flickr.com/photos/imagesdedanse/4017126469/sizes/o/
    And here the same picture, DCRAW without any algorithm (same treatment + saturation to taste in Photoshop) : http://www.flickr.com/photos/imagesdedanse/4017889112/sizes/o/
    IMHO, the first one looks awful (most fine details are lost), and the latter just brilliant, despite some noise and chromatic aberrations.
    Tell me what you think about it.

  55. Jérôme, I’d love to see your versions, but I can’t. You have some restrictions set.

  56. Anonymous says:

    What puzzles me is that DCRAW doesn’t support DP1 format yet (Dave Coffin promises to work on it this winter : http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:jyUhaoVh0FwJ:forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp%3Fforum%3D1027%26message%3D29321858+dcraw+dp1&cd=1&hl=fr&ct=clnk&gl=fr), only SD X3F like above.
    Since Irfanview, Camera Raw and others can read DP1 RAW files, that means that they don’t use DCRAW, or at least don’t use it anymore.

  57. Sorry Carl, You should be able to see them now ;-).

  58. flyingrooster says:

    Hi Jérôme,

    Right on to your comments:

    – My major concern is about stair stepping that easily shows off when sharpening in high contrasted areas. –
    Yes, you do have aliasing effects quite easy when sharpening high contrasted areas. Because (today’s) Foveon pictures have relatively low absolute pixel dimensions on the one hand and are sharp down to pixel level on the other hand. This just has to happen, no real matter what sharping algorithm is being used. The Bayer pattern starts with a much softer image and (in general) more than twice the pixel density right away on the other hand. So it’s a lot more forgiving regarding sharpening artefacts. But Foveon pics usually only need very light sharpening, if any at all. So, at least for me, that was never an issue.

    – …the softness remarked here above in ACR pictures is probably due to the dematricing algorithm employed (AHD or other), which certainly doesn’t fit foveon characteristics. –
    I agree, some demosaicing process might also be involved in the softening effect. But pretty much the same amount of softening can also be seen in any other non-Foveon camera with ACR, so i guess the main part also here results from the automatic denoising function.

    Your samples show the effect of demosaicing algorithms very well, nice example. Since one of Foveon’s advantages is, that it absolutely doesn’t need any demosaicing algorithm and fiddling around with AHD, VNG, PPG and what not – because there simply is nothing to demosaic – I really wonder how that technically works within the same converter. Are Sigma files not demosaiced by default, or are they, as Jérôme showed that files can be demosaiced although that’s complete nonsense?

    Greetings

    P.S.: Carl, I#m not at home for the next few days, so it will take some more time until I will try to do my best with the file you uploaded… thanks anyway.

  59. By default, DCRAW doesn’t apply any denoising. There’s a parameter for that (-n) which I didn’t use. So why DCRAW “raw” image seems less noisy than Silkypix one ? May be because DCRAW fits less foveon pictures. DCRAW author, David Coffin, admits himself in his FAQ (http://cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/) :

    “Why are there false colors along edges within the image?
    Because of interpolation. This is a hard problem [...]
    Dcraw currently gives a choice of four methods: Bilinear, Variable Number of Gradients (VNG), Patterned Pixel Grouping (PPG), and Adaptive Homogeneity-Directed (AHD).

    The Foveon X3 Capture chip requires a different kind of interpolation. Unlike CCD arrays, it captures three colors at every pixel location. But the colors are not well separated, so the raw data looks very gray. Much processing is needed to enhance color while suppressing noise.”

    I do hope that Dave Coffin will manage to decode DP1 files as he did for the SD14. To me DCRAW is a serious alternative to the softwares mentioned above, and it is free (you can use it in GIMP with the UFRRAW plugin).

  60. Really like this post, thanks for writing.

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