Lightroom or DXO Optics for A77 Raw?

Raw files is the original image file produce by specific camera. It is unprocessed and retain the original data from the camera sensor. Simply says, the master copy of your picture, just like the master tape of audio record before it is produce into CD or digital format. Most prosumer cameras allows you to save picture into raw format. It is not common to compact camera because most consumer will not reprocess the raw picture which is huge file size and slow down the computer. Average image post processing skill is required. Also each camera raw files is different and there is not many software supported, even to open it for viewing is a issue. Very not user friendly. Then why we want the raw files? Just because we want to dig more details out from it, reprocess it at the highest quality as we can.

Sony Alpha DSLT A77 raw files is quite… noisy. At least that’s my impression when I open up it up in Lightroom. I found the A700 is much more presentable. So the question is how can we get better image quality from a raw file? Let look at following example. The unprocessed Raw file on left show more details than the JPEG file on right.

Raw vs JPEG

As I mentioned earlier, there is not many software supported Raw file. When there is new camera release, the software usually require update before it can read the new camera raw files. Tedious. Also in later stage, the new raw processor might able to reprocess the raw file better. That’s the advantage to keep raw file by most professional photographer. Just like the film negative, a better technology able to revive it in future. Personally I like to use Lightroom and DXO Optics Pro for raw image processing. Lightroom version 3.5 is already compatible with A77 raw files even before the camera was release on sale. And recently DXO Optics Pro 7 has add A77 into their support list. So now we see head to head of Lightroom and DXO, see which give better image quality.

The objective is to compare Raw file converted into JPEG by using Lightroom and DXO. We will look and the fine details and noise. Because this two are essentials in a raw file. The ultimate would be retain fine details and same time eliminate image noise. But in actual both action are contradict each other.

Left : DXO Optics Pro V7.0, JPEG Quality 100
Right : Adobe Lightroom V3.5, JPEG Quality 100

Almost no different in full size viewing

In 100% view Lightroom has better details

Again, Lightroom wins this round

Second round, we will examine noise and details

Look at the purple, DXO has almost no noise. But the cloth looks grainy. LR is losing in detail and patchy noise.

Let's look at the hair. DXO blended it into watercolor while Lightroom is slightly better

How about the face? I like lightroom version, simply sharper and stand out

The DXO looks warmer and more natural. Lightroom has a pint tint on.

Yeah! Lightroom give a pink tint but this is not white balance battle. Image detail slightly pro towards Lightroom

Again, DXO less noise and less details. Lightroom just better in detail.

It would be a tough choice, either to retain detail or remove noise? Of course no one will blow up the picture at 100% and view it that way everyday. If these picture are make for Facebook sharing or even a 4R print will be no different at all. Camera and image software both are tool, I will make the right call at right time. Personally I like DXO because it is cheaper and done the something as Lightroom (don’t worry about those hair details). But Lightroom has better image management functions also faster processing speed. It is about 3 times faster than DXO. It is really a tough call to choose only one. Lucky I have both 🙂

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