Best RAW converter?

KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
edited April 2015 in Nikon DSLR cameras
A couple of years ago the big showdown between RAW converters put "Capture One Pro" and "DXO Optics Pro" way ahead of the rest of the pack. The second tier was "Photo Ninja" and Irident Developer". "RAW Photo Processor", "Lightroom", "Aperture", and "AfterShoot Pro" took the honors of being at the bottom.

What's the verdict now? With our toptuned 36MP cameras it is important now as ever...
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Comments

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The best RAW converter for Nikon cameras is NX-D. It has all of the proprietary Nikon goodness built in, and they understand their own sensors better than anyone else. My second would be RAWTherapee, as it supports the Adobe lens profiles.

    Implicit in your question is that there is more than one step involved. I personally use NX-D to do the initial conversion, get the white balance close, and any minor tone-mapping. For anything more complicated, I'll take a TIFF and pull it into PS or LR. Other folks will recommend DarkTable and thats not a bad way to go either.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    Between Adobe RAW, Nikon NX-D, Aperture on Mac, I find NX-D to be the best. Haven't tried all though.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • ggbutcherggbutcher Posts: 371Member
    edited April 2015
    I use Raw Therapee. Free, color-managed, all the tools I use to work images. When I'm not just fiddling with my +9-sharpend JPEGs...:)
    Post edited by ggbutcher on
  • kanuckkanuck Posts: 1,300Member
    edited April 2015
    I still think it is Adobe RAW converter, but a lot is dependent on your computer setup I think too. I really tried to like Nikon's free software with their camera bodies, but it just doesn't get it done for my purposes. I've been less than happy with the Adobe RAW converter since the change in software from 5.1 to CC. Last great version was 7.3.
    Post edited by kanuck on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,493Member
    Capture NX-D is good for some things, but as a RAW converter it's lacking. It just does not take full advantage of what the NEF files are capable of, in my experience anyway.

    I don't think there is a "Best RAW converter", but rather ones that work better with a given camera than another. I've worked with at least 6 different RAW converters, and frankly none of them were that much better than another. Some were better at a given aspect of RAW conversion than others, but weaker in other areas. Picking a good RAW converter is more a matter of finding the one with the least compromises, and that works best with the way you want to work with the files.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 1,003Member
    If you are shooting RAW then chances are you really care more about manipulating the image than the true to life conversion. While the sentiment favors Nikon's own programs for true to life conversions, manipulating the image is really up to what programs you are most comfortable using. IMHO the program you know how to fully use will beat another superior program that you are unfamiliar with.
    My major problem is that over time the RAW manipulations get better, such that images shot on RAW say 4 years ago look better with greater manipulation using today's software. This is a good problem to have though.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited April 2015
    If you are shooting RAW then chances are you really care more about manipulating the image than the true to life conversion. ......the program you know how to fully use will beat another superior program that you are unfamiliar with.
    Very good point
    Although I am not sure what true to life conversion. really means .The image below is manipulated in LR5. It not quite true to life but it is certainly what i intended to end up with, when I set to the location 3 hours earlier

    image





    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • danhowldanhowl Posts: 36Member
    Though I can't say that I've tried too many others, I stick to Capture One Pro because at least half my shoots are tethered studio shoots and I have just gotten to know C1P. I've recently tried their black and white features with success. I never really clicked with Lightroom. Although the idea of a really killer development software is interesting, I'm probably going to stick with what I can use for capture and processing. The better I know something, the more I get out of it.
    D3X, D800, 17-35, 28-70, Zeiss 55mm OTUS, 85mm Zeiss CF.2, 85mm PCE, 70-200 VRII, 105DC
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    The better I know something, the more I get out of it.
    yes.

    ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • kanuckkanuck Posts: 1,300Member
    Sevencrossing's work is always quite good so not too surprised here. +2 on the manhattenboy comment as well. So true that the best software is the one that you know the best. Probably why after all these years of training and personal experimentation with Adobe software, I don't really want to get into Nikon software. However, I do admit that I am a Silver Efex 2.0 junkie, but this strays a bit off topic from the RAW conversion topic so I digress.
  • funtagraphfuntagraph Posts: 265Member
    The best RAW converter for Nikon cameras is NX-D. It has all of the proprietary Nikon goodness built in, and they understand their own sensors better than anyone else. My second would be RAWTherapee, as it supports the Adobe lens profiles.
    Because Texaco understands their own fuel best, they are making the best cars for it…

    I often read statements like this. I just don't understand them.
    1. Nikon is not making "their own sensors", Sony and Toshiba are - so those companies should be in charge if this logic would be valid.
    2. Software is not only about the result, it's also about usability and workflow. Alright, one could say their camera interfaces are also pretty complicated…
    3. The bets result is, what I like and what I intended to see when I was taking the photo. I don't care much about "as close as possible to what the engineers were told to do so" but I do care about as close as much to my desired result.

    So it might be valid for you to say "the best RAW converter is made by Nikon" (actually the guys of Silkypix are coding it), but I am often looking at others and still returning to Aperture because to me it's the most convenient. Which goes as well for Lightroom if one is used to that one. Capture One is also okay bit the rest is more or less some kind of user interface around the algorithms and not too much thought about the whole process.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Nikon may have Sony or Aptina manufacture their sensors, and they do start with a basic design from them, but much of the design is proprietary to Nikon. If it were a pure Sony design, we would see 36mp Sony cameras that rival the D800, however their 36mp camera, the A7R, is not as good. Also, Nikon is the only one who can Engineer software to work specifically with their sensors. Everyone else has to Reverse Engineer their software. Nikon software engineers are the ones that inserted the libraries specific to Nikon sensors into the SilkyPix code; they will not release source or specs to them, only binaries.
    FWIW, I agree with you that it is all about the workflow, the RAW converter isn't the most important part of that, but is has to be "good enough" and LR and Aperture are okay, but not the cat's meow. Also Apple ain't speedy about supporting new models (see reverse engineering), whereas Nikon has support from day one.
  • funtagraphfuntagraph Posts: 265Member
    edited April 2015
    plus, Apple is usually in the last in line when it comes to new cameras - every other RAW converter is usually quicker up to date. If I could have Aperture's interface and workflow and a state of the art RAW-converter, I'd be happy to make the switch. Now, that I have and need Sigma's converter for their Foveon sensors I need to take a closer look to the standalone asset management systems like photomechanic. Just no one offers face recognition except Lightroom and as far as I know adobe it will be a bad copy of what Aperture still can do.

    But I still don't think Nikon knows best how to get the maximum out of their sensors, at least not better than their manufacturers. Sony, Aptina, Toshiba can't manufacture without specs and Nikon doesn't do any extra hardware magic to it. However, when Nikon manufactured the Fujifilm bodies, the sensors were taken out from Fuji engineers before a malfunctioning body would make it's way to Nikon repair - I really don't see the point of such a procedure.
    Post edited by funtagraph on
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    I just recall reading in-depth analyses DPreview did comparing Nikon's tools to others. Nikon consistently won. It was years ago, maybe things have changed.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • funtagraphfuntagraph Posts: 265Member
    But you know, Nikon changed their converter? So things changed for sure, the question is "for the better"?
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,370Member
    Best raw converter is in the camera ...adjustable sharpness/contrast etc and very fast...works for me
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,493Member
    If you are going to use the in camera RAW converter, you might as well just shoot jpeg, it's the same thing.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited April 2015
    The Nikon software NX-D, NX2, employ the exact same algorithms as the cameras. You produce an identical JPG if you use the same Picture Control settings. This means @Pistnbroke agrees with me, Nikon's software is the best, simply because they can engineer it to be, no need to reverse engineer the data. Shoot RAW, convert later.
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • funtagraphfuntagraph Posts: 265Member
    Yeah, and because the camera display is such a highly colour accurate screen, people buying RAW converters must be kind of stupid… %-(
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Buying yes, when the best ones are free!
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,493Member
    edited April 2015
    NX-D is hardly the best. I have edited the same photo in NX-D, Aperture 3, Lightroom 5 and several other editors. The one out of NX-D was always one of the worst outputs in terms of colour, noise reduction, and more. The program does not take full advantage of the sensors dynamic range, nor does it have enough tools to really be considered even a mid-range RAW converter. Sorry, but it's true.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited April 2015
    I was talking about RawTherapee, plus what you say is subjective. It would be good to back that up with measurements, and objective comparisons. Not challenging your opinion, just saying there is room to disagree. I personally think LR is the worst, and Aperture a close second in terms of color rendering and noise reduction.
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    Cameras converting to jpg do not have the time or computing power that a real computer has.

    If condition are good, anything looks OK if that is your standard.

    .... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

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