DPR Forum

Welcome to the Friendly Aisles!
Register now and use your old dpreview username.
Enjoy this modern, easy to use software. Look also at our Reviews & Gallery!

Real Alternatives to Sigma's Photo Pro

Steaphany

Well-Known Member
This is a spin off from the SD14 Bulb & telescope adapter thread on the Sigma Cameras (digital & analogue) forum.

In searching for more software packages to improve signal to noise levels of images, I found DeepSkyStacker, a very sophisticated noise reduction program specifically designed for astronomical photography.

While reading through the DeepSkyStacker Technical Detail documentation, I found a beautiful gem which will be valued by every photographer slowed down by Sigma Photo Pro. DeepSkyStacker reads the RAW files created by DSLRs, including the SD9, SD10, and SD14, are decoded using DCRAW by Dave Coffin.

I took a look at the DCRAW web page and found that it is the RAW decoding base software behind a long list of image processing applications. It is small, free, and intended to out perform packages provided by the camera manufacturers. CDRAW is written in C and highly portable to any operating system, meaning that photographers are no longer locked into what ever Sigma decides as supported platforms for Photo Pro.

To my surprise, I already had one of the image applications listed. I called it up and opened a SD14 X3F file, Wow, I had the image on my screen in seconds, not minutes as with Photo Pro.

Here is the URL for CDRAW:

http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/

Just scroll down to the section titled Other Raw Photo Decoders to see the list of what's available as alternatives to Sigma Photo Pro.

The image viewer that I already had long before buying my SD14 is IrfanView, a fast free image viewing package for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista.

For those interested in trying it out, here is the IrfanView Web site:

http://www.irfanview.com/index.htm

I have not gone through all the packages listed on the CDRAW site. I'm just familure with IrfanView, Iris, and DeepSkyStacker. I may take a look at some, but it's a long listing with 51 packages, besides, I already have a free package which out performs Sigma's.
 
Just an add on note, when I called up the image information in IrfanView, it listed the load time for a 2640 x 1760 pixel 12.29 MB SD14 X3F file at 4.4 Seconds !!!
 
I want to share the results of a performance comparison between Photo Pro and IrfanView.

To allow everyone to see the side by side results, I'll be posting jpg screen captures.

The test consisted of converting a SD14 X3F image into Tiff format without any compression and also into JPG at the highest possible quality in both Photo Pro and IrfanView.

The first attached screen capture is from the Photo Pro thumbnail view displaying the image information.

Apart from IrfanView loosing the EXIF details, the files created by IrfanView are significantly smaller than those created by Photo Pro. One thing that caught me off guard was the conversion time, I did not realize that IrfanView was done and surprised to see how fast it was.

The second two attached screen captures are from Photo Pro and IrfanView respectively, Photo Pro set to show the largest thumb nails available and IrfanView set to show 200x200 pixel thumb nails. (IrfanView can go as high as 800x800 pixel thumb nails). I chose this presentation to capture how the resulting conversions differ.

Compare the five images and it's obvious that

1 The Photo Pro created JPG is far darker than the X3F original
2 The Photo Pro created Tiff has less saturation than the X3F original
3 The IrfanView created images have a softer look than the X3F original

But, over all, the IrfanView created images are far closer to the original than those created by Photo Pro.

The time savings are the greatest difference, Photo Pro takes minutes and hogs the computer the whole time, IrfanView takes seconds.
 

Attachments

  • PhotoPro_Info.jpg
    EXIF
    PhotoPro_Info.jpg
    92.1 KB · Views: 24
  • PhotoPro_Detail.jpg
    EXIF
    PhotoPro_Detail.jpg
    221.4 KB · Views: 39
  • IrfanView_Detail.jpg
    EXIF
    IrfanView_Detail.jpg
    47.7 KB · Views: 29
Hi Steaphany,

thanks for your very busy and highly interesting post!!

I am just trying to install dcraw on my WIN XP computer but do nut really manage?!

Could you explain installation step by step?!

So far I got two files ... "dcraw.c / dcraw.exe" ??!

How to procede?!

Thanks for an answer!

see you with nice pictures

Klaus
 
Hi Klaus,

Unless you are going to delve into the code, you do not need the dcraw.c file.

The dcraw.exe is a command line program which you would run from a DOS style command prompt window.

I've downloaded dcraw.exe from http://www.insflug.org/raw/file_download/3/dcraw.exe which is build version 8.88 Revision: 1.405 Date: 2008/09/15 22:29:19 with a size of only 447 KB.

The dcraw.exe file is downloaded and saved to your C:\Windows folder.

Open a Command Prompt window and simply enter the command dcraw followed by the enter key. There is no need to enter any options or files at this moment and if all is well, dcraw will provide a listing of the version, commmand line usage, and the list of dcraw options.

I've attached a screen capture of this listing from my computer.

Now, it's time to start playing with images. Detailed command usage along with a listing of all possible command options is available from http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/dcraw.1.html

In the second screen attachment, I run an actual dcraw command. I navigate into the directory where I have the files from my previous post and enter:

dcraw -i *

As expected, the SDIM0011.X3F is properly identified as a SD14 file.

The most simple use of dcraw is to specify a file with no options, as in:

dcraw sdim0011.x3f

The third screen capture shows this command followed by a listing of the files from the dir command. Note that the default output from dcraw created sdim0011.ppm, a portable pixmap file format image. On my computers, I have no problem working with ppm files, but dcraw can also output a Tiff file as in:

dcraw -T sdim0011.x3f

The fourth screen capture demonstrates this command. Please note that the case, whether upper or lower, is significant when specifying command line options.

Some items to note, the files created by dcraw, both the ppm and Tiff, are only slightly larger than the original SD14 X3F file, nearly identical in size to each other, just a little smaller than the Tiff file created by IrfanView, and significantly smaller than the Tiff output from Photo Pro. The time that dcraw takes to convert from X3F to Tiff or ppm is not long at all and a far less painful wait than Photo Pro.

Now, I'm sure you'd like to see how dcraw compares to Sigma Photo Pro and IrfanView. The fifth screen capture of the IrfanView Thumb nail view of all of these images side by side. Remember that the conversions from the X3F were all default with no adjustments, compensations, or manipulations. I've noticed that the dcraw ppm and Tiff files are just a little less saturated than the X3F original.

I'm sure some may feel dcraw may be difficult to use, especially if you have little command line experience, but please keep in mind that this tool was developed for the UNIX and Linux environments, where there can be a fair amount of command line usage. Also keep in mind that dcraw can easily batch conversions. Just put all the X3Fs into a directory and enter

dcraw -T *.x3f

and away it'll go.

I personally have not gone into it's use with the image adjustment or manipulation options yet, so I'm no expert and it's new to me as well.
 

Attachments

  • dcraw_usage.jpg
    EXIF
    dcraw_usage.jpg
    116.9 KB · Views: 11
  • dcraw_-i.jpg
    EXIF
    dcraw_-i.jpg
    77.3 KB · Views: 8
  • dcraw_file.jpg
    EXIF
    dcraw_file.jpg
    61.7 KB · Views: 8
  • dcraw_-T_file.jpg
    EXIF
    dcraw_-T_file.jpg
    65.3 KB · Views: 10
  • Results.jpg
    EXIF
    Results.jpg
    66.1 KB · Views: 17
Hi Steaphany,
thanks for your work and the detailed instructions.
To me it looks to be a quick and handy tool for batch conversions.
On the ohter hand,if one wants to do fine tuning it is a lot of typing and,
if I understand right,each step creates a new file as every step is saved and
has to be deleted manually.So one must keep good track of the file structure
on his disk.:)
Regards
Uwe
 
Hi Steaphany,

this sounds very interesting! The drawback is of course that you can not adjust the image before saving in Jpeg.

I foind one of the pro arguments for the SPP software the possibility to make basic image adjustements which sometiems looks better then made in i.e. Adobe Lightroom/ Photoshop CS3.

I wonder whether anybody has an idea, whether it would be possible to convert a Sigma RAW into a DNG Raw without loosing too much infomrmation and then make the adjustements with teh DNG RAW File in another software. But I am afraid, that this will still lead to "not as good" results like doing the same in SPP...

Best wishes
 
Hi Steaphany,

thanks a lot again for all your efforts! :z02_respekt:

you did really good work here!

Now I have got it!! :)

There is just one point, I would like to add for those, who are no experts on the "old" DOS World!

It is necessary to type "cmd" at the commsnd prompt to open a permanent DOS Window under XP. Otherwise your DOS window collapses within a second after flashing on your monitor screen!

Well, SPP is no turbo ... certainly! But ... A SIGMA DSLR is no turbo either! :)
Working with the advanced converters like SIGMA-SPP / ACR = (ADOBE camera RAW) / or RAW-Photo-Studio is a comparatively slow business ... but provides the opportunity to really polish up your image result!

As far as I am concerned ... I simply am that patient!

Well, coming back to the thread's title ... there are an infinite number of alternatives to the three converters, I just mentioned above.

We virtually can use any RAW-converter on the market going a little roundabout route ....

The ADOBE DNG Converter can turn our *.X3F files into the standardised *.DNG format. Then, we can go for any converter available.

http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/18433

It now manages SIGMA DP1 RAWs as well.

If the X3F conversion to the DNG format is a lossy business or not is under heavy dispute. If that is the case, I do not see it. My results were very good.


See you with nice pictures

Klaus
 
This is a spin off from the SD14 Bulb & telescope adapter thread on the Sigma Cameras (digital & analogue) forum.

The image viewer that I already had long before buying my SD14 is IrfanView, a fast free image viewing package for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista.

For those interested in trying it out, here is the IrfanView Web site:

http://www.irfanview.com/index.htm

I have not gone through all the packages listed on the CDRAW site. I'm just familure with IrfanView, Iris, and DeepSkyStacker. I may take a look at some, but it's a long listing with 51 packages, besides, I already have a free package which out performs Sigma's.

Ivan Image Converter. It converts your Sigma Camera Raw files (X3F) to JPEG, TIFF, BMP, etc. (more than 40 image formats), also in batch mode or command line. You can edit Sigma RAW images directly in the program with a range of handy tools (resize, rotate, flip, mirror, crop, filters, watermarks, morphing effects, color enhancements, etc.).
more info here: http://www.ivanview.com/ivan-image-converter.html
 
This is a spin off from the SD14 Bulb & telescope adapter thread on the Sigma Cameras (digital & analogue) forum.

The image viewer that I already had long before buying my SD14 is IrfanView, a fast free image viewing package for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista.

For those interested in trying it out, here is the IrfanView Web site:

http://www.irfanview.com/index.htm

I have not gone through all the packages listed on the CDRAW site. I'm just familure with IrfanView, Iris, and DeepSkyStacker. I may take a look at some, but it's a long listing with 51 packages, besides, I already have a free package which out performs Sigma's.

Ivan Image Converter. It converts your Sigma Camera Raw files (X3F) to JPEG, TIFF, BMP, etc. (more than 40 image formats), also in batch mode or command line. You can edit Sigma RAW images directly in the program with a range of handy tools (resize, rotate, flip, mirror, crop, filters, watermarks, morphing effects, color enhancements, etc.).
more info here: ivanview.com
 
Back
Top