DXO Optics Pro 9 Noise Removal (a quick test)

If you shoot with a wide variety of camera bodies and lenses but want to shoot in RAW, there are a few options available to smooth out the work needed to process your shots.

_MG_0115_DxO_s

The original scene. The enlargement is from the centre left.

Converting to DNG format, then opening in Photoshop is an option, but correcting 3rd party lens distortion on each individual shot is laborious. Alternatively you could switch between the RAW converters provided by the camera manufacturer, but they won’t correct 3rd party lenses either. This is where DXO Optics excels. It can load and process most camera/lens formats without any fuss – a real time saver.

In addition to lots of advanced image processing options (including integration with Filmpack 4), it offers a new noise reduction called PRIME (Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement), which takes a few minutes to process an image. As it looked like it was doing a lot of work it seemed worth a quick test.

_MG_0115_DxO_nonoise_s

An enlargement from the centre left. No noise reduction – and pretty grainy. Good enough for a small print but quite ugly.

I don’t often shoot above ISO 800, but with a slow wide-angle (a Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6), no IS and no tripod in a dark interior, higher ISOs are needed. This was taken on a Canon 60D at 6400 ISO – an insane sensitivity for an old film shooter – the nearest film I can remember which would come close was Kodak’s Professional T-Max P3200, but the results would only be useable if you really wanted a very grainy look.

_MG_0115_DxO_standard_s

Standard noise reduction setting. This is very good but there’s still a fair degree of visible noise (look at the pillar on the left).

The standard noise reduction offered by DXO is better than most, but it can’t work miracles as the image above demonstrates. It’s fairly quick to process an 18Mp image however.

_MG_0115_DxO_prime_s

Processed using DXO’s PRIME noise reduction. This takes a few minutes to complete processing on a basic spec quad core I5 PC.

Personally I’d say this is excellent – better than anything else I’ve tried. There’s inevitably a tiny loss of detail (check the detail in those gold finials), but it’s more than worth it for the improvement in noise over the standard processing. It would be better to keep a tripod in the car of course, but in an emergency it’s good to know it’s possible to shoot at high ISOs in an emergency and still get useable results.

Hope you find this useful – thanks for looking.

p.s. I’m not connected with DXO in any way – just using their software.

Advertisements

Olympus PEN Dramatic Tone

As you might have guessed from the previous post, I’ve been messing around with an Olympus EPL5 lately, having sold my EPL3 earlier in the year. What I really missed was the ‘Dramatic Tone’ art filter, which is proving useful in dragging some useful images out of an otherwise overcast few days (it’s quite useful when used on video too).

A walk up on the downland on a dull day – the filter really pulls detail out of flat cloud and the pseudo ‘HDR’ effect can produce a subtle infra red effect.

It’s not great for every scene, but when the light is just right – mixed overcast when normal photography produces flat uninteresting images – this can produce some intriguing results.  These are all straight JPEGs (plus a Raw file as a backup), toned in DXO filmpack.

Sometimes the results are a real surprise – this looked nothing like this to the naked eye, but through the viewfinder (or LCD) the effects can be judged quite accurately. A real transformation of reality!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shot a few minutes earlier that the first shot – and completely different.

These are shot using the monochrome filter, the colour version produces results which look too artificial for my taste. You could of course argue that these look artificial – however years ago I used to work for hours in a wet darkroom to produce similar effects and it never occurred to me that I was doing any ‘unethical’ post processing. Maybe our negative attitude to computer/camera based post-processing is that the results weren’t produced by traditional darkroom skills? Whatever the reason, the results are good enough for me not to worry about it any more!

In some circumstances the images just look like a lightly dodged/burned print :-

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This result was more predictable – the cloud forms were visible to the naked eye and all it needed was something interesting in silhouette.

And on other occasions the dodge/burn effect is less than subtle…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one is possibly looks too over-processed!

So, whatever your attitude to post-processing images – thanks for looking and hope you like them.

A Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6 on a Canon 60D (and a new post-processing program!)

I’ve been doing some test shoots recently for a long-term video project, and have finally hit the need for something wider than the 15mm (24mm equivalent) wide setting on my 15-85mm Canon lens. Not wishing to shell out too much as I seldom use this focal length for stills, I decided the Sigma 10-20mm lens (16-32mm equivalent) would be worth a try as it’s 2/3 the cost of the Canon APS-C equivalent, and according to the online reviews, not too bad at all. If you’re considering one – or just interested – read on!

_DSC1143_DxOs (2)

On the 60D – quite nicely balanced and pretty light.

The lens is constructed of good quality plastics with a zoom ring (back of the lens) and manual focus ring (front of the lens) along with a snazzy gold band near the filter. There’s a focus distance window which looks nice but isn’t very useful due to the deep depth of field on all wide-angle lenses (the marking after infinity is 3m!). The only other controls are the AF/MF switch and depth of field button. The filter thread is 77mm – filters will be expensive but that wide diameter is inevitable in a lens of this extreme focal length and format. Minimum focus is around 24cm but the wide-angle distortion at that distance is ferocious so not an ideal macro lens…

Everything seems to work smoothly with no unevenness in the zoom and focus controls. Minimum aperture is f22 at the 10mm end or f32 at the 20mm end, though at these small apertures dust spots on a sensor will show easily and diffraction will start to make things very soft. A neutral density filter would be a better solution if you want to use a slow shutter speed.

So no bells and whistles but everything that’s needed. There’s no image stabilisation but at these focal lengths slower shutter speeds are more useable so it’s not that useful anyway.

On to the coverage – all taken from the same spot.

_MG_0133s

The view at 10mm and 16mm equivalent in 35mm camera terms. 102 degrees from left to right so pretty wide and what you would use this lens for for 90 percent of the time.

_MG_0134s

At 14mm ish and around a 24mm in 35mm camera terms.

_MG_0135s

At 20 mm – 32mm equivalent in 35mm camera terms.

    Stills results are, as you’d expect for a lens of these extreme focal lengths and price, best described as ‘variable’. At maximum apertures and all focal lengths the frame edges are noticeably soft but the centre is sharp enough. However stop it down to f8 to f11 and things improve dramatically to a point where they are very impressive. Past f11 the performance drops off quickly as diffraction starts to soften the image. Distortion and vignetting at the 10mm end are noticeable, again as expected but chromatic aberration is minimal.

  The HD video results are fine – the final images are only 2Mp after all. However, finding this lens to be pretty good at controlled apertures for stills, I inevitably wanted to see how the results could be improved in post processing and hit a snag….

  If you’re a RAW shooter who uses Canon’s supplied DPP software (as I am) you’ll now face a problem correcting distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting. DPP only supports Canon lenses – they aren’t interested in supporting third-party lens sales! However, DXO provide a solution in the form of Optics Pro 8 which is a sort of DPP for many camera bodies and lens combinations, and seems pretty good at correcting not only this combination but hundreds of others.

  So for the test shot – processed in DXO Optics and taken at the 10mm end at f8 at 1/250th of a second, ISO 100.

_MG_0146_DxO (2)

At 10mm and the distortion to the near right garages is obvious but inevitable. Keeping the lens perfectly horizontal would have helped.

no_cacorr_MG_0146s_DxO (2)

The uncorrected result (chromatic aberration correction turned off) from left centre of the frame. There is some red CA between the white window frame and dark window glass. For a budget lens at this extreme focal length this is superb – but still needs correcting!

_MG_0146_DxOs (2)

The corrected image – CA has gone and the whole image is nicely sharpened – magic!

So a very acceptable result at a budget price – even with the additional cost of the DXO software it’s still cheaper than the Canon EF-S lens (which I’m sure is very good). In addition Optics Pro corrects the results on shots taken with all my old cameras including the Canon G9 and Olympus EPL3 as well as the ‘in use’ RX100 and 60D with Canon lenses. MF lenses aren’t covered unfortunately (maybe an unrealistic expectation), but a version of DXO filmpack is included in the package so it manages to replace three post-processing programs. I’m impressed!

Hope you find this useful and thanks for looking.

p.s. I’m not connected with Canon, DXO or any other companies – just using their stuff….

DXO Filmpack – B/W and Cross Processing Simulation

I’ve spent hours in Photoshop tweaking colour settings and black and white conversions options on a shot, often abandoning the process as a different idea for the final ‘look’ suggests itself. What I wanted was software which would present a gallery of post processing ideas which would get me to the best result quickly – but couldn’t find any.

Capture

I tried a trial copy of DXO Filmpack last year and realised that it gave me something close to what I’d wanted – though its not it’s main purpose! This is a mini test of some of the DXO Filmpack options.

A screenshot is shown above – the film types along the bottom and some editing tools on the right with the current simulation displayed in the centre. The tabs above the filmstrip allow the different film simulations to be selected.

So with a straight shot from a Canon 60D with ‘neutral’ colour profile chosen on the RAW conversion, lets have a look at some of the B/W and cross processing options. All are untweaked and the default result of the film simulator. The subject is the mill used in the Adox CMS20 mini test on a clear winter’s morning.

original

This next shot is the cross processed Kodak Elite 100 simulation – a dramatic difference but the saturation needs taking down a bit.

xprocessed_kidak_elite_100

This is cross processed Fuji Superia 200 – as with the other cross processed shots, a little less blue is needed but otherwise not bad.

xprocessed_fuju_superia_200

Now things get interesting – B/W simulations. This is Rollei Retro 80s, a film I didn’t get on with as it was much too contrasty. This is reflected in the simulation but it’s more useable as an image than my attempts with the film.

rollei_retro_80s

This one is Rollei Ortho 25 – a good simulation of high contrast treatment.

rollei_ortho25

Finally Rollei IR 400. Not a real IR effect but quite close, and for this one the added grain was removed. A general criticism of DXO Filmpack is that it adds too much grain for higher speed films by default. Rollei IR film isn’t that grainy at all!

rollei_ir_400

Shooting film is still my preferred option, but if film isn’t for you, the question is – is DXO Filmpack a good film simulator? Well if you put in quite a bit of effort the results can be excellent, but the defaults are a bit strong, and the added grain can be excessive – especially for higher speed films. All of these things can be altered in the editor panel.

As a quick evaluation tool for different processing options though, it’s brilliant! Even if I can’t get exactly the result in DXO I can go into Photoshop and know what look I want to create immediately.

I’ll do a post on the colour film and creative presets soon.

I’m not associated with DXO in any way by the way – I just use this software!

If anyone would like to see what their favourite film looks like ‘simulated’ let me know and I’ll add it to the post.

Thanks for looking.

p.s. it works just as well on film scans!