Why you should develop your RAW files before stitching them  

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DrSlony
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Why you should develop your RAW files before stitching them

by DrSlony » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:03 pm

Autopano is a dedicated stitching program. Stitching is what it does best. But when you shoot photos using RAW formats, you need to do something more to them, something very important: demosaicing.

There are many dedicated RAW conversion programs out there, choosing them is no easy task. I choose RawTherapee because I am really impressed with the quality it delivers, the speed with which it works, the GUI, and because it's open source and cross platform (Linux, Windows, and possibly soon Mac), so everyone can give it a go and help make it better.

Apart for noise reduction, devignetting, chromatic aberration removal, and countless other filters, the task of a RAW conversion program, above anything else, is to demosaic your image - that is to take the data from each pixel of the camera sensor, and reconstruct it into a full color image. There are many approaches to doing this, many algorithms, and you should know which one works best for your camera's sensor. To do that, you must test them yourself. When feeding RAW files directly to Autopano, you do not get to make the choice of which demosaicing algorithm is used, you do not get to remove chromatic aberration nor noise before demosaicing occurs, and other things that should be done at the demosaicing stage, not after stitching.

How much of a problem is this? Take a look at these links, no amount of writing could show you the difference better than pictures:
http://rawtherapee.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7815#7815 especially http://i39.tinypic.com/fuuzgz.jpg
http://www.rawtherapee.com/RAW_Compare/
http://www.cryptobola.com/PhotoBola/Rawnalyze.htm - use this for examining files (only, not for developing them)
http://www.linuxphoto.org/html/dcb.html - more tests
Last edited by DrSlony on Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bigwade
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by bigwade » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:19 pm

I agree with this.
NO stitching program should support RAW, it's nonsense.
Why not ? as DrSlony stated, it's camera specific.
For example the colors from ACR are not the same (understatement) as DPP from Canon.
Every 3 month a new camera Nik/Can/Pent/oly whatever is on the market.
Let the stitchers do the stitching..and don't be so lazy to convert your images the way YOU want :) before stitching
Last edited by bigwade on Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by DrSlony » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:28 pm

Oh I wouldn't say it should be not supported at all, I'm all for choice, but people should definitely know their options and what they're missing out on.

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by klausesser » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:45 pm

bigwade wrote:Let the stitchers do the stitching..and don't be so lazy to convert your images the way YOU want :) before stitching

YES - you lazy, lazy boys . . . . :P :cool:
Seriously: they`re develloping constantly new RAW-formats so fast that you´ll always have to be up-date to get best results. The quality of RAW-demosaicing is vastly underestimated when it comes to stitching panoramas!

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by bigwade » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:03 am

klausesser wrote:Seriously: they`re develloping constantly new RAW-formats so fast that you´ll always have to be up-date to get best results. The quality of RAW-demosaicing is vastly underestimated when it comes to stitching panoramas!
best, Klaus

That's what I say, a RAW tool in a stitcher can't be that good as a "up to date- camera specific" RAW converter.
I think people at APP dev. have a lot of other things to do than collect all these strange RAW formats.
The people who demand for such an option (RAW stitch) have no clue about these files, I guess.

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by DrSlony » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:20 am

bigwade I would totally agree if it was indeed Kolor who waste their time on that, but its not. They use a free raw conversion tool called dcraw, that's why I'm not against it, since they're not wasting their time with RAW conversion.

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by bigwade » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:26 am

Perfect :)
But I still don't understand why people want this option in PTGui, APP etc.
Last edited by bigwade on Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by thepanoguy » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:44 am

REFERENCE: The National Library of Australia.

http://www.nla.gov.au/

The site contains are a number of training guides which may be of interest.

QUOTE:

The National Library of Australia is the country's largest reference library. Our role is to ensure that documentary resources of national significance relating to Australia and the Australian people, as well as significant non-Australian library materials, are collected, preserved and made accessible either through the Library itself or through collaborative arrangements with other libraries and information providers.

By offering a strong national focus in all that we do and cooperating with others who share our goals, the Library contributes to the continuing vitality of Australia’s culture and heritage.

The web site has the following free software suite which may be of interest to the forum members.

http://www.nla.gov.au/preserve/dohm/dohm.html

Within the suite is DRIFTT DNG-Enabled RAW Image Format to TIFF Converter.

http://www.nla.gov.au/preserve/dohm/driftt.html

QUOTE: What is DRIFTT?

DRIFTT is a batch-converter for converting RAW camera image files into TIFF format and Adobe's open standard RAW format - DNG. It allows you to preview TIFF output of individual files and adjust brightness, rotation, set white balance, assign colour spaces and more. It also creates MD5 checksums to provide an archival file storage option.

DRIFTT TIFF conversion is based on dcraw - an open source RAW library by David Coffin ( http://cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw). For simplicity not all dcraw features were made available in DRIFTT.

dcraw is well known for its excellent quality conversions. It is being used in many free and commercial applications.

For conversion to DNG, Adobe's free DNG Converter is employed in its command-line capacity. To extract technical metadata, excellect free ExifTool by Phil Harvey http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/ is being used from command-line.

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by DrSlony » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:15 pm

The great open source photo management program digiKam also has a DNG converter. Check it out here: http://www.digikam.org/
I use it for managing my photos every day and for certain 16bit tasks, such as curves, white balance, dark frame / hot pixel removal, etc. It handles my 15 000 x 7 500 16bit TIFF panoramas very well, unlike other programs such as Krita. However I do not use it for developing my RAW files, RawTherapee is still much more powerful here then any of the programs mentioned so far (digiKam, dcraw/ufraw, DRIFTT, and some famous proprietary RAW processing programs).
Last edited by DrSlony on Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by bigwade » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:09 pm

Oké an open translator can be very usefull.
I'm just a Canon user and I haven't seen better converters than DPP for Canon RAW files.
ACR, Lightroom etc, I don't care, I've seen bizar results..
Canon will not give away their RAW-code so every 3party RAW converter is just a guess, and yes it is..
Same for Nikon, Pentax, Oly etc.
It's just as my English here, you can read it but it's not perfect.
And that's just the point :-)

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by DrSlony » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:07 pm

bigwade: once you have the RAW data, there is no great mystery anymore. And that's what dcraw does, its a collection of code that allows everyone to access the RAW data that camera producing companies wanted to hide, they would not release the format specs without NDAs. DNG was created to bypass that. Sort of. This all leads to this statement being meaningless, "Canon will not give away their RAW-code so every 3party RAW converter is just a guess," there is nothing to gues once you have the RAW data. I can't agree that Canon's software is the "original" and attempts made by all other software are just "translations" :]

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by bigwade » Sun Jun 07, 2009 12:20 am

DrSlony wrote:. I can't agree that Canon's software is the "original" and attempts made by all other software are just "translations" :]

But it is, serious... :-)

as stated before: It's just as my English here, you can read it but it's not perfect.

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by thepanoguy » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:05 am

I use RawTherapy for image manipulation. DRIFFT is just a RAW to TIFF converter using a GUI interface for dcraw. DNG is an open format; admittedly Adobe. Converting to TIFF should solve the inherent problems with propriety formats.

I looked at digikam a while ago. According to the website, digikam for windows is still buggy and requires the KDE for Windows layer. I installed KDE for Windows a while ago and I could not see the point of installing bloat. Most of the programs have a better Windows equivalent. I am sorry Linux lovers. Your average Windows user is an appliance operator not a technical user. Linux should stay will Linux; not try a crossover to Windows.

I have two identical computers running Windows XP. The only difference is that one computer has a PATA caddy system the other internal SATA drives. I have spare 80GB hard drives I use for experimentation. Linux KDE 4 seems to be a resource hog compared to Windows, especially on PC-BSD 7.1. I downloaded the digikam manual; it seems impressive. Linux at the moment seems to be at the point where it still is not ready for the average user. Too many variables between distros. PCLinuxOS DFPE http://www.dfpe.pclinuxos.nl/ was an attempt to set up a photographer's OS. It is now dated and seems like another project to have fallen on its sword.

The problem with Linux is there is too much infighting and chest thumping. Life would be a lot simpler if someone would set up a photographer's OS with an upgrade path. PC-BSD has the right idea; using PBI files instead of worrying about Linux distro dependencies. I would be willing to try digikam if someone can recommend the right distro.

I have a copy of Vista; judging by all the reviews, it may be the least painful exercise to bite the bullet, purchase Windows 7, and do a complete reinstall of all my programs.
Last edited by thepanoguy on Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by hankkarl » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:03 pm

bigwade wrote:Oké an open translator can be very usefull.
I'm just a Canon user and I haven't seen better converters than DPP for Canon RAW files.
ACR, Lightroom etc, I don't care, I've seen bizar results..
Canon will not give away their RAW-code so every 3party RAW converter is just a guess, and yes it is..
Same for Nikon, Pentax, Oly etc.
It's just as my English here, you can read it but it's not perfect.
And that's just the point :-)

Canon doesn't give away the recipies they use in DPP, but Lightroom has some settings that are close.

DPP is good in most instances, and gives you an ok picture.

Lightroom (and its predecessor) is better if the image needs more manipulation--e.g. you have blown highlights, shot at too low an Ev level (so you could get a faster speed, but had to add a stop or two in PP) etc.

Lightroom also has a plugin architecture that does some nice things now and may have better things later.

So, IMO, DPP is fast and easy, and gets good results if the source is good.

Lightroom is great for images that need more manipulation.

PS is required when you need to really make a picture look good (e.g. take a few pounds off someone, sharpen a face but blur the skin, etc).
Last edited by hankkarl on Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by tived » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:19 am

RAW converters,

If you have Photoshop CS3 or later, then Adobe Camera RAW is a no brainer. Workflow is easy and it supports almost all camera's in the CS4 it certainly has started to shine.

In terms of best output, PhaseOne CaptureOne is probably the best there is, however, since version 4 the userface in IMHO has gone backward in terms of user friendliness, but it still performs in terms of Quality

Lightroom or Photoshop Light :-) is, well, it isn't my cup of tea, probably because I already have the two programs above. To me it is nor here nor there. sure you can add keywords and it is a sort of DAM application and sort of Raw converter, but it masters none IMHO.

If you want DAM, buy Expression Media (previous iViewMediaPro) or Portfolio.

just my two cents worth today :-)

Henrik

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by hankkarl » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:36 pm

ACR and Lightroom don't quite work the same way. That is, the underlying engine is probably the same, but the UI differs. Its a matter of preference and experience.

PS was (originally) a tool for graphics artists. Photographers hijacked it. Lightroom is a new start at a tool for photographers that works in conjunction with PS.

Lightroom is good for making corrections to lots of photos quickly. PS is good for those photos that need work because the subject matter has a flaw (e.g. remove power lines, hide a pimple, etc)

Give lightroom another try-you may be surprised.

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by klausesser » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:01 pm

hankkarl wrote:ACR and Lightroom don't quite work the same way. That is, the underlying engine is probably the same, but the UI differs. Its a matter of preference and experience.

PS was (originally) a tool for graphics artists. Photographers hijacked it. Lightroom is a new start at a tool for photographers that works in conjunction with PS.

Lightroom is good for making corrections to lots of photos quickly. PS is good for those photos that need work because the subject matter has a flaw (e.g. remove power lines, hide a pimple, etc)

Give lightroom another try-you may be surprised.

Absolutely right!

I use Lightroom for organizing shots as well as RAW-converting. It works very fine and has the same funktions as ARC in PS 3/4.
I used it for Nikon D3x pictures and compared it to CaptureOne and Nikon´s NX2 - no difference in quality . . but much better to handle.
Lightroom always uses the actual ARC as i experienced - despite tha last one which need CS4 at least on my Mac G5 . . though i run 10.5 . . maybe it´s different on Intel-Macs.

I like it very much, Lightroom - though as an Apple user i used to prefer Aperture . . . but no more. It lacks some features which make Lightroom a more powerful tool.

best, Klaus
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by tarnis » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:48 pm

So far lightroom has worked out well for me, but mainly because my 20D sensor collects allot of dirt. It's pretty simple for me to clean all the dust specs on one and paste that into all of the other sky pictures before exporting. I know Nikon has something similar in Capture NX but alas...it won't do anything for us canon folk :) Otherwise I like the output from DPP quite alot.

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by hankkarl » Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:32 am

klausesser wrote:I use Lightroom for organizing shots as well as RAW-converting. It works very fine and has the same funktions as ARC in PS 3/4.

Hi Klays,

I think it went the other way around--Lightroom got much of the technology from RawShooter, and then the technology made its way into ACR :)

One other difference, AFIK Lightroom keeps an XMP "sidecar" with changes to the RAW files, but doesn't affect the RAW files. So you can back off changes, etc. You have to do special things in PS to keep the RAW intact as a base, otherwise ACR converts the RAW file and you can't change things.

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by tived » Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:28 am

I am sure we can debate, what is better then the other till the cows comes home.

Both lightroom and Bridge/ACR both have side cards XMP files.

If you want to work on the raw file in PS, you are limited to smart object, and what can be done with its limits.

Yes, photoshop was created before digital photography took off, but it is still a bitmap application, as is all digitized photographs. There was one exception, where there was a program that treated images much like vectors, it was a MacOnly app. can't remember the name of it.

anyway, i think we can all agree that developing our RAW files, before processing them in an pano application, will yield better results, or at least make the process faster. Choose you weapon of choice, and convert away :-)

Hankkkarl, I see lots of photographers struggling with lightroom and its database handling, sure it can convert and you can add keywords and organise your images, but it is in its database engine the problem lies. As oppose to the programs that were made for the task of DAM.

As for the UI, yes it is different, and it has its own raw conversion engine as oppose to Bridge/ACR which relies on photoshops engine. Something I do hope they will change with the next release of PS.

anyway we can debate it till the cows comes home, if you like lightroom, please use it.

Henrik

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by GURL » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:31 pm

DrSlony wrote:there is nothing to guess once you have the RAW data. I can't agree that Canon's software is the "original" and attempts made by all other software are just "translations" :]

In my opinion this is the main point.

The larger the adjustments one want to make during the translation from RAW to TIFF (such as noise removal, dynamic extent changes, color aberration corrections, etc) the more useful is it is to know how the corresponding data were produced. A proof of that can be found in the fact that DxO RAW converter is availlable only for a restricted number of lens and camera combinations. Camera manufacturers certainly know more than anybody about the sensor characteristics and whether or not they modify what should be raw data. Dito for lenses characteristics which depend on zoom, aperture and distance settings.

There is no proof that a given converter which works very well for a given camera, a given lens and a selection of adjustments works well for any other camera, any other lens and any other adjustment!

At first color films were best developed by their own manufacturer but the evolution was to establish processing standards (like C-41 or RA-4) and film manufacturers had to adjust film characterstics to existing standards...
Georges

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by DrSlony » Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:57 pm

Well yes, but in context, that quote implied that all third party RAW development programs produce inferior results to the "original", at least that's how I understood the term "a guess":
"Canon will not give away their RAW-code so every 3party RAW converter is just a guess, and yes it is.."

Sure, in some cases DPP could be better than any other RAW converter for Canon RAWs. In other cases, also for Canon RAWs, it is not the best. So many things come into play.

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by MJSfoto1956 » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:30 pm

DxO does a very good job converting RAW --> TIF and RAW --> JPEG (I'm not a fan of RAW --> DNG but it does that too). Especially true if your particular lens/body combination is supported. I always use DxO in batch mode first on all my images then archive the RAW files on offline storage. While I prefer the smaller size of JPEGs, it is clear that DxO-converted JPEG files derived from my Nikon .NEF files make APP2 unhappy. Thus, I'm now changing to TIF output as my standard DxO conversion which, so far, APP2 seems to be mostly happy with.

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by GURL » Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:54 pm

DNG updated to allow RAW corrections: http://www.dpreview.com/news/0906/09062402adobedng.asp

"Adobe has updated its DNG digital negative specification to allow a series of image corrections to be embedded in the file." These are corrections that are to be performed prior to the demosaic process or that can only be performed after the demosaic process (such as geometric distortion and lateral chromatic aberration.)
Georges

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by foundation » Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:20 pm

One point that hasn't been covered is that, AutoPano is very useful for finding the panorama files within a 32GB card full of photos shot in the field. Looking at the files in explorer or lightroom, with all the bracketed shots, and individually selecting the panos is a pain. Whereas I can feed the raw files to autopano and it identifies the panoramas. So it's great that it supports raw files. In my workflow I have it identify the panoramas and use extended save as to move them to their own folder. I can then render a panorama if I want and later choose to come back and use a raw converter like lightroom to make adjustments to my files (remove dust, recover highlights etc) before rendering a more final panorama.

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