Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

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Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:35 am

Can someone please clarify... when looking at a Sony ARW from my a6500 in Capture One Pro (Sony) and a trial copy of Adobe Lightroom, I find that there is a subtle but noticeable difference in image appearance between the two programs. The LR version always appears "smoother". Trying to figure out why this is, I find the following:

1. In LR, if I zoom well past 1:1, the pixels and noise look uniform and even, with excellent subtle shading.

2. In C1 Pro (Sony), if I zoom well past 1:1, the pixels and noise are less uniform and the shading is not as fine and subtle. Individual pixels are often partially combined in random directions and fine shading seems more blotchy than the same area in LR. It looks a bit like a compressed JPG. This appearance remains to some degree regardless of any sharpening and noise reduction (or lack thereof). If I export the variant, the resulting JPG is of course smoothed but the random pixel structure remains so this is not just a display thing.

This is easily observed at extreme magnification, but when looking at the same file on both programs 1:1 or lower, the LR version consistently looks subjectively "better".... smoother perhaps? The pixel peeping is my attempt to identify the root cause of that subjective difference.

Is there perhaps a difference in how each program interprets the raw file matrix before any user adjustable processing?

I am using a purchased copy of C1 Pro and am evaluating LR (to see if it has the same issues with slow startup). I find that I prefer C1 Pro in every other way (including cost of ownership)..... except for this slight issue. So I'd like to be able to get the same results from C1 Pro that I can get from LR.

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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby SFA » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:53 am

I suspect that you will find that LR applies more aggressive Noise Reduction by default. This may be a source of the difference (or part of it.)

Whether one likes or dislikes the resulting look is a matter of personal choice.

Whether there is any point in zooming past 1:1 or looking at a large image at 100% at normal screen viewing distance is a matter for discussion.

I'm not saying it isn't useful for assessing results but in the main, unless one is trying to do something quite extreme or specialised, most output uses probably do not need an extreme adjustment of Noise effects for the purposes for which they are to be used. This is more true of modern cameras that it used to be, say, a decade ago when 'Noise' was clearly a much bigger subject for the sensors available at the time.

The other factor might be sharpening methods and, again, the choice of default settings.

In both cases (and for other tools) is you prefer a setting in C1 that is not the normal default setting you should be able to save your personal process as a new default for files from a specific camera.

You may also want to check your settings for Output Recipes and the associated Output sharpening instructions,especially if you are using the Recipe Proofing feature.
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:06 pm

SFA wrote:Whether there is any point in zooming past 1:1 or looking at a large image at 100% at normal screen viewing distance is a matter for discussion.


I think I might not have been clear enough..... there is always a difference between C1 and LR, even at no magnification at all. My pixel peeping is merely trying to figure out WHY. And when I pixel peep, I can see the reason.... the shading is smoother and the pixels are more individual and less blotchy than in C1. I think much of the difference I see at zero magnification is the smoother shading.

The other factor might be sharpening methods and, again, the choice of default settings.

In both cases (and for other tools) is you prefer a setting in C1 that is not the normal default setting you should be able to save your personal process as a new default for files from a specific camera.

You may also want to check your settings for Output Recipes and the associated Output sharpening instructions,especially if you are using the Recipe Proofing feature.


You are correct, but only partially. In fact, it seems to me that C1 applies a little too much NR as a default. However, I have found that there is NO setting of sharpening or noise reduction in C1 and/or LR (including none) that duplicates the smoother shading of LR. Images from LR always have subtly smoother shading, and this is visible when you compare full screen images (not zoomed). The Pixels in C1 are not individual and evenly spaced.... they look like they have had JPG style NR or compression applied BEFORE any adjustments that I have access to. Adjacent pixels are sometimes connected together and of the same lightness value, where in LR those same pixels are always individual. Is there a setting somewhere in C1, for example, that affects how the RAW file is decoded?

Note that this time around, we are talking about RAW files from my a6500. However, I have seen the same effect on RAW files from my a6000. I think I read somewhere that Sony uses a compressed RAW file? Perhaps LR decompresses it better?

Again, I am not trying to rag on C1.... I bought it and I like it. Just trying to figure out why the output from LR always looks subtly "better".

As an experiment, I'm going to re-install Raw Therapee and see how it handles Sony files. I gave up on it a year ago in favor of the much better workflow in C1 but it might be interesting to see how files look in RT.

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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby ClauS » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:37 pm

Raw is not a raster image file. It needs to be demosaiced. Every program uses its own algorithms and profiles. You can't expect to open a raw file and have the same looking image on two different programs. If you think about it, in CO, under base characteristics, you may be able to choose the ICC profile and the curve applied. So, in just one program, you can obtain different results even before applying any edits.

In Raw Therapee you can choose between different algorithms and each one gives its own result.
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:28 pm

ClauS wrote:Raw is not a raster image file. It needs to be demosaiced. Every program uses its own algorithms and profiles. You can't expect to open a raw file and have the same looking image on two different programs. If you think about it, in CO, under base characteristics, you may be able to choose the ICC profile and the curve applied. So, in just one program, you can obtain different results even before applying any edits.

In Raw Therapee you can choose between different algorithms and each one gives its own result.

That was where my thinking was headed. However, I don't see anywhere in C1 where I can change the profile or the demosaicing. The only profile I seem to be able to change is the lens profile.

I tried RawTherapee and found the shading and blotchy appearance at high magnification to be noticeably worse than either LR or C1.

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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby ClauS » Sat Sep 28, 2019 2:07 pm

NNN636818585512125982 wrote:That was where my thinking was headed. However, I don't see anywhere in C1 where I can change the profile or the demosaicing. The only profile I seem to be able to change is the lens profile.


As I told you, in CO you can choose camera ICC profile and Curve in Base Characteristics (it's by default in Color Tab above White Balance setting). However I've checked that both a6500 and a6000 have only generic ICC profile, so you can't change this particular setting (actually you can choose a different camera profile if you want by selecting "Show all"). Other models have more ICC profiles to choose from, but you can't change the demosaicing algorithm as in Raw Therapee.

Maybe I hadn't been very clear before (sorry, this is not my language). I was just trying to explain that what you see by default (but also how editing tools and sliders work) depends on many factors, so you can't expect consistency comparing different programs.
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 2:32 pm

ClauS wrote:
NNN636818585512125982 wrote:Maybe I hadn't been very clear before (sorry, this is not my language). I was just trying to explain that what you see by default (but also how editing tools and sliders work) depends on many factors, so you can't expect consistency comparing different programs.

Not to worry.... I am very aware of how the various editing tools and sliders work in C1. The pixel merging I am seeing appears to be independent from both sharpening and noise reduction tools. The basic pixel structure remains unchanged as you adjust the noise reduction.... it just gets more or less noticeable. But it is different in C1 vs. LR.

Oddly, the difference between C1 and LR is less pronounced this morning vs. yesterday. I can't explain that other than perhaps my memory is faulty.

I discovered that I can change the default noise reduction parameters and I may reduce it a small amount and call it a day. There is nothing particularly wrong with the output I get from C1. LR just looks a tiny bit better to my eyes. Again, it is in the structure of the grain and noise. In C1, adjacent pixels with very similar shades tend to become merged into a larger unit. In LR, this does not happen, which seems to preserve subtle shading better than C1. Put another way, it looks similar to what I used to see on my old Dell monitor which turned out to only be capable of displaying 6 bits per pixel.

I feel like I am beating a dead horse here..... at the end of the day the output from C1 is acceptable but there IS a difference. I'm just trying to understand it and perhaps control it.

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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby Ian3 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:52 pm

Have you tried adjusting the clarity and/or structure down a bit? Maybe the defaults are too aggressive for your taste.

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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 11:58 pm

Ian3 wrote:Have you tried adjusting the clarity and/or structure down a bit? Maybe the defaults are too aggressive for your taste.

Ian

Yes I have and yes, it improves things.... somewhat. Clarity in particular, since it seems to be some sort of unsharp mask routine that emphasizes differences between adjacent >1 pixel areas..... like clumps of combined pixels.

As I have said before, it appears as though something in C1 is combining adjacent pixels of similar but not identical shading. This does not happen (or happens at a much lower level) in LR. And it happens before any user adjustable settings that I have found. Very noticeable when pixel peeping at ISOs above 100, but also visible in much larger images as a subliminal "not as smooth" appearance compared to LR. Adjusting clarity, detail, NR, etc. can help but I never get quite the same creamy smooth shading that I see in LR. Again, this is very subtle but I notice it right away each time I try one of my ARW files in LR and crop a bit.

I much prefer C1 over LR in every other way and I doubt I will ever actually subscribe to LR..... just trying to get the best I can out of my originals in C1 Pro (which I own). It bugs me that my images look a little bit better in LR ;)

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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby Jimmcandrew » Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:13 am

Trying to get my images to look similar in C1 and LR has not been something I've not been able to accomplish. I've have been working more in C1 because the colors it produces seem to be better than those LR produces for my sony a7riii images. I'll have to look closer at the discrepancies you've noted and see if I have the same thing. It's a challenge since I'm color blind in reds and greens.

Not sure if this still is relevant since it's a few years old, but it's an article regarding C1 and LR.

https://lightroomkillertips.com/brillia ... e-one-pro/
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:56 am

I have come to terms with C1 lately, partly because I recently (after my original post) upgraded from an a6000 to an a6500. I see far less objectionable artifacts when pixel peeping the a6500 RAW files, and I think it may be because the RAW file from the a6500 has higher bit depth and cleaner noise (especially at ISO > 100) than the a6000? In any event, the reduced pixel artifacts I was seeing in in LR with my a6000 images at high zooms was the only thing I liked about LR.... for everything else, I much prefer C1 so I terminated my trial account.
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby Wesley » Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:25 am

I believe I'm thinking of the same phenomenon you're trying to describe.

For my D750 raws, I use 15-30 luminance in noise reduction depending on the photo's ISO to help remedy this. Also single pixel to 50 if needed.
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby eartho » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:13 pm

What you all are probably noticing is the crappy default sharpening combined with the default noise reduction. I'm not sure who or why P1 has decided on these defaults, but they tend to wreck the natural grain and texture of your images. If you want something a little easier on the eyes, set the noise reduction to 25 or less, and then (this is the main difference) set the sharpening threshold to .2
With the default threshold of 1.0, C1 is essentially skipping every other pixel when sharpening and then combined with NR, you get this really ugly surface texture. If you want to see exactly what i'm talking about, try cranking up the sharpening to its max, with the 1.0 threshold, then compare to .2
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Re: Sony ARW looks different in C1 vs. Adobe LR

Postby NNN636818585512125982 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:20 am

eartho wrote:What you all are probably noticing is the crappy default sharpening combined with the default noise reduction. I'm not sure who or why P1 has decided on these defaults, but they tend to wreck the natural grain and texture of your images. If you want something a little easier on the eyes, set the noise reduction to 25 or less, and then (this is the main difference) set the sharpening threshold to .2
With the default threshold of 1.0, C1 is essentially skipping every other pixel when sharpening and then combined with NR, you get this really ugly surface texture. If you want to see exactly what i'm talking about, try cranking up the sharpening to its max, with the 1.0 threshold, then compare to .2

I'll give that a try but as I said in (I think) my original post, the artifacts I am seeing are visible with sharpening and noise reduction turned all the way off. Sharpening and/or noise reduction can somewhat hide the artifacts but they do not alter their basic form. My best guess has always been that I am seeing either a lack of bit depth or some sort of sub-optimal de-mosaicing. The result is that adjacent pixels with very similar shades are displayed as contiguous. I started this thread because I did NOT see these artifacts viewing the same file in LR.

That said, I revisited the issue several days later and this time LR and C1 seemed fairly similar (same file) so either my mind is / was playing tricks on me or something changed in how C1 displayed the file.

This is less of an issue for me now because shortly after I made my original post, I upgraded my a6000 to an a6500, which has cleaner noise and higher RAW bit depth. The result is that I no longer see the same artifacts, so for me at least this is mostly moot.

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