photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Lightroom v Raw Developer

in Photography , Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recently, I've been using Lightroom pretty much exclusively for raw development, coupled with iView for in-depth photo management. To some extent, I'm using Lightroom simply because it is easier. I do suspect that a best-of-breed combination of other tools might bring a small improvement in quality, but to be frank, neither my photography nor my current lifestyle would justify this. I've been pretty much restricted to photo work on my MacBook for nearly a year, and this will carry on until we finally get our new house built. I can use my Cinema Display in the office, but I rarely have time. However, I do get this nagging feeling that Lightroom's image quality isn't quite there. In particular, it seems to do certain things behind the scenes over which I have no control, in particular on exposure - I'm finding some images opened in Lightroom and Raw Developer with no further work show highlight clipping in RD, but none in LR, even with highlight recovery at zero. lrrd.jpg I also find that LR by default gives a slightly warm rendition, and an ever so slightly plasticky feel. I can't quite put my finger on it, and it may be pure prejudice. However, it may simply somehow reflect a consensus taste on what constitutes a good rendition. Certainly it seems to be in tune with the style trends seen in sites such as Flickr, where a photo really needs to grab attention to stand out. The current issue of the Leica magazine, LFI (I can't afford the cameras, so I settle for the magazine), compares LR with CaptureOne (which I've hardly touched for a year), specifically for Leica M8 DNG files. They note that C1 does extract a touch more detail, and gives a more "film-like" rendition, but finally, the differences are hardly noticeable in print. I have the same conclusion with RD. By default, it gives both my E400 and E1 photos a sightly cooler rendition, which is highly subjective, but which I prefer. It also has a vast array of controls, and leaves you to get on with, which in some cases can be very rewarding. However, it does remain fiddly, even on a big screen, and the lack of any organised community support (a user forum) is a serious drawback, even though direct user support is excellent. There are still things about LR that drive me nuts, especially is modality and its way too complex method of handling metadata and keywords - have they never seen iView ? And RD has the edge in conversion to black and white. But LR is incredibly convenient, fun to use, and has excellent community support. So until I'm back trying to extract the last 1% of quality from a file, it looks like I've settled on Lightroom. And Satan went to the local ice rink on a flying pig.