Be sure to include ACR6 "Process 2" rendering, which is currently in the Lightroom 3 public beta available from labs.adobe.com, in your testing, as it shows much more detail than previous ACRs along with the color noise-reduction being better. Rumor has it that ACR6/CS5 will be out mid-April. The ACR6 engine is only half-done in that there is no Luminance NR in this first LR3 publi beta, but the noise grain is much finer than in the past.
That is a very good point. I will try that. I have, but don't use, LR. I will download the new Beta version and do some testing!
Yes, please download the beta and try for yourself. When it comes to questions about detail and - in general, image quality - there is no substitute for using your own eyes and your own standards. There are the same controls for sharpening in LR as there are in CR, i.e., Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking.
...I keep hearing on various forums how Raw Developer (Mac) is the best out there for extracting every ounce of discernable detail from a raw file to a print.
Yeah, well I wouldn't believe most of what you read on "various forums" (sometimes including this one) because quite simply the vast majority of people simply don't know what they are doing and don't really understand how to the get the best out of multiple applications. So head to head comparisons are usually slanted either by testing against the application "default" (which is pretty useless) or by trying to get to some arbitrary equivalent (which is also pretty useless).
I won't say anything bad about Raw Developer...good conversions, relatively simple to use. But for various reasons I prefer to use Camera Raw (DOOOH). I have compared the micro detail that each application is capable of producing and I've been able to match Raw Developer's image quality in Camera Raw for lower ISO shot no problem. Depending on what you think you like, Raw Developer might be more to your liking with higher ISO images.
That's the current state. But, as indicated the newly released Lightroom 3 beta which incorporates substantial improvements to the raw processing pipeline will prolly change the game. Although the LR 3 beta doesn't have luminance noise reduction yet, the improved demosiacing and color noise reduction and subtle changes to the image sharpening lead me to believe Camera Raw/Lightroom will end up as best of breed among all raw processors.
Bottom like though is you need to test all this stuff for yourself (and not just a default > default useless exercise).
I was a big convert and advocate for Raw Developer. I paid my $125 to Brian and I don't regret it one bit. He's a cool and patient guy and answered my emails without fail.
However, the more I got into using the color editing tools on a number of differently exposed and composed images with varying color temps, the more I started not liking what it did to the color. The default settings were pretty good but whenever I adjusted color temp and the saturation and hue sliders including other adjustements I noticed a strange patina in the hues that showed up in my edits that bothered me.
For instance when adjusting RD's red/green tint slider the green looks more like a urine green where as ACR's hue is more pure. When I placed side by side previews of the same image between the two converters I noticed RD's deep shadows on a number of images were void of any color while ACR's retained it.
Some users like the look of neutralized shadows on their display, but from my experience it doesn't look too good on a print. I come from a painting background and charcoal neutral shadows is a big no-no when painting shadow detail on canvas. It ruins the 3D effect. This is the main reason why offset pressman will either include an extra cyan plate duplicate of the black channel or mix blue into the black ink on press. It adds pop to the image.
ACR's color engine is far superior in this respect.
Also I get odd zipper like sharpening artifacts along edge detail in some images with RD. It's still an amazing Raw converter in that it retains the simple interface as ACR with added color controls of Lab and RGB curves which ACR doesn't. But I found I had to work to much to get what I wanted compared to using ACR.
Your experience may be different.
Thanks guys. The feedback here has been very helpful.
Where is the "Process 2" rendering at in the LR 3 beta?
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In Develop, look for the warning icon to the top-left of the histogram. If it's there, click it. That will take you to the new process version.
If it's not there, you're already using the new process version.
(Please address future questions about the LR 3 beta in the LR 3 beta forum. Thanks.)
I did some testing today and am amazed at the detail compared to the other algorithm! This should nail the door shut on raw developer. With all the other tools and improvements, and then a "Rendering 2" to extract maximum detail out of a print! You made me happy today! So far my tests are proving the new detail to be exceptional! A big plus for ACR users!
I have some some testing and find the new rendering 2 to be exceptional (big difference)! It will certainly be helping me take my large printing further and bigger! The best of both worlds now.
I am glad you like the new processing. Thanks for the feedback.