View Full Version : Switched from C1-LE to ACR

Ben Z
10-12-2007, 09:55
I've been using Capture 1 LE that came with my M8 as my raw developer, and was generally happy, but I had been doing a handful of shots at a time. However when I returned from a trip with a couple hundred to do, I quickly became unhappy. None of the M8 color profiles (or any others for that matter) were effective to where I didn't need to white-balance almost every shot (DNG, shot on AUTO-WB), which was tedious to say the least.

So, despite what I've read that C1 is the best developer for M8 files (of course it has to be, it came in the box from Leica :rolleyes: ) I tried CS2's camera raw that I use for all other digitals. Unlike the C1-LE (unless I can't find the setting :confused: ), ACR has WB selections including "AS SHOT" (my usual default with all my other digitals) and "AUTO". I found that a blanket application of "AUTO" did the trick for most files, at least to the point where I can easily tweak the more difficult ones in CS2 if I need to. I have "Exposure" set to "Auto", all sharpening and noise reduction turned off, and contrast set to "linear", which gives me the most unadulterated TIFF's. (Though I may twiddle with the ACR sharpening with M8 files to see if it looks better than doing it in Focalblade afterwards as I have been).

Perhaps had I set the WB manually (was informed that wasn't really necessary when shooting DNG's but that's not what I found), and perhaps if and when Leica gets the auto WB in better tune, then I will revisit C1-LE. Meantime it's comfortable for me to have basically the same workflow regardless of what camera I'm shooting, aside from differences in settings of course.

So the point of info here for others is, if you are shooting DNG, you may not have to set a manual WB on the M8 each time the light changes if you use ACR's auto WB.

10-13-2007, 07:40
Set the WB to 5000, or daylight, and let it rip. That is what is taught at the Leica M8 workshop. DNG is only a RAW format. After getting used to a set WB, never Auto, C1 really sings. C1 really is best processing large numbers of files with same WB. Turn down, off, noise and banding supression. OK to sharpen at will, however, I find you need very little sharpening, below 100 usually. Personally, C1 works better for me even though slower. I was quite dissatisfied at first due to the slowness and found it is a small price to pay in return for the better sharpness.

Ben Z
10-13-2007, 08:55
Set the WB to 5000, or daylight, and let it rip. That is what is taught at the Leica M8 workshop.

Makes no sense at all. Set the M8's WB to 5000? That's like shooting daylight film all the time regardless of the light, with the same results. Set C1-LE's WB to 5000 (just tried it), shots that were in light far from that color temp look horrible, just as I would have expected.

After getting used to a set WB, never Auto, C1 really sings.

What are you saying, that C1 has fuzzy logic and can "learn" after a while? First I've heard of that.

C1 really is best processing large numbers of files with same WB.

Any raw developer can do that. ACR's AUTO-WB can process large numbers of files with differing WB, that's the main convenience.

I was quite dissatisfied at first due to the slowness and found it is a small price to pay in return for the better sharpness.

If C1 files look sharper with the sliders set at their lowest point, all it means is that C1 must still be applying some sharpening whereas ACR applies no sharpening when the slider is all the way down. I've always been taught that sharpening is the last thing you want to do, after all other editing, in order to keep artifacts to the bare minimum. Sharpening in raw conversion is a new one to me and I haven't done enough playing with it to form a solid opinion.

PS: I was correct...found a quote from Andrew Rodney (http://digitaldog.net (http://digitaldog.net)) "Turning sharpening off in C1 doesn't totally turn it off. Off in ACR is off."

10-13-2007, 09:33

I have tried C1 Pro, Lightroom / ACR / CS3, & Aperture.

In my opinion the best results come from the order that I listed above.

I normally use C1 for the keepers. Profiles in C1 have absolutely nothing to do with WB. I agree that the M8 AWB is terrible. The M8 has several presets available in the set menu. I normally have them with the following combinations and then adjust in post processing (1 - ISO 160/daylight WB) (2 - ISO 320/cloudy WB) (3 - ISO 640/tungsten WB). Everything I shoot is in RAW/DNG so that I can make adjustments in post processing.

To adjust WB in post is very easy in any of the three programs. C1 also has an auto adjust feature just like ACR does. If you want to do this auto adjust for WB, exposure, film look, profile, or whatever, all you do is adjust one image then highlight all the others and copy the auto adjustments to them also.

Ignoring sharpening, I found C1 easier to use as I can use custom ICC profiles to get the colors which I want from the camera much easier and with more precision or subtletity than with the bulk sliders in the other programs. C1 also will render finer details and less CA then the other programs. You will also find the the Leica M8 - UV/IR profile in C1 does a much better job at maintaining detail in very bright reds, pinks, and greens vs. the others.

On the other hand, I really like some of the extra controls that I can have in Lightroom or Aperture vs. having to go into Photoshop.

Aperture has the best light table and method for selecting which are the final images to work on and is very easy to print from, but is the worst developer as it stands currently for the M8. Apple has their development profile based on an earlier version of the M1 & M2 color matrix from the M8 firmware. Leica updated the color matrix to improve the color and details with software like Aperture and ACR that use this information to do their RAW translation, but Apple has not caught up yet.

Lightroom is probably one of the most intuitive for me to use from an interface and good development controls. However it can't compete with Aperture's light table and printing.

With C1, I do find that I get the best the fine detail and least noise compared to the other programs.

My hope is to see the development type controls of Lightroom, the development results of C1 Pro, and the light table/sorting/printing ability of Aperture combined into one of three programs in the future.

Until that happens, I use C1 for the keepers as it truly does provide better results.



Ben Z
10-13-2007, 10:08
For me, C1 (LE, not PRO) truly does not provide better results, not unless I spend about 10 minutes per image white balancing, which is definitely not the way I'm going to go with several hundred DNG's at a crack. Either there are a lot of things available in C1-PRO that aren't in C1-LE (which is what I have, that came with the M8--no way I'm spending a few hundred $ more for just a raw converter, it's going to be either LE or ACR) or else I don't know where to find them (and the C1-LE's 'help' function is a joke). Yes I can instruct C1LE to apply the same settings globally to all my files but that's not what ACR's AUTO-WB does. Basically, ACR's AWB makes up for the lack of a usable WB in the M8 itself. The color profiles in C1LE are absolutely horrible. With "M8 Generic", everything has a yellow cast. With "M8 UV/IR Generic" it's a little bit less yellow but still unacceptible. With "M8 486 UV/IR" the yellow cast is gone, but so is about 80% of the color saturation. Those are the only presets I can find in C1-LE and they all leave me with way, way much more work than ACR. Even if they don't technically have to do with WB, I can't judge WB if there are obvious color casts over everything. I also do not care for the fact that C1LE can't turn the sharpening completely off. The Canon software for my Canoscan 4000US had the same nasty fault, which is why I use Vuescan. I like Focalblade for sharpening, and prefer to do it after any resizing or noise-reduction.

10-13-2007, 19:52
I find it interesting that people who complain about the M8's flaws so readily excuse C1's almost complete absence of instructions or help.

Ben Z
10-14-2007, 07:31
I've seen numerous references to it on Leica group discussions, and I mentioned it myself in the previous post...that LE's help function is a joke. I've never seen PRO but if its help function is as anemic as LE's, coupled with more features in the program itself, I can only imagine. There seems to be some kind of macho thing going on with all these imaging programs, where the alpha dogs have it all figured out by virtue of their superior intelligence and "don't need no stinkin' help" :D What I was told by several guys in the know, is that the reason Leica chose C1 to bundle with the DMR and then M8 rather than Elements was that at the time Adobe's raw conversion software didn't yet support DNG.

What I find interesting is that people keep pointing to C1 as producing sharper images than ACR without noticing that the illusion is such because C1 offers much more agressive sharpening (set slider all the way right in ACR and C1 and this is readily apparent) and that even with the slider set to the far left, C1 still applies some sharpening while ACR doesn't. In other words there is no magic in C1 that automatically extracts more detail from the DNG. I hate to point to something written by Erwin Puts for fear of flushing out his detractors, but he makes a point in his latest article on raw developers that there are no standards, i.e. neither "amount" nor "radius" are in equal units between different converters, which makes it impossible to set them equal and get a reliable comparison, at least for most of us who lack insiders' training in digital technology.

10-14-2007, 08:08
Ben Z: Adobe holds the patent on DNG technology. One reason Leica adopted it is DNG is open standard, and not proprietary like Nikon, Canon, Olympus and others. http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/license.html

Ben Z
10-14-2007, 08:28
Goes to show how reliable information is that comes from Leica reps :bang: I had previously assumed there was a financial incentive for Leica to have gone with Phase One vs Adobe, and I shall now return to that assumption.

Gabriel M.A.
10-14-2007, 08:50
So the point of info here for others is, if you are shooting DNG, you may not have to set a manual WB on the M8 each time the light changes if you use ACR's auto WB.
I hardly ever set a manual WB for DNG files, only in some cases when I think far ahead and just don't want to do this post-processing for dozens of files.

I have C1 Pro, and I have a heck of a lot more flexibility with it than C1 Limited (or whatever it's called these days). But still, I find Adobe Lightroom to handle the DNG files best, even though it's annoyingly slow, buggy, and suffers from infinite performance hiccups.

If some other company could come up with a Lightroom equivalent that is programmed the right way, instead of using bloated layers of OS-proprietary language libraries (as is the case with Windoze), and could export 16-bit JPEG2000 files, I'd be there. Everything that Lightroom has is exactly what I need for handling dozens and dozens of files at a time. Unfortunately, it performs just like the countless developer and project manager meetings they must've had over different time zones. I shouldn't need to upgrade my computer's processor. They should streamline and optimize their code.

Anyway, the "auto WB" and "as shot" settings in Lightroom are essential. Their Auto WB drop tool works wonderfully. That is what you need to work with any Raw file workflow. The ability to "copy and paste" development settings from one photo to another is just as essential. C1 Pro has it, just buried in a few more steps, and nonintuitively.

Ben Z
10-14-2007, 10:44
I hardly ever set a manual WB for DNG files, only in some cases when I think far ahead and just don't want to do this post-processing for dozens of files.

I had been assured that setting manual WB on the M8 for DNG's wasn't necessary, that only perhaps a shot here and there would have some off the wall cast and I would spot it quickly and just as quickly click it into line in C1-LE. What happened to me wasn't so much that the M8's auto WB failed me, but instead that the M8 profiles (M8 Generic and M8 Generic UV/IR) in C1-LE skewed all the shots toward yellow, regardless of what color temp the camera's AWB had originally selected to use. So I had to get rid of that cast, or else end up trying to do it in PS later. The third M8 color profile in C1-LE (M8 486UV/IR) did that ok, but desaturated all the color about 80%! I tried flipping through the color profiles for other cameras, the one for the Fuji S5 came closest, much closer than the M8 profiles which were really awful.

Also at that time I noticed that C1-LE was leaving some residual sharpening even when set to the lowest point, compared to ACR which when I turned the sharpening off, was really off. Perhaps that's why some people have been reporting that the M8's raw output is that much sharper, or that it needs that much less sharpening than other cameras. Personally I think any raw converter should allow the user to shut sharpening off completely.

Anyway, the "auto WB" and "as shot" settings in Lightroom are essential. Their Auto WB drop tool works wonderfully.

C1-LE's AWB drop tool works fine, it's just that it has to be done for every shot independently unless you're certain that a series of shots requires the same balancing settings, and then you could apply them globally. In ACR I could select the entire set of shots and apply "AUTO" WB to them globally, and regardless of the needs of individual shots, the software balanced them nicely.

10-14-2007, 12:35
The C1 auto while balance is one click on an icon, and very intuitive, IMHO. It is named automatic adjust and is located in the white balance pane. It is far more accurate than any Adobe product.

Every digital camera in RAW mode is simply an overblown light meter. If you use automatic white balance in the camera, you are adding several variables to the processing math. I still say you are better off using one white balance setting and learn to make your color adjustments in the computer.

C1 does not show it's power in processing a single image. The horsepower is in processing many images.

I also disagree about C1 help. Help is web based, as are most modern help systems, and Phase One is very responsive to email.

Ben Z
10-14-2007, 14:11
Chuck, are you using PRO or LE? I'm trying to account for the vastly different opinions we have. I can understand why you think C1 is sharper, given that that full-on sharpening in ACR is about equal to 20-30 in C1-LE, but my results with the AWB icon in C1-LE are awful.
Here are 3 versions of the same M8 DNG. Nothing was done other than to convert them to TIFF and then downsize to a JPG for uploading. Right to left, the first one is as-shot (color temp: 5650K). The next is C1-LE (M8 Generic UV/IR profile selected) using only a click of that AWB icon you mentioned (color temp chosen: 3700K). The third is CS2 ACR set to Auto white balance (color temp chosen: 4750K). You be the judge of which is better :D Furthermore (at least in C1-LE) you have to click AWB for each shot. It won't apply the AWB selectively for each file if all images in the folder are selected, whereas ACR will. Of course maybe there is a way to make C1-LE do it, but it's nowhere to be found in their help, hmmm I wonder how responsive they are to e-mail @ 6PM on Sunday :rolleyes:

10-14-2007, 15:13
If you are shooting RAW, you should be able to change the WB during processing / conversion. On my Nikon D70s, I have WB set to flash (~5500) as it gives better results. Then I normally tweak the WB in Aperture to suit how I remember the shot. Now if you shooting JPEGs, better get the WB right in the camera as it can't be fixed later. The biggest advantage of RAW files such as DNG is this fine-tuned control over WB because even the best of digital cameras will never get it right all the time.

10-14-2007, 16:04
Hey, Ben. I see what you mean. I am using pro, however, only after getting pretty familiar with LE (which is now verson 4). Therefore, I cannot test on this computer (deleted LE). I just checked the Phase One site, and it appears that there are staff tech people in the USA. Why not try the forum and a email?

Another idea is how about posting a small DNG image and let me see what it looks like here. Or, email the DNG privately. 2Mb or less.

BTW, converting direct to .jpg's may possibly be better than making a tiff in between.

10-21-2007, 14:40
To look at this from another angle, I have used C1 Pro (+Photoshop afterwards) for not just Leica M8 files, but also Nikon D-series files (mainly D2X as well as D1X at the upsized 10mp setting). Here are my findings with C1 Pro. I have no experience with the Limited Edition version, however.

1. I get some yellow casts, but am reluctant not to blame my own colour sense. I can tell when it's right but don't always notice when it's not quite right. This sounds paradoxical of course. Sometimes the light is yellow and white wouldn't be quite correct - that's another consideration.

2. I don't find the Leica RAW results much more off before PP than the Nikon ones.

3. Personally I have found the AWB button in C1 Pro very poor indeed on both Nikon and Leica files - which are all shot on Auto WB in camera as I'm shooting RAW (NEF in Nikon; DNG in Leica).

4. The WB eyedropper seems a lot better, but it depends as far as I can tell on the nature of the fabric/material clicked on: some whites don't give the eyedropper the right impression, so that noticeable colour casts result.

5. The speed of working in C1 isn't too bad at all. The computer used must have a lot to do with this. Mine is an Intel Core Duo iMac and the RAW conversions fly along nicely, even when banked up one on top of the other. Any rotation slows things down quite a bit though.

6. I love the look of the C1 conversions - it's all I've used for the Leica, but I used to use Capture 4 (Nikon Capture, that is) for the Nikon D-series shots, and the C1 result feels nicer, maybe more film-like. If someone tells me how to post a suitably sized JPEG (and what the suitable size IS) I'll put a shot or two on to the forum for your comments.

7. Unlike Nikon Capture, which I found very buggy when doing conversions (Capture NX is probably less crashprone), Capture One Pro has not crashed on me a single time. I find that reliability heartening and it makes me less upset at having spent so much on the software.

Best wishes,