Sigma DP2 Merrill - Review and User Experience - Part 8 - The Raw Files

By their very nature the Raw files from the DP2M are going to be large. Some of the files I'm getting are 60MB + which is around 3x the size you'd normally expect. Considering that the camera is in essence processing data from each of the three layers to produce the final image, then this is probably not so surprising.

Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) is currently the only way to "develop" these files, and likely to remain so. Even when Photoshop came up with support for the SD14 I had, it was never as good as the native Sigma software. Add in the nonsense that Photoshop makes of the files from the other current camera with an "odd" sensor, the Fuji X-Pro 1, then I think its likely that SPP is the only option thats going to be around. 

Now as a piece of software for changing the images, its not great. However, since if you expose correctly there is not a lot that needs doing to the DP2M files, there is a solution to the file size and raw processing problem. Its somewhat complicated, but I've found saves time in the long run.

The X3F setting in SPP gives the most neutral image, and seems to be pretty much what the camera has recorded. I then batch process these files to create .tiff files. I then open these up in ACR in Photoshop CS6 and convert these .tiffs to .dng files. This allows me to then run them through ACR and it also reduces the file size considerably for long term storage. The image at the top of the page shows the difference I can get.

So am I loosing anything? After a lot of testing it seems not. I'm certainly not loosing the amazing sharpness.

Just as important, am I adding anything I don't want, such as noise or artefacts? Well again after testing and looking at the results, it seems not.

This obviously takes time, but since the SPP and ACR batch conversions can happen in the background when I'm doing something else, its not that much of a problem. The advantage is that when I get round to working on the files, its a lot easier, because I have .dng files to work with which are smaller than either the X3F or TIFF files. This makes my whole editing process a lot simpler, easier, quicker and more versatile.

This is not any kind of recommendation, just an explanation of what works for me. I'm very happy with the results I'm getting with this method. The Foveon "magic" is still retained, which is the most important thing and I get the benefit of files that ACR handles successfully and really quickly. I'm also not clogging up my hard disks with large raw files. Since I already have about 3TB of raw digital files in storage, anything that keeps this as low as possible in the future is welcome. 

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