Anyone else think that the processing in Adobe Camera raw is actually getting worse? Since the introduction of automatically adding lens profiles was introduced my files look softer, more noise reduced and lacking in detail. Below is a Leica T (Typ 701) .DNG file processed in Photoshop and Iridient Developer. Both files have been upsized to 21MP for my picture library needs.
Both files were processed using default settings for the camera and the difference is marked. The Iridient Developer file is significantly sharper and shows a lot more detail. The Adobe file makes me wonder whether the Leica T (Typ 701) actually does have an AA filter after all (it doesn't) and a pretty strong one at that. And it's the same with other cameras as well. We all know about what Adobe do to Fuji X files. Oddly enough it doesn't seem to happen with my Sony FE camera files as much nor to the same extent with my Nikon Df.
So is this Adobe or is this the manufacturers taking a VERY conservative view towards image detail and opting for unwarranted levels of noise reduction as a default? Whoever is to blame for this, it means that I'm using Adobe less and less for raw file conversions. Because I don't know about anyone else, but I like to make the decisions as to how sharp I want my files to be and how much noise reduction I apply. And it is now becoming very difficult, if not impossible, to get the crispness and clarity in my files from Adobe with either my Leica or Fuji cameras.
If it is Leica doing this, then I have to admit to a certain amount of disappointment. They now produce very decent jpgs. from the T, but these raw files via Adobe are too soft for me. But then it's everywhere. I looked at some of the heavily publicised images from the 50MP Canon sensor and while the resolution is impressive, the images are soft. Likewise the Samsung NX1 and a host of other cameras. To me it seems to be getting worse. Whether these increases in sensor size have started up a new round of 'noise paranoia' I have no idea, but I can't explain it any other way.
Dpreview showed some samples from the new 16-55mm f/2.8 and some of them are ridiculously soft. Hardly a great advert for the lens, which I'm sure is capable of much better than this. Is this the way things are going? and is there really any benefit to these larger sensors if they are going to have draconian amounts of noise reduction applied? This is not what I want to see and it makes me even more impressed by the way that apps. like Iridient Developer and Photo Ninja approach the question of raw file conversion. I have no problem with lens 'correcting' if it means that lighter smaller lenses can be made and distortion and vignetting needs to be eliminated, but if it now extends to removing detail from my images then I'm far less enthusiastic. I now have the situation that, somewhat unbelievably, my Blackberry Q10 smartphone pictures look almost as sharp as the jpgs. that come out of my Fuji X cameras because of Fuji loading on the noise reduction. But then I guess it's something we expect from jpgs. and despite many of us moaning about it, it seems that there are not enough of us to make any difference. But raw files as well?
It does seem that a companies jpgs. indicate how they think their files should be processed and as far as Adobe is concerned, we now don't seem to be offered any alternative. Personally I think that's simply not good enough and seems to indicate that some of these companies don't believe that we as photographers are capable of making decisions for ourselves, or even want to. Coming from a film background a bit of grain was never a problem in terms of print reproduction and neither is a bit of luminance noise in digital images. But it seems that some of these companies have adopted a 'nanny' approach to image rendering, probably in the mistaken belief that all of us, apart from a few pro's, are more interested in getting pictures onto social media than anything else. And it's making a nonsense of what these sensors and lenses we currently have at out disposal can do.
The current fashion for non AA filtered sensors is a case in point. Because though they may remove that filter the camera manufacturers just do the same thing with software, making the whole thing almost completely pointless. I hope this doesn't mean that we are in for a soft, smeared, detail-free future and one of these days maybe the people who decide on how their images are rendered will get the message. But personally I doubt it. And that's a pretty sad state of affairs.