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I've recently been shooting in raw with my new 100mm usm is macro but I'm getting strange results in out of focus areas with bright colours in. I've used Lightroom for ages and not had any issues with it but it's not giving me the results I'd expect, over saturated with what I'd describe as colour bleed. I gather that the camera and the eos utility might be showing me some sort of preview, but they look very different!

The first screenshot is what the canon eos utility v2.9 shows me (and the same in camera) and gives me the bokeh I'd expect from a lens like this.

The second is what lightroom 3.3 shows me without any developing done. I've reimported with settings reset, and copied over with adobe bridge and photoshop and had the same results. This is with lens corrections off.

Don't ask why the filenames appear to be different between the screenshots, I assure you they're the same photo.

enter image description here enter image description here

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See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/9497/… –  mattdm Apr 21 '11 at 11:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

RAW formats are simply sensor data, to get a viewable image certain modifications need to be made to the photo (e.g. temperature correction, denoising, demosaicing, removing hot pixels, etc). Furthermore, there is no real correct way of processing a RAW image, so different RAW editors will present different looking images. Canon's utility is the most "official" software, and as I understand it will create images that look like your camera's jpeg output, but this does not mean is is necessarily the "best" RAW software.

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In addition to this, there are colour profiles that define how the RAW information is interpreted. Canon has "official" profiles - which are built-into your camera as Landscape, Portrait, Neutral etc. Adobe also has their own profiles for each RAW format. This is where much of the colour difference comes from. –  nchpmn Apr 9 '11 at 9:05
    
Interesting, look's like I'm going to have to use the Canon converter for now. In my impression it gives much better results! –  ChrisFletcher Apr 10 '11 at 20:48
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Don't give up with Lightroom just yet! It does offer a number of presets which simulate the settings used in the camera/"official" software to produce the image that you (expect to) see. Remember, as people have already said, images are simply interpretations of the RAW data. –  Nick Apr 11 '11 at 12:09

To view a RAW image on screen, it must first be preprocessed (usually by interpolation) to convert sensor pixels into screen pixels. RAW processing is an undefined field, outside of the common algorithms that can be used to process sensor pixels into screen pixels, and the algorithms to apply tone curves. Different RAW processors can interpolate pixels differently, and weight red, green, and blue sensor pixels differently and apply custom tone curves. The results when crossing between different RAW processors will rarely be the same.

This is one of the benefits of the Lightroom+Photoshop pairing...both use the same underlying RAW processing engine. Technically speaking, assuming you interpolated the sensor pixel data identically, used identical tone curves, and used identical precision in all calculations, two RAW processors should produce the same output. Identical processing is rarely the case, though, so you will usually see some degree of difference when moving images about between one RAW processor and another (excepting LR/PS of course.)

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As for in-camera, essentially the camera makes a JPEG purely for display on the camera, applying whatever picture control settings are in effect to that JPEG, i.e. saturation, sharpening etc. –  ElendilTheTall Apr 9 '11 at 9:41

A couple of tips that I don't think others have mentioned so far:

  1. Have you checked what setting is selected in the Camera Calibration panel in Lightroom? You'll find it at the bottom of the right-hand panel in the Develop module. Lightroom used to suffer from terrible colour reproduction in RAW files (for example, reds in Canon .CR2 files used to appear very orangey), but it now comes with individual colour profiles for all major cameras and it's made a world of difference. For Canon cameras (and I'm sure it's the same for other brands), there are camera calibration settings to match each of the built-in picture styles: so for example, if I shoot with the Standard picture style selected, selecting "Camera Standard" in the Camera Calibration pane matches exactly the preview colours I see on the camera screen.

  2. Do you by any chance have a wide-gamut monitor on your computer? (If you don't know the answer to that question, it's probably no: wide-gamut displays are pretty non-standard and make colours look very over-saturated unless they've been properly calibrated.) The reason I ask is because weirdly, Lightroom uses different colour spaces for the Library and Develop modules. On a monitor with a very wide gamut (capable of showing a much larger range of colours than usual), the difference is visible and colours sometimes appear a little off in the Library module.

These days Lightroom does an excellent job of reproducing colour in RAW images (at least that's been my experience with Canon SLRs). Hope you get your problem sorted out!

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My camera is set on standard and Lightroom 3.3 specifically contains a profile for this lens. That's part of the reason why this seems so weird. I'm not aware that my monitor has a wide-gamut, it's a standard Dell monitor either. In the end I processed those several images with the Canon software and I've not seen it again since –  ChrisFletcher May 24 '11 at 10:37

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