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My standard workflow is: take pictures in RAW -> import into Aperture -> append metadata info -> go through shots and filter out the bad ones -> do basic adjustments in Aperture -> use Nik plugins or Photoshop if extra editing is required

Would my image quality improve by using Digital Photo Professional seeing that it's Canon's software to process it's RAW files? Are there any hidden advantages that I don't see in using DPP?

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On some rare occasions DPP has given me the colors I can't replicate with other converters - using 2-3 sliders instead of 20-30. –  Karel Feb 12 '11 at 19:20

7 Answers 7

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Are there any hidden advantages that I don't see in using DPP?

It depends on whether or not you believe the 'Canon marketing pitch.' :-) The pitch is essentially that because Canon makes the software and the hardware, their RAW processing is better than the competitors will be. Having done side-by-side comparisons I can say this... In straight apples-to-apples RAW comparison (e.g. all settings the same) DPP RAW processing produces an initial output that is slightly more contrasty by default. Is the output so much better than Aperture that it warrants a change? Are there hidden advantages to DPP? Well, I have two answers:

Answer 1: For me, the answer was 'not it isn't, and no there aren't.' I could slightly tweak my default processing settings in Aperture and get images that were indistinguishable from those made in DPP (unless, perhaps, you're a 'pixel peeper'). The difference was not worth changing up my workflow (and in the 'workflow' department, Aperture has DPP beat in spades).

Answer 2: Since DPP is free, and you already own Aperture, it wouldn't take more than installing DPP and doing some side-by-sides. I didn't see enough of a difference to warrant the change, but maybe you will? Just a thought if you're still on the fence after my first answer. :-)

In general my experience with Aperture is that it has better asset management, more features, and a better workflow through the product... But I to have to acknowledge that my feelings of a 'more intuitive' workflow may simply be due to my familiarity with Aperture, and relative lack thereof with DPP.

In many ways to me DPP felt like a 'lite' product, and Aperture was the 'full' version (as much as that comparison can be made for 2 different pieces of software from 2 different companies). The bottom line for me was that DPP wasn't a bad product at all, but it didn't offer enough of a difference or improvement to warrant shaking up my whole workflow over. But again I will say that if you still find yourself on the fence after my 'thumbnail opinion/review,' the good news is that it's free (except for the hour or two it will take to install it and play with it a bit) in order to test DPP out and see for yourself if it is better enough for you to be worth making a change...

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The reason camera makers bundle software with the camera is to cover those that are not using tools like Aperture or Photoshop. This isn't to suggest DPP is bad, not at all, but it's basically there to help the basic consumer do what they need to do after the image is off the camera. Canon, and other camera makers, are not expending the same effort into software development as Adobe or Apple will, so I seriously doubt that DPP would provide gain or have some hidden thing that Canon wouldn't share with these companies. After all, if you want to sell your gear to pros, you'd best be prepared to play nice with the software that the pros will demand.

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I'm not sure that's a totally fair comparison to even ask.

It's like asking "switch blade or multi-tool?" Sure both have a blade you can use to cut things, but one has so many more tools built into it.

DPP is the switch blade in the above analogy, it's very much a one trick pony. Yeah you can sort of play at some more advanced organization and tag/keyword/iptc/meta editing, just like you can in theory shave with a switch blade, but it pales in comparison to Aperture.

*Disclaimer: I'm a dedicated LR user, but have played with Aperture a couple times to see if it was worth switching; and from what I can tell, they're very very similar in their feature sets. DPP on the other hand is on my machine primarily so I could set the owner info into my new camera when I bought it... I've done a few tests with it, saw slight differences, but nothing I considered worth the hassle of using it's poor UI.

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You can use both!

I use a camera not supported by Aperture, so what I do is output 16-bit TIFF files from my RAW converter in a batch process (no adjustments) and then import into Aperture to do review and editing.

There's no reason you can't take that approach with any image though, even if Aperture supports it. The thing to do would be to import a bunch of your favorite RAW files into Aperture, and then export 16-bit TIFF files from DPP and import those into Aperture too - stack them with the RAW files and then you can do side-by-side comparisons between them to see which seems to generally work the best.

Tiffs use more space but also offer some benefits. One advantage you have in using a TIFF as a base in Aperture is that you can edit that tiff directly (by relocating the master outside the library temporarily) and then all Aperture adjustments you have on the image will be automatically overlaid atop your changes.

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I use DPP for a lot of my editing, but my alternatives are Picasa and Gimp.

It is a pretty good tool, but it shouldn't be compared to Lightroom or Aperture. Either of those are better all around tools.

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I guess there are two advantage of using DPP:

  1. If you are using 100% default settings, then the RAW files converted with DPP look nearly identical to the JPEG files produced by the camera. With third-party tools, there are usually slight differences. (Incidentally, I usually prefer Aperture's results to the results produced by DPP or camera.)

  2. The DPP version that you got with your brand-new camera supports the RAW files produced by the camera. With third-party tools, you might have to wait for 1-2 months before the support is implemented for new camera models.

That said, I try to avoid using DPP whenever possible.

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Because it comes for free and Aperture does not.

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