For some strange reason, Aperture 3 seems to shift the colors of the raw images, after importing them.

For example, the reds become washed out and something not red. In the following example, the red of the sweater was pure red!

When viewed on Adobe Camera Raw, I get the correct color (the same one when viewed in the camera):

Screenshot from Adobe Camera Raw

but when is imported into Aperture and the initial processing completes, the colors are not correct.

Screenshot from Aperture

The only setting that has being applied by default to the image, is the "RAW Fine Tuning" from which I've removed the "Hue Boost" and the "De-Noise" from the default setting, because I think its messing up the photos.

The settings are the following:

RAW Fine Tuning settings

but I don't thing that these would make any change!

Does anyone knows how can I preserve the colors of the image?

  • 12
    There is no such thing as the "correct colours". Different RAW processors produce slightly different results. It is a matter of taste which one of them "looks correct", if any. So your question really is: how to replicate the results of Adobe Camera Raw by tweaking the setting in Aperture. Mar 6, 2011 at 9:43
  • Incidentally, you can easily find lots of examples where people have compared Adobe Camera Raw and Canon Digital Photo Professional. Again, the situation is similar: photos will have different colours, depending on which software you use to process the raw files. Moreover, it is not usually so that software X always produces "better" results than software Y; for instance, I usually prefer the output of Aperture 3 to Canon's software, but I have also seen photos that looked worse when processed with Aperture 3. However, you can usually fix it by slightly tweaking the white balance settings. Mar 6, 2011 at 12:59
  • 1
    @jukka-suomela: how to replicate Adobe Camera Raw, and/or how to replicate the Camera's own preview. More in my answer. @joel-spolsky: Welcome to Photo.SE! Thank you for all that you've done for the dev community, and now many other communities as well! :)
    – lindes
    Mar 7, 2011 at 23:24
  • See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/10715/…
    – mattdm
    Apr 21, 2011 at 11:45
  • So I'm seeing this issue too and could not figure out where the change is being introduced. The problem is prevalent with my cannon d30 raw files but to a very minor degree... however when I shoot with my Olympus xz-1 the changes are really really bad. The amount of work to get them back to the camera default is considerable. This problem seems to be at least partiality tied to a recent Apple raw update because it was not like this last year using aperture. I fired up Lightroom 4 and imported the same images from the xz-1and they did not suffer the same kind of change. To all those wanting to
    – user10741
    Jul 21, 2012 at 18:56

9 Answers 9


It's really fairly simple: there's a direct trade-off between color accuracy and apparent noise.

To sense color, the sensor has a filter in front of each sensel. As it happens, the filter for the red channel cuts out the most light. This means when you're doing the conversion, you have to multiply the red channel by the largest factor1 to achieve a particular color balance. When you multiply the data, however, you're increasing the apparent noise right along with the intended data.

As such, to minimize apparent noise, the raw converter software wants to use the weakest multiplier on the red channel that it can get away with.

It looks to me like Aperture is simply using a somewhat smaller multiplier on the red channel to reduce the appearance of noise. ACR apparently uses a slightly larger multiplier to give more accurate reds. Though it appears unlikely to matter much in this particular picture, it's probably fair to guess that when you have pictures taken in relatively low light that Aperture will do a slightly better job of suppressing noise without losing detail.

1 In case you care about the details, the green channel is normally the "baseline" so we'll treat its factor as 1.0. The blue channel is multiplied by a factor of around 1.3 to 1.4, and the red by a factor of about 2 to 2.3. This varies with the camera though -- Sony, for one example, uses much stronger red filters than Canon, so their cameras reproduce saturated reds more easily, but also do relatively poorly in noise tests.

  • So what exactly is the fix? It's not clear from this answer even though it was selected as the best answer.
    – Chris Calo
    May 2, 2015 at 18:39

This has to do with Picture Styles, or whatever the equivalent is for your particular camera. When you first import images into Aperture, it will initially display as a preview a JPEG image which is actually embedded within the RAW file by the camera (which is always there, even when setting your camera to record only RAW files, rather than RAW+JPEG -- it's just a small preview JPEG, embedded within the one file). This embedded JPEG is produced by the camera at the time of initial capture, and has the Picture Style (or equivalent; from now on I'll just call this Picture Style, substitute as appropriate) applied to it. Then, as it has time, Aperture will replace its preview with one that it generates by processing the RAW file. As has been said by others, different RAW processing software will process the same file differently -- and this applies equally well to comparing Aperture against the built-in processor on the camera as it does to comparing Aperture to Adobe Camera Raw.

If you change your Picture Style to one that reduces contrast and saturation, you'll find that Aperture makes it more saturated than the initial preview. And if you set it to Monochrome, Aperture will make it be in color again.

The question that I have, that I have yet to dig into to find the answer to (though perhaps I will, now that this question has been asked), is whether Aperture has available to it the information of what the Picture Style settings are, so that it could apply those settings to your image, thus mimicking the camera's processing. If I remember correctly, Canon's utility does this, so I presume it is in fact possible; whether it's easy or not I don't know. What is empirically clear, though, is that this currently is not done. I wish it was - or at least that there was an option for that. Perhaps in some future version there will be.

At any rate, I think you will find that this is what's going on -- that Aperture is processing a file in a particular way, regardless of the Picture Style, but it displays the camera-generated JPEG preview as its initial preview. If you shoot the same scene with 5 different Picture Styles applied, you'll initially see five different looks, and then, as Aperture gets a chance to actually render its own previews, they will all end up looking the same. This is because Aperture ignores this JPEG preview once it has generated its own. The generated-in-camera JPEG is only used to allow for quick access to -some- visual preview of your scene (it's a much less processor-intensive task to render that JPEG on the screen than to render a new preview from the RAW file).

So now it sounds like you'll want to find some settings that match what your Picture Style is, and save those as a preset. Or change your Picture Style to match Aperture better. ;)

As a side-note, it's worth noting that the histogram that your camera shows you is generated from the JPEG preview, so changing your Picture Style will also give you different in-camera histograms.

  • If it was Picture Style's fault, then the preview on the camera should be not precise as well. But that was not the case. The camera's preview had exact the same "correct" red, as ACR had!
    – nuc
    Mar 21, 2011 at 12:22
  • How are you defining what is "precise" or "correct"? Just because the camera with its picture style and ACR get the same answer doesn't mean it's correct -- and I'd bet they'll stop getting the same answer if you change your picture style (especially to, say, a monochrome style -- unless Adobe has added the feature of honoring such settings?) try it out. If adobe and the camera always get it the same, then are they still getting it "right", even when you, say, set the contrast and saturation for the picture style way down?
    – lindes
    Mar 21, 2011 at 18:33
  • As I've wrote on other comments as well, as "correct" color I define the one that is closer or matching the the actual color of the sweater. But I'll try with other color profiles also and let you know!
    – nuc
    Mar 21, 2011 at 19:09
  • 2
    Remember, too, that the "actual" color is greatly influenced by a variety of factors - especially the color of the light, and that our perception of color is influenced by even more factors, like what other colors are nearby... Frankly, your second picture seems more "accurate" to me as a representation of the color of light I'm guessing you had, though I can only guess based on other red garments I've seen, and things like shadow angles, etc, which is hardly complete information. I look forward to further reports!
    – lindes
    Mar 22, 2011 at 17:20

... from which I've removed the "Hue Boost" ...

i think that is your answer.

and make sure that you are viewing the raw and not the generated jpg

  • even with hue-boost or without, the results on red are the same :( by viewing the master also the color are the same :(
    – nuc
    Mar 6, 2011 at 11:17
  • 3
    You're always viewing a generated jpeg with Aperture - either the one embedded with the RAW file (the normal initial state, given that aperture is set to treat RAW "as master" in import), the camera-generated JPEG from shooting RAW+JPEG (which I'm guessing is what you're advising against?), or a JPEG generated by Aperture from the RAW file, and stored internally as its "Preview" (which I'm guessing is what is meant by "viewing the raw file"?)
    – lindes
    Mar 21, 2011 at 18:38

Different RAW processing software will come with different default colour profiles for each camera. Some colour profiles may boost saturation a little, or enhance particular colours like blue. Some may even apply a curve. Others may try to be more faithful to the source.

If you have your own ICC colour profile you can get better control over how the colours should look. You can create these with various software either based on another profile or by calibrating your camera.

To my eyes, the top example is oversaturated and looks less realistic. Something has boosted deep reds quite a lot. Your personal preference may differ. To me, the bottom image looks a lot more realistic, but then it is less flattering to the red jumper, showing it as slightly faded. The bottom picture also reveals a difference in "redness" between the jumper and the red layer just visible underneath - in the top image this difference is lost.

You can always boost or cut the saturation for certain colours afterwards if you are going for a certain effect. In this situation I can understand that if you want the red jumper to look newer, cleaner and less pink, you may want to boost the red and adjust its hue a bit so it starts to look more like the top picture (but maybe not as extreme).

  • It's not a matter of personal preference. All three red's (actual sweater, camera's preview, adobe camera raw) were the same, except the Aperture's red (bottom image).
    – nuc
    Mar 21, 2011 at 12:24
  • Adobe is probably using a very similar colour profile to your camera's internal one since their products strive to match the in-camera result. That doesn't mean that theirs is better than Aperture's, just different. You can't possibly say which one matches the actual sweater better on that day. Since fitting light into a limited colour gamut always involves some compromise, it most certainly is a matter of personal preference as to which compromise gives more pleasing results, and Adobe/Nikon/Canon have one opinion. Different people will hold different opinions on which is more realistic. Mar 23, 2011 at 5:27
  • If you care so much about this stuff, then I do encourage you to create your own colour profile. Then you can have full control over how the colour conversion is done, and the result will be exactly same in Aperture and in Adobe products. If you calibrate based on a reference card then you may discover how much of a balancing act "realistic looking" colour might be. Remember that the lighting and other factors can fool your eyes on the day and fabric dyes don't always match the primaries in your sensor by predictable margins either. Mar 23, 2011 at 5:34

As others have said, it's hard to have a "correct" colour representation of RAW data. However, it is clear here that there is a pinkish hue being applied. I think I've seen similar issues in Aperture 3 occasionally.

I would suggest ensuring that your system is fully up to date using the System Update tool on the Apple menu, as sometimes Apple update their RAW converters.

If you're already up to date, you can try manually adjusting the hue using the colour tool. If this is a common problem and this solution works, you could try saving this as a preset and adjust the configuration of the import tool to automatically apply this preset for all images on import.

It might also be worth raising a support ticket with Apple.


Big bug in Aperture 3 regarding imported images (not raws imported directly into Aperture)



Under preferences > previews. Make sure your photo quality is set above 8. It worked for me... Much better!!!


The ACR output looks oversaturated to me. The Aperture output looks like it has a slight colour cast (or maybe is somewhat undersaturated).

Reality (whatever that is) is probably somewhere in the middle.


I think you're importing images using a different white balance setting than the image was originally shot with. For example, the image was shot in 'Cloudy' but when importing you're changing it to 'Fluorescent' or something. Just play with the settings and you'll know the correct settings to use. You can also try using another RAW converter and compare the output against each-other.

Aperture 3 is a well known software used widely, so its less likely to have a major problem like not-preserving original colors. Check the software help section.

Its always best to use the software that came with your camera (DPP for Canon) when processing RAW images. No one knows their images better than who made them. EDIT: After using Adobe Camera Raw, I must say it does slightly better job than DPP.

Another thing is, when comparing colors between two images, place them horizontally, not vertically. Most LCD displays tend to show different colors vertically. So, place them side by side, not one on top of another.

  • "Its always best to use the software that came with your camera (DPP for Canon) when processing RAW images." Well, it depends on your definition of "best". If you use Canon software, you will get the same colours as what you have in the JPEG files that are produced by the camera. But what makes you believe that those colours are "correct" or "original"...? Mar 6, 2011 at 12:41
  • "Aperture 3 is a well known software used widely, so its less likely to have a major problem like not-preserving original colors." And this is simply not true. Aperture 3 certainly produces colours that are different from what is produced by, e.g., Canon software. You can easily see it if you have a look at what happens while Aperture processes the photos. First you'll see the JPEG previews (which are produced by the camera and embedded in the RAW file); they are then replaced by a version that is produced by Aperture, and the colours do change noticeably. Mar 6, 2011 at 12:45
  • I did not changed any setting after the import of the image (even white balance). The only enabled settings are those from the "RAW Fine Tuning". The only one of those which is tuning the color, is the Hue Boost, which however I "tweak" it, I do not get even close to the correct color. And by "correct" color I mean the actual color of the sweater.. Even the JPEG preview that was displayed instantly it was way better than that! The hue-boost by the way, it makes skin color appears more yellowish.. That's why I've removed it from the default settings..
    – nuc
    Mar 6, 2011 at 13:26
  • @Jukka Suomela - I dont agree to your opinion. "you will get the same colours as what you have in the JPEG files that are produced by the camera". I tested this a couple of times as I was a JPEG shooter not a RAW shooter. Few days ago I tried shooting RAW and the colors and sharpness I got from a RAW converted JPEG is much better than a direct JPEG. My 550D produces 8MB JPEG files but RAW converted JPEG files are 13MB+. This explains a lot as you have twice the information in a RAW converted JPEG file. Mar 7, 2011 at 3:43
  • 1
    I would have to agree that Adobe Camera Raw produces better results than DPP, especially with its recent updates. RAW processing is largely a matter of taste, more than anything. If you prefer the output of DPP, all the more power to you, however there is really nothing to state that DPP produces the "correct" output. I look at processing RAW like processing film...you can choose how to process film, and use the chemicals that you prefer to produce the kind of look and feel you want in your pictures, but using the chemicals specifically designed for a film doesn't mean then are more correct.
    – jrista
    Mar 8, 2011 at 4:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.