If you haven’t read the first four parts please take a look at them, because there you may see the images unsharpened and sharpened with various tools, and you’ll learn about the specifics of this comparison.
Now that we have seen, in the previous parts, who the winners are it’s time to draw some conclusions.
– Adobe Photoshop CS5 / Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3
Pretty good raw conversion quality with industry leading performance for all the other aspects. Both programs are easily usable in a workflow that includes other softwares as raw converters when it’s mandatory to obtain the maximum quality.
– Apple Preview
It’s a Mac software, so what can you aspect? It’s easy to use and does the job, and an excellent one. A bit limited for “creative” interpretation of the pictures, but really great as a plain raw converter.
– CaptureOne Pro 6.3.5
Many professionals used to use this program. I, quite frankly, nowadays I don’t see the need. The results are pretty good, but not better than Lightroom, and it costs a lot more doing a lot less. More, the interface is confusing, and it litters the file system with useless proprietary configuration files for each and every image. Too little for too much.
– Corel AfterShot Pro 1.0.1
The interface is well studied, but it’s not the 2003 anymore. There are better softwares out there, also free.
– Digital Photo Professional 3.11.4
One may think that Canon should know a trick or two about its own cameras, but if so it is not shown in this software. Good results, but nothing to write home about, and limited conversion options. It may came in handy if you save a dust removal image on the camera, to apply it to the raw files (that you can save again as raw and than open with a better app). At least it’s free.
– DXO Optics Pro 7
If your camera / lens combination is supported maybe it’s worth a shot. But try it first because, for example, with the (supported) Fuji X100 both Rawker and Preview do a better job…
– Gimp / Ufraw 2.6.12
If you are on Linux go for it, but the 8bit limit it is not a good thing. When it will sports a full 16bit support the rating will become a full 4.
– perfectRaw 0.6
Forget about it; it was a noble attempt, but the years do not pass in vain.
– RawDeveloper 1.9.4
Pretty good results, but it lacks an histogram and it costs too much for what it has to offer.
– Rawker 2.3.4
The interface could use a radical redesign, but quality wise it’s one of the winners, and it’s fast and it’s free!
– RawTherapee 4.0.8
Another one of the winners, in various categories, and overall one of the best. Probably the one with the best interface, with the exclusion of Lightroom.
– RawPhotoProcessor 4.5 64bit
Great results, but Rawker and Apple Preview do almost always better quality wise and RawTherapee beats it in the usability department. Overall still a good choice for low Iso images.