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ColorWasher & RAW Converters

 

ColorWasher only works on RGB images that were opened in a graphics application, because it doesn't handle RAW data. So you need a RAW Converter to import a RAW file into a graphics application or save it to an RGB file. Although all RAW Converters offer a color correction feature, that doesn't make ColorWasher obsolete. ColorWasher can be useful even if you work with RAW files. ColorWasher manages to color correct photos much better than some RAW Converters, it gives you more flexibility and options for fine tuning the image and can produces more consistent results across a range of images.

If you want to correct a RAW file with ColorWasher, you should do as few adjustments in the RAW conversion software as possible. For example keep the color correction setting to camera defaults and don't raise brightness and contrast. Also make sure that the image is converted to 16bit to achieve a better quality in ColorWasher. On the other hand, if a RAW Converter already does a quite good job, but needs a final touch up in ColorWasher, it is better to run ColorWasher on the image that was already adjusted in the RAW Converter.

Here are some examples that demonstrate that it makes sense to use ColorWasher in addition to your RAW conversion software:

 

Original Photo (Camera Settings)

This is the original photo when converted with the camera settings. The manual white balance feature of the camera was used before taking this photo, but it only turned the orange cast from the street lamps into a green cast.

 

Adobe Camera RAW (ACR)

The Adobe Camera RAW plugins is delivered with Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements 3. Two years ago it was also available as a separate product. Although it is quite a good tool, it sometimes has problems with color corrections. It can fail in some cases or produce color results that don't look that natural.

Corrected with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR)
Corrected with ColorWasher
This correction was done in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) in Photoshop. ACR didn't manage to remove the color cast from the snow. The best it managed to do was to create this light pink cast. After converting the RAW file with ACR using the default camera settings, ColorWasher was applied to it. Unlike ACR it managed to remove the color cast completely and gave the night sky a nice royal blue touch.

 

Paint Shop Pro 9 - Camera RAW Data

The RAW import feature of Paint Shop Pro 9 is limited in two ways. First of all, it can't produce 16bit images, because Paint Shop Pro doesn't support them. Secondly, it only has very few features and a very limited color correction feature.

Corrected with PSP 9
Corrected with ColorWasher
The Incandescent option of the Camera RAW Data produces the least strong color cast in this case. The As Shot setting produces an image that has a much stronger color cast.

After converting the RAW file with Camera RAW Data using the Incandescent settings, ColorWasher was applied to it. After some tweaking ColorWasher managed to make the snow white. Unfortunately the colors were drained a bit by the extreme saturation in the starting image, which needed to be reduced in ColorWasher.

 

DCRAW (Freeware)

DCRAW is a command line tool that is used by several freeware RAW Converters. It offers only a few adjustment options. In this case we used RAWDrop to convert the RAW files.

Corrected with DCRAW (RAWDrop)
Corrected with ColorWasher
We used RAWDrop with a Red Scale value of 0.3 and a Blue scale value of 1.4 to produce this image with a cast that is less bad than with other settings. The Auto WB and Camera WB settings produce a very bad result. At the bottom of the image you can see that the highlights were blown. ColorWasher was run on the TIF file that was produced by RAWDrop. The result could be considered almost as good as running ColorWasher on the Adobe Camera RAW image (see above), but the blown highlights that were created by DCRAW are a serious problem.

 

Silverfast DC Pro / DC VLT

Silverfast DC is a plugin for converting RAW files among other things. The VLT version misses some useful correction features of the Pro version, but the Pro version on the other hand is very expensive.

Corrected with DC Pro
Corrected with ColorWasher
This result was achieved with DC Pro. It looks quite good, but DC Pro doesn't manage to completely remove the color cast from the snow. There is still a light brown cast. DC Pro can create discoloration on blown highlights, but that was avoided here by raising the Exposure slider. ColorWasher was run on image on the left and managed to remove the remaining cast from the snow.

Bibble Pro

Bibble Pro is a applications as well as plugin for RAW conversion. It offers a lot of features and is intuitive to use.

Corrected with Bibble Pro
Corrected with ColorWasher
Bibble Pro produces a quite good result, but there is a purple cast visible in the snow area. ColorWasher removed the purple cast from the snow after it was run on the left image.

 

Capture One, Breeze Browser and SharpRAW

These three tools have color correction features that are relatively good, so you probably won't need ColorWasher very often with them. Nevertheless, if you don't want to miss ColorWasher's user-friendliness, flexibility, automatic correction and color effect features, you should stick to ColorWasher.

 

 

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