April 19th 2012 by Andrew S Gibson
Canon has just released a new update to Digital Photo Professional to go with the launch of the EOS 5D Mark III. The main reason for the update is that DPP now recognises files from the 5D Mark III. But Canon has also added three new features – a Digital Lens Optimiser, Compositing tool and HDR tool. Today I’m going to take a look at the first of these, the Digital Lens Optimiser, and compare its performance to a similar function in Lightroom.
If you haven’t updated your copy of DPP you can do so here. Tick the software option and the webpage will display latest updaters for both Windows and Mac OS X (version 3.11.26 for both). This version was only released on Wednesday, so most of you won’t have it. If you’ve purchased a new EOS 5D Mark III and installed DPP from the CD that comes with the camera, you still need to update it as the new version contains some fixes for errors in the original software. The update is free, and you need to have a previous version of DPP installed on your computer for it to work (you can get that from the CD that came with your EOS camera).
Digital Lens Optimiser
What does the Digital Lens Optimiser actually do? Well, according to Canon, it fixes any loss in image quality caused by diffraction or lens aberrations, and sharpens the image to compensate for any loss of resolving power. All lenses suffer from diffraction and lens aberrations to some extent, even the best quality ones, so this is a potentially useful feature. A disadvantage of inexpensive lenses, especially zooms with a wide focal range, is that they suffer from more aberrations than prime lenses and high quality zooms. The Digital Lens Optimiser can help you compensate for that, as long as you use the Raw format (it doesn’t work with JPEG or m-Raw or s-Raw files).
The Digital Lens Optimiser works with most EOS cameras. Exceptions are the EOS D30, D60, 300D, 350D, 10D and 20D/20Da.
The Digital Lens Optimiser replaces the Chromatic aberration correction function (also available in previous versions of DPP). If you use the Digital Lens Optimiser, the Chromatic aberration correction function is unavailable. You can use one or the other, but not both.
I tested the performance of the Digital Lens Optimiser with a photo that I took on an EOS 60D using an EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens at a focal length of 18mm. One of the characteristics of a zoom lens with a wide focal length range like this is that it’s not possible for the lens designer to maximise optical performance all the way along the focal length range. Compromises have to be made somewhere. This lens suffers from barrel distortion and chromatic aberration at the 18mm focal length, as you can see in the image above. The lines should be straight, and well, let’s say you can see why I don’t buy lenses like this (this one was borrowed).
Canon have split the NR/Lens/ALO tab in DPP – there is now a separate Lens tab. None of the lens data is included with DPP, you have to click the Update button and a list of compatible lenses appears.
You select the lens (or lenses) you require data for and DPP downloads them (you need to be connected to the internet). The program downloads a lot of data so I guess the reason it works this way is to save on hard drive space. It also gives Canon an easy way to add more lenses. Not every Canon lens is supported – I’ve listed compatible lenses at the bottom of the article.
With the lens data uploaded click the Tune button. The Digital Lens Optimiser window opens. As you can see, in the above enlargement of the very bottom left-hand corner of the image, there is signficant purple fringing.
Ticking the Setting box eliminates the effects of any lens aberrations or diffraction right away. The default setting is 50, and you can decrease or increase the amount of correction as required. It works very well, as you can see. Canon recommends that sharpening is set to zero under the Raw tab otherwise the image may be oversharpened.
The Digital Lens Optimiser doesn’t correct barrel distortion or lens vignetting. To do so, you need to return to the Lens tab and click the Tune button. Tick Distortion to correct barrel distortion and Peripheral Illumination to correct lens vignetting (this may already be ticked if Peripheral Illumination Correction was enabled on the camera when you took the photo).
DPP vs. Lightroom
Does the Digital Lighting Optimiser give DPP an advantage over Lightroom, Adobe’s popular Raw conversion program? No it doesn’t, because Lightroom can also correct barrel distortion and lens aberrations.
I processed the same image with Lightroom to see how the two programs compared. The process is quicker in Lightroom as all you have to do is tick the Enable Profile Corrections box in the Lens Corrections pane. Lightroom also contains information for a wider range of lenses, including independent marques.
Here is a comparison between the two images, one processed in DPP and the other in Lightroom. Both have done an excellent job. The image from DPP is slightly lighter at the edges, presumably it has applied a little more correction to compensate for lens vignetting. It’s difficult to tell the difference at 100% magnification and I doubt anyone would see the difference in a print.
The Digital Lighting Optimiser in the latest version of DPP is a really useful feature. As long as your lens is included in the program’s data (see below) it helps you get the best quality image possible from it. It also demonstrates Canon’s commitment to continually improving the software.
If you’re new to DPP, or want to learn how to use it to get professional results out of your Raw files, then you may be interested in my eBook Understanding DPP. Click the link for more details.
The following Canon lenses are compatible with the Digital Lighting Optimser in DPP:
EF 14mm f2.8L IIUSM
EF 24mm f1.4L II USM
EF 35mm f1.4L USM
Standard & medium telephoto lenses
EF 50mm f1.4 USM
EF 50mm f1.2L USM
EF 85mm f1.2 II USM
EF 300mm f2.8 II IS USM
EF 400mm f2.8 II IS USM
EF 500mm f4 II IS USM
EF 600mm f4 II IS USM
EF 16-35mm f2.8L USM
EF 16-35mm f2.8L II USM
EF 17-40mm f4L USM
EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM
EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM
EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM
EF 28-300mm f3.5-5.6L IS USM
EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM
EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM
EF 70-200mm f4 L USM
EF 70-200mm f4 L IS USM
EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM
EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM
EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM
EF-S 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS
EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM
EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM
EF-S 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 IS
EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS