Raw Decoding Review: Send Your Challenging Images to Apple Engineers

by Derrick Story

I received this email from Joe Schorr about a Raw image decoding review by the Aperture engineers. Since you're a member of the Inside Aperture community, you might want to contribute. Here's what Joe had to say...


As part of Aperture's ongoing development, the team at Apple is continuing to gather images that represent the biggest RAW decoding challenges and illustrate the particular areas where you'd like to see improvement. Any image content you send will be used for internal testing purposes only. None of these images will be distributed to the public, used in any marketing capacity whatsoever, or included in public demos. They will be used exclusively to test and evaluate RAW image processing, with the goal of delivering even better RAW support for your camera in the future.

If you would like to submit a set of sample images, here is what we would like to receive for each image:

  1. The original, unmodified RAW image. Please specify the camera model used to create the image.
  2. A 16-bit TIFF version of the image created with Aperture using all default settings (no adjustments, no Auto Exposure or Auto Levels).
  3. A 16-bit TIFF version of the image created with the RAW decoder of your choice, also using default settings. If using the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in, make sure all the "Auto" checkboxes have been turned off.
  4. A 16-bit TIFF version of the image after you have applied adjustments using the RAW decoder of your choice, showing how you feel the image should look when processed and adjusted correctly.
  5. Any notes or commentary you wish to provide regarding whatever weaknesses or strengths you see in the decode provided by Apple's software. When possible, point to specific areas in each image that you would like us to examine. Also include information about the camera, computer, and software used to create the image.

Please put all related files together into a single folder, then upload via FTP to the following server:

FTP Site: privftp.apple.com

username: proappcustomer

password: media

After posting your files to the server, please send an email to aperturefeedback@group.apple.com to notify us that the files are available.

(NOTE: For security reasons, the above FTP site is set up as a drop box with write-only access, so other users can not view or download the images.)

Thanks for working with Apple. The feedback that we've received from the pro photo community over the last year has been extremely helpful, and we look forward to continually improving image handling in the future.


J Pease
2007-03-23 13:15:20
This is simply awesome. I have had concerns about the proprietary raw formats from camera manufactures, and the lack of ability to fully 'extract' the full potential out of these formats, without using the companies exclusive raw decoders.

I shoot a Nikon D200, and have noticed that when I shoot high ISO, my pictures do not appear noisy to an unusable state in camera, but when they get placed in Aperture, they are very noisy, and appear to have 'jpeg artifacts' despite the fact that they are RAW files.

Just for grins, I decided to render them in Nikon's Capture NX, and the difference was astounding! Hardly any noise was present, and without sacrificing sharpness. Nikon states that Capture NX can unlock the full potential of their proprietary RAW format. This concerns me, as I do not want to have to process my files in Capture NX, just to realize the full quality of my photos.

It will be interesting to see what Apple is able to come up with, and if we as the end user will be able to benefit fully, in the future, from our camera's proprietary RAW formats, without being forced to use the manufacture's software.

Good to see Apple continuing to raise the bar.

Cliff Cheney
2007-03-23 17:48:26
I just uploaded some Nikon D2x High Speed Crop files that show a flaw in Aperture that does not sappear in Adobe Camera Raw CS2. It appears to be a problem in the demosaicing process.

I had been sitting on the bug since I didn't know where to send it. Thanks for this.

2007-03-28 18:17:44
This is not new..they did the same thing last spring...
2007-03-29 08:43:46
Actually, this is new. It's a new round. Apple did put out a call last year too, and I think that experience was useful for everyone. But they want to continue to refine Raw decoding and make sure they're addressing new files properly. So, this is round 2.
2007-04-03 06:27:50
I'm also happy that Joe and his team are soliciting user input. I really love the workflow with Aperture. I've used most of the other apps out there (LR, NX, Bibble, etc.) and only LR comes close in terms of workflow, but the Apple guys really have a great product. However, there is one fatal flaw from my perspective.

I shoot Nikon (D2X and D200) and the WB decoding and/or the color decoding is not up to par with Aperture. Even with a Gretag-MacBeth chart in the photo and using this to set the WB, skin tones end up with a slightly sick looking green tint. Yes, I can run the tint toward magenta, but that has an undesired global effect. Granted, skin tones are very difficult, but this is one area, at least with the Nikon, that LR has over Aperture. LR/ACR skin tones look very close to NX (which of course matches the in-camera processed JPEGs).

I've uploaded some images for the Aperture gang to study. Hopefully, we'll get this sorted out as I'd love to stay with Aperture, but I really need accurate skin tones for my portraits.

2007-04-10 12:54:10
I can log in to the FTP server, but can't upload anything using the username/password listed in the article:
"550 Security server forbids that action on this file".

Any tips on how to do this?

Carl Rytterfalk
2007-04-19 03:53:18
This is great news and I sure hope that they take their time to examin my samples and to make an awsome Sigma RAW developer. I'm hoping for the best. The Sigma Photo Pro does a good job but has no tools for anything else then just basic prep for further photoshop editing. I really love Aperture and my hopes are high!

If you wanna see what Sigma SD14 can do, please take a look at www.rytterfalk.com