For those who haven't invested in a RAW file converter, you mind find this Free Open Source Raw Therapee converter and digital photo processing software valuable. It is based on the popular "dcraw" RAW engine which supports most cameras including the new Nikon D300 / D3, Canon D5 / D40 / 1Ds Mark III, Olympus E-510 / E-3, Fuji S5Pro, along with many others. I downloaded it today and found the interface very intuitive and it worked well with my D40 / D200 and E-510 RAW files.
Here is the download and website:http://www.rawtherapee.com/
I decided to process the same RAW files in both Raw Therapee and Lightroom - and have to say that the results from both were very good, but different in some ways. Much of the difference may have to do with my not being familiar with processing RAW images as I don't generally use that format. I did find that the Lightroom results were slightly sharper and yet less detailed, while the Raw Therapee settings I used resulted in a more real looking file to my eye. I tried to match these as close as possible and added a little sharpening to the Raw Therapee file to match the eye sharpness of the Lightroom file - which did increase the contrast a little.
This NEF file is from my Nikon D200 camera shot at 640ISO. The Raw Therapee conversion is on the left and the Lightroom conversion is on the right:
Here is the full frame image using the Raw Therapee conversion:
Here is the full frame image using the Lightroom conversion:
Here is an interesting comparison of files converted with Raw Therapee and other popular converters like Adobe Photoshop ACR 3.4, Nikon Capture 4.3, RawShooters Essential 2006, Bibble Pro 4.7, Capture One Pro 3.7.4, Silkypix 184.108.40.206, and UFRaw 0.8.1:http://www.rawtherapee.com/index.php?page=...e&compar=de
I also used the processor on some of my Jpeg files and found some of the tools very useful and easier to get to than they are in Photoshop. One such example is the very useful draw tool for straightening the image based on drawing a horizontal line. It sits right there in the window. The noise reduction and sharpening features also allow Edge Detection settings so appear to be a little more versatile than in Lightroom (akthough Lightroom may use more smart features to do the same thing - I'm not sure). Anyway - Raw Therapee is a tool that I am sure to use.