I had some time to do some developing with C1 and RT using the Sony raw file you posted. Here are some files for you to review.In C1 I did the following
1. Set the exposure curve to linear, then bumped exposure by 1.25. No curves or levels changes.
2. Bumped "Structure" in the Clarity brick to 21 (using the Neutral method).
3. Set white balance by sampling the 2nd to last grey color patch (2nd from bottom right). White balance reports as 6394 with tint -3.8.
4. Applied global sharpening (Unsharp Mask) Amount=168, Radius=1.1, Threshold=0.
C1 (crop, 100% scale)http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=b5fbedb89a2353a2f3da664219d9708d
C1 (full size image, 100% scale)http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=5116c2b1395a5be0ea3f81e42f2fcad6
C1 -> TIF -> RT (crop, 200% scale)http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=b77934910010f7648f05ac201be73200
C1 -> TIF -> RT (full size image, 200% scale)http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=585c8131d646ff2a14d7e82931f07edeIn RT I did the following
1. Bumped exposure up to 1...until the clipped highlight indicator showed just a few sparkles on the 2nd and third yarns to the right of the folded napkins. (I've gotta say I like the more saturated color rendition vs. C1).
2. Added RL sharpening using the values you posted previously (Radius=.65, Amount=.65, Damping=20 (default), Iterations=100). I also tried Unsharp Mask using the values set in C1 above...but thought RL looked better.
3. Enabled Microcontrast with 3x3 matrix; Quantity=20 (default) and Uniformity=50 (default).
4. Enabled Contrast by Detail Levels using the suggestions you made above (top 3 sliders set to 1.2; all others default values).
5. Set white balance by sampling the same color chip as above (2nd from bottom right). WB reports as 5409 with tint at 1.111 and Blue/Red Equalizer at 1.000.
RT (full size image, 100% scale)http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=2d8ea68ee2f8b2d9ace2b81957d91315
RT Output PP3http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=e58523b504ad6c228dd6fb32d1be65a2
RT (full size image, 200% scale)http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=8d9e789e1b37de47adbfd8601d543220
RT Output PP3http://ppmax.duckdns.org/public.php?service=files&t=273c675446718ea0e7f8648caa945b1a
All images should be Adobe RGB(1998).
I think RT's color rendition is more punchy while C1 is more muted. I imagine that the real thing is somewhere in between...FWIW I didn't do any color tweaks in C1 or RT.
I think RT handles the highlights better. The highlights on the metal parts of the brushes looks great, while C1 seems to render less "bloom" in the highlight areas. This could be my fault...since I was probably more careful with exposure in RT (avoiding clipped highlights).
I like C1's rendering of the text better--it's more black...sharpness seems to be a wash.
I like C1's rendering of the napkin texture better; in RT the dark red napkin above the pink napkin looks a little mushy to me...this could be due to over saturation and could probably be fixed.
Would love to hear your feedback on these.
Next, I'll post my after-sunset CR2's and 2 renders from C1. I'd love to see what you can do with the noise on these.