Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop / Photoshop Elements :
Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom share the same version of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) so results will be identical. Only the interface is different and I much prefer the Lightroom version. Older versions of Photoshop / Elements / Lightroom can only use earlier versions of ACR which is Adobe’s way of telling you to upgrade. More)
Adobe Photoshop Elements also uses the ACR engine but has some features missing. Judging by Adobe’s help files it does still have the important noise reduction tools though.
Since Lightroom 3 / Photoshop CS5 / Elements 8 Adobe have completely redone the RAW processing module that is Adobe Camera RAW. (ACR) Earlier versions of ACR were great with Nikon files but not even close to the best with Canon files. Someone must have mentioned this to Adobe, as since the ACR6 Adobe remade ACR from scratch and everything changed. Most “updates” to RAW processing modules really only amount to adding support to new cameras, so a complete rebuild is very unusual and wow does it make a difference.
Although Canon’s DPP has gradually been improved, Lightroom or Photoshop are the best choices for Canon EOS 40D RAW files, although the differences between packages are smaller with the 40D than with the other DSLRs tested so far. By the way noise reduction is disabled by default so you do have to turn it on when you need it.
Canon Digital Photo Professional :
Canon are unusual in that the free software that comes with every Canon DSLR is actually very good - Are you listening Nikon?
DPP does a good job, and as it has been updated, it has got better and better. It now features proper noise reduction controls, and at last has a trimming and straightening tool. It even corrects optical distortion and vignetting with many Canon lenses. The main criticism is that it’s slow to use, but even that has improved over the last couple of years. Results with Canon 40D files are excellent at low ISOs - at 100 and 200 ISO results are excellent, but at high ISOs, over 400, they’re just not as good as those from Lightroom. You do have to buy Lightroom though, whereas you already own DPP. Make sure you have the latest version of DPP and if you didn’t even take it out of the box, give it a try. It’s the best manufacturer’s package around.
Capture One 5 :
Still a great program, which is why Capture One 4 has been my main choice for Canon EOS 20D, 30D, 40D and 5D files over the last few years. While results from Capture One 5 are good, the others are all now better. This is a great package in many ways but I think no longer the best. At 100 and 200 ISO all the packages produce superb results R, but as you increase sensitivity Capture One now falls behind. Even at 400 ISO Capture One now comes last, with more noise and less crisp results. If you shoot a lot at high ISOs - 800 and higher - it’s no contest. All of the others are better.
DxO Optics Pro 6 :
DxO Optics Pro is a really clever piece of software, which includes optical corrections for the Canon 40D with some Canon lenses and some independent ones. Click here to check if your lens is listed. It also auto corrects difficult lighting and has excellent RAW processing and among the best noise reduction around, but DxO has a few quirks - It has a unique interface which is almost as hard to learn as Lightroom, but it does less, and although it’s not that easy to get to grips with and it has lots of complex controls, you get the feeling that it’s meant to be left on full auto most of the time. DxO Optics Pro has a different approach to almost everything, so it’s one you’ll either love or hate. However, the noise reduction is among the best, especially for portraits - it needs turned down for everything else, but is still excellent. If you shoot architecture, DxO Optics Pro is definitely worth considering. Although Lightroom and DPP also have profiles for optical corrections, I haven’t found Lightroom’s as accurate as those with DxO Optics Pro and using the optical corrections in DPP works well but loses more sharpness than with DxO, So if squares staying square is vital for you, DxO is probably the best choice.
First Choice : Adobe Photoshop Lightroom / Photoshop
Second Choice : Canon Digital Photo Professional
Why : Lightroom is unbeatable with the all the Canon digital SLRs I’ve tested so far including the Canon EOS 40D at high ISO’s, and, provided you stick with it through the horrible “Library” section and actually manage to import your pictures, this is an amazing package which quite simply is the best option for the Canon 40D above 400 ISO. Up to 400 ISO Canon’s own DPP is very good, but at 800 ISO and above Lightroom / Photoshop is the best choice for the Canon 40D.
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