Canon EOS 20D / 30D RAW Software Reviews


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 not the latest version. It’s Adobe’s way of telling you to upgrade.  :  More)

Adobe Photoshop Elements also uses ACR but has some features missing.

From ACR 6 / Lightroom 3 on Adobe have completely redone the RAW processing module that is Adobe Camera RAW. Earlier versions of ACR were great with Nikon files but not even close to the best with Canon files. 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. During the beta testing stage Adobe initially released a version of Lightroom 3 with only the colour noise reduction enabled. They felt that the improvement they’d made here was the most significant, and they were right. Colour or “chroma” noise produces random coloured patches which are far more noticeable than “luminance” or grain like noise. Lightroom rarely needs any extra color noise reduction. It is superb.

Although Canon’s DPP has gradually been improved, Lightroom or Photoshop are the best choices for Canon EOS 20D or 30D RAW files, and it’s a real walkover, with Lightroom from v3 on being best at all ISO’s tested. 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 v3 has been constantly updated, so 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 20D / 30D files are excellent at low ISOs - at 100 and 200 ISO results are excellent with less detail than Lightroom but a lovely smoothness to them. However at even 400 ISO, 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 no longer the best for 20Ds or 30Ds. At 100 ISO all the packages produce superb results, but as you increase sensitivity Capture One now falls way behind. Even at 400 ISO Capture One now comes last, with more noise and less crisp results.  At higher ISOs - 800 and higher - it’s no contest. All of the others are better. I think this result probably bears out my theory that most RAW software updates only add camera support. Older cameras like the 20D and 30D benefit even more than the others from Adobe’s ground up rebuild leaving previous winners like Capture One well behind.

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 3 and DPP also have profiles for optical corrections, there aren’t many and 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 could be your 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  especially with the Canon 20D and 30D, 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 30D at any ISO.

Suggested Settings >>

p1   p2   p3

Canon EOS 20D & 30D

Best for RAW:



Suggested Settings

© David Gold
All text and images copyright David Gold 2006 - 2013
and must not be reproduced in any way without permission.