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Shuttershock and Olympus 75-300

Since a couple of months I own the Olympus 75-300 III. And since day one, I wasn't happy with the results I got. 
All the pictures shot at +/- 300 mm where soft and looked like there was motion blur. How's that possible? I tried it at a 1/1000th of a second, but still the motion blur in my pictures. I regret that I ever sold my Pentax with the 55-300 for this awfull lens!
But... Most reviews of this lens are positive. Is my copy of this lens bad?
I then figured out by reading forums that it could be a phenomena called 'shuttershock'. It that case, the shock of the shutter causes enough movement so the image is blurred.
For example:

How to fix this?
My camera has several drive modes, including one called 'anti-shock'. And that does magic.
In that mode The pictures are sharp again. No motion blur is visible! 
The downside of this mode is that the fasted drivemode can't be used.

Image processing software comparison

Last months, many RAW converters has get updated. I reviewed a couple of them, but how do they compare?

In this comparison I will compare four RAW converters. Corel Aftershot Pro 1, DXO Optics Pro 7, Adobe Lightroom 4 and Cyberlink Photodirector 3. Aftershot Pro has version 1, but is the new version of Bibble which has ben acquired by Corel. The youngest piece of software is Photodirector 3. Version 1 was released half 2011. 

I made a ranking of the most used features.

Lightroom is the winner. The others are close, but there are some big differences when looking at the categories. DXO does a great job for the editing, but loses for exporting and other functions like importing, photo book, etc.

Image Quality

To compare the image quality, I used the next 8 images:
Original pictures (RAW- jpeg without adjustments in Lightroom)
As you can see some images are to dark, to much dynamic range and as last a high iso noise image with a very difficult white balance.

To compare the images fairly, click on them to open them in higher resolution. When reducing the image size, sometimes strange things happen to details and colors. 

Image quality: exposure and color

Round 1: automation

In this first round, I set all software in auto, as much as possible. Aftershot Pro has no auto white balance, so I selected the white balance with the droplet.

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector

As you can see, all programs do a good job, except DXO. The image is way to dark. Lightroom and Aftershot Pro have the best colors, Photodirector makes the image to red. Lightroom has the best skin tones.

winner: Lightroom

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)

The difficult job. DXO has the colors as best, but is to dark. Photodirector has no auto noise removal, so all noise is still there. Aftershot Pro has very nice colors, but is a little redish. After all, DXO has got the colors most natural.

winner: DXO

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector

This picture has a difficulty with the contrast. The black eyes and mouth vs. the hair. In this one, DXO and Aftershot Pro are to dark. Photodirector is lacking contrast in the final result. Lightroom got it all right in the auto mode.

winner: Lightroom

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)

Again a picture with some bad shadows. Only Lightroom got the exposure and contrast right, but the auto White balance is a little bit to warm.  I really like the colors in the DXO version, but the shadows are to dark. The same story for Aftershot Pro. In Photodirector, the white balance was a little bit to cool.

winner: Draw

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)

This cute little lamb is walking in a green landscape. Aftershot Pro and Lightroom did a great job and Aftershot gives the colors a little bit more saturation. DXO has the right white balance, but the contrast and saturation are a little bit to low. Photodirector fails with the wrong colors.

winner: Aftershot Pro

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)

This picture is a little bit to light. How well do the programs fix that in auto mode? Aftershot Pro renders a colorful and sharp picture. The contrast is also good, but same of the details in the highlights are lost. Only Lightroom has recovered all the details in the highlights, but the overall image is to dark. DXO is very good, but the colors are a little bit to much. Photodirector has to cool colors and is lacking black tones.

winner: Aftershot Pro
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
A very difficult picture. A under exposed animal, with details in the highlights. Photodirector got the exposure right, but the white balance is to cool. Lightroom is to warm and DXO and Aftershot to dark. After all, this one don't deserve a winner. Aftershot Pro is the loser, because of the exposure is way to dark. 
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
In This picture, there are some difficult contrast and colors. But all software did a good job. Lightroom and DXO gives the most natural colors, while Aftershot Pro is a little bit to warm and Photodirector a little bit to cool. Lightroom got the exposure best, but with a very small difference.

winner: Lightroom

Overal winner for automation is Lightroom. DXO and Aftershot Pro did also a very good job, but DXO sometimes do strange thinks to the exposure and Aftershot Pro is lacking the auto white balance.. Photodirector is falling behind.

Round 2: full control

In this round I will compare the quality of the images after manual settings. For each picture I would take more than 1 minute to do the tweaking. I used all software for several hours before doing this test. DXO was in lead, because I used it before for 1 year. (but is still strange to use)

 The draws like the autoexposure in DXO or the wrong whitebalance in Photodirector can be fixed now, so it's all about the quality the software can get out of the image. I didn't tweak the color settings, other than white balance. 
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector
 When setting up manually, the differences are not that big. Lightroom still has the best result. The skin tones are very real, as is the color of the hair. In DXO, it's very hard to get the right tones and contrast.

winner: Lightroom
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
 In this picture with yellow light from the left, and some blue light from my computer screen from the right, it was very hard to get the colors right. The manual white balance picker was doing a very good job in Lightroom and DXO. Strange enough didn't the colors be the same when selecting the same area (right, on the paper with the C1000 logo) with Aftershot Pro and Photodirector. I didn't get the colors right after all. DXO was best in removing the noise.

winner: DXO
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector
 This picture wasn't a big deal for all of the software. DXO is a little bit grey and Aftershot Pro a little bit yellow (the picker was used on the same spot in the images). Lightroom has the most natural colors after all.

winner: Lightroom
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
In this picture, the contrast was a bit difficult. But after manual settings, the contrast can be adjusted very well. Lightroom renders the grass a little bit yellow, but gives a nice picture. DXO has the most natural colors. Photodirector renders some blue in the sky after adjusting the contrast and exposure (which was a very difficult job with Photodirector.

winner: DXO
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
This picture is no problem for all of the programs. The colors are right (even with Photodirector). The differences are because of different settings.

winner: draw
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
The exposure in this picture was very hard to correct. Except Lightroom, it seems impossible to adjust the highlights, without changing the blacks. But after all, Lightroom and Aftershot Pro (with a lot more effort) got nearly the same result. With the strange HDR module of DXO it was hard to get the contrast right, so the bird is a little bit to black for my taste. Photodirector couldn't correct right, and in the highlights, some strange yellow colors appears.

winner: Aftershot Pro and Lightroom
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
 In this picture, you can see how much you can gain with a RAW file. Only Lightroom got it all right. The branches are all there, and the bear is not to dark.

winner Lightroom
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
In this picture, it was very hard to get the shadow in the eyes removed. Lightroom and Aftershot Pro got the exposure right. DXO is to dark, while Photodirector is to light after all. 

winner: Aftershot Pro and Lightroom

Winner after all is Lightroom. Some pictures were ready after 20 seconds! It's so easy to set everything.  Natural colors are easy to achieve. And the control of the contrast is stunning. Aftershot Pro is second. It was difficult to set the right white balance, but after some experimenting, I could get it right and the image quality is very high. DXO is third. Colors are good, but contrast and exposure are hard to get right. Photodirector is last. Exposure is good, but white balance is still hard to get right, and the picker is sometimes not working at all.

Image quality: details

The image quality is not only exposure and color. Also the details are important. Comparing the auto settings is not fair because that don't show the capabilities of the software. Only DXO and Lightroom do auto noise reduction and DXO automatically changes the details of the picture when the lens profile is available.

Round 1: highlights and shadows

To compare the programs I used the next image: 
Origineel (RAW - jpeg without changing settings.

The exposure is way to dark, but there are still some highlights. In this test I will test the quality of noise reduction, the recovery of details from the shadows and highlights and the reduction of the chromatic aberrations.

Aftershot Pro
In Aftershot Pro, I couldn't lighten the shadow very much without blowing the highlights. The shadows stay to dark.
DXO Optics Pro
DXO does a great job in recovering the details from the shadows and highlights. But the tree in the background has some strange black leaves.
 Lightroom does a great job. The shadow and highlight details are all recovered, while the colors are realistic.
Photodirector got the details from the shadows and highlights, but the picture looks strange. Much noise is still left. The colors are muted.

winner: Lightroom.
Lightroom is the only software which can get all information from the RAW file. The colors are very natural, the contrast is great.

Round 2: Chromatic aberrations
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)
In this case, Photodirector can be used as the reference, because it has no possibility to reduce chromatic aberrations and purple fringing other than manually changing the saturation of the red/purple/green/etc. color. Aftershot Pro has a manual tool to remove it, which works good, but isn't simple to use. Lightroom has the option to remove CA automatically, and that job is done very well. DXO left a little bit of the red color, but most of it has been removed.

winner: Lightroom
Lightroom removed all the chromatic aberrations, all automatically.

Round 3: Noise reduction

Noise reduction is very important because it makes it possible to shoot with very high iso, or save underexposed images (like the image I'm testing here). 
Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)

For this test, I used the same image. In this picture, you can see that Lightroom removes almost all noise and has the most details. 

The next picture has no corrections, except noise reduction.

Aftershot - DXO - Lightroom - Photodirector (UL - UR - LL - LR)

First, Lightroom renders the picture brighter than the other software. But does a great job in reducing noise. DXO removes most noise, but also some color (the saturation drops a little bit). 

Aftershot Pro's build in noise reduction is very weak. I used a plugin called Wavelet Denoise. It does a decent job, but leaves some noise and a quite messy picture. Aftershot Pro has the possibility to use Noise Ninja, but than you need to pay extra.

Photodirector does quite a good job, but don't match DXO and Lightroom.

winner: DXO and Lightroom


Speed is important when using this software for professional photography. Every minute you spend behind your computer is expensive. 

These tests are done on a computer with an Intel i7 processor and  mid-level graphics.

Speed of use
All four programs works very fast. Aftershot Pro and DXO have some lag when changing the settings. Lightroom and Photodirector works almost without delay.

Zooming is fasted in DXO. When zooming, the pictures are almost instant rendered. Second fastest is Photodirector with a short delay. In Lightroom and Aftershot Pro, zooming takes around half a second. Lightroom zooms in and renders the image afterwards, Aftershot Pro, first renders the image (not visible) and zooms in afterwards.

After all, Aftershot Pro is the slowest, while the other programs are equal in speed when changing the settings and do the adjustments.

Speed of exporting
For this test, I exported the 8 pictures, used for the image quality test. The resolution was not changed and the files where saved as 93% jpeg.

Time in minutes needed for exporting 8 images to jpeg:
  • Aftershot Pro: 0:15
  • DXO: 1:02
  • Lightroom: 1:01
  • Photodirector: 1:05

Aftershot Pro is by far the fastest when exporting. I think that has the same reason why the speed of use is the slowest. All the images are real-time rendered, and exporting isn't much more than saving the file.

Photodirector is the slowest when exporting.

Time in minutes needed for exporting 1 image to jpeg.
  • Aftershot Pro: 0:04
  • DXO: 0:17
  • Lightroom: 0:06
  • Photodirector:0:09

In this case the same standing, with DXO being much slower than the others. 

Winner: Lightroom
When using the program, Lightroom is running very fast. Because of the 64bits support, it runs without any glitch. 

After all, it seems like Lightroom has the most complete package. DXO and Aftershot Pro follow fast and Photodirector is not yet ready to really compete the other programs.

Lightroom: €129,71
DXO Optics Pro: €149,- / €299,-
Aftershot Pro: €89,-
Photodirector: €139,99

Lightroom is not cheapest but gives best value for you money. DXO and Photodirector are quite expensive considering the lack of functionality to the other two programs. Aftershot Pro is the cheapest, but when you really want to use all features, you need to buy Noise Ninja (another €34).

Does this mean, Lightroom is always the best choise? No, when you don't need al the stuff in Lightroom, but want the RAW converter with the most options to correct your images, DXO may be your choice. If you like the free plugins for Aftershot Pro, it may be your choice, and Photodirector is easy to use and may became a real competitor in the next years.

I hope you liked this review and it helped you to make a good decision which software you will use.

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