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Technical

Digital Photo Professional 3.11 software explained

Digital Photo Professional 3.11 software explained

August 2012

Canon includes its Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software in the box with EOS DSLRs so you can process RAW and JPEG images captured using with EOS cameras. With Digital Photo Professional v3.11 Canon has included additional features in DPP for High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, image compositing, plus a Digital Lens Optimizer (DLO) that improves the quality of pictures shot with a range of Canon lenses. CPN writer Brian Worley takes a closer look at the new features of DPP 3.11.

In its simplest form DPP converts Canon RAW images shot into JPEG and TIFF images. DPP’s RAW converter is the only one that is programmed to know all the details of what is in each and every RAW image and what they should be used for. DPP takes this a step further in that it is uniquely created to understand how different Canon lenses perform on different cameras, and it has improved the technical qualities of images taken with Canon cameras and lenses. In this article we’ll look at the Digital Lens Optimizer (DLO), Compositing, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) tools.

Images processed with the Digital Lens Optimizer are marked with the lens and + symbol as opposed to the lens icon used for standard lens aberration correction.

Digital Lens Optimizer (DLO)

Digital Lens Optimizer is a special kind of image processing that achieves ideal optical characteristics by processing optical aberrations, image softening due to diffraction and the effects of using a low-pass filter with a CMOS image sensor. Canon has provided lens aberration and distortion correction within DPP for several years, but DLO has increased the capability to correct additional kinds of lens aberrations plus the softening effects of diffraction and the low-pass filter. Currently 29 different lenses are supported, in combination with several Canon EOS cameras, as shown in the tables later in this article.

Working with RAW images, Digital Lens Optimizer is able to correct seven types of lens aberrations and diffraction loss. The seven kinds of aberration that are corrected are:

  • Spherical aberration – this is image blur occurring in the centre of the image.
  • Curvature of field – this is blurring at the periphery of the image caused as a result of the lens’ focussing surface being curved.
  • Astigmatism – this is the blurring in the radial and circular directions at the image periphery.
  • Comatic aberration – this appears at the periphery of the image in a radial direction as image streaking or colour blurring.
  • Sagittal halo – this appears in the periphery of the image as a circular blur.
  • Chromatic aberration of magnification – this is the chromatic blurring at the periphery of the image.
  • Axial chromatic aberration – this is the mainly violet coloured blur that occurs in the centre of an image that has pinpoint light sources.

The on-camera flash used for this sample shot creates pinpoint highlights in the eyes that show signs of axial chromatic aberration.

DLO processing has eliminated the axial chromatic aberration and also improved texture detail in the model’s skin.

The overall softening of the image that is a result of small aperture diffraction loss and from the characteristics of the sensor’s low-pass filter is also corrected.

The Digital Lens Optimizer is found in the DPP Lens tab of the tools panel. Select ‘Tune’ and then you can change the subject distance that was read from the lens information in the RAW image, and the amount of correction, labelled ‘Setting’ to apply. By default the setting is 50, but you can increase to 100 or reduce to zero. Then the window shows a preview of the change. The effects of Digital Lens Optimizer are quite subtle and depend on which conditions the particular image displays. Comparing results from the same file with and without optimisation is best for large size prints or 100% crops.

By default the DLO setting is 50 but it can be moved anywhere between parameters from 0 to 100.

Canon advises that image sharpening is set to zero before using the DLO function. Once the image has been optimised it will typically require less sharpening than if it had not been processed with Digital Lens Optimizer.

Digital Photo Professional writes additional information for the DLO processing to the RAW image; the result is that the RAW image file will increase in size, often significantly.

The tables in this article (see page 2) list the lenses and EOS DSLR cameras that are compatible with Digital Photo Professional 3.11's Digital Lens Optimizer function.


Lenses compatible with DPP’s Digital Lens Optimizer function

Wide-angle lenses
EF14mm f/2.8L II USM EF24mm f/1.4L II USM EF35mm f/1.4L USM
Standard and medium telephoto lenses
EF50mm f/1.4 USM EF50mm f/1.2L USM EF85mm f/1.2L II USM
Telephoto lenses
EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM EF500mm f/4L IS II USM
EF600mm f/4L IS II USM    
Zoom lenses
EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM EF17-40mm f/4L USM
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM
EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF70-200mm f/4L USM EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM    
EF-S lenses
EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM EF-S17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
EF-S17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 Is EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Note: Digital Lens Optimizer is not available for images taken with an extender mounted on a compatible lens. You cannot use Digital Lens Optimiser with multiple exposure RAW images created on the camera.

Cameras compatible with DPP’s Digital Lens Optimizer function

Cameras
EOS-1D X EOS-1D Mark IV EOS-1Ds Mark III
EOS-1D Mark III EOS-1D Mark II N EOS-1Ds Mark II
EOS-1D Mark II EOS-1Ds EOS-1D
EOS 5D Mark III EOS 5D Mark II EOS 5D *1
EOS 7D EOS 60D EOS 50D
EOS 40D EOS 30D *2 EOS 650D
EOS 600D EOS 550D EOS 500D
EOS 450D EOS 400D EOS 1100D
EOS 1000D    
Note:
  • 1 EOS 5D requires firmware version 1.1.1 or higher to be installed.
  • 2 EOS 30D requires firmware version 1.0.6 or higher to be installed.

The Compositing Tool can be used to illustrate motion by combining several still images.

Combining multiple images

Digital Photo Professional also includes the ability to create composite images by combining several RAW or JPEG images to express movement or to combine subjects of significantly different exposures in a single frame.

Available from the Tools menu of DPP, the Compositing Tool allows multiple images to be combined with specific controls to determine how each individual layer will build on the ones lower in the overall composite. There are four fixed types of composites: Add, Average, Lighten and Darken, plus the useful Weighted option that provides precise control over which layer of the composite is more or less transparent. In practice the Weighted option is often the most flexible setting. Image layers can be individually adjusted for position relative to other image layers, if required.

To assist in the capture of composite images in a studio environment Canon’s EOS Utility software features an overlay shooting mode that allows a previously captured image to be superimposed over the Live View mode screen, this is particularly helpful for alignment and relative positioning of elements in images for compositing.

The first two images composited with Weighted blending set to 75% and adjusted for relative positioning.

Final image composited on top of the previously combined image with Weighted blending set to 55%.


High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing

With some of the EOS cameras featuring High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging functions DPP has also added HDR image processing for all EOS camera owners. Similar to the in-camera HDR processing of the EOS 5D Mark III the HDR Tool of DPP processes three images to create the final HDR result. HDR images can be captured using the camera’s auto-exposure bracketing function. Setting the camera's drive mode to 'High-speed' reduces the time between frames to limit any movement in the different images that will be processed together.

DPP’s HDR Tool shows controls to allow fine-tuning of brightness, colour and details.

The HDR tool takes the chosen images and processes them using the default natural profile to produce quite subtle results. If the images were taken with the camera mounted on a tripod then they should all be aligned, but if the camera was handheld the HDR Tool can be set to automatically align the frames.

Brightness, saturation and contrast sliders can be used to adjust tone and colour, plus strength, smoothness and fineness alter the detail enhancement, so there’s plenty of control over the final image. You can also select a different preset such as Art Standard, Art Vivid, Art Bold and Art Embossed. Since the presets change the settings of each of the six sliders they let a photographer quickly achieve his intended results. You can adjust any of the sliders once the preset is applied.

HDR scene processed with Natural setting.

HDR scene processed with Art Standard setting.

HDR scene processed with Art Vivid setting.

HDR scene processed with Art Bold setting.

HDR scene processed with Art Embossed setting.

Since all EOS camera owners can update to the latest version of DPP with the update program from Canon, HDR processing is now in the hands of all owners of EOS cameras. Simply shoot a sequence of images with auto-exposure bracketing and let DPP do the processing for you. HDR imaging is often effective for scenes with an excessive contrast or brightness range though for some scenes more traditional approaches such as graduated ND filters can deliver more subtle results.

Upgrade your DPP software

Even if you have an older version of Digital Photo Professional software there is a free to download update that will upgrade the program to provide you with the latest features, operating system and camera support. To download the latest update for Digital Photo Professional software please click here.