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Update that dcraw in Ubuntu, please.


It has been three months since I tried to process RAW files on Kubuntu. The out of camera JPEGs of my SONY Alpha 850 are so good that I don’t feel the need to process them any further. I can concentrate on the photography and forget the computing. Bliss!

Last week however a friend asked me for some “magic” (his word for tonemapping), and for this I need the RAW. Before rebooting into Windows I looked again at my problem with the washed out  RAWs. Since I did not have much time I installed a prebuilt “daily” snapshot of RAWstudio, courtesy of Anders Kvist:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:rawstudio/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install rawstudio-daily

The RAW files are shown correctly! What’s the difference from my self-built binaries from SVN? Since most RAW converter use the same dcraw code, maybe…? maybe!

So I tried with LuminanceHDR and at first it still looked off-color:

A quick check revealed that Ubuntu 9.10 ships dcraw v8.86 which fails my SONY ARW files. Current version as of writing is v8.99. With brute force (and in five minutes):

$ sudo apt-get install gcc libjpeg62-dev liblcms1-dev
$ wget http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/dcraw.c
$ gcc -o dcraw -O4 dcraw.c -lm -ljpeg -llcms
$ sudo cp ./dcraw /usr/bin/dcraw

And here we go!

Bonus: LuminanceHDR recently introduced  Mantiuk08 TMO (and new dependency on the GSL).

Why do Ubuntu 9.10 (October 2009) and the upcoming Ubuntu 10.4 (April 2010 and meant to be a long term supported version) ship with an outdated v8.86 (April 2008)?

Most Linux software that open RAW images depend on dcraw. LuminanceHDR and Krita are just two examples I care for. 18 months are eons in digital photography. Not updating means not supporting many of the new cameras/features that are released continuously. Dave Coffin does a great job at keeping up to date his code to read their files. Where is the bottleneck?

Between v8.86 and v8.99, support was added for many new and popular cameras that appeared on the market during that period, including SONY Alpha 850, Canon EOS 7D and 5D MkII, Pentax K-7, Nikon D700 and many, many, many more.

I don’t understand Ubuntu. On the one side they are totally bleeding edge. Sometimes even too much for my taste: they unleash on the average user software that is IMHO not ready for prime time such as grub2 in 9.10 that can barely deal with dual booting Windows but fails in many situations where the venerable legacy grub works just fine and does not need to be replaced any time soon (if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it; and if you want to promote the new kid on the block, at least give users an easy way back to the tools that are known to work). On the other side, they are totally outdated. Like with a two years old version of such critically important software as dcraw. At least they made some progress with Hugin: 10.4 will ship with Hugin-2009.2.0 while the default for 9.10 was still 0.8.0.

Next, I would need an intro on how to make packages from the binaries I made; and information how to submit them to Ubuntu for inclusion in the next release. Too late for 10.4, but things can only get better for 10.10 and later. Anybody care to help?

And here is the “magic” that my friend wanted to see:

out of camera JPEG (resized)


dcraw / ImageMagick B&W

LuminanceHDR / Mantiuk08

LuminanceHDR / Fattal, desaturated

Which one do you prefer?

3 Responses

  1. Stale dcraw version seems to be inherited from Debian, which ships 8.86 at this moment, and the latest package update in 2008.

    About photos: I like LuminanceHDR/Mantiuk08 version more.

  2. I like the LuminanceHDR / Mantiuk08 version most. The Fattal version is a bit over done in my opinion, I find the background too distracting.

  3. I like the LuminanceHDR / Mantiuk08 version best. Much better than the camera version. More balanced and I like the skin tone better.

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