I always liked DPP when I worked with it. It was very easy to work with (once you got the workflow figured out) and capable of delivering excellent quality RAW develops from Canon CR2 files. (for those that missed it, here's the link to my previous article on using Canon DPP.)
So I got to thinking that an actual comparison between Lightroom and DPP was in order.
Overall, my thoughts on comparing the RAW develops from each are very similar to the Lightroom vs Nikon comparison I did. In general, DPP does a better job right out of the gate with no tinkering.
You can get the same results, or very close, from Lightroom, but DPP provides a beautiful result right out of the camera as it were.
Between DPP and Lightroom, sometimes I liked the DPP file slightly better, and sometimes I liked the Lightroom file a little better. I used the Camera Standard profile in Lightroom, so the results were always pretty close (once I turned off my own presets).
That's the big thing that's changed since I used DPP a lot. Lightroom introduced camera profiles, and they do an excellent job of giving you the same or similar results as you would have got with a straight out of camera jpg or with the Canon software.
My conclusion here would be that DPP is great for quick and easy RAW to jpg conversions without having to tinker. Lightroom can take some tinkering to get an equally good result, but it's much better now that we have the camera profiles available.
Lightroom can match or come VERY close to Canon's DPP in quality when it comes to developing RAW CR2 Canon files. When it comes to workflow, speed, and versatility, Lightroom just blows Canon DPP away, although not as bad as it does Nikon. DPP is much more usable than the Nikon software.
Let's look at a couple images to see the results.
These are all from RAW files, developed as is with no adjustments (except a small exposure correction in a couple of them).
Lightroom 2 develops were set to Camera Standard as that was my default camera setting with my Canon DSLR's. DPP already defaults to the camera setting and does not need to be set in the software.
All the images have been saved at 800 pixels on the long side. The images aren't posted for pixel-peeping, only to show the basic differences between the Lightroom and DPP RAW develops. Please don't email with complaints about pure testing methods and such... that's not why I posted these.
Here's my bulldog Hyla, posing for the camera (Canon 30D) with a pair of sunglasses on. In this instance, DPP rendered the contrast and tones a little punchier than Lightroom did.
I actually like the DPP shot better, but I can get the same thing out of Lightroom very easily. For a quick and easy develop with no tinkering, I have to say DPP beat Lightroom here.
Here's a shot of a bride from a wedding I shot with a Canon 20D. Both are very similar, but I have to give the edge to the DPP develop.
Again, I could've got the same look in Lightroom very quickly, but DPP rendered this beautifully with no tinkering.
This bridal party shot (Canon Rebel XTi) is so close I almost wouldn't call a winner.
On close inspection in Photoshop, I'm going to give a slight nod to DPP, but it's so close it's probably more appropriate to call it a draw. Lightroom does an excellent job here.
This shot (Canon Rebel XTi) of a bride and groom with a train in the background is a tie. I can't even tell the difference in Photoshop without really studying it. Even then, neither is better than the other. Lightroom matches DPP quality here.
This photo of the Lake Erie shoreline in winter (Canon 30D) is, again, very close. I actually think Lightroom won this one by a slight margin, because I prefer the detail rendering Lightroom did, especially in the log on the shore.
Again though, they're so close it's hard to call a winner. Lightroom does a great job with color and kudos for the better detail rendering.
It's worth noting that DPP doesn't demand as much from your computer as Lightroom does. Lightroom likes as much power as you can give it, while DPP runs quite comfortably on a less than top of the line machine.
DPP is a valid alternative to Lightroom if you don't want to spend the money on Lightroom. Workflow isn't as good or as fast as Lightroom's, but it's still very usable. I used to use DPP as my primary RAW conversion software for a year or more.
If you're a Lightroom convert like myself, consider using DPP when you're having trouble getting an image just right in Lightroom. You may be surprised how good it looks in DPP without having to make any adjustments at all.
Feel free to post a comment and let me know your experiences with DPP.
If you don't have Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, Amazon usually has the best price.
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