Color Test Chart

Pentax 645D Raw Files and Raw-processing software

The Pentax 645D can save raw files either in Pentax-native PEF files, or DNG files. I have run into a few issues along the way, and also there are some things I’ve heard that influenced me to stick with native PEF files. Is this the best choice? Turns out, I can shoot DNG without issue.

In my toolbox, I have Capture One, DxO PhotoLab, Darkroom Core[1] and Photoshop. Photoshop with Adobe Camera RAW isn’t that great if you have a pile of photos to work through, though it is the most flexible tool available. DxO PhotoLab is great for quick edits, perspective corrections, noise correction, and applying film looks through FilmPack. Capture One is best for tethering[2], organization through catalogs and sessions, and also complex color and exposure correction. Note, though, its layers capability is only 20% of what you get with PhotoShop. Also, it’s designed for normal range color corrections, and not the sort of weird extreme “creative” stuff that’s possible in PhotoLab.

Now, on to some of the problems. First off, Capture One does not list the 645D as a supported camera, and it notes that the new 645Z is only supported in DNG mode. Both Photoshop and PhotoLab support PEF files.

PhotoLab’s advanced denoising only supports camera RAW files. It will not work on DNG files generated by ACR, Capture One, or even itself. Surely this also includes the DNG files generated by the 645D, right? Besides, it supports PEF directly, no point in using DNG, right? Well, turns out the DNG files generated by the 645D are treated as true raw by PhotoLab. There’s also that issue in that some cameras apply some processing to DNG files versus their native raw format that results in a loss of bit depth. However, a quick bit of testing shows that both PEF and DNG out of the 645D are 14-bit samples.

So, it turns out I can shoot DNG on the 645D, and will have full fidelity images, and can use whatever software I want with full features.

[1] I’ll talk about this in a seperate post
[2] Tethering is not supported for Pentax cameras.