I use Capture One, Raw Developer
, ACR and Canon's DPP for processing images from all my Canon cameras (1Ds series, 10D-50D, 5D). What I use depends on the subject matter (and my mood
I don't have the latest version of ACR, I'm still running v5.x (hosted by Photoshop CS4) so I'm not familiar with their latest implementation.
For image sharpening, Raw Developer wins. Hands down. It also handles the widest variety of input profile methods (ICC camera profiles, DNG camera profiles, & its own color matrix). What's even more surprising: it's developed & maintained by one guy. It's downside is its file management, which becomes burdensome when working with hundreds of images.
For out of the box color and tonal accuracy, DPP wins. It's weak link, IMO, is the "Picture Style" used to generate color and tone. The Picture Style Editor
could be much more precise, but it's interface is surprisingly elementary. DPP's file management is okay, similar to Adobe Bridge but without easy-to-use EXIF controls and easy sorting methods (it's there, but it's not obvious how to implement them to the beginner).
Capture One, when used with accurate ICC camera profiles, delivers outstanding color and tone. It's level of tonal control is accurate and the program is obviously written (i.e., coded) very well. Its latest implementation of selective color control is very good, and I think its interface is better than ACR's (the color wheels vs. the sliders). If Capture One had the same gradation feature and local adjustment feature as ACR, it'd be the best raw processor on the market, IMO. Capture One handles large quantities of images fairly well by using proxy images. At first (v. 2?) it seemed like a lame idea, but it allows the program to refresh the screen almost instantly.
Now that Phase One owns Expressions Media (aka iView MediaPro), I have hopes that its management of large image libraries will be improved. To me, Expressions Media competes with Adobe Bridge on the level of file cataloging and organizing. I think Bridge's caching function is its Achilles' heel.
How Phase One integrates Capture One with Expressions Media is a big concern for users. Capture One uses sub-folders to maintain image proxies and settings, and that could be burdensome when trying to integrate it with Expressions Media.