RAW conversion isn't a set process and each software package does it a little differently (although a suite like adobe products will all use the same conversion software); there are variations in what can be done between different software packages; however in most situations (the vast majority) those differences are so minor as to be not an issue. Therefore any reputable and good editing software package should do very well with its RAW conversion.
It can also be normal that early on your JPEG from the camera looks better than your RAW conversion and that you might even find the "auto" setting in the RAW converter does a better job than you. That's normal and part of learning how and what you can adjust with RAW. So do, by all means, use the auto setting in RAW converters and see what it gives you; but importantly you must play around with the sliders and settings as well. See what different things give you and how it affects the photo.
With RAW one neat thing is that you never change the RAW file itself. Instead the software makes a second file that houses all the values changed for the RAW conversion that you saved/used. So that next time you open that photo in that software package the software reads its conversion file and applies those settings.
This means you can edit a RAW forever and never lose any data nor change the main file. If you want to out-put your RAW into something (like an image or a print) then you've got to save it in something like a TIFF or JPEG or other image format. RAW formats themselves are not actually visible photos and can't be printed or such. Note that you will see an image on the icon in your computer for a RAW file; you can still view it in many image viewers and you can see it on the back of the camera. This isn't the RAW that you are seeing, but a JPEG made at the same time by the camera to its settings; this JPEG is then embedded into the RAW file to give you something visual to work with. There are some software packages out there which can read and extract the JPEG as a JPEG for you (though I've never had the need to use one and its easier, if you want both straight from camera, to just set it to save both formats)
Canon 400D Canon 7D, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro, Sigma 70mm f2.8 macro, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS M2, Canon MPE65mm f2.8 macro, sigma 8-16mm, Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 OS, Tokina 35mm f2.8 macro
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