Fuji XT1 RAW Processing Part 1

Depth and colour from the Fuji XT1 (with the right processing)
Depth and colour from the Fuji XT1 (with the right processing)

My previous post detailing problems I have seen when trying to process RAW files from my XT1 has caused quite a bit of feedback. As many of you have pointed out, this is a well-known and documented problem with the Adobe RAW converters. Apparently it’s been largely fixed except that in my opinion it hasn’t.

What I’m going to share with you over a few blog postings are some findings. It appears quite a few people who read this blog are Fuji users so I hope some of you find this useful. To remind you of the effect, take a look at this image and image section.

This image is a RAW file and has been sharpened. The red box on the left shows the area of the crop with the right side of the image showing this area zoomed to 100% magnification. The image itself is sharp but the detail has been lost and now appears to be more like a painting than a photograph.

I’m pleased to say that I can now achieve much better results through the steps I have taken.

Close of Pine trees showing the watercolour effect
Close of Pine trees showing the watercolour effect

There are only two things that I have done that made a difference:

  1. Upgraded the firmware of the camera and lenses
  2. Switched RAW Converter

Starting with the firmware (a tip from Dave Shandley – thanks Dave), this was 4.10 for the camera body and has now been upgraded to 4.31. One of the lenses had version 1.10 firmware (the latest) but the other had 1.01 and so was also updated. This seemed to improve the results, not just of the RAW files but also the JPEG images. This had me producing acceptable images, even in Lightroom although I can still detect the water colour effect in the fine details.

The second improvement was to the RAW converter. I will be writing about these findings in a little more detail in a separate blog post as I think everyone could benefit. To give you a flavour, here is a test file I produced together with some close-ups.

Test file showing large areas of fine detail. The Grass would have been a problem.
Test file showing large areas of fine detail. The Grass would have been a problem.

File from Lightroom at 100%. This was after the firmware update.

Section of the image from Lightroom at 100%
Section of the image from Lightroom at 100%

File from Affinity Photo at 100%

Section from Affinity Photo at 100%
Section from Affinity Photo at 100%

File from Iridient at 100%

Section from Iridient at 100%
Section from Iridient at 100%

In my testing, Lightroom really struggles when converting Grass but it also struggles to pull decent levels of detail from the Fuji RAW files. Every RAW converter I tried performed better. I also ran some of the Olympus and Sony files through the other converters and found they were either on a par with Lightroom or better.

In testing the Fuji with Lightroom, I came to realise a few other things that people might find helpful:

Lightroom noise reduction, particularly colour noise reduction hurts the quality of the Fuji files and seemed to add to the effect.

Hard sharpening of the Fuji files in Lightroom seemed to make the watercolour effect more obvious rather than pull detail. I would suggest using the detail slider at the maximum value, the Amount slider below 25 and Radius slider below 25. I would also use the masking slider between 10 and 30. Once you have the file out of Lightroom sharpen it with something else such as Nik Sharpener Pro or Focal Blade.

Shooting at a higher ISO improves the look of the image. I found an ISO setting of 800 seemed to give the image a little more definition. I also found that adding a little grain or noise to the image could help reduce the effect.

I have two lenses for the Fuji, a 10-24 and 18-135. I knew the 18-135 was a compromise but I wanted it for single lens use when out walking. Lightroom definitely made a better job of sharpening and detail extraction from the 10-24 lens, almost to the point where I would question the 18-135. Running the same files through the Iridient RAW converter was amazing. Details that were blurred and out of focus in Lightroom snapped into sharp focus.

I don’t want to say too much more in this blog other than I am very impressed with the Fuji XT1. It’s also a great camera to use.

4 thoughts on “Fuji XT1 RAW Processing Part 1

  1. I have reviewed the comments made about this topic. Many refer to data as early as 2014 and using ACR as a convertor. Some have seen the problem, others minimize it or don’t notice it as objectionable. Either way it exists for you. I have been researching RAW conversion with other than ACR for any RAW file. I have seen several comments about ACR (LR or PS) adding some ’embellishments’ that Adobe cooked into ACR. Some recommend rolling back the Adobe process to 2010, others claim to have a switch to remove the ‘artifacts’. You mention the Canikon influence and we all have seen rendered JPGs from each exhibit color bias. One the green is vivid, another red etc. Perhaps Adobe is following this effect and adding their ‘editorial’ content behind the scenes. I have a Fuji X-E1, the Lumix GX-1, three Olympus (E-510, Air 01 and XZ-2). So I have many choices, I have gone back to early photos and reworked them, some came out better. But I am more tolerant than most, I still like a crisp photo and I am still learning from bloggers like you.

    1. Thanks for the additional information. A couple of points I have noticed:
      1. The effect is worse with the 18-135 lens but still present with the 10-24 lens. This suggests lens quality is involved partly.
      2. You don’t notice really it when using a retina display on a Mac. Move the files to a PC with a lower resolution and you see it.
      This second point especially might explain why some people see this and others don’t.

  2. A friend of mine swears by her Fuji XT-1, but had difficulty with photoshop processing the RAW files from the beginning. She found great success using the native Fuji software to process the RAW file before moving it into Photoshop. Not being a Fuji user myself, I’m not sure of her process, just that she was much more pleased with the color.

    1. Thanks. I have also been looking at the RAW converter for the Fuji. It’s a version of SilkyPix which I have used in the past. It seems to do a better job than Lightroom but it’s missing a few things. I will be including it in my round up of RAW converters.

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