Fuji XT1 RAW Processing Part 2

Test shot from the fields near my house. Fuji XT1, ISO200, f/6.4 1/220", 10-24 lens.
Test shot from the fields near my house. Fuji XT1, ISO200, f/6.4 1/220″, 10-24 lens.

If you have been following this blog of late you will have no doubt read about my possible switch to the Fuji XT1 and the problems I have encountered. The problems became evident after I shot my first few images and noticed the camera wouldn’t resolve grass very well at all, rendering areas which should contain fine detail as a green mush.

Many of you made some valuable suggestions for which I am very grateful. Apparently this is quite a common problem and relates to the RAW converter not being able to translate the data from the XTrans sensor very well. Some of you agreed there is a problem whilst others haven’t noticed an issue. I have three points to make on this before we start to look at the RAW converters.

  1. There appears to be variation between cameras judging from some of the RAW files people have shared.
  2. There is variation between lenses used. I have two lenses, an 18-135 and a 10-24. At the common end of the focal lengths (18-24mm) the 10-24 lens performs much better than the 18-135. I have also noticed that the 18-135 lens is softer and less able to resolve detail across the focal range. That’s no great surprise but it seems to exaggerate the issue.
  3. If you’re a Mac user, you might be interested to know that you probably don’t notice the issue. But before you get excited, I believe the issue is being masked to some extent by the brilliant retina display. I suspect the pixel density is hiding the effect as I can process an image on the Mac and it looks great at 100% but move the resulting file to my Windows PC and it’s not good.

With these points in mind, let’s take a look at how we will evaluate the available RAW converters.

RAW converters are really quite personal tools. What one photographer likes will drive another crazy. Some will see fault where others will see perfection. What some may see as essential others will see as a waste of time. So here are my categories for evaluation and they are in the order of importance I place on the feature:

  1. Ability to render fine detail in the converted image.
  2. Natural colour rendition and the ability to control colours.
  3. Control over sharpening and noise reduction.
  4. Support for lens profiles and automatic lens correction.
  5. Support for colour profiles.

Some functions such as exposure, saturation, contrast, shadow and highlight controls are a given. If the converter doesn’t provide these then it shouldn’t be on the market to my mind.

In the next blog post I will look at how some of the available converters fair in my assessment.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the 18-135 lens is going back. I should have known there was a problem with it when some of the early test shots produced images such as the one below. Just because the issue seemed to right itself doesn’t mean it’s entirely fixed.

Can you spot the point of focus.
Can you spot the point of focus.

6 thoughts on “Fuji XT1 RAW Processing Part 2

  1. Just a couple of points.

    1. Regarding retina displays. Well of course everything will look better with higher pixel density and the resulting lower magnification. “100%” is not a constant magnification it’s merely a 1:1 ratio between source file and destination display pixels so looking at any picture will look 1000% better on a monitor with better resolution/higher pixel density as it’s the same as the difference between a small print and a giant print.

    2. Having used a very large number of the Fuji X lenses I’ve noticed something that I just cannot reproduce on demand but with 50K+ frames made across 4 different camera bodies I suspect that every once in a while the OIS in at least two of the lenses does more harm than it does good. The shot above is a worst case scenario but is similar in appearance to what I’ve seen with a few OIS lenses when conditions otherwise would suggest a super sharp image. In other words, OIS on, reasonable shutter speeds as in above 1/125s with reasonable apertures f/5.6 f/8, and no detectable focus error where the entire image is soft. As I said I cannot reproduce it on demand with the Fuji glass but the effect is very similar to what happens with say a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR if you leave the VR on and mount on a tripod, in that case every single frame will be very soft. The Fuji’s seem to do this at random and infrequently without rhyme or reason.

    Barring the horrendous results of that last image and eliminating the cause I’ve also speculated that regardless of RAW processor the XTrans filter arrangement does cause a distinctly different “look”. With a lot of fine detail at high frequency (like hair) it has a VERY different look in most cases than your normal beyer sensor array. It’s not really a lack of detail or sharpness, more of a smoothness that you either like or you don’t. In my case I love it because to my eye it looks far more natural like film did where I’ve found many high frequency detail textures to look very unnatural on most digital cameras I’ve used = hair, distant tree leaves, etc.

    Personally I would not go to the ends of the earth optimizing RAW processor for whatever 40x magnification produces the most acutance on irrelevant detail as a solution to a problem. I would get one of the non-OIS lenses just in case you are seeing what I’ve seen on occasion. Maybe the 35 f/2 WR which is cheap… Go out and shoot with it from wide open to f/8-ish, then evaluate if you like the XTrans look where optimum sharpness is not at all compromised or even a possible factor. Maybe you’ll like the look or maybe you won’t but fine-tuning the RAW processor is unlikely to influence your choice


    1. I wasn’t expecting all that when you said just a couple of points. Thanks for adding your thoughts and experience though – very valuable.
      I have to make the point about the Retina display as screen resolution and size is often overlooked when people are comparing issues at 100%.
      I had wondered about the OIS perhaps causing an issue. I did return the lens in the end and now have the 16-55 f/2.8 which doesn’t have the OIS and appears very good. I also picked up a 55-200 which is also very strong optically. I’m looking forward to trying these out.

      As for the RAW converter, I now have 4 good options, all of which are much better at handling the RAW files than Lightroom. I really like the look of all of these and they range from not too expensive to free.

  2. Hello Robin.
    I am surprised that you now have a Fuji XT1, there are a lot of professional photographers who have made the switch from Nikon and Cannon. A couple of years ago I purchased a Fuji XPro 1, but traded it in after a couple of months as I was getting a water colour or painterly effect on tree leaves and stone work etc. There were some complaining about it on various forums, some images were processed in LR but the best images came out processed in Capture One Pro viewed on a Eizo monitor. I am sorry to hear the problems you have had but with your knowhow I am shure you will over come them. I am still thinking about going back to Fuji as my Nikon 810 and lenses are becoming rather heavy to carry around.
    All the best and look forward to see how you get on with the Fuji.

  3. Robin. here are a couple of web sites, wwwphotographylife. com
    www luminous landscape.com
    you might already know of these but there are some articles on Fuji.
    another thing I found out the other day that ISO varies between camera manufacturers and sometimes can vary on camera model. One would think that it would be a standard setting on all cameras.

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