Will Fuji Image Quality Make the Grade

Hardknott Pass in the Lake District. It’s single track and has a gradient of 1:3 (33%). This is one of the submitted images.

Some years back, I posted a work to Stock Libraries quite regularly. It’s always been my intention to return to this activity when time allowed. Most of the work I posted at that time was shot using a Canon 5D MkII with L series lenses and I hardly ever had a problem with images being rejected.

Then came my switch to Micro 43 cameras, which was a turning point. For some reason the reject rate started to rise. Looking at the image submissions and problems logged, I couldn’t understand what was happening. Even now, looking back at some of the examples I still can’t see the problems that were reported. Ultimately this has made me nervous about restarting submissions, especially using the Fuji X-T2. Now before my Fuji readers begin to complain and defend the camera, I need to explain why I’m concerned.

Firstly, I always shoot in RAW format and then process my files to images in Lightroom. When I first started using a Fuji camera, Lightroom wasn’t a great converter for the X-Trans files. In fact, if you search the internet you will find lots of comments about the “watercolour effect” and “wiggly worm pattern”. Whilst there has been a distinct improvement in Lightroom performance, the resulting image files “look different”. In some cases, the difference may even cause you to call into question the sharpness of the image. This concerns me as it could cause the images to be rejected.

Secondly, whilst Fuji has some great lenses in its line-up, the 18-135 isn’t known as one of them. In fact, its come in for a lot of criticism in the photography press. It was also one of the first lenses I used with the X-T1 and guess what, that lens was poor and I ultimately returned it. I now have another of these lenses and I love it. It’s a great lens when out walking and whilst not as sharp as my other lenses, I think it performs well. It certainly gets full marks for versatility. Despite all the positives, making stock library submissions with images shot using this lens makes me nervous.

Finally, I have switched from processing images on a PC using a 23” HD resolution monitor to using a 27” 5K Retina screen on a Mac. Virtually every image viewed on the Mac looks great, even at 100% magnification. I now find myself needing to view images at 200% magnification to determine if they are critically sharp. Now when I look at images on my PC, I find even the smallest flaw looks awful and terrible and most images look grainy/noisy (but not the Fuji which look almost falsely smooth). I’m now finding it difficult to judge image quality using the Mac and it’s making me nervous.

Having considered and fretted over these points for a while now, I decided to do what’s probably obvious to most of you. I decided to submit some images to see if they make it through quality checking. The images were captured on the Fuji X-T2 using the 18-135 lens. I will report back the results soon.

14 thoughts on “Will Fuji Image Quality Make the Grade

  1. Thanks, Robin. I just purchased a new iMac and the 5K retina monitor is fantastic, much better than the Apple Thunderbolt monitor I purchased in 2015. I’m not surprised that you’re seeing a sharper images on yours. I also use a Fuji X-T2 and the images I take are quite sharp when viewed on my new monitor.

    1. It’s a double edged sword though. I’m finiding it dificult to really judge the sharpness and how much sharpening to apply. I will get used to it but it feels a little like going back to shooting film. You take the shot and then can’t judge the result until a later date.

      1. That was the point of my questions. Stressing over how great X looks on your screen without consideration for the fact that most everyone else will be seeing it on something else seems silly.

  2. Hi
    You should use Iridient X-Transformer together with LR, it solves all problems regarding Raf files.
    Good luck with you submitions

    1. I know. I have to admit to using Iridient Developer rather than LR for the submission for reasons I will blog about soon. I recall trying X-Transformer as part of the beta release and something put me off. I think I will take another look at it. Thanks

  3. I concur that images on the big MAC screen look great, even ones taken on a micro four thirds camera. Your comments about image rejection interest me, as to date my main cameras have been Canon 5D models, currently a mark 3, used with L series lenses which produce really good detailed images. However for health reasons I am seriously contemplating a complete switch to a micro four thirds system to reduce weight. The question mark is that I don’t want to compromise on quality. A difficult choice.

    1. If you are looking for a lighter camera system the M43 is a joy to use. In terms of quality, it depends what your going to use the images for. If it’s just posting to the Internet then you will be downsampling the images so any quality improvement from shooting with a DSLR Full frame will be lost. If it’s printing, then I have done side by side tests between a Nikon D800 and EM5. Printed at A3+ you can’t see a difference. Printed at A2 there is barely a difference and to detect it you need to be looking in good light with your nose against the print. The difference may be seen when viewing at 100% magnification on an HD monitor. This is probably where the Stock problems come in. Even then, the diffeences are not significant.

  4. I enjoy your photos every time. What I do not understand is the following; the 16-55 2.8 is so much sharper than the 18-135 and is in my view even better suited for landscape photography. Sharper, better color rendering. The jpg that rolls out of the XT2 are in combination with this lens more than brilliant. Why all that Lightroom hassle, Lightroom still has no good click with Fuji. With kind regards, Hans Bronk

    1. I don’t disagree that the 16-55 f/2.8 is a great – I have one. But there is something it will never do that the 18-135 nails it on every time – shoot at 56-135 focal length. I use the 18-135 as a single lens system. A lot of the places I go mean you don’t want the extra weight of carrying multiple lenses. You also don’t want to be changing lenses in some of these locations. Have you ever triedto remove midges from a digital camera? Its not easy. As for the JPEG’s out of camera, they are good but I can improve on them everytime by converting the RAW file, even using Lightroom. Most importantly, I use Lightroom to catalogue and search for images. With hundreds of thousands of images I need Lightroom or something similar. It’s also very good for printing.

  5. I was recently considering a 5K iMac, but I’ve been persuaded to rely instead on a standard-def display. I thought 5K would provide a more realistic preview of sharpening, but macperformanceguide.com reports, as you do, that the high-rez display necessitates viewing at 200% in order to evaluate native image sharpness and the effects of sharpening. A colleague who has a 27″ standard-def NEC attached to his 5K iMac says that he relies on the NEC for image proofing for these reasons. Perhaps this is the way forward for you. My way forward is a Mac Pro instead of an iMac, with my two current NEC displays connected.

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