Tag Archives: XT-1

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.

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.