Want Best Image Quality From Your Fuji ? Here´s How !

After my first try-out of Phase One´s new Capture One Pro v10 (here) I thought those of youse in constant search of getting the very best image quality might be interested in a re-comparison of latest available RAW development solutions ! For this I took a challenging high contrast image shot after dusk - quite scary how much achievable image quality still varies among contemporary RAW converters. Curious ? Please read on !

Great result: XF 18-135mm @18mm f/5.6 1/8" on X-Pro2, developed in Capture One Pro 10

Small side remark: I´m repeatedly amazed about what I can do with Fuji´s XF 18-135mm OIS (Optical Image Stabilization): Apart from replacing a full bag of lenses I´m getting sharp results down to 1/8 sec at any focal length (sometimes even 1/4 sec !) - Hello ... that´s 4-5 stops autonomy vs. non OIS lenses ! Means I could take the above image of a museum venue after dusk at ISO 3200, f5.6 and 1/8 sec hand held !

Ok, so before looking at the various RAW converters I´d first like to share the SOOC JPEG taken with Acros-R film profile - a bit too dark for my taste:

Original SOOC JPEG, using ACROS-R film profile - too dark IMO !

I compared following RAW converters (in order of preference):

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the above software providers, nor a "fan-boy" of any one of them - I just choose the best solution for my type of images and workflow. However I excluded some RAW developers (Raw Therapee, Silkypix, ACDSee, Aperture, ...) from this comparison as these either were not available to me, or not compatible with Mac OS Sierra, or having an IMO too complex user interface (eg. Silkypix). So, in case you don´t agree to my conclusions you´re most welcome to leave me a comment and/or suggestions below !

Basically I aimed for maximum highlight recovery and dynamic range, covering all zones from pure black to white with balanced gradations of grey in between. I further tried to prevent over sharpening (to which Fuji X-Trans files do not agree too well). Below you can see 200% crops of results achieved with each RAW converter (arranged in order of my personal preference):

My Conclusions:

  1. Overall Capture One Pro 10 delivers IMO the most balanced result, with good contrast and sharpness in the background billboard text and not too aggressive rendering of the grass and the hedge. Capture One now automatically corrects distortion (often prevalent on zooms) by straightening & cropping. However, left at 100% this correction effectively reduces the FF equ. widest angle of view of the XF 18-135 from 27mm to 28.5mm. So I reduce the auto-correction to around 60% allowing me to retain around 28mm FF equ. max. field of view while still getting reasonably straight lines
  2. Photo Ninja brings out more contrast in the text but IMO renders the tree, grass and hedge too aggressively. The image also seems to be overlaid by a visible grain structure. Unfortunately Photo Ninja doesn't´t offer lens correction based on embedded EXIF data and delivers somewhat strange colours (for those into colour imaging)
  3. Lightroom CC delivers reasonable results, albeit with subdued sharpness in the text (with optimal settings for Fuji X-Trans) and a hint of detail smearing artefacts in the foliage
  4. Iridient  (my previous favourite, before trying the newest version of Capture One) disappointed me on this image: I couldn't get sufficient contrast in the text and finest details in that text do not seem to be resolved well enough (lines in the letters break up). Also here IMO too aggressive rendering of the grass & foliage
  5. Affinity Photo delivers a similar balanced result to Capture One but clearly lacks contrast, sharpness and detail rendering in the fine details of the background text
  6. The SOOC JPEG is IMO the least attractive of these (apart from being too dark). This confirms that JPEG´s, while being good enough for sharing images on social media / web are insufficient for big fine-art enlargements - see how the fine details in the text are lost ...

Another aspect to consider is that from my point of view only 2 solutions of the above offer a complete all-in-one image management / RAW development solution: Capture One Pro and Lightroom CC. The others are usually applied as external RAW converters integrated into a Lightroom workflow, requiring exporting and re-importing of images & more complicated handling

Even Capture One is currently my preferred image management solution it has one big deficiency: It is the only software of the above NOT able to handle compressed Fuji RAW´s. This means each RAW file blocks approx. 50mB of your disk space vs. the approx. 25mB per compressed RAW !

Ok, this will be my last post of this year. I sincerely hope you enjoyed visiting my blog during the past year & will continue to follow me thru 2017 ! As always please leave me any comments and/or questions you may have in the comments area, many thanks for your continued support & for your interest / contributions !

Wishing y´all a wonderful, successful, fun new year 2017 & the best of luck for all your (photographic ;-) endeavours, 



I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

NO More Sensor Dust, a Creative Solution !

In the days of film it didn't matter: Dust. Ok, sometimes if you got unlucky dust manifested itself by leaving "telegraph lines" on your film but this could be prevented by being reasonably careful while changing film. Fast forward to the digital age, dust has become more of a problem. Well, at least mentally ... I´d never thought that I´d do what I did to solve it. Please read on if interested !

Twin spires of the Stadtpfarr Church in Bayreuth: XF 18-135 mm @f8/18 mm (27 mm FF equ.)

To be honest, since I exclusively use Fuji mirrorless cameras I´ve only once had a real problem with sensor dust: Happened to my (meanwhile sold) X-T1: Sent it in for cleaning as the dust was underneath the sensor cover glass - discovered that it didn't disappear after wet cleaning the sensor (Jeezus, just doin´ that little operation nearly gave me a freakin´ heart attack ! ;-)

House facade in the Winter Sun, captured by XF 18-135 mm @f8/18 mm (27 mm FF equ.)

Otherwize, touch wood - didn't have to clean a sensor again since then coz the fear of dust - Amathophobia ;-) has driven me to become a kinda "one lens guy", reluctant to change lenses when out on the street and IF necessary really sweating about it ... While this restriction has been good for my creativity I was missing the peace of mind I´d experienced in my film days. So I went out & got myself the Fujinon XF 18-135 mm / f3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zooooom - Oh boy, already the name of that thing´s longer than you can say in one breath !

Slightly more compressed perspective, with XF 18-135 mm @f8/55 mm (83 mm FF equ.)

Hang on, say again ? Yes, a Z-O-O-M lens ! Ya know ? Those telescopic barrel shaped things, filled with hundreds of lenses, way too dark max. apertures, and usually having a bad reputation of delivering soft, soggy, unsharp, contrast-less images. And I´d always used primes till now ... So, even if this decision´s gonna cost me at least half of my numerous, faithful blog followers ;-) I´ll do my best to try to convince y´all otherwize - see below my sneak review of the Fuji XF 18-135 mm WR zoom lens (comparable to a 27-203 mm zoom on full frame) !

Fuji´s Air Ventilation System
(courtesy of Fujifilm Global)

All the images on this post were taken with the Fuji XF 18-135 mm WR zoom, and I gotta say I was very positively impressed about the amazing flexibility and image quality this lens offers, especially also at the longest focal length (normally the Archilles´ heel of tele-zooms). It truly is a "one lens" solution which can replace a bag full of primes (with some caveats, see below) ! So, no more need to change lenses ! I felt like liberated & it gives me a wonderful peace of mind regarding sensor dust. This WR (weather resistant) lens also uses a clever "Air Ventilation" feature (see on the right) to effectively prevent the pumping action of the zoom sucking dust into the system !

I really appreciate the combination of an 18 mm (27 mm FF equ.) wide-angle all the way thru to 135 mm (203 mm FF equ.) telephoto, all in one lens. On my DSLR´s (a long time ago) I had 3 f2.8 L zooms (from 16 to 210 mm), but always seemed to end up using the focal length extremes of the respective lenses´s zoom range. Here the Fuji lens offers much more flexibility and sufficient image quality over the whole zoom range that I now often also use the focal lengths in between the extremes:

More compressed view of backlit streetlamp: XF 18-135 mm @f8/75 mm (113 mm FF equ.)

Yes, the maximum opening from f3.5 at 18 mm to f5.6 at 135 mm is a bit restricted, but the images IMO are already quite punchy and absolutely useable at max. aperture ! The integrated OIS (optical image stabilization) system does an amazing job. It allows me to compensate the modest max. aperture (at least for static subjects) by allowing me to use an up to 2 (18 mm) -4 (135 mm) stops slower shutter speed. The advertized 5 stop difference can only rarely be achieved in ideal conditions with solid bracing of the camera. So, the only real caveat from my point of view is the limited background separation due to small f5 - 5.6 max. apertures at longer focal lengths, however the bokeh is quite smooth !

Backlit narrow street, seen with XF 18-135 mm @f8/105 mm (158 mm FF equ.)

I never thought I´d love using a zoom (even less with a 7.5 X zoom ratio) ... But after intensive use the last week I can really recommend Fuji´s XF 18-135 mm WR zoom as a "one lens" solution for travel, casual walkabouts, all-round use, etc. Granted it ain´t as sharp as Fuji´s amazing primes  so I continue to use those for critical assignments. Summarizing, the following positive things can be said about the XF 18-135 mm WR zoom:

  • Extensive zoom range covering all the main focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto. No need to change lenses, no dust worries, no fuss and fast adapting to situation
  • Good image quality even at the extreme focal lengths and at max. apertures, decent Bokeh
  • Fast accurate and silent autofocus (with X-Pro2). Front element does not rotate
  • Amazing in lens image stabilization (OIS) allowing up to 4 stops longer shutter speeds
  • Portability: acceptable size & weight, no problem to hand carry around all day on X-Pro2
  • Build quality: Weather resistant, metal bayonet, filter thread & rings (focus & aperture), high quality plastic lens tube. Tight, compact feel and smooth operation. No lens creep
  • I like the aperture switch: The lens remembers the last manually set aperture value when switching back from auto to manual
  • Absolutely use-able macro capability (up to 0.27 X, min focus at 45 cm)

And here the cons:

  • Some chromatic aberration - can be corrected in post
  • Modest max. aperture limits ability to stop motion and potential for background separation
  • Zoom ring has increased resistance towards the long end of the zoom range (because of the weather sealing I think). Always need to double check if I really have the max. setting
  • Aperture setting not visible on lens, need to check viewfinder or LCD

Didn't´t say anything about price yet - I think that 899$ / 850€ is a fair price for what you get but it ain´t really a bargain ...

Please let me know if you´ve any questions - you can contact me via my about page or leave me a comment below 8your email address will not be disclosed) ! Many thanks for your interest & for visiting,

Many thanks & best regards,


I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !