#lightroom

Fuji RAW Worms - Has Adobe Finally Nailed It?

Got worms? Then you must be photographing in RAW with Fuji cameras and gotten suckered into a life-long relationship with Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription model (just like me ;-) Don’t worry, you ain’t gotta take no nasty medicine anymore to get rid of them worms, coz I got good news for ya! Please read on if interested and join the discussion below in the comments …

The Hof Garden in Bayreuth, captured on Fuji X-H1 with XF 56mm F/1.2 @F/8 1/20sec ISO 200, ACROS-R JPEG

Adobe seems to have gotten their act together!? Finally … So, you may not need to get a divorce & ditch that subscription after all (they probably don’t let no-one escape anyway … ;-) Anyways, at the end of the day Photoshop and Lightroom are still the global standard when it comes down to pro digital asset management & post processing

But before discussing the cure let’s first understand the problem (for those of youse new to Fuji or contemplating joining the Fuji family). Simply put digital sensors are comprised of millions of photo sites (“pixels”) which measure the amount of light (number of photons) hitting them. To allow the camera to see the world in color the sensor is overlaid by a color filter array (CFA) of red, green and blue color filters in a distinctive repetitive arrangement, allowing the camera software to recompile the light levels into color information. This reconstructing of the full color information from the individual pixels is called “Demosaicing”. Obviously the demosaicing algorithm needs to match the arrangement of the color filters, otherwize you will not get the image you saw thru the viewfinder …

Color Filter Arrays used in digital camera sensors:
Fuji vs. the rest of the world (note the green “X” ;-)

All makers of digital cameras use a so-called “Bayer” color filter arrangement (repeating a 2 by 2 pixel pattern of 2 green, 1 red and 1 blue filters). Hang on, ALL makers of digital cameras? No. Fuji has implemented a different arrangement of color filters, repeating an alternating 3 by 3 pixel pattern of 5 green, 2 red and 2 blue filters, they call “X-Trans” (the “X” referring to the X-formed arrangement of the green photo sites)

Fuji claims this “X-Trans” arrangement delivers a more “film-like” rendering due to the less regular pattern and better performance than the Bayer arrangement, especially improving the micro-contrast due to the higher percentage of green pixels (55% vs. 50%). See here for more information. Demosaicing software optimized for the Bayer CFA layout (as used in Adobe’s Camera RAW converter at the heart of Lightroom & Photoshop CC) can cause trouble when applied to the X-Trans CFA layout, especially with small repetitive patterns, like foliage & brick structures

Now here’s the thing: I think that Fuji’s proprietary CFA layout is not even fully managed by their own in-camera demosaicing algorithm (albeit becoming visible only at more extreme magnifications). When you enlarge the below in-camera converted JPEG to a magnification corresponding to an approx. 20x30 inch / A1 size enlargement you can start to actually see the “worms”:

Fuji’s in camera JPEG conversion’s got worms!

Fuji’s in camera JPEG conversion’s got worms!

At mural sized prints (as I do for exhibitions) you will see these painterly, wormy artefacts (see the bridge railing and the mushy area in the upper left quadrant of the above image- there should have been some branches visible there)! Don’t get me wrong - you’ll probably never have any problem with images prepared for web viewing or normal sized enlargements, using printers up to 13”x19” / A3+ size when viewing them at normal viewing distance. But for big enlargements using JPEG’s is no option anymore. For anything above 12”x17” / A3 size you gotta go RAW. Unfortunately Adobe’s Camera Raw converter don’t do much better either, see the image below - in my opinion not much different compared to the in-camera JPEG conversion:

Adobe Camera RAW’s conversion also got worms!

Adobe Camera RAW’s conversion also got worms!

You can see the vertical rods of the railing are partly obscured by foliage and the branches in the upper left quadrant are still not visible. Not good, I’m afraid this even happens with the sharpening settings optimized for X-Trans (low “amount” & high “detail”)! So, what to do? Apart from using external RAW converters known to work satisfactorily with the X-Trans sensor layout, like Iridient or RAW Therapee there is for me only one bit of software which has a good X-Trans demosaicing performance, while combining RAW conversion and image management (I really don’t like having to split my workflow over separate bits of software …): Capture One Pro. Let’s see how that fares:

Capture One Pro. Less “wormy” but a little bit too harsh for my fancy …

Capture One Pro. Less “wormy” but a little bit too harsh for my fancy …

From my point of view it’s better - the vertical rods of the railing are now barely visible and you can see a hint of the branches in the upper left quadrant, but the it does look somewhat harsh now (also here I used my preferred settings but left out the grain to be comparable to the other images). To be fair I’ve happily been using Capture One for a while now as my preferred “heavy duty” solution for large printing (A3+ & larger). But I gotta say I’m not completely happy with Capture One’s user interface - maybe that’s because I mainly use Fuji’s in-camera converted JPEGs (for around 90% of my work) and am therefore used to Lightroom’s interface & workflow. Using Lightroom and Capture One in parallel means that I also need to maintain 2 separate catalogues and processed image folders on my MacBook Pro. So, when Adobe released their new “Enhance Details” feature end February this I was naturally intrigued & curious if it would do better with X-Trans images! See below the result, straight outta Lightroom, using Enhance Details (this creates a DNG in the same catalogue as a new “digital negative” which can be further processed in Lightroom just like a RAW file):

Adobe Camera Raw’s new Enhance Details feature

Adobe Camera Raw’s new Enhance Details feature

In my opinion this is far better than the previous examples, the bridge railing and the foliage have a more natural look. And you can now see the branches in the upper left quadrant (directly below the words “Enhance Details” ;-)! For my workflow this means I can process my ACROS JPEG’s as usual and apply Enhance Details with subsequent RAW development of the DNG file for those images earmarked for big enlargement / fine-art printing. Finally Adobe seems to have listened to us Fuji photographers, the results achievable with the “Enhance Details” feature are impressive! There’s only two caveats: 1. Enhance Details needs a lot of computing power (30-40 sec on a reasonably fast 2016 MacBook Pro), so those of youse with older machines might need to go out for lunch while batch processing the results of your latest photo-shoot … ;-) 2. the Enhance Details adds a DNG file to your drive for each processed image which is approx. 50% larger (around 150MB) than an average Fuji RAW file, eating up your disk space at an alarming rate!

Here the same image as before, developed by ACR Enhance Details into a DNG and processed to taste in Lightroom:

The same image developed from the Fuji RAW file, using Adobe ACR´s Enhance Details feature!

Another example with many small details in the grass & foliage:

Contre-jour image of trees in Bayreuth’s Hof Garden, captured on XF 56mm F/1.2 R @F/5.6, 1/140 sec, 400 ISO

I hope this post was interesting for you & y’all could get something from it for your own photography. Enjoy your Sunday & wish you all the best for your photographic endeavours,

Many thanks for visiting, please leave me a comment below if you have any questions or feedback, best regards

Hendrik

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!

How to Win Time With Fuji!

Time. The “fourth dimension“. We can’t control it. We just live in time, but can’t travel in it like we can in 3 dimensional space. Moments passed can never be revisited. They only linger as memories in our mind or saved as images taken. That’s why time’s so precious, don’t waste it! Fortunately we can choose what to do with our time. It’s a very personal choice. If you’d love to maximize your free time photographing the world around you with your Fuji, I may have something interesting for you to minimize time spent image editing. Please read on to find how to win more time with your (Fuji ;-) camera:

Wooden Bridge, seen with XF 35 / f2 R WR on Fuji X-Pro2, JPG developed in LR CC mobile

To be faster & more efficient on the image processing bit, editing your JPEG’s with Lightroom CC on a mobile device’s the way to go: You can work while traveling or waiting at airports & it syncs your image processing seamlessly with Lightroom CC Classic on your MAC/PC. Means you can continue where you left off when you’re back at your desktop! You can then happily save up RAW files of your favorite images for those long winter evenings (when the next blizzard hits ;-) to eke out that last bit of highlight detail (which eluded you on your JPEG’s) via Fine Art editing & printing using Capture One Pro on your Mac/PC. See below a schematic representation of my workflow:

I usually download my JPEG images (just ACROS Black & Whites for me ;-) to my iPad Pro via WiFi using the ShutterSnitch App. IMO better than Fuji’s Camera Remote App, but a bit pricey. For that I can automatically update images´ metadata with my copyright during import & rate / sort out the ones I want to process later before exporting them to iOŚ’s photo library. From there I “add“ them to an album called ’JPEG’. I do like this coz of iOŚ’s dorky image filing system, where all images on the iPad are dumped into the camera roll: taken images, processed images, screenshots, the whole smash - all in one big mess you ain’t ever gonna find anything in. So by “adding“ your images to a separate album (or albums) you can find them easily afterwards for importing into Lightroom CC mobile. See below some screen shots of my workflow once in Lightroom CC mobile (please click on the thumbnails to see more details):

processing in LR CC mobile

when done, select ’open in‘

& size for web / social media

in Phonto App, to

add your copyright

in your preferred format 

WiFi download? Boy, you can easily go for lunch while that’s going on (Fuji JPEG´s typically got around 16Mb ;-) OR, in case you’re in a hurry, transfer them to iPad via Apple’s SD card to Lightning Adaptor, but then there’s no automatic IPTC copyright update & no way to preview images before saving them in the camera roll ...

Ok, ‘nuff said, for sure y’all interested about what settings I use for my JPEG’s (coz choosing the JPEG route means many settings can’t be modified after the fact. I always shoot RAW/F (RAW + fine JPEG’s) to always have backups of the original files, either to experiment later with differing RAW to JPEG conversions in camera, or for more precise RAW post processing using Capture One Pro. In camera I use following settings:

  • ACROS-R film simulation (of course ;-)
  • -1 Highlight tone
  • +3 Shadow tone
  • Grain effect off (ACROS film simulation already has its own grain effect!)
  • -3 Noise reduction
  • 0 Sharpness (more sharpening in camera creates visible artifacts)

This delivers pin sharp, contrasty black & white JPEG’s with punchy shadows & smoothly gradated highlights. And they got ACROS film simulations’s amazing tone dependent film-like grain effect! Only minor adjustments in post processing are needed, if at all. For me adjusting the images’ tone curve is the most important means to create image depth and giving them a 3 dimensional look. Please also check out Patrick la Roque’s amazing article on this topic!

Apart from the s-shaped tone curve the second most important thing for me is to accentuate the sharpness - I keep the sharpening amount low but up the detail level, see below:

Fall in the Park, captured by XF 35 / f2 R WR on Fuji X-Pro2, JPG developed in LR CC mobile

So, all in all no big deal. With this simple & fast mobile workflow needing only a couple moments attention for each image before uploading to my blog and/or social media I can complete post processing in no time, during commuting or while enjoying a latte in a cafe. See another example here, shot shortly after sunrise:

Bayreuth on Sunday Morning, XF 35 / f2 R WR on Fuji X-Pro2, JPG developed in LR CC mobile

This way I can maximize time spent on enjoying the world around me & taking images! Please let me know your thoughts, or ask me via my contact page if have any further questions / need any advice, thanks for your interest & for looking by!

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - 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!

Best regards,

Hendrik

Fuji Lightroom Mobile Workflow Revisited

As promised in my previous post I´d like to share with y´all my mobile workflow, using Fuji cameras, an iPad and Lightroom Mobile! If you wanna get freed from your desktop, speed up your processing / image sharing on web and if you´re interested in becoming a more efficient photographer, please read on!

The Messenger, seen in Sicily with Fuji X100F, 23 mm / f2 @ f5.6, 1/320", ACROS-Y, 400 ISO

I mentioned in my previous blog post that Fuji´s ACROS film simulation with its tonality and ISO dependent grain effect delivers JPEG´s with a film-like look that can not be achieved via traditional RAW processing. These JPEG´s are so good that they liberates you forever from having to fuss around with RAW files & RAW converters (spending hours behind a computer, trying to get image quality comparable to Fuji´s amazing JPEG´s). This in turn enables a more mobile approach to photography, so get liberated & embrace a JPEG based mobile workflow!

Required equipment:

  • Camera with Wifi capability (check out Fuji´s website but it can be any brand ... ;-)
  • Mobile device with sufficient processing power & free space for saving images
  • WiFi connectivity App to transfer images from your camera to your mobile device
  • Lightroom Mobile (and Adobe Creative Cloud subscription if you want to sync to desktop) 

To get your images downloaded onto your mobile device of choice (in my case an iPad Pro 9.7"), there are 2 options (when using Fuji cameras, as I do ;-)

  1. Fujifilm´s "Camera Remote App" (download free from iTunes or Google Play)
  2. 2nd Nature´s "ShutterSnitch" Wireless Transfer App (download for US$ 18.99 from iTunes - no Android version yet). Expensive but IMO much better as it includes all kinds of goodies: image organisation in collections, image preview using zoom, saving to various media, metadata update (I don't use this as it re-saves my JPEG´s potentially reducing image quality slightly), etc.

While Fuji´s Camera Remote App downloads your images directly to the iPad´s camera roll, ShutterSnitch requires them to be exported (I prefer this coz it keeps my images organized outside Apple´s somewhat difficult to understand & confusing filing system). See below the procedure for ShutterSnitch, the end result in both cases is that the images you want to process end up on the iPad´s camera roll

How to get your images onto Camera Roll using ShutterSnitch ...

Next step is to import the images you´d like to process into Lightroom Mobile. You can stop here but if you also have Adobe´s Creative Cloud subscription (around 12-13 US$ per month) you get a seamless synchronisation between your mobile device and desktop (images processed on mobile device are updated on your desktop device when you connect to your home network & vice-versa). Cool!

Importing your images into Lightroom Mobile ...

Importing your images into Lightroom Mobile ...

In Lightroom Mobile you will find the familiar develop modules from the desktop version (Basic, Tone Curve, etc.) and you can adjust the settings as required:

Post Processing in Lightroom Mobile!

As mentioned before these adjustments are then synchronized with your Lightroom desktop version as soon as you connect to your home network (provided you have Adobe´s Creative Cloud installed)

Summing up. this mobile workflow allows you to already perform the main rough image post processing steps while on the move (mainly curves and some exposure / contrast improvement) In most cases the processing options offered by Lightroom Mobile are sufficient, so no further desktop processing is needed! :-)

I hope you enjoyed this post and you can use it to enhance your own photographic experience, please leave me a note in the comments section if anything´s unclear or if you have any further questions,

Many thanks & best regards, wish y´all a great start into the new week & lots of fun, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - 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!

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, 

Yours, 

Hendrik
 

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 !

Capture ONE Pro 10 for Fuji - A First Look !

When I jumped ship from CaNikon to Fuji a couple years ago I didn't find ANY integrated RAW converter / image management solution able to deliver the full potential outta Fuji´s unique X-Trans sensor. Only way out was to use a standalone external RAW converter (eg. Iridient) requiring a 2 step workflow. Then, earlier this year Adobe launched a major Lightroom CC upgrade delivering results very close to the till then Best-in-Class RAW converter Iridient (see my comparison here). Finally on December ONE Phase ONE launched Capture ONE Pro, version ONE-O. Hey, with so many ONE´s popping up I thought I´d take a look and see, please read on for my initial impressions !

Street in the winter sun, captured by Fuji XF 23 mm f/2 WR on X-Pro 2, developed in CO Pro 10

I decided to try out the newest version 10 of Capture One Pro after being intrigued by Thomas Fitzgerald´s excellent blog post describing latest improvements & features, please go here to discover them ! For me the above image has a wonderful glow to it and it took me only a couple minutes to get there - impressive how fast & easy I could get a really good result ! Furthermore Capture One Pro allows me to change any parameter at any time in its logical and clear dashboard (see left side of the screen grab shown below):

Capture One Pro 10 User Interface with logically grouped intuitive setting panels

What I liked most was the fluid interaction between Exposure, Levels, Curve, High Dynamic Range and Clarity settings. In contrast Lightroom IMO has a more linear (chronological) workflow which feels less intuitive and kinda "old fashioned" ...

Concluding, the PRO´s of Capture One Pro 10:

  • Great results. At least at a first glance I couldn't detect any disadvantages vs. my previous favorite Iridient in eg. highlight/shadow recovery, color rendering, detail rendering, sharpening, noise, etc (but I´ll come back here with a more detailed comparison soon)
  • Lens optimization finally working (incl. purple de-fringing !) - this was missing in previous versions of Capture One Pro
  • Fluid, logical and intuitive user interface allowing changing of all parameters in any order
  • NO more external standalone RAW converter needed ! Capture One Pro combines RAW conversion and image management. Strictly speaking this is no advantage over Lightroom

And the CON´s:

  • Capture One Pro 10 can´t read Fuji´s compressed RAW´s (yet). Now this one is really a bummer for me coz Fuji´s uncompressed RAW´s eat up memory at twice the rate compared to the compressed RAW´s (50 vs. 25 mB a pop !). C´mon, Phase One, give us the compressed RAW reading capability, you can do it !
  • Pricey - nearly 300 US$ ain´t a bargin (even though you get a lot for it). Ok I have a CO Pro 8 license so it´ll cost me 105 US$ to upgrade. Still a lot ... but at least it ain´t a subscription rip-off like CC (if you can live without Photoshop CC that is)

Here another "glowing" Capture One Pro image:

Contre Jour in the park, seen with Fuji XF 23 mm f/2 WR on Fuji X-Pro2, developed in CO Pro 10

If you have any questions or would like any advice, please leave me a message in the comments section or on my contact page ! Many thanks for your kind support, interest, liking & sharing ! Herewith wishing y´all a lot of fun trying out Capture One Pro 10 ! Enjoy your December holiday season, all the very best & good luck !

Yours, Hendrik

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 !

How to Get Best Image Quality Out of Fuji X-Trans III RAW´s

Hey I got something for those of youse who REALLY wanna get the very best possible image quality out of Fuji´s new X-Trans III image sensor (as currently used on Fuji´s X-Pro 2 and X-T2 mirrorless APS-C cameras). Yeah I know ... Said some posts ago that Lightroom´s all you´ll need ... Basically that still holds true but it all depends on what you expect from your photography, please read on to discover how:

Portrait of my lovely wife: Fuji X-Pro 2 with 35 mm f2 WR @f2.8 1/125 sec

Portraits seem to present quite a challenge regarding image quality (apart from the obvious challenge to capture the right facial expression reflecting persona & character of your model ;-) ! Working on a portrait series I discovered that different RAW developers produced subtle variations in the results. So I thought I´d share them here, starting off as baseline with Fuji´s very good SOOC JPEG rendering. This already delivers an overall pleasing result, however finest details are lost during in-camera conversion:

SOOC JPEG using Fuji X-Pro 2´s X-Trans III 24 mp sensor

Then I tried RAW conversion using Affinity Photo, a relatively new kid on the block (many thanks to The Lightweight Photographer for pointing me to it !). With this one I do get a very nice contrast, which I initially liked a lot (for me nearly the most pleasing off the bat). But on closer scrutiny I discovered it dissolves finer details even more than the JPEG and also produces some unwanted artefacts (see the line between the cornea and the lower eyelid):

RAW conversion using Affinity Photo

This is not the case with Adobe´s latest version of Lightroom CC. Better fine details than the JPEG´s and a fully integrated workflow to boot (no external RAW converter, so no additional exporting / importing needed). However ACR does seem to slightly exaggerate high contrast fine detail - the eyelashes seem to look a bit thicker / heavier than perceived (I learnt a lot from Thomas Fitzgerald´s excellent X-Trans guides & used one of his sharpening presets, they´re really good !). To further optimize this I may need to experiment a bit more in detail with the sharpening settings:

RAW conversion using Adobe Camera RAW in Lightroom CC

Last but not least the most balanced high quality result came out of Iridient Developer: Extremely fine details are retained and beautifully rendered (using default "Iridient Reveal" sharpening). No artefacts, no exaggeration, IMO the very best result I could achieve (with a reasonable effort - I really want to minimize the time spent in front of my Mac, of course ;-)

RAW conversion using Iridient Developer

Concluding I have to say that Fuji shooters have a lot of choices nowadays: Need a fast result w/o hassle ? You can use the SOOC JPEG´s without any problem, they´re amazing ! Want to go RAW for a really good result with an integrated workflow ? Lightroom CC ain´t gonna disappoint you ! But if you want the very best image quality & don't shy away from some extra workflow integration ? Use Lightroom CC for image management and Iridient for RAW conversion (it can be easily integrated into your workflow - excellent "how to" advice available here)

Hope y´all liked today´s post & could find some guidance & information for your own work ? If you´ve any questions, comments or ideas - please leave me a note in the comments section or on my "Contact" page ! Many thanks for reading, for your continued interest & support, and hope to see you here again soon !

Good luck & best regards,

Hendrik

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 !

Adobe´s got the best RAW converter for Fuji X-Trans now, or what ? Part 1

Recently I got this pop-up on my MAC informing on new Creative Cloud App updates, so I downloaded ´em & was looking at some high contrast images after import using Lightroom´s ACR (Adobe Camera RAW). Here FYI the JPEG SOOC, with totally jacked highlights & shadows:

Dogging the Fountain - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, JPEG SOOC: Jacked highlights & shadows !

But when opening the RAW´s with ACR - what the ... ??? ;-) Hey, could it be that Adobe´s now finally gotten their Fuji X-Trans rendering act together ? Intrigued by this performance I decided to (again ... yawn ;-) compare Adobe´s Camera RAW (included in Lightroom & Photoshop CC) with the best external RAW converters out there (Iridient & Photo Ninja) - ya just gotta keep on your toes here ;-) please read on if interested !

I´ve been using Photo Mechanic for culling / key-wording & Lightroom for (mobile) image management / processing since way back, so obviously a built in RAW converter would have major advantages for my workflow compared to an external one (no more needing to export & copy back in, nor splitting image processing over 2 bits of software, etc.)

I´m posting this in 2 instalments: 1. Highlights & Shadows Performance (this post), and 2. Detail & Sharpening (coming up soon !)

Let´s start with Highlights & Shadows Performance. Although aesthetically the SOOC JPEG quite faithfully rendered what I´d originally visualised at time of capture the highlights & shadows are like totally blown out. So I was interested how much detail I could pull back into the image during post processing:

To do this I basically first maxed out the highlights recovery and then pushed the shadows by slightly increasing exposure until just before the highlights started blowing out again (thereby keeping an eye on not losing too much contrast). See below the comparison & results !

1. Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop CC:

This one I liked the most:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Photoshop CC´s built in ACR RAW converter

Dunno why, but i seemed to get a slightly better rendering outta Photoshop´s built in version of ACR than LR´s (maybe the PS ACR interface is better, or I was too dumb or lazy to get 100% the same result with Lightroom´s built in ACR ...). Here a 100% crop view showing vastly improved shadows & highlights areas vs. the JPEG:

100% Crop of Photoshop´s ACR rendering

2. Adobe Canera RAW in Lightroom CC:

Nearly as good (yeah, right - both platforms use the same Adobe Camera RAW built in RAW converter):

Highlight & Shadows compression using Lightroom CC´s built in ACR RAW converter

Here a 100% crop view showing the improved shadows & highlights areas, with slightly less contrast in the shadows whereas highlights seem to have a bit more detail ...

100% Crop of Lightroom´s ACR rendering

3. Iridient Developer:

Iridient is amazing in its ability to bring out detail with a unique & careful sharpening of Fuji X-Pro2´s files, but I was quite shocked to see that its highlight & shadows detail recovery seems to be limited:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Iridient´s external RAW converter

Compared to ACR the highlight head room is quite limited, meaning I have less "foot" room available for pushing the shadows, before the highlights blow (compare the crack between the tiles on bottom right with the ACR versions):

100% Crop of Iridient´s rendering

4. Photo Ninja:

This one I liked the least - highlight head room seems a bit better than Iridient, but didn't matter what I did, i just couldn't manage to bring out more shadow detail (it always kinda remained a dark soup). Also Photo Ninja does not react on EXIF lens correction parameters, you get the total image (see the additional details at the image borders), but the image is still distorted:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Photo Ninja´s external RAW converter

And here the details - highlights OK´ish but the black dog just remains a black silhouette:

100% Crop of Photo Ninja´s rendering

Sorry, did´t have no more access to Capture One & never used Raw Therapee so those two are not covered here ...

Interim Conclusion: Adobe´s ACR wins the dynamic range battle !
(please also check out part 2 soon for details & sharpness comparison and for the final conclusion)

From a highlights & shadows recovery point of view the benefit of not needing to use external RAW converters seems to be an achievable target, Adobe´s ACR is doing an excellent job here ! OK I´d not push it that far for a fine art print to preserve the visual impression of the original situation, but good to know there is room for manoeuvring !

I hope this was an interesting read for all you Fuji fans out there - please leave me a comment in case you´ve any questions and/or suggestions ! Many thanks for looking by & wish y´all good light !

Best regards

Hendrik

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 !

TWO of a Kind !

OK, So it's been quite a time since my last blog post - my sincere excuses to those who have been eagerly waiting for news ;-) ! I was quite busy & couldn't spend as much time on my blog as I'd have wanted to, still, I hope y'all will enjoy this post about looking for & finding pairs of things - "TWO of a Kind !"

Two Funnels

I like the symmetry of this image, broken by the vertical shadow on the wall and the random nature of the clouds. Also the vertical lining of the clouds contrasts nicely with the horizontal wall panels. I further abstracted the image by pointing the camera nearly straight up, making the normally vertical funnels look as if they're lying down. I always look for such conflicting elements to bring tension into my images, here's another example:

Two Pillars

Two vertical columns in the Botanical Gardens of Villa Melzi in Bellagio, Lake Como (be sure to take a look if you should be in that area - really worthwhile and very relaxing !). Looks like the shorter pillar just got some help from the vertical cloud formation on the top right !

The image below was captured on the terrace of a hotel with lemon trees, where some of the lemons had fallen off & I could take the image before the personnel had a chance to remove 'em !

Two Lemons

Here the round shapes of the fruit and the ashtray in the back are nicely contrasted by the regular pattern of the wicker table !

For those interested all images were taken on Fuji X100S and Fuji X100T cameras and the resulting RAW files developed in Photo Ninja, subsequently fine tuned in Lightroom.

Hope y'all liked my post ! As always your comments, constructive critique and questions about the images, technique, gear are most welcome ! Just drop me a message on my contact page or send me your comment below ! Many thanks in advance & wish y'all a great Sunday, best regards,

Hendrik

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 !

X100T = View FINDER !

My Fuji X100T's OVF (Opical View Finder) does exactly that: It FINDS VIEWS ! Like the view below thru an arch in the ancient town of Pescia in Tuscany, Italy:

Pescia, Tuscany - View thru arch

Sure, you can precisely preview your image on a digital camera's LCD screen or thru the lens of a DSLR, but I prefer the superior clarity and brightness of the X100T's optical viewfinder, which intuitively helps me to frame the part of the scene I wanted to show:

Barred Window

 In fact this is one of the main reasons I have chosen to go back & limit myself to this one camera / one lens combo - NO more fussing about equipment and more focus on making the image !

3 Steps to ... Heaven ?

I hope y'all enjoyed today's post - please let me know ! Thanks for visiting & my best wishes for a great weekend, best regards,

Hendrik

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 !

INTO the Light !

Here in Europe we have them: Seasons, the cyclic changing of nature’s weather, temperatures, colors, … and Light ! After the dark, wet and cold of winter it’s great to enjoy the warmth & light of the sun’s spring rays … that’s what I’ve tried to capture in these images:

Terrace of VIlla Sermolli in Buggiano Castello, Tuscany

Lovely, how the afternoon Tuscan sun lights up the first spring blossoms and breathes life into the weathered terrace of the gorgeous 16th century Villa Sermolli and overgrown backyards of Buggiano Castello, Tuscany:

Overgrown Backyard in Buggiano Castello, Tuscany

The good thing about spring is that the light’s still coming in low during the day, allowing it to better sculpt textures and shapes on otherwise unremarkable subjects, like this back alley in Montecatini Terme:

 

 

 

Below diffused lighting after sundown highlights the white marble of the fountain, while the water turns inky black from the reflection of the dark evening sky !

Back Alley in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany

Fountain after Sundown

For those interested, all this was shot using the amazing Fujifilm X100T; Always with me, never in my way, delivering fantastic rendering and image quality, THANKS Fuji !

Post processing: No cropping, RAW development using Photo Ninja and some contrast enhancement using Tone curve in Lightroom ...

I just never cease to be amazed by the dynamic range & highlight headroom of the Fuji X-Trans sensor !

So, I hope y'all enjoyed this week's blog post, many thanks for visiting & reading – As always your comments & constructive critique are most welcome and appreciated, thanks in advance & best regards

Hendrik

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 Time & Your Images SUCK ?

Recognize this ? You're stuck in the rat race of your day (and night) job, and/or your agenda’s jacked with back-to-back assignments – all maybe good for the biz, but …

Somehow your creativity seems to haven gotten lost along the way, and the lighthearted joy of creating what YOU fancy has meanwhile become a long forgotten memory - Your images SUCK. Big time !

Afternoon Sun's Shadows

And ... you unfortunately don’t have the opportunity to make them more interesting by going exotic places to take photographs ... :-) ? Today I'd like to share what worked for me:

Look around & experiment ! Often the beautiful effects of light are right there, in front of your eyes (while you were too preoccupied with dreaming of those far away locations) !

In my case it was the light of the afternoon sun passing thru the regular geometric shapes of the metal grille outside our window, creating distorted shadows on the uneven folds of our curtains ...

A Different Perspective ...

RAW processing in Photo Ninja preserved the highlights. Then I went B&W in Lightroom & only manipulated the curves a bit (the tonality curves of course, not the curtain's ;-) ... The result’s quite interesting, don't you think ?

Your constructive critique & comments are, as always, most welcome ! Looking forward to hearing your view - thanks for reading, take care & best regards,

Hendrik

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 !

Taming the Beast ! X-Trans RAW, Part 2

You liked PART 1 ? Already curious about PART 2 ? OK, as promised last week today I would like to follow up with PART 2 of my X-Trans RAW converter evaluation by sharing ALL the results - wish y'all an interesting read, please check it out below !

Behind the House ...

But in order to allow easy comparison, I've used the same RAW image as last week, a house façade in Buitrago del Lozoya in Spain ...

the following 4 main X-Trans RAW converter (Windows only) options were analysed:

  1. Picture Code’s Photo Ninja 1.2.4, with post processing in Lightroom
  2. Phase One’s Capture One Pro 8.1.1 (all-in-one solution)
  3. Adobe’s Lightroom 5.7, with embedded ACR (all-in-one solution)
  4. Silkypix’s Raw File Converter EX 3.2.22, with post processing in Lightroom

Please see below the results - click on the images below to see an enlarged version:

Photo Ninja

LIghtroom

Capture One Pro

Silkypix

And here (finally ;-) the detailed evaluation of the various (windows only) RAW converters & post processing (if needed):

1. Photo Ninja & post processing in Lightroom:
Delivers the best detail & highlight recovery, but colors are difficult to manage & a bit more noise reduction is needed in LR (details, please see my previous Post here and integrated Photo Ninja / Lightroom workflow here):

2. Capture One Pro:
More natural colors (less corrections needed) but vs. PN less sharp detail rendering & less highlight recovery, see "Capture One Crop 1". Don't need additional noise reduction, but tendency to show conversion artifacts (see door bell panel in "Capture One Crop 3"). Advantage is the "All inclusive" integrated workflow !

3. Lightroom (using built in Adobe Camera RAW converter):
Main issue here, from my point of view is still the well know "smearing effect" (albeit better than previous versions) and lower detail rendering, see "Lightroom Crop 1". Like Capture One also this one has an "All inclusive" integrated workflow !

4. Silkypix & post processing in Lightroom:
Also here less highlight recovery and lower detail rendering, see Silkypix detailed crops. Apart from this Silkypix from my point of view has a complicated user interface which needs some getting used to ...

Photo Ninja Crop 1

Capture One Crop 1

Lightroom Crop 1

Silkypix Crop 1

Photo Ninja Crop 2

Photo Ninja Crop 3

Capture One Crop 2

Capture One Crop 3

Lightroom Crop 2

Lightroom Crop 3

Silkypix Crop 2

Silkypix Crop 3

As you can see (recapping my last week's conclusion in PART 1 of this evaluation), from my point of view Photo Ninja has the best detail rendering and highlight recovery potential, followed by Capture One Pro, Lightroom and Silkypix !

But I'm sure some of you out there will come to different conclusions, better fitting & optimized for your way of working, so looking forward to an interesting discussion !

Hope you enjoyed the read, please let me know by entering your comments on this page, or by sending me a message via my contact page if you've any questions - I'll be happy to answer them !

many thanks, Hendrik

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 !

The Very Best X-Trans Lightroom Workflow !

OKOKOK - or maybe the very worst ;-) ... All depends on your preferences and from which perspective you look at it ! I just prefer to spend as little time behind a computer screen as possible & rather'd go out take some PIX ! ... Like this one, i found in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain where there's a great Pablo Picasso Museum: Go on and take a look, if you get a chance, you sure ain't gonna regret it !

Lovely House Façade in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain

Lovely House Façade in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain

Anyway - in this Blog i'd like to share my X-Trans workflow. Yeah I know this kinda topic has been beaten to death elsewhere, but after reading 'em all i developed my own "simplified" workflow & hope it's of some interest to you X-Trans fans out there !

So, before X-Trans life was easy: import images, move some sliders around, DONE ! Then along came Fuji with their ab-so-lute-ly AWESOME APS-C X-Trans sensor - and nothing worked no more ! Even Adobe's latest re-incarnation of Lightroom 5.7 still don't cut it for me: The converted RAW files still often demonstrate the dreaded "smearing effect" on green foliage and other small details ...

After some research i stumbled over Picture Code's Photo Ninja with a nifty solution to integrate their RAW converter into a Lightroom workflow ! Here's how it works best for me:

  • Import images (RAW+JPEG seperated) into date stamped folders on my laptop
  • Sort, rate & add copyright info using Camera Bit's Photo Mechanic software
  • Copy images selected for processing into Lightroom auto import folder, see here how to set that up ...
Sort, Rate and add © in Photo Mechanic ...

Sort, Rate and add © in Photo Mechanic ...

  • Open Lightroom & your copied images will magically import & appear:
Open Lightroom & see your auto-imported images !

Open Lightroom & see your auto-imported images !

  • From the Develop module export your selected image to Photo Ninja. if you've set up Lightroom & Photo Ninja as indicated here, this will make Photo Ninja open the original RAW file with the same file name, see below:
Original X-Trans RAW file opened in Photo Ninja !

Original X-Trans RAW file opened in Photo Ninja !

  • In Photo Ninja I just make sure that I get a "digital negative" with maximum dynamic range to have the best starting point for later post processing - normally it's all about recovering highlights (and Fuji X-Trans files have a lot of highlight headroom !). See these great Photo Ninja tutorials to learn more !
  • I then hit "save", which makes Photo Ninja overwrite the TIF file in Lightroom:
Photo Ninja overwrites the TIF file in Lightroom !

Photo Ninja overwrites the TIF file in Lightroom !

  • This TIF from Photo Ninja exhibits wonderful details rendering & now includes an amazing dynamic range - ideal as a starting point for my subsequent post processing in Lightroom !
  • My first step back in Lightroom is to render the image to Black & White in the Develop module's "Basic" tab (but you can also skip this if you prefer color):
First step in Lightroom is to  change over to Black & White ...

First step in Lightroom is to  change over to Black & White ...

  • I then basically play around some with the sliders in the "Basic", "Tone Curve" and "HSL / Color / B&W" tabs, optimizing my image until it fits the pre-visualization I had at the time of capture (note: changing color filter sliders in "HSL / Color / B&W" tab is obviously only relevant for Black & White images):
Improve your image by changing sliders in Basic, Tone Curve and B&W tabs !

Improve your image by changing sliders in Basic, Tone Curve and B&W tabs !

If necessary I apply some retouching and/or graduated filters at this stage. The final result is what i call my "master image", from which i render web or print versions. Due to Lightroom's "non destructive" image processing I can change any slider at a later time if needed. To render web or print versions I export to another folder, apply sharpening / noise control / sizing as required and add my copyright information !

Hope you've enjoyed this post & it can help you to get the very best out of your X-Trans RAW files. Fuji sure makes fantastic lenses & sensors, but they do need some attention in post to realize the stunning rendering potential in them ;-) ! Thanks so much for reading & take care - best regards, Hendrik

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 !