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Raw and Raw Conversion

Supplied software

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is provided with the 'FinePix CD' software disc which includes:

  • MyFinePix Studio Ver 3.2 - A basic file viewer / manager (Windows only)
      
  • FinePix Viewer Ver 3.6 - A file viewer / manager (for Mac OS X 10.3-10.6)
      
  • RAW File Converter EX - A powerful, fully-featured RAW converter based on SilkyPix

The X-Pro1 ships with its own customized, but fully featured version of SilkyPix, called RAW File Converter EX. This is a hugely flexible piece of software that includes a vast range of options and adjustments, and which is capable of producing pretty impressive results. It's not the easiest converter to get to grips with though: its menus give the impression of having been machine-translated, the available options aren't necessarily very logically organized, and the on-screen 'Help', although comprehensive, is about as obtuse as you'll ever find (it tends to repeat what the options are, rather than explain what they mean). But if you're prepared to put in the time and effort to work it out, then the results can be very worthwhile.

Once you've worked your way past the slightly odd terminology (images are called 'scenes', and parameter sets get saved to the 'cloakroom'), you'll find a vast range of tools to rival industry leaders such as Capture One or Adobe Camera Raw. This includes features you won't always find in bundled software, such as highlight recovery, lens aberration correction, and perspective correction (here known, somewhat obtusely, as 'Digital Shift').

SilkyPix allows you to open a folder of images in thumbnail view, so you can easily find the image you want to work on. Double-clicking on an image (or 'scene') brings it up to full-screen for editing. The feature set on offer is comprehensive, but the lack of any meaningful documentation (and occasionally incomprehensible menu options) mean it can take a while to really feel comfortable and to find your way around.
Most options have plenty of presets to allow you to start getting good results without too much fine tuning. Once you're comfortable with the options, you can save your own favoured settings as additional presets, to speed up your processing. There's a plethora of tool palettes that can be brought up and dismissed by clicking on icons at the bottom left of the window. Advanced functions on offer here include highlight recovery, lens and perspective corrections, and colour fine-tuning.
The level of control can be a little overwhelming - for instance, in addition to the White Balance tools on the left-hand toolbar, there's also a White Balance Adjustment palette. The two don't appear to interact, which can be confusing. And, once you're really familiar with the software there are some very fine-level controls over functions such as noise reduction and sharpening. It's not the most approachable software but it's very powerful once you understand it.

RAW conversion

As usual we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. In the case of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 we used the supplied RAW File Converter EX and the Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 plugin for Photoshop CS6.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine (default settings)
  • RFC - RAW File Converter EX (default settings)
  • ACR - Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw 7.1 (default settings)

Sharpness and Detail

Most cameras show distinctly more detail in RAW compared to their JPEG output, due to a combination of over-enthusiastic noise reduction and unsubtle sharpening, but not the X-Pro1. Instead the in-camera JPEG conversion pulls a huge amount of detail out of the sensor data. Adobe Camera Raw perhaps offers slightly crisper fine detail (although this is due to higher sharpening more than anything else). Meanwhile Raw File Converter at first sight lags behind the other two, but on closer examination this probably reflects its slightly muted colour saturation rather than actual detail rendition.

JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 RAW ->JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
RAW File Converter EX, (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

In this comparison of the high-contrast detail of a test chart, the situation is slightly different. The in-camera processing produces a clean image that's entirely free of artefacts. Neither RAW converter can deliver higher resolution, and neither can quite match it for cleanliness either. SilkyPix is close, but still gives a little false colour in some areas of the test pattern; in contrast, Adobe Camera Raw shows lots of artefacts including an odd green/magenta 'beat' pattern beyond Nyquist.

JPEG from camera RAW File Converter EX (RAW)
 
Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 (RAW)  

Raw conversion artefacts

The X-Pro1's unique feature is, of course the X-Trans CMOS sensor, with its non-Bayer colour filter array. This requires an entirely different demosaicing approach to produce an image file from the sensor data, and consequently third-party Raw converters can't support the camera as easily. Rather than simply re-calibrate the Bayer conversion processes that they have refined over a decade or more, the developers have to start again from scratch. This means that there's greater potential for conversion artefacts in 'difficult' areas of the image that might require special treatment.

We can see this when comparing the output from Adobe Camera Raw and, to a lesser extent, Raw File Converter to out-of-camera JPEGs. In certain areas of the image ACR's output is problematic - most notably when looking at text on a coloured background. Meanwhile SilkyPix tends to show a little more false colour on fine patterns than either the camera JPEG or ACR.

JPEG
RFC
ACR
100% crops

In the crops above, ACR 'fills-in' the white text on the battery and paintbrush with the surrounding color, while desaturating regions between the letters. The size of the text appears to be important here - you won't see this effect when it's much larger than in these examples. ACR also has the biggest problem with the colour of the hairs crossing in front of red and blue blocks of colour on the third set of crops.

Below we're looking at the X-Pro1's resistance to moiré and false colour. In the first set of crops all three versions suffer from diagonal yellow lines, but the hue difference is most pronounced from RFC. Meanwhile RFC also produces some colour mottling on the second banknote that isn't visible in either the camera JPEG or the ACR conversion. Overall, Fujifilm's own processing for the camera's JPEGs provides the cleanest output in both cases. (Bear in mind that these regions cause problems for many cameras, and are scarcely typical of real-world shooting.)

JPEG
RFC
ACR
100% crops

While our studio test scene reveals these processing errors, we've found them not to be much of a problem in normal shooting. Obviously you can find similar examples in real-world images if you go looking for them - Adobe's colouring-in of text can be visible in road signs, for example. But with the vast majority of the images we shot, both ACR and Raw File Converter give perfectly acceptable results.

As illustrated in our Lenses and Lens Corrections page, however, there are a couple of larger differences. Most notably, ACR doesn't correct for lateral chromatic aberration by default, although this can be turned in the Lens Corrections tab by clicking a single checkbox. Also, rather strangely, the two raw processors both correct distortion from the 18mm F2 lens slightly differently to the camera's own processing (and each other).

Real world advantages

As we've shown above, Fujifilm's excellent processing means that the X-Pro1's JPEGs lose nothing in terms of detail compared to RAW. On top of this, the camera's generally-reliable white balance and appealing colour rendition (especially in Soft/Astia mode) means that for many purposes it makes perfect sense to shoot JPEGs with the full intent of using them. What's more, if you shoot RAW alongside, then you can use the in-camera processing to apply many of the changes that make shooting RAW worthwhile, e.g. to correct for white balance errors, tweak image brightness, or adjust colours.

The example below was shot using Velvia mode on a dull day, and the camera's automatic white balance has delivered a rather cool image. By adjusting the in-camera development parameters (see below) we've managed to tease out a much more pleasing version of the shot. However this can be a rather drawn-out process, because you can't preview your changes 'live' as you work.

Original JPEG RAW file reconverted in-camera

Development parameters: Push/Pull Processing +2/3 EV; Film Simulation Astia/Soft; White balance 6300K; Highlight Tone M-Hard; Shadow Tone M-Soft.

The big advantage of using a raw editor rather than the camera, of course, is that you can judge your adjustments much better as you go along, and apply more sophisticated processing that the camera can't match. In this second example the RAW file has been developed using Adobe Camera Raw, with the white balance tweaked and significant fill-light applied to bring out detail in the shadows. However even with optimized sharpening the fine detail isn't improved.

Original JPEG RAW + ACR
100% crop 100% crop

One point of note here is just how far you can pull up shadow detail without it being spoiled by excessive noise. This example was shot at ISO400/DR200 and the shadows have been pulled up by a couple of stops in ACR, and yet they still look fine. In context, this is essentially the same thing as lifting shadows about three stops at ISO200.

Finally, you can also correct white balance errors and apply your own personalized noise reduction when shooting RAW. However the X-Pro1's automatic white balance tends to be pretty good, and the in-camera processing does an excellent job of noise reduction, so the advantage here is not as great as with some other cameras.

JPEG (ISO3200 NR 0)
100% crops
RAW+ACR
100% crops

This example, shot under low-intensity fluorescent light at ISO 3200, compares the X-Pro1's default JPEG noise reduction with ACR's. The RAW is grittier and shows less smearing of the finest detail, but the camera's processing is has done an excellent job of balancing detail against noise, and you'd struggle to tell these apart in a print. (Indeed if you look at the complete images side-by-side, the overall differences are smaller than these crops might suggest).

Overall, the excellent quality of the X-Pro1's in-camera JPEG processing means that for many purposes it makes perfect sense to shoot JPEG+RAW with the full intent of using the JPEG by default, and only resorting to the RAWs when you want to pay an image special attention. You can also use the camera's own processing to make global tweaks to white balance and exposure for images that only need minor changes. Of course it's still best to use RAW for more extreme manipulations.

RAW files for download

Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the Fujifilm X-Pro1's RAW files for yourself, and run them through your preferred software and conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the X-Pro1's studio scene shots you can download original raw files from our 'Compared to (Raw)' page.

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Fujifilm X-Pro1

Comments

Total comments: 3
optofonik
By optofonik (3 days ago)

What is the seemingly insurmountable problem with studying a traditional 35mm film rangefinder and re-engineering it into an equally capable digital rangefinder instead of trying to re-invent the wheel? The idea that you cannot accurately use manual focus is absurd. The whole focusing by wire thing is absurd. Again, why is everyone trying to re-invent the wheel?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
paul simon king
By paul simon king (4 weeks ago)

looking at these RAW examples the fuji x Pro looks softer nad less saturated than the Fuji X100s

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dave Chilvers
By Dave Chilvers (2 months ago)

After using one for a while and with the latest firmware I find the camera to be quite superb. Lets face it, most of us are looking for IQ firstly and has been said in the review lenses like the 35 1.4 are second to none in my book.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 3