Raw and Raw Conversion

Supplied software

The Fujifilm X100S ships with the 'FinePix CD' software disk, which includes:

  • MyFinePix Studio - A basic file viewer / manager (Windows only)
      
  • FinePix Viewer - A file viewer / manager (for Mac OS X 10.6-10.8)
      
  • RAW File Converter EX - A full-featured Raw converter based on SilkyPix

The X100S ships with its own customized, but fully featured version of SilkyPix, called RAW File Converter EX. This is a 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 favored 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 color 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 X100S we used the supplied RAW File Converter EX, Adobe Camera Raw 7.4 RC plug-in for Photoshop CS6, and Capture One Pro 7.0.2.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine (default settings)
  • ACR - Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw 7.4 RC (default settings)
  • Capture One Pro 7.0.2 (default settings)
  • RFC - RAW File Converter EX (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 usually present in the JPEGs, but de-mosaicing programs have struggled to handle the X-Trans sensor until recently. Now though, both Adobe and Capture One offer robust Raw support for the X100S and its fellow X-Trans models, to the point where we'd be entirely comfortable shooting and processing Raw files in both Adobe Camera Raw and Capture One Pro 7.

The latest versions of ACR and Capture One both do considerably better than their predecessors, now rivaling the X-100S's JPEG output. Between the two, Capture One Pro sharpens a little more aggressively, while ACR leaves things a bit softer, but not any less detailed, when you really look closely. Fujifilm's own version of Silkypix comes up short without some custom tweaking, as you can see from the crop below, which is soft and rather murky.

JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
Adobe Camera Raw 8.1 RAW ->JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
Capture One Pro 7.1.3, (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 artifacts. None of the three Raw converters delivers higher resolution, and nor can they quite match the JPEG for cleanliness either. Both ACR and Capture One produce color artifacts, but they're barely noticeable. Capture One's images are again a little sharper than they probably should be, leaving slight halos around areas of high contrast. SilkyPix's default rendering is softer, yet still exhibits some color error, though faint.

JPEG from camera RAW File Converter EX (Raw)
Adobe Camera Raw 8.1 (Raw) Capture One Pro 7.0.2 (Raw)

See our more detailed analysis of Adobe's new X-Trans engine, which was originally built into the release candidate version of ACR 7.4 in our 'Adobe's Fujifilm X-Trans sensor processing tested' story.

Real world advantages

As we've shown above, Fujifilm's excellent processing means that the X100S's JPEGs lack virtually nothing in terms of detail compared to Raw. On top of this, the camera's generally-reliable white balance and appealing color rendition 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 too, 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 colors. You can also apply whatever film simulation you'd like post-capture and control the DR mode (to a degree).

There are some cases where having a Raw image on file is useful, but unlike most cameras, the X100S (and its cousins the X-Pro 1 and X-E1) isn't a camera where you really need to shoot in Raw mode to get best results.

Color temperature and contrast

This portrait was shot in the late afternoon of a very hot, sunny day with DR set to DR200%. The final image is perfectly pleasant, but the wide tonal range leaves things looking a little 'flat' and the X100S's AWB system has taken some of the warmth out of the light. A few minutes with the simultaneously-captured Raw file and I've set a warmer color temperature, boosted the saturation a touch, and added a subtle vignette to draw more attention to my subject. The final image isn't radically different to the original JPEG but more accurately reflects how I saw the scene.

Original JPEG Raw file reconverted in Adobe Camera Raw

White balance and noise reduction

The example below is slightly more extreme. Shot at ISO 3200 in a dim interior the JPEG is rather too dark, rather too red, and in general just not all that appealing. I used Adobe Camera Raw's exposure slider to increase the brightness of the scene slightly, and tweaked the white balance, too. I also applied some luminance noise reduction and slightly adjusted sharpness and 'clarity' to bring some texture back into the areas of finest detail.

Finally, I applied a white balance adjustment to take out some of the red, and added a subtle vignette to draw more attention to my subject. The latter action could of course have been applied equally effectively to the JPEG.

Original JPEG, ISO 6400 100% crop
Raw file reconverted in Adobe Camera Raw 100% crop

Overall, you'll struggle to find situations in which shooting and adjusting Raw files is completely necessary to get the best from the X100S (unless you radically mess up your white balance or exposure).

The excellent quality of the X100S's in-camera JPEG processing means that for many purposes it makes perfect sense to shoot JPEG+RAW with the intent of using the JPEG by default, and only resorting to the Raws when you want to pay an image special attention, as in the examples above. The most obvious case when you'd need the extra latitude of a Raw file is when you want to adjust white balance post-capture.

Raw files for download

Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the Fujifilm X100S'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 X100S's studio scene shots you can download original raw files from our 'Compared to (Raw)' page.