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Software (contd.) - RAW conversion

As is normal in our digital SLR reviews I like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and Adobe's Camera RAW plug-in which is now standard with Adobe Photoshop CS. The current version of Adobe Camera RAW (2.4) has preliminary support for the S3 Pro. Below you will find crops from three images of the same scene, the first image is a straight-from-the-camera JPEG, the next two are conversions of a single RAW file. The crops show are from TIFF files saved by each RAW converter (JPEG high quality copies are linked to these crops for your own analysis). All images compared at the six megapixel size (3024 x 2016 pixels).

  • JPEG - Fine, Default settings
  • Hyper-Utility2 2.3.0.23 - Super High Quality Conversion, High Quality Resizing *
  • Adobe Camera RAW - Sharpness: 25 (default), Color Noise Reduction: 25 (default)

* We chose to use Super High Quality Conversion and High Quality Resizing to ensure the best possible output from Hyper-Utility2, the tradeoff is minimal (50% longer conversion in most cases) and we did notice a subtle improvement in overall image quality.

Sharpness and Detail

Best overall sharpness and reproduction of fine detail go to Hyper-Utility2 and Adobe Camera RAW, this is exactly what we would expect. The primary difference between these two are sharpening halos, Adobe Camera RAW delivers a cleaner image with less obvious sharpening (although the image appears just as sharp).

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Color comparison

Compared to the color of the original crayons (on our calibrated screen) the closest to the original color was Hyper-Utility2 followed by in-camera JPEG (both had that vibrant 'Fujifilm' look, love it or hate it). Adobe Camera RAW (as usual) under-saturated the image and had less contrast, to be fair these could easily be compensated for by adjusting the 'Shadows' and/or 'Saturation' sliders.

JPEG Hyper-Utility2 SHQ Adobe RAW

Image processing artifacts / moire

Fujifilm's SuperCCD layout does tend to lead to moire in unexpected places, we observed this on the S2 Pro and the S3 Pro doesn't appear to be that much different. As you can see from the magnified 200% crops below the JPEG image has some color moire artifacts along 45 degree detail but is otherwise fairly clean. The Hyper-Utility2 image is the best with no interpolation or moire artifacts, a clean and sharp looking image (albeit for a few sharpening halos). Lastly the Adobe Camera RAW image does appear to have the beginnings of some moire on 45 degree detail, white halo sharpening artifacts aren't apparent but you can see some darker pixel sharpening artifacts on the inside of the '1' and '2' figures.

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