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Software - RAW conversion

Supplied software

In addition to the standard file browsing software (FinePix Viewer), FujiFilm provides FinePix Studio, a basic RAW editor. Unfortunately, we found it to be unusably slow on both the Macs and PCs we tried running it on. It provides some control over white balance and contrast but doesn't allow any compensation for chromatic aberration - probably the most compelling reason to use RAW on this camera. Adobe Camera Raw makes short work of this, but it means shelling out for either Lightroom or Photoshop.

Interestingly, the FinePix Studio raw conversion spits out huge 22MP files (in TIFF or JPEG format) - a throwback to the old days when all Super CCD cameras rendered their images with double the number of pixels on the sensor. Look forward to 63MB TIFFs if you are happy working in 8-bit or 127MB if you prefer 16-bit.

FinePix Studio is a big improvement on the Raw Converter LE supplied with previous models, giving you much of what is great about raw shooting - the ability to set white balance and other parameters after you've taken the shot. Unfortunately it is so slow that you'll never use it.

Annoying, FinePix Studio (on the PC) renders very low resolution previews (despite taking an age to do so), meaning it's all too easy to write off potentially good images an shaken or unfocused unless you take the (significant amount of) time to load 100% views. An example can be seen below (1:1 screen grabs).

FujiFilm FinePix Studio Adobe Camera Raw

JPEG & RAW Resolution compared

There is a no discernible resolution advantage to shooting raw over JPEG, though the 22 megapixel files are - when downsized back to 11MP in Photoshop - slightly cleaner. Of course the real reason for shooting raw is about control over exposure, white balance and so on.

With this in mind, we corrected for chromatic abberations in ACR but otherwise used the default settings. The results are considerably softer, partly because of much lower sharpening but also because ACR doesn't seem to be able to get quite as much resolution out of the files. For the comparison below we resized the TIFF output of FinePix Studio to match the 11MP JPEGs and ACR TIFFs.

Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 4.4.1
FinePix Studio
RAW -> TIFF
Resized (Photoshop Bicubic)
JPEG from camera

Studio shot comparison

Studio Scene Comparison, ISO 100, 100% crops
Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 4.4.1
FinePix Studio
RAW -> TIFF
Resized (Photoshop Bicubic)
JPEG from camera

The output from FinePix Studio (again downsized here to match the JPEG) is very similar to the JPEG but looks very slightly more sharpened. The Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) result is considerably less 'processed' (it's got a lot less noise reduction and a lot less NR, a preserves a touch more texture), and you can see noise in blue areas, something you need to address using ACR's noise reduction options (or a dedicated NR program). What you do get from ACR is much finer control over the color and contrast of the image, and with some tweaking you can eke more dynamic range and a more pleasing tonal range out of the files.

Studio Scene Comparison, ISO 1600, 100% crops
Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 4.4.1
FinePix Studio
RAW -> TIFF
Resized (Photoshop Bicubic)
JPEG from camera

We often use ACR to get a more 'honest' indication of the noisiness of camera sensors - it doesn't have the strong noise reduction routines used in-camera (or in manufacturers' raw converters). Here, with both Luminance and Chroma noise reduction their defaults, you can see just how noisy the output from the chip is, and just how much work Fuji is doing on the files to produce the final image. You'll also preserve more detail (especially low contrast detail) at high ISO settings by using ACR.

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