Previous page Next page

Software - RAW conversion

Supplied software

In addition to the standard file browsing software (FinePix Viewer), Fujifilm supplies only the most basic raw conversion software with the S9000. Raw File Converter LE offers no control over the conversion process, simply spitting an 8-bit TIFF file out the other end. Interestingly no one seems to have told Fuji's software group that they don't double the resolution of Super CCD files any more, as Raw Converter LE spits out immense 4864 x 3468 pixel, 17 megapixel TIFFs, each of which weighs in at just over 50MB.

The lack of any control means 99% of the advantages of shooting raw are lost unless you invest in third-party software (Fuji sells an excellent utility of its own, HS-V2 Hyper Utility, but it'll set you back a couple of hundred dollars). I fail to see the point of providing raw mode on a camera if you don't supply the other - and equally important - half of the equation, the software to process the files. If you're a user of Photoshop CS or the latest version of Elements you're okay; it won't be long before S9000 is added, otherwise there's little point shooting raw.

FinePix Viewer allows you to browse directories and view thumbnails of images. Double clicking on a JPEG or TIFF allows you to view it full screen. There are options for resizing, emailing, printing, correcting red-eye, rotating and so on.

You can preview raw files, but you need to choose Save CCD-RAW as EXIF-TIFF from the Tools menu if you want to convert them.

A window opens containing thumbnails of all raw files in the folder you're currently working in. A button under each image allows you to include or exclude it from the conversion process.
Click on 'Next' and you'll see the Raw Converter LE (familiar to anyone who has ever used a consumer Fuji digicam with a raw option). The only option are is the output directory. Click on Convert All and the new TIFF files are saved.

JPEG & RAW Resolution compared

There is a small resolution advantage to shooting raw over JPEG, and the 17 megapixel files are - when downsized back to 9MP in Photoshop, very, very slightly cleaner. Of course the real reason for shooting raw is about exposure and white balance, for which you'll need a proper conversion utility.

We also ran the files through a beta of the latest version of Adobe's Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in, which produces very clean results using the default settings (and doesn't by default double the file size). At the moment 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 Raw Converter LE to match the 9MP JPEGs and ACR TIFFs.

Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 3.x Beta
JPEG from camera Raw Converter LE
RAW -> TIFF
Resized (Photoshop Bicubic)

Studio shot comparison

The output from Fuji's Raw Converter LE (again downsized here to match the JPEG) is very slightly cleaner than the JPEG, and looks very slightly less sharpened. Using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) produces a very clean image (albeit one with lower saturation), and - with some tweaking of parameters - can get a much better tonal gradation out of the scene than you see with JPEGs. One thing ACR doesn't do, however, is the kind of heavy noise reduction the high ISO files produced by the S9000 need. Even at ISO 80 the ACR image has a slight graininess.

Studio Scene Comparison, ISO 80, 100% crops
Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 3.x Beta
JPEG from camera Raw Converter LE
RAW -> TIFF
Resized (Photoshop Bicubic)

We often use ACR to get a more 'honest' indication of the noisiness of camera sensors - it doesn't have the strong NR routines used in-camera (or in manufacturers own raw converters). Here, with both Luminance and Chroma noise reduction set to 30 (just above the default setting), 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. To be fair they're not doing a terrible job of it, and detail retention isn't that bad (especially when compared to most of the S9000's competitors even at ISO 400). What it isn't, however, is a DSLR...

Studio Scene Comparison, ISO 1600, 100% crops
Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 3.x Beta
JPEG from camera Raw Converter LE
RAW -> TIFF
Resized (Photoshop Bicubic)
Previous page Next page
7
I own it
1
I want it
35
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments