Fuji XPro/Xtrans a mistake?

Started May 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
MikeS2012 Junior Member • Posts: 36
Re: challenges/mathematics of demosaicing

"do you think Fuji would share their algorithm, or at least the evaluative parts of it, with other vendors?"

Well, their process is not just software, but also the purpose built array processing chips that work together as an integrated unit. I think they also might be using the back side of the sensor (?!) as well in the intermediate processing steps (long story). I am just not in a position to say if this OOC (out of the camera) JPEG engine can be exactly duplicated in software alone. This itself is an open question.

Please see this recent post:


Read that long thread and my comments on page 11 for a detailed technical discussion of why I wonder if any third party will offer a fully artifact free software based solution any time soon.

Of course, FujiFilm engineers "borrowed" the Silkypix front end to offer a workable approximation and all other third party RAW conversion software companies are frankly struggling, even with some "announced" level of cooperation from FujiFilm. I do not think they are all that concerned with the problem. What they offer out of the camera is by all reports superior to any software solution yet offered, including the almost, but not quite kludgy, Silkypix. The nice thing to say is Silkypix has a steep learning curve, but does not seem to have major artifact issues.

The biggest reason FujiFilm would probably not license their in camera JPEG engine is that it is unique and significantly better than what came before it. It is a competitive advantage, especially if they can catch up with what are considered standard features of 2x2 Bayer array cameras, such as focus peeking, face recognition and so on.

The only example I can think of that is a similar technological break through is the twin shaft direct shift gearbox (DSG) now used in series production by several manufactures. When it was first used, no one had any idea what it was or how it worked, all anyone knew is it shifted very, very fast. There was a chirp from the compressor blow-off and it was in the next gear.

In conjunction with the patent holder AP of the UK, Porsche successfully developed DSG for the 1982 956 race car. Believe it or not the Porsche 956 that still holds the lap record at Nürburgring driven by the late Stefan Bellof. It was reckoned a 1 to 3 seconds per mile advantage over a hand shifted gearbox, depending on the course. You never, ever saw these gearbox units laid open, even in the factory workshops. There was a dedicated secure area to service these units. As far as the mechanics, drivers and logistics people were concerned, it was just a black box. Of course, thirty years on it is the standard type manual gearbox in VW group, and some others, mass produced by Borg-Warner. The point is, someone thought it up and Porsche made it work. This is exactly where FujiFilm is today with the 6x6 PR-CFA. It looks like they are the only game in town.

From the recent executive interview given at Photokina in Germany it was stated that their engineers spent the better part of three or four years developing JPEG engine in the X-Pro 1. So we have to think in terms of something on the order of 20-30 man-years time spent by a specially gifted group of software and hardware engineers making this thing up from scratch. It is unique in the photo industry and sets their product apart. It was a huge investment. And, it is incredibly complex, making me think no one is likely to reverse engineer it anytime soon. What price to put on a superior JPEG image?

I think we will see better third party work-around solutions, perhaps aided by FujiFilm with reference to the RAF structure, but that is about the limit of their cooperation.


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