Raw and Raw Conversion
The Fujifilm X-E1 ships with the 'FinePix CD' software disk, which includes:
- MyFinePix Studio Ver 3.2 - A basic file viewer / manager (Windows only)
- FinePix Viewer Ver 3.6 - A file viewer / manager (for Mac OS X 10.3-10.6)
- RAW File Converter EX - A full-featured RAW converter based on SilkyPix
The X-E1 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').
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 X-E1 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. As a result on the X-E1 and X-Pro 1, it's the in-camera JPEG conversion that pulls a huge amount of detail out of the sensor data. Adobe Camera Raw, Capture One Pro and Raw File Converter EX all struggled with fine detail, particularly with detail in foliage.
The latest versions of ACR and Capture One both do considerably better than their predecessors, now rivaling the X-E1's JPEG output. Between the two, Capture One Pro characteristically sharpens more noticeably, while ACR leaves things a bit softer, producing a file with fewer sharpening artifacts, presumably so photographers can make their own choices about how much sharpening to apply. 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 murky.
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. Neither RAW converter can deliver higher resolution, and neither can quite match it for cleanliness either. Both ACR and Capture One produce color artifacts, but the latest versions do better with detail; Capture One's images are again a little sharper than they 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 7.4 RC (RAW)||Capture One Pro 7.0.2 (RAW)|
The X-E1's unique feature is, of course the X-Trans CMOS sensor, with its non-Bayer color filter array. This requires an entirely different de-mosaicing approach to produce an image file from the sensor data, and consequently third-party Raw converters can't support the camera as easily.
Adobe Camera Raw had trouble with color bleeding into spaces it shouldn't. Look closely at the Fujitsu and Rowney logos below, comparing the JPEG images to those translated with ACR 7.3. Even the blond hair passing over the robot body in our test shot turns to red and blue as it passes over the different colors. Adobe has minimized this effect, though overall image sharpness is reduced; it's difficult to tell whether the two phenomena are related, but it's far easier to fix softness than it is color bleed.
ACR 7.4 RC
Our studio test scene reveals these errors quite distinctly, but they're not as apparent in most real-world images. Still, those who want the image rendered as correctly as possible will cheer the new efforts of Adobe and Phase One, who seem to have successfully tackled the difficult de-mosaicing challenge posed by the X-Trans sensor.
See our more detailed analysis of Adobe's new X-Trans engine, built into the ACR 7.4 Release Candidate 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 X-E1's JPEGs lose nothing in terms of detail compared to RAW. On top of this, the camera's generally-reliable white balance and appealing color rendition (especially in Soft/Astia mode) 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 alongside, 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.
The example below was shot using Standard mode on a cloudy day, and the camera's automatic white balance rendered it quite cool. By adjusting the Raw file with a simple Cloudy white balance preset in ACR, we warmed things up a bit.
|Original JPEG||RAW file reconverted in Adobe Camera Raw|
Like the X-Pro 1, the XE1 delivers excellent JPEGs at high ISO sensitivity settings, to the extent that you don't really need to shoot in Raw mode from the perspective of applying noise reduction or sharpening tweaks. It's actually pretty hard to coax better image quality out of the X-E1's Raw files than you'll get out of the camera's JPEG engine. However, again, shooting raw does allow you to make changes to the color and tonal distribution of your images, something that can be very useful at high ISO settings. In the example below, we processed this ISO 6400 image with the aim of reducing the yellow color cast, and slightly lifting the shadows.
|Original JPEG, ISO 6400||100% crop|
|RAW file reconverted in Adobe Camera Raw||100% crop|
Overall then, the excellent quality of the X-E1's in-camera JPEG processing means that for many purposes it makes perfect sense to shoot JPEG+RAW with the full intent of using the JPEG by default, and only resorting to the RAWs when you want to pay an image special attention. You can also use the camera's own processing to make global tweaks to white balance and exposure for images that only need minor changes. Of course it's still best to use RAW for more extreme manipulations.
RAW files for download
Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the Fujifilm X-E1'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 X-E1's studio scene shots you can download original raw files from our 'Compared to (Raw)' page.
|walkersons fields by George Veltchev|
from -Waiting for Autumn- (in Full Colours Only)
|A smile is worth a thousand words by alberto_b|
from Fill the frame
IRIX has announced its latest lens, the 150mm F2.8 Macro 1:1. IRIX claims the lens features 'close to zero' distortion and stands out with its 150mm telephoto focal length.
The RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is one of four lenses to launch with Canon's new full-frame mirrorless system, and it boasts the longest reach of the range. Take a look at some of the samples we've gathered thus far as our EOS R testing continues.
Nikon's Sendai factory in the Tōhoku region North of Japan has been churning out cameras and lenses since 1971. We had the opportunity recently to visit Sendai during events to mark the launch of Nikon's new Z mount.
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
Camera bag manufacturer Lowepro has introduced mark II backpacks for its ProTactic AW range with models that are said to feature an improved handling experience as well as a collection of accessories that can be attached to the outside.
Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.
Sony has taken the wraps off of its new 24mm F1.4 GM full-frame lens, which the company claims is the lightest in its class. Despite its fast aperture, the 24mm F1.4 is remarkably light, weighing just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). The lens will set you back $1400 when it ships next month.
In this episode of DPReview TV we take a look at Sony's brand new 24mm F1.4 GM lens, a desirable focal length for many photographers. How does it perform? Chris and Jordan give us their first impressions.
We've had a little time to shoot with Sony's new wide/fast prime, both close to home and on the water in San Francisco. Check out our initial sample images.
Fujifilm released a firmware upgrade for its X-T3 mirrorless camera that addresses issues with distortion compensation and the mechanical lock on SD cards.
The app's algorithms have been trained using using 200 million cropping data points from real photographers.
Thanks to a software update, the Loupedeck+ editing console can now be used for video editing.
British photographic engineer MTF Services is claiming the world’s first third-party lens adapters for the new Nikon Z system with a collection of four units designed to allow cinema lenses to be mounted on the mirrorless full frame bodies.
Think Tank Photo has updated its line of heavy-duty rain covers and introduced a new, compact version for emergency situations.
The X-T3 is our first opportunity to analyze what's likely to be Fujifilm's next generation image sensor. Take a look at how it performs next to the competition in our studio test scene.
Canon's new normal is seriously sharp wide open. After shooting with it for a few days, we've prepared a gallery of real-world sample images.
Nikon will cease offering Brazil-based customer service and technical support, though the company stresses that it will still offer technical assistance and warranty repairs for valid warranties.
Two years ago, CatLABS of JP announced a plan to save Packfilm from the dead. Now, it's announced it's giving up its efforts to better focus its resources elsewhere.
The GoPro Fusion is designed to make it easy to capture 360-degree video and stills. We took it out recently on a typically hot Seattle summer day to see what it can do.
We've got our hands on a full-production Nikon Z7 camera and have updated our gallery with additional samples.
A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funding for Chroma Chrono, a programmable RGB camera flash that emits multiple colors during long exposures.
Think Tank Photo has launched a new lineup of six dual-access, water-resistant protective lens cases it calls Lens Case Duo.
Canon and Nikon finally entered the full-frame mirrorless market this summer with the brand-new RF and Z mounts. Now that we've had some time with the cameras, we wanted to revisit our earlier predictions and take stock.
The devices' camera specs look pretty much identical to last year's iPhone X but under the hood a number of important improvements have been made.