Fujifilm FinePix X100 In-Depth Review
Raw and Raw Conversion
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 is provided with the 'FinePix CD' software disc which includes:
- MyFinePix Studio Ver 2.1 - 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 powerful, fully-featured RAW converter based on SilkyPix
The X100 becomes the latest of many cameras from a variety of manufacturers to ship with its own customized, but fully featured version of SilkyPix, called RAW File Converter EX. This is a hugely 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 (a bit like the X100 itself).
Once you've worked your way past the slightly odd terminology (images are called 'scenes', and parameter sets get saved to the 'cloakroom', for example), 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 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 X100 we used the supplied RAW File Converter EX and the Adobe Camera RAW 6.4 plugin for Photoshop.
- JPEG - Large/Fine (default settings)
- RFC - RAW File Converter EX (default settings)
- ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 6.4 (default settings)
Sharpness and Detail
Perhaps what's most striking in this set of comparisons is just how well the X100's JPEG engine performs. It renders fine detail just as well as ACR, and if anything a little bit better than RAW File Converter EX, which slightly blurs some of the finest low-contrast lines of the feathers. This is very unusual - with most cameras the raw conversions show a clear advantage, but not the X100. Hats off to Fujifilm.
|JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|Adobe Camera Raw 6.4 RAW ->JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|RAW File Converter EX, (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
In this comparison of the high-contrast detail of a test chart, the situation is slightly different. Here both RAW File Converter EX and, to a lesser extent ACR continue to render false detail right up to Nyquist and beyond, but at the expense of substantial colour moire. The JPEG offers marginally lower resolution but a more accurate overall rendition.
|JPEG from camera||RAW File Converter EX (RAW)|
|Adobe Camera RAW 6.4 (RAW)|
Real world advantages
You may not gain much advantage in terms of sharpness and detail out of shooting raw with the X100, but you still benefit from the ability to tweak exposure, white balance and colour after the event. In fact one of our favourite features of the X100 is that, if you're looking for a relatively 'straight' conversion rather than indulging in extensive post-processing, you can do this all in-camera while browsing through your pictures. This means that on the rare occasions when the camera does get things wrong, it's often straightforward to produce a corrected JPEG in a matter of seconds.
In the example below, the X100 suffered from a rare bout of underexposure, and the white balance was inadvertently set incorrectly too. But redeveloping the associated raw file in-camera using Auto WB and +1EV push processing has given an eminently useable image.
|Original JPEG||Corrected in-camera raw conversion|
The big advantage of using a raw editor rather than the camera, of course, is that you can judge your adjustments much better as you go along, and apply more sophisticated processing that the camera can't match. In this second example, the raw file has been developed using Adobe Camera RAW with the white balance tweaked and a touch of fill-light applied to bring out some texture in the tree trunks (lateral chromatic aberration has been corrected as well). The colour is more accurate than the camera JPEG, and more detail is visible in the shadows, but even with optimized sharpening the fine detail isn't improved.
|Original JPEG||RAW + ACR|
|100% crop||100% crop|
RAW files for download
Here we provide RAW files, both from the review and the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.
Note that many raw converters with incomplete support for the X100 will render DR200 raw files one stop too dark, and DR400 raw files two stops too dark, so you may need to apply EV compensation accordingly.
|Fascia walkie talkie building London by ian herridge|
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