Today Adobe released Lightroom v4.1, which adds support for the Fuji X-Pro1's RAF files. Until this most recent update to Lightroom, there was no support for the Fuji X-Pro1, much to the frustration of many Fuji X-Pro1 shooters, whose only choice has been to use SilkyPix, shoot RAW+JPG, or convert RAW files in-camera.
However, as some users are finding, the RAW support in Lightroom 4 for the Fuji X-Pro1 is far from perfect. Specifically, there appear to be some issues with the conversion algorithm for the Fuji's RAF files that lead to a “painterly” effect on very fine detail that doesn't resolve the full resolution captured by the sensor.
Hit the full post for an example of this effect, including a sample RAW file to download that very clearly shows this effect.
Image Quality With The Fuji X-Pro1
As I mentioned in my comprehensive review of the Fuji X-Pro1, the image quality of this mirrorless camera is extremely high. The Fuji 35mm f/1.4 and the Fuji 60mm f/2.4 in particular are capable of extremely high resolution across the entire APS sensor.
The unfortunate downside of this new issue with the RAW conversion with the Lightroom 4.1 update is that it doesn't take advantage of the fantastic detail this X-mount system can create. Since X-Pro1 support wasn't in the beta or release candidate for Lightroom 4.1, it's possible that RAW support was a late addition that Adobe tacked on a little prematurely.
While RAW converters can widely vary in their rendering of detail, Lightroom is generally quite good in this area (though not the best). The weak performance with the Fuji X-Pro1's RAW files is particularly startling given Lightroom's generally solid performance in this regard.
Let's take a look at comparisons between the Fuji Xo-Pro1's in-camera RAW processing and the same images converted with the new Lightroom update.
All sharpening settings – in-camera and in Lightroom – were left as the stock defaults. While this might be imperfect, I did this as a standard baseline with which to compare the files from in-camera processing and Lightroom's default sharpening settings of 25, 1.0 pixels at 25 detail and 0 masking.
Sample RAW Conversion #1
Here's a sample image that was shot with the extremely sharp Fuji 60mm f/2.4 at 1/500 and f/5 at ISO 200 in full, high contrast sunlight. Focus point was the tall grass, which we'll look at in detail at 100%.
As you can see, there's a pretty large and noticeable loss of fine detail in the Lightroom conversion. The Lightroom 4.1 conversion appears to have more of an impressionistic, painterly quality that doesn't accurately represent the RAW data.
If you're interested in playing a little, here are a few files for your consideration:
Sample RAW Conversion #2
100% Crop #1
100% Crop #2
As you can see, with Adobe Lightroom 4.1, there's a lack of definition in the fine detail that the camera-processing of the RAW files handles so easily. This is particularly true in the second crop where the fine detail of the individual leaves of the bushes blurs together in the Lightroom 4.1 conversion.
Sample RAW Conversion #3
However, it should be noted that not all images are severely affected by the quality of Lightroom 4.1's RAW support for the Fuji X-Pro1. Here's a third sample image that shows less fine detail at the limit of the Fuji X-Trans's sensor.
As you can see by this sample image crop, also shot with the Fuji 60mm f/2.4, the difference between Lightroom and in-camera processing is much less severe. While the “smearing” effect is still present, the areas affected in this kind of scene are so small that it's not really an issue.
While there are small differences in detail, the slightly different color and saturation profile is more immediately noticeable.
RAW Conversion Analysis
This issue of detail smearing seems to manifest itself with detail at the extreme end of the Fuji X-Pro1's resolution, near the pixel-level, so not all images will show these kinds of smearing effects. Overall, I'd say that this issue will affect landscape-style and similar images where there may be lots of fine detail at the pixel or near-pixel level.
The author of the RAW converter PhotoRAW has written a very good series of posts on this issue of demosaicing the Fuji X-Pro1 X-Trans sensor over at Chromasoft. It seems that this issue is not a superficial as simple sharpening, but one of handling the new pixel arrangement of the X-Trans sensor and all the quirks that go along with it.
Perhaps just as important to some users is the fact that the color rendering in the default Adobe profile for the Fuji X-Pro1 is different than the camera's own profiles and output. This might not be so bad except that the Fuji X-Pro1 renders excellent color and tone character. Unfortunately, this issue of camera profiles is nothing new, almost all Adobe camera profiles will show some difference to the original. So, until the X-Pro1 profile is refined, it will be up to users to either create custom profiles or to process their images accordingly if they prefer Fuji's proprietary color rendering.
For the most part, these smearing artifacts won't show up in smaller prints and certainly not for online usage, but all the same my advice would be to hold off on important RAW conversions until Adobe addresses this issue. However, if you don't mind exporting images and updating your images once a solution to this issue comes about, the fine detail missing in Lightroom 4.1 won't been seen in smaller output sizes.
For images without much critical, pixel-level detail, conversions are pretty safe, but there is still the difference in color rendering with the default Adobe profile for the Fuji X-Pro1. Thankfully, the JPGs from the Fuji X-Pro1 are already pretty excellent.
So, long story short, the Adobe Lightroom now supports the Fuji X-Pro1 RAW files – it just doesn't do it terribly well. If you've been waiting for Lightroom support for the Fuji X-Pro1, you might want to wait a little longer.