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Lightroom 4.1 – RAW Conversion Issues With Fuji X-Pro1

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.

RAW Settings

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.

In addition, I found that while it’s possible to sharpen the Fuji X-Pro1′s RAW files in Lightroom for more acuity, there is no real effect on actual fine detail information. It’s simply not there.

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%.

Full Image

100% Crop

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

Here’s another image that shows the effects of this painterly effect in the RAW conversion of the Fuji X-Pro1′s files with Adobe Lightroom 4.1. We’ll look at two different crops.

Full Image

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.

Full Image

100% Crop

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

Detail Smearing

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.

Color Rendition

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.

Recommendations

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.

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There are 43 comments

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    • Todd

      Interesting, thanks for the comparison. I think that the overall lesson here is that Fuji should perhaps be working a little more closely with Adobe and other makers of RAW converters. While of course it doesn’t look great for Adobe, it doesn’t make Fuji look great, either, when the process could be so much more consistent.

    • dev

      That would just imply the camera has a lens profile. A similar profile could be loaded in ACR/LR, but I don’t think they exist. Interesting though. Is the LR image as soft on the edges as the JPG? Wondering if the lens correction is actually part of the problem.

  1. Bryan Conner

    The article states that there is a raw file available for downloading. I do not see the link to this raw file. I apologize if it is there and I am simply not seeing it. Also, what were the conversion settings that you used in Lightroom to convert your raw file? Thanks in advance for the information.

    • Todd

      Hey Bryan, I’ve uploaded and linked the files – below the first image sample. The conversion settings were all stock – no adjustments and sharpening was set to the default 25-1.0-25-0.

  2. Matt

    Hi, Todd. Would you mind sharing the sharpening settings that you applied during RAW conversion in LR, and what sharpening you have done for output? Thanks!

    • Todd

      In-camera sharpening was set to normal. In LR4.1, Amount: 25, Radius: 1.0, Detail 25, Masking 0. I choose to use the default sharpening because while it might not be optimal for all images, it gives a reference of basic sharpening.

  3. -S

    Good job showing the issue. It’s worse at high ISO from what I saw last night, I tried with 6 pairs of JPG vs. RAW from ISO 3200 to ISO 6400, this wasn’t pretty. Disappointing, but hopefully this will improve with patches. Sticking to JPEG for now.

    • Todd

      Interesting to hear that the results are worse at high ISO – I wonder if there’s some further issue of smearing because of noise and Adobe’s way of addressing it vs. Fuji’s.

  4. Roël

    Todd,

    Excellent article and thanks for posting it. My results are similar when using LR4 to covert the XP1′s RAF files. Sounds like Adobe still has some work to do in order to sort out the demosaicing algorithms with the new X-Trans sensor … it is a good thing that the JPEGs OOC are excellent.

    I guess patience is a virtue…

    Thanks again and all the best.

    • Todd

      Thanks for sharing your experience on this issue. I agree, it’s a good thing that the OOC JPGs are very good. Since Fuji obviously (and rightly) knows how to get the best out of their RAW files, we know what’s possible, so hopefully Adobe won’t be too far behind.

      Adobe Lightroom used to be horrible with Nikon’s own NEF files, but I think the change in the conversion algorithms from LR2 to LR3 reversed that situation. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take the same lead time for Adobe to address these issues with Fuji RAFs.

  5. David

    Thanks for posting this, Todd (and for your great X-Pro 1 review). I’m following this closely as I’m an Aperture user and was interested to see how LR handled these files. Waiting for Apple to update their processing to cater for the X-Pro 1 is frustrating, but it looks like they might be right to be taking their time over the job, as it’s obviously more tricky than with the average new camera.

    • Todd

      Hey David, thanks for the comment. Hopefully Apple’s Aperture team gets it a little more right than Adobe did this time around. Yes, it does seem like the Fuji X-Pro1 is a little different than most new cameras! We already knew that in a good way, but hopefully all RAW converters can get on the ball with the demosaicing quirks.

    • Todd

      Hey Jan, thanks for the link. Yes, there are some who would prefer to think that the OOC JPGs are simply over sharpened. The real truth seems to be that even tweaking the Lightroom sharpening settings reveals that there isn’t the fine detail to really bring out in the fist place from the conversion (at least not with Adobe’s current algorithm).

      • Matt

        Perhaps… but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t pull out more detail and improve upon the Camera JPEGs if you applied different sharpening during the RAW conversion. Would you be averse to trying a form of deconvolution sharpening? Try Amount: 40 to 60, Radius: 0.7, Detail 70, Masking 20. I believe you’ll be pleased with the results.

      • dev

        Yeah, it’s definitely not sharpening. There are distortions in the LR/ACR images that can’t be fixed. On gradients it’s doing the opposite, sometimes creating hard edges you would have to soften (that oil painting effect people keep talking about). There are also artifacts off to the side of hard edges and such. It seems to me like like the algorithm Adobe currently uses actually incorrectly poling some of the data when processing the matrix for each pixel – so within the 6×6 grid some luminosity/color data is being pulled from the wrong location or too far away in one direction such that you get offset data for each pixel. Because of the weird layout of the sensor that offset would be different for each pixel in the grid, giving you this distorted look. If you could find the right test pattern to take a picture of, you might actually be able to figure out what it’s doing.

        It’s something Fuji obviously accounted for, so there should be some real progress to be made here.

  6. eyedias

    I guess this is the cost of innovation (departure from the Bayer pattern).

    Email me if you’d like to see my Silkypix version. I didn’t want to post it somewhere without your permission. It looks very different from the two samples you posted.

  7. Rudolph Geesink

    Dear Todd,

    Great piece of work. Was also dissatisfied with LR4 XP1 conversions. There is however another rather unknown raw converter that actually does a better job than LR4. Raw Photo Processor makes 16-bit TIF’s out of XP1′s RAF files and these work fine in LR4.
    The official version of RPP does not yet support XP1 but a beta update does indeed, currently nr 1520 with the link below. If 1520 would not work anymore, try a next higher number. The interface is a bit un-Mac like but works great.
    http://www.raw-photo-processor.com/RPP/RPP64_1520Beta.zip

  8. Gav

    I have a bad feeling this may turn into a Fujigate scandal.

    Why would Adobe release something as bad as this unless they could not do better. There was a lot of discussion on the beta ACR and how below par it was and suddenly they release a final version like this. Maybe this sensor is simply not what it is cracked up to be and may never be with regard to RAW files. Sure we all love the jpegs but I for one didn’t spend a heap of money for a jpeg only camera.

    I think Fuji needs to come clean and give some kind of statement as to why there is such a problem with RAW files and how or if this is being looked at. At the moment I feel very frustrated that we are being kept in the dark about possibly a monumental cover up!!

    • Gav

      I converted some files in LR with lowest possible sharpening. I then over sharpened them in PS and compared them with ones sharpened in LR directly from the RAW files. There is definitely less of this oil painting look with the ones not sharpened in LR.

      Despite this, I found the jpegs were better and haven’t quite been able to get a RAW conversion to the same level of detail.

      I still think there has been a bit of a cover up which would explain why Fuji wasn’t cooperating with Adobe in the beginning. I think they knew this was a problem and wanted to milk sales for a while.

    • Mike

      Gav,

      The RAW files coming out of the X-Pro1 are fine. SilkyPix and RPP can make excellent conversions. They’re just not nearly as user friendly as LR, and require an extra workflow step. Multiply that by 100s of images per shoot, and you’re looking at a substantial headache. Fortunately, RPP integrates nicely with LR, so that mitigates the issue somewhat. But it would still be better if LR made useable conversions.

      The issue here is Adobe’s, plain an simple.

    • -S

      A scandal? Monumental cover up? Really? First World Problem much? The sensor is what it is cracked up to be IMHO, my X-Pro1 JPEG trounces what I would get out of my RAW on my Canon 5D Mark II, including in very low light. I can actually post-process JPEG in LR reasonably well too. The old adage that you can get significantly better stuff out of RAW compared to JPEG is not set in stone, we might all be making a lot of assumptions here.

    • Todd

      Hey Ian, thanks for the comment, nice to hear from you. You haven’t picked up or considered the Fuji for your travel work, have you? I wonder if it might be a good fit for you, it would certainly a lighter piece of kit!

  9. Justin

    Thanks for this excellent article. For those, like me, using Aperture with Adobe DNG Converter for the RAW conversion, a suggestion for “future-proofing” your RAW images so that they are available if/when Apple adds support for the X-Pro1, or when Adobe improves their conversion, is to make sure that the “Embed Original RAW File” box is ticked in the DNG Converter Preferences. The file will be bigger, but at least it’s only one file per image, and the original unconverted file can be extracted later for fresh processing.

  10. Hernan Zenteno

    Hello. Do you tried to process the Fuji’s raw files turning to zero or turning off the reducing noise menus? Maybe the blurring thing is made by this controls that are common for most of the Bayer sensors.

  11. Lynn

    I’m having a strange problem. I’ve updated to LR 4.1 and just bought the Fuji X-Pro 1. When I upload my RAW files, it is reading my camera as a Fuji X100. Am I missing something here?

  12. David

    I am a little late to this issue, but, I can tell you that I have found a decent work around for LR4.3 that can beat the OOC jpgs.

    After spending days on end trying everything (C1, Silkypix, LR, etc RAW conversions) I tried an expport of the same raw file from Silkypix to TIF with 50% unsharp mask only with radius and mask at silkypix defaut (.6 and 0 respectively. Then I imported TIF to LR catalog and edited as if it were RAW and exported and then compared to C1 and Silkypix RAW and OOC jpg. This method beat all of them including the out of camera JPG without the water color effect and lack of detail.

    I tried C1 for a while but since the Fuji is my grab and go I refuse to pay $300 and learn a new workflow when my main cameras for work are Canon 5D MarkIIs.

    I hope that Adobe will get this resolved soon, but until then I have a work around that seems to work well.

    I love Lightroom workflow and interface and it has been very good for me and my professional work with Canon gear.

    Regards,
    David Hardaway
    http://www.photographybydmichael.com


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