There seems to be definite momentum for the burgeoning Fujifilm X series.
Increasingly, the system is being recognized as a genuine alternative to conventional DSLRs as a professional solution to still photography. The tactile goodness of the “X” cameras and their controls, the image quality, the increasing catalogue of beautifully built, optically superb lenses, and the reasonable price structure, has drawn a lot of attention from pros and amateur photographers alike.
Lenses like the new zoom offerings, and the new XT-1 are taking the system in a new, more mainstream direction. People are paying attention, including, it seems, even the good people at Adobe. For they have issued a Camera Raw release candidate with special attention paid to the X Trans-sensored cameras in the Fuji lineup.
For the first time, Adobe Camera Raw comes with profiles to mimic Provia, Astia, and Velvia Fuji film stock, profiles that have been available only on jpgs in camera, or through the bundled Silkypix software (which few people use). This suggests that Adobe is acknowledging the systems success, and now deems it worthy to devote the “geek-time” needed to improve its compatibility with this unique sensor. I wonder too, if Fuji has been more forthcoming with Adobe.
Now I don’t use color profiles very often, so this development doesn’t affect me much. But there is a rumor on the web, that quietly, Adobe has improved its conversion algorithm to reduce the smearing that many of us have complained about, a problem that have led some of us to obtain alternative software for “X” camera raw conversions. Armed with images I have converted with earlier iterations of ACR, I will attempt to investigate.
I downloaded the newest ACR release and performed conversions on some images we previously used to test raw converters. As always, I made adjustments to get the best image possible ( not identical to the original settings). I then opened Lightroom, which now comes with my Photoshop CC subscription, and opened the image. Lightroom does not yet have the newest ACR update so its development module would be identical to the previous version just prior to the new release candidate. Here are the images:
First, the version developed with an early ACR version:
Next the one developed in Lightroom:
Third, the one developed with the newest release:
For the record, Lightroom opened the file and duplicated the raw conversion settings from ACR 8.4. I then opened the file in Photoshop and sharpened with unsharpen mask at the same strength.
Now here’s the Capture One version:
I do think that there is an improvement in the detail seen in the file when developed with the newest release of ACR vs. Lightroom. Capture One as always, does really well.
I duplicated this with multiple files, though, and have had conflicting results. In some, the ACR 8.4 version is better, in others… not so much.
Thus, I am only sure of two things vis-a-vis Fuji raw conversion:
#1. Later versions of ACR are much better than the early versions. I’m not sure if there is much improvement in detail with the newest release. I’ll use it though.
#2. Capture One to me, still looks to be slightly superior in terms of the detail it can yield from an X Trans sensor. To me in this last image, like many others I have seen, Capture One gives a more lifelike rendering, with ACR trying to, but not realistically reproducing the very fine detail.
Still and all, I’m not really sure whether the extra detail is worth the additional workflow steps required to incorporate C1.
I do use C1 if I need to print large.
I do love that with the continual firmware upgrades, and improvements to Adobe Camera Raw, the quality of my images can continue to improve without the need for further investment.
Though that XT-1 looks mighty tempting…