Fuji X-Tran RAW Processing Done Right

Recently, I purchased the Fuji X-T1 camera to act as my second body as well as my walkaround. It wasn’t until recently that it all changed for me, and now my X-T1 is my camera of choice, over my full frame Nikon D600.

To me, that is a big call to make, considering that the D600’s IQ is known for producing beautiful dynamic range and details (aside from the D800 of course).

The reason for that is that I’ve found the image quality of the Fuji’s X-Trans sensor to be outstanding, and for my style of shooting, it easily keeps up with what my full frame has to offer. This is not a camera review however, so I won’t go down that rabbit’s hole.

There has been a lot of talk on forums about the X-Trans sensor producing RAW files with smudged details. Hence a lot of Fuji photographers have been shooting mainly in JPG, using the straight out of camera images instead. The problem stems from how Lightroom handles those RAW files and not the X-Tran files themselves.

Where The Loss of Details Occur

With the Fuji .RAF files, it is the fine repeating details that get lost. Anything from fabric, to hair, skin pores and grass and foilage.

Iniitially, I had made these comparisons with my full-frame camera and came to the conclusion that it was sensor size related. It wasn’t until I processed my RAW files outside of Lightroom, did I notice what was actually happening.

Alternatives for Fuji RAW Processing

Iridient Developer

I gave Iridient Developer 2.4 a shot using the trial version, and was blown away by all the details that were visible that I ended up buying a copy of it immediately.

The first thing I noticed was pore details were nice and visible, yet natural looking. Fine strands of hair were defined and so were grass and foliage details, even at a distance.

It might be worth nothing that I kept sharpening low as aggressive sharpening wasn’t required at all, the details are already there.

Here is an example of Lightroom’s .RAF processing versus Iridient Developer’s.

Here we have the zoomed out view of the subject.

X-trans conversion portrait

And here is the 1:1 crop:

fuji raw processing with iridient developer

Above, we have Lightroom 5.4 at default sharpening and Iridient Developer using the R-L Deconvultion method (Radius=0.45, Iterations=4), which is pretty minimal.

Right off the bat, we can see that even with only a little sharpening, the Iridient version picks out more details, and they look contrasty and sharp. To do this with Lightroom, we would have to push up the default sharpening which will help a little. After a certain point however, the smudged details will not resolve either way. Push the sharpening too far in Lightroom and halo edges will start appearing.

View more samples and comparisons of  X-Trans RAW processing on my blog.

Key Points:

  • The hairs on the eyebrows are clearly defined.
  • The micro details in the skin on the cheeks are highly visible – not so in Lightroom’s version.
  • The difference in the veins in the white of the eye are clearly evident here (they are all blurred out by Lightroom).
  • The iris itself has a lot of nice patterns visible in the Iridient Developer version.

As you can see from the comparison above, the Fuji sensor is quite capable of resolving fine details on its own. Reports say that Adobe is working with Fujifilm on improving their RAW conversion process for Lightroom. Hopefully we will get to see improvements down the line at some point. Until then, Iridient Developer is a small lightweight application that fits nicely into my RAW processing workflow (I use Lightroom for cataloging, and ID for processing RAW’s). Give the trial a shot and let us know your findings.

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I am a Brisbane-based portrait and product photographer whose creativity and inspiration draws from my 15-year computer graphics career. I just love creating things that do not exist in real life, but also love making every day subjects look more amazing than they really are.
My most used tools are Photoshop and my 3D modelling applications that enable me to bring the many ideas from my mind to life.

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