For quite a while now, I have noticed smudgy details from my Fujifilm X100s and X-T1 when processing RAW files Lightroom. And all this time, I had thought that this was just the way Fuji RAF files were supposed to look. I also thought that since the Fujifilm cameras were fitted with APS-C sized sensors, that it was to be expected that the fine details weren't going to be all that perceivable when compared to full frame sensors (like my Nikon D600). This was especially apparent with hairs and grassy fields - details like that always looked smudged.
My processed portrait photography images always had a "painterly" look, but little did I know that it was Adobe Lightroom destroying the micro details. I have posted some examples of this happening below, but before that, a little background about the sensor.
The Fuji X-Trans Sensor
The way the Fujifilm cameras render images on their sensors is different from the conventional Bayer sensors used in Nikon, Canon and Olympus etc. The Fuji's use an X-tran sensor has the ability to greatly reduce moire patterns with its irregular layout.
Also with the X100s and the X-T1 and XE-2's, they didn't put in an anti-aliasing filter and this results in sharper micro details (much like how the Nikon 800e works).
Lightroom 5.4 & The X-Trans
So the question is, if there isn't an antialiasing filter, where did all of those details go? And why do the Jpg's that come straight out of camera, look so much more detailed than the processed RAW?
Apparently Adobe have been working with Fujifilm to improve the way Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw handles X-Trans RAF/RAW files - that's what I've read. They were supposed to have done so in LR version 5.4 but I didn't really notice any improvements. The images still lack that crispy sharpness.
Enter Iridient Developer
This little known piece of software has made me a happy camper with my new X-T1. I couldn't believe the difference Iridient Developer (odd name) made to my photos and to all the beautiful tiny details.
Seeing the results has really encouraged me to use mirrorless cameras a whole lot more and also highlighted the RAW processing issues present in Adobe Lightroom. What I don't understand is how Adobe has failed to get this perfect (being as big as they are), and a smaller software developer like this has managed to nail it - perfectly.
The detail differences I'm seeing with my LR edits and Iridient Developer are massive, and in most cases, I don't even need to be at 1:1 view. They're that evident.
For the first time, I'm truly seeing the beauty of the X-Trans sensor. The details and image quality are visually comparable to that of my Nikon D600, if not sharper even. Crazy statement I know, but it's true. You'd have to see it to believe it. Note that I'm only speaking of micro details here, I haven't needed to push dynamic range too far and this post is not really about that.
Iridient Developer vs Lightroom 5.4 in RAW
Here's a screen shot of the working view within Iridience Developer v2.3.4. Notice the "Settings" tab and the sharpening method "R-L Deconvolution".
There are multiple types of sharpening available and I don't quite yet know what the difference is but, they are leaps and bounds ahead of Lightroom 5.4's sharpening - no more halos even when pushed to a high setting!
Okay here we go, some comparisons to look at. Do note that with Iridient Developer, you import the raw and it spits out a non-RAW file of your choice. I have chosen to output in 16-bit .Tif in this case.
There will be differences in colour temperatures as there is no way of getting 2 images to line up perfectly from Iridient Developer and Lightroom, so I didn't even bother to try - it's irrelevant to this comparison. What you should do is try and spot the difference in the sharpness and details.
The processing of these images are minimal. Just loaded into both pieces of software without much tweaking at all.
This one was shot with my X100S in Bali. The one processed with Lightroom 5.4 is on the right, and the Iridient one is on the left.
With this crop, the detail differences are clearly evident. Again, Iridient on the left, and LR on the right.
- See the clump of bushes at the bottom left corner.
- The detail difference of the people walking along the cliff's edge.
- The leaves in the trees towards the top of the frame.
This one was just shot recently with my new Fujifilm X-T1 - a studio portrait session.
Areas to note:
- Her back/shoulder skin details.
- Fine hairs along the sideburn and jawline.
- Details in the lips are a lot more evident.
- The long hair strands - the Lightroom version smudges some of the hairs and they aren't as defined.
Continuing from the same shot, let's explore other areas of the image.
Comparing the LR version on the right, and Iridient on the left.
Areas to note:
- The bottom row of eyelashes.
- The eyebrows are noticeably more defined. Each strand is defined here where with the LR version, it looks smudged.
- Overall pore clarity in the skin (this one is more subtle and you'll need to pixel peep to see the differences).
Areas to note:
Notice the difference in the cloth material. Nice and crispy weave patterns can be seen here on the Iridient Developer processing whilst some parts of the LR version are lost and smudged slightly.
In my opinion, Adobe Lightroom still has a ways to go with X-Trans processing and I have my doubts that they'll get it perfectly tuned anytime soon. In the meantime, Iridient Developer is really blowing my mind. I'm feeling like it's Christmas all over again, seeing my Fujifilm X-Tran raws really shine and look the way they are supposed to!
If you have any further questions, drop me a comment below. I'd love to hear what you think.