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Monday, 13 March 2017

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I have a Fuji X-T2 on order and will try Transformer. Today I use Photo Ninja that is also apparently very good for the X-trans sensor - we will see, not that I am a raw expert.

I've been using Iridient Developer as an additional source of development (after ACR) since I bought a Sigma DP2 Merrill in 2013, and found the supplied Sigma Photo Pro software to be unreliable and hard to control. (NB: those are the only two raw processors for Mac that can process Merrill Foveon raws.) In contrast, Iridient Developer offers a very fine grain of control, and has been very stable.

Brian at Iridient knows the arcane art of managing the color and output from raw files better than anyone I know of outside of Adobe (including Dave Coffin of dcraw). I think this is why his software supports the latest cameras faster than most other apps. Sadly, he's not much of an interface designer, but once you grep the general Iridient workflow, it makes sense. Still, creating presets is the way to go in ID!

I have pretty much tried all of them, Lightroom had some problems with x-trans a couple of years ago but I use it now. The Iridient is a little better in it's noise/ sharpening software but for me the convince and interchangeability in LR outweighs the "angles dancing on a pin" arguments. I almost always shoot B&W and process with the free NIK silverfx as a plugin to LR. When on a gallery wall I've had analog snobs point to it and say "you can really see how much better film is over digital".

Hi Mike,
It might be worth contacting Tom Fitzgerald (a Dublin based pro photographer/blogger) via his website or Facebook - http://www.thomasfitzgerald.photography
I've been following his blog for some time and he has done quite a lot of work on testing and comparing different raw developers.
Hope that helps! Cheers, Don
(a UK based TOP fan)

Mike: I'm an Adobe PE and DXO Optics Pro user (Nikon files). As everyone knows, DXO doesn't handle Fuji files and I have found Adobe to be just so-so handling Fuji Raw. I've recently tried Iridient X Transformer with good results, especially with regard to fine details. I just import the .dng into PE and things are much better. Sure wish DXO handled Fuji, though!

Never tried Iridient since the Windows version is available only recently. But I used Photo Ninja which has a reputedly good X-trans demosaicing and from my experience using this alternative software isn't worth it anymore if you have a recent enough version of ACR/Lightroom.

I've noticed that the main problem with ACR/LR with X-Trans files are the sharpening and noise-reduction that make weird patterns on the images. The best workflow is exporting the files without any NR and sharpening and for that effect use Nik plugins in the final adjustments in Photoshop. The Nik Sharpener Pro is very effective to pull extra detail from the X-Trans files. My guess is that you will get 90-95% of the quality of the files converted from Iridient with much less hassle in the workflow.

Hi Mike;

I went searching for a comment I read about Capture One supporting Fuji's GFX. I don't know how reliable the post is, but I did find it. I'm older than you and my memory is as it was when young.. scattered, but trustworthy.

http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-and-digital-backs/60962-fuji-gfx-capture-one.html

I'm committed to a DNG workflow but don't do a lot of PP so seamless workflow is more important to me than small improvements in quality. However, I'll give x-transformer a go and see if the results merit a change. (Quite a lot of investment in Fuji gear)

I've much tried them all and Iridient still wins. I've been using Iridient Developer since 2014, and Brian Griffith has only made it better since then. I use it as a plug-in within Lightroom, and an "out-and-back" (LR->IRD->LR) takes about 30 seconds, which I don't consider a problem for processing "selects". A TIFF conversion of the RAW is created in this process; I don't find it a deal-breaker as all my other plug-ins do exactly the same thing, but some folks might have issue with it.

I just tried Iridient Transformer over the weekend, and for folks that want to do a "batch conversion" to DNGs (which are more analogous to a RAW file in terms of size and metadata rather than TIFF), Transformer is an excellent way to go, and a very good value at $30 for a license. Stephen Kennedy has done an excellent job of describing how that works and a good workflow for that process.

The conversion of 24 megapixel Fuji X-Trans III sensor RAF files by LR/ACR are much better than they were 3-4 years ago, Iridient is still unmatched for pulling detail out of an X-Trans file and having the file looking very natural and w/o artifacts.

Of note, I did a quick comparison between Developer and Transformer last night, and using the default settings of each, Iridient Developer pulls out even more finely resolved detail than Transformer, though it's possible to tweak preferences in Transformer that achieves the same results. I will say the detail that Iridient Developer can pull out of the 24 mpixel Fuji RAF files is astonishing.

Couple of other points most folks don't talk about: I find the highlight recovery tools and controls in Iridient Developer to be notably better than LR's, allowing me to pull back highlight detail and texture that LR simply cannot. Lastly, there is an artifactual cyan shift in blue skies with LR that is not present with Iridient.

I have and use Capture One 10, and find that it is very good, but I think that Iridient still provides superior "fineness" of sharpening, but that Capture One provides nicer color. Sometimes the default Capture One sharpening results in high-frequency detail looking a bit "thicker" than the incredibly fine-line resolution that Iridient provides (the best analogy I can provide is doing a stroke command on an object in PS with a thicker line than a finer line). C1's sharpening can be dialed back to achieve levels comparable to Iridient.

I'll probably continue to use LR/Iridient Developer for most of my workflow, but some images, Capture One 10 where it's control over skin tones and/or color is better.

Also, my understanding is GFX isn't an X-Trans senor, it's a Bayer array. This may have played a part in Capture One supporting it. Lets see if Tethered Operation is supported? If so, it's a big deal for both Fuji and C1. Please correct me if wrong on any of this.

Thanks, B

I only just started working with Iridient x-transformer yesterday. Preliminary results are impressive. I still need to determine how best to add it to my LR workflow, whether to batch convert, then import, or convert with an Edit-in round trip, which is what tried yesterday. I'll continue to experiment with it but I think it's going to be a keeper.

That said, I just read an interesting article on Petapixel that tries to answer the question: is X-tran really the improvement over Bayer that it's made out to be? The author is dubious on that point. I conclude that X-tran is the hassle you pay to use what are otherwise fine cameras in Fuji's case.

I use LR exclusively for Xtrans II raw rendering.

1/ LR has improved. A great deal one reads about problems is out of date.

In my view the remaining benefits are only relevant to pixel peeping or unreasonably small crops. I rarely crop beyond what's required to minimize converging verticals and anamorphic volume distortions. Others have different preferences.

JPEG and, or print compression minimizes the differences' practical impacts. This may not be strictly true for extremely large prints. I contend those interested in extremely large prints should not be using 16 MP sensors. This doesn't mean people can't make nice, very large prints from minimally cropped 16 MP raw. It only suggests more pixel density will be better.

2/ Don't use Bayer rendering parameters. You have to use rendering parameters that work well for XTrans raw. A purposeful Google search is a where to get started.

3/ Don't use the same rendering parameter optimization work flow you use for Bayer raw. Some of LR's rendering parameters do very different things with Xtrans compared to Bayer raw.

4/ Do start with the FUJIFILM Camera Calibration Profiles. In my experience they work better than the LR default Profile(s).

In my view the primary disadvantage of rendering Xtrans raw with LR is the time and effort it takes to adopt a different workflow. This is an important issue for some people. For others, it's not.

There's a long discussion thread on Iridient X Transformer (the Windows application) over at FM: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1468746

In a nutshell, with a Fuji X-T2, I have found that "IXT" is superior to Lightroom in several respects:
* Better overall RAW development
* Improved sharpness
* Better correction of lens flaws (and characteristics) e.g., distortion

For many people, the benefits show up most strongly in high frequency details -- parts of images like branches of coniferous trees, feathers of birds. LR has a tendency to turn those areas into the waxy, painterly images that people often complain about when they look at images produced by X-Trans sensors.

BUT, as of Beta 3.0 (current as of today), I have found that I get the best results with these settings:
* Let IXT take care of Sharpness and Colour noise with the "Default" setting, but turn off Luminous noise. Use "More Detailed" RAW processing in IXT.
* Let Lightroom take care of Luminous noise (which it does better than IXT Beta 3.0 in my view)
* In Lightroom, I add a bit of sharpening to most images (Amount 12, Radius 1.0, Detail 25). For Noise, I use Luminance 40, Detail 40, Contrast 0, Color 25, Detail 50, Smooth 50 as my starting point.
* Adjust to taste, and dial back or turn off anything that isn't needed because IXT did a good job on the DNG.

For years I was a big fan of DxO Tools, which, as far as I know, to this day, does a fantastic job of correcting lens distortion and chromatic aberration, better than any other solution I've found. Except:

When DxO was slow in updating for the new Nikon 800, I switched to Nikon's Capture NX-D for the same corrections in the interim.

But when DxO was finally updated, I did a comparison and discovered that DxO was doing a poor job with some colors (mysteriously cranking up the saturation on some colors), and seemed to lose some detail in the images. That's when I permanently switched to NX-D, though its interface is awful.

I've since checked again with later versions of DxO, and NX-D still comes out far superior.

At this point I'm intrigued enough to give Iridient a try. I'm always eager to squeeze the most out of my image files, especially since I've been printing big lately.

My brief experience with Iridient X-Transformer:

With X-Transformer set to use defaults for sharpening and noise reduction, output DNGs in Lightroom at first look somewhat crisper than the corresponding RAFs (from my X-T1). However, pixel peeping shows some pretty significant sharpening artifacts, mainly white outlines around fine details.

Turning off sharpening and noise reduction in IXT in gives cleaner DNGs; i.e., no white outlines. This should be a better mode for comparing demosaicing algorithms—the one factor we can't control in LR.

We these settings, the RAFs and DNGs are only very subtly different, maybe not worth the extra steps. Except perhaps in one case: Some foliage looks more like, well, foliage in the DNGs from X-Transformer. Especially for landscapes, the improvement may be worthwhile.

Hi Mike;
I took time, this afternoon, to read the complete thread I linked in my previous post. I found mention of your piece in the thread. Read that too.

So, in the interest of further confusion, I called my local Phase One dealer and asked about GFX support in C1. They hedged on the whole issue.. ie who would announce if there was anything to announce, BS, BS, BS..

I went through Phase One training with these people and the photo world is as political as ever. I wonder if I dropped $10k on some newer something if I would get a clearer answer. They sell Phase backs and I'm sure a competing Fuji product won't make them happy. Unless they become a Fuji dealer too.. which probably wouldn't make Phase One happy.

But can it develop pictures from my microwave oven?

Just take a Fuji X T-2 RAF file, do ONLY sharpening (default) in Iridient, bring it back to LR as a tif. Then make a copy of the same RAF file and sharpen only, no other adjustments in Lightroom as you might usually do.

Look at both files in Lightroom, I believe you will see that the Iridient file shows more detail and less "mushiness" especially with grasses and foliage. Note that you can use Color Checker Passport dng profiles in Iridient and you can set it to ProPhoto RGB colorspace too.

YMMV. Choose what suits you best, but I'm a convert.

I went a different route. Got a great deal off Craigslist for a Sony A7ii and the 24-70 f/4 Zeiss zoom. Gave our daughter my X-T1 and the 18-55mm zoom. It's off to eBay for the rest of my Fuji glass.

After one week with the Sony I only wish I'd been able to get one sooner.

I'm pretty unsophisticated when it comes to post-processing digital files. I tried an earlier version of Iridient, and couldn't see that it offered anything more than the Fuji software (SilkyPix) did for raw conversion. I settled on Alien Skin Exposure X because of the copious film simulation presets which it offers. It's not so much that I want to emulate film types, but that they give me a quick starting point for particular interpretations that I am may be after. I'm sure it's not a full Lightroom/Photoshop replacement, but again I'm pretty simple and unsophisticated, and so far it's got what I need.

You may find the discussions on the Fuji X Forums at http://www.fujix-forum.com/ useful.

I have been using x-trans cameras for about five years now — first the XE1 and now the XPro2. (I have also used Canon systems for longer than that.)

I use Adobe products for my post-processing of x-trans files. I have Lightroom but I prefer the Adobe Camera Raw plus Photoshop options. The Adobe software does an excellent job with x-trans files. I can easily product 18" x 24" prints that look excellent, and perhaps a bit larger with the XPro2.

I'm convinced that the file quality differences among various raw converters lie somewhere between wishful thinking and too small to make a real difference. In every case I've seen a skillful and experience post-processor can produce excellent prints from any of them.

I use Iridient for my Sigma dp2 Merrill. Is almost the only raw developer that support the Merrill cameras. Wonderful results.

I've never had much issue with Lightroom RAF conversions, especially as Adobe has improved it. There is a difference with Iridient but anyone who views my photos wouldn't see that difference and only photographers who are looking for such things will find them and often only when viewed side by side at higher magnification. Unfortunately no raw conversion software can improve the content of a photo and that's the critical thing for me.

Some useful comparsion of different software for X-files (but without Iridient) one can find here: https://www.stegierski.com/2017/02/x-transformer.html Text is in Polish, but Google Translator does a good job.

I'm always haunted by the idea that there might be "more" in my files, but in the end I don't even try alternatives because I love the simplicity of my LR soup-to-nuts workflow.

I smile when reading this. We've finally got a post that is more or less the modern equivalent of nerding around with developer chemistry... *grin*

Pak

I'm a big fan of using Iridient Developer in conjunction with Lightroom for processing RAF files. Here's an excerpt from a write-up on my website:

"My favorite raw processing tool for initial conversion, import sharpening, and other global adjustments of RAF files is Iridient Developer. Iridient is a free-standing raw processor that can also be used as a plugin within Lightroom. It produces far better detail, clarity, and corner sharpness than Lightroom, while still allowing the use of Lightroom for other tasks. Here’s my typical workflow:

--Import your RAF raw files into Lightroom.

--Select the image to edit and choose “Edit in Iridient Developer” in the “Photo” menu in Lightroom. This creates a copy of the image in Lightroom and opens the RAF file in Iridient (ID can be configured to automatically open the RAF sitting next to the TIF created by Lightroom).

--Apply noise reduction, sharpening, and other global adjustments in Iridient as needed.

--Save the file from Iridient using the "Process image and overwrite (Std Image)" command in the "File" menu. This replaces the copy created by Lightroom with the new file.

--The newly created TIF containing the edits from Iridient is now stacked with the source RAF in Lightroom.

--Continue further processing of the new file in Lightroom.

Using Iridient as a plugin within Lightroom requires some setup. Details about how to setup both Iridient and Lightroom to use the above workflow are available on the Iridient website."

Alan

Brian Griffith, author/developer of Iridient Developer, wrote to me to explain that Nikon is one of the few camera companies that makes it impossible to pull metadata from their proprietary (NEF) image file. Thus he can't enable the automatic lens corrections for Nikon that he makes available for almost all other lens makes. There seems to be a complicated workaround, but in the end, that limitation makes it an easy decision for me to stick with Nikon's NX-D.

Just downloaded it yesterday and started experimenting on X-E1 files.

I am still using LR 4 and frankly it is pretty bad with X trans, and I am being nice when I say that. I have been using the details to 100 and sharpness somewhere between 25 and 35 with radius at 1.0 or perhaps under "theory" and it still lacks. Plus the artifacts such as "whirlies" and the watercolor effect are on some photos. (I have tried Raw Therapee as well as Silky Pix and both have proved little if any better and not worth extra effort.)

The X-Transformer seems to take care of most sharpening issues. As far as the artifacts, I still believe I seem some on a few photos which may even be enhanced by X-Transformer sharpness, but I'll have to play with it more.

I do plan to buy it as it is certainly better than what I have, and since a newer LR is way down the list of needed purchases for the next several months, it will have to do.

Finally, I can get a Fuji X-Trans file to come close to matching a 2011 M4/3 or 2007 Nikon D300 file in sharpness without color bleeding or oddball artifacts. The only question is, "Fujifilm, why on earth must I buy addition software to do that?" (Oh, and don't look here! https://petapixel.com/2017/03/03/x-trans-vs-bayer-sensors-fantastic-claims-test/ )

I grudgingly use LR. Went all in on Aperture when LR was in beta after trying both; liked Aperture better and really liked the MacOS integration. We know how that ended with Apple halting development and support for Aperture. Should have known better...For me LR is fine most of the time. I keep Iridient around for use on occasion (since LR really has improved in the fine-detail aspect) but ID is cumbersome to use on every file and mostly, not essential.

All raw development programs make certain default choices. I use Raw Therapee, in part because the choices are in the open more than LR etc., and because it is easy to set a truly neutral start. Great results, including Fuji X-Trans files.

I have been using Lightroom for years shooting only Canon and I go through 1000-3000 image per shoot. I am an episodic photographer and I have bought the Fuji XT2 to save my back from the use of camera blimps. I have been having a major problem with the XT2 files in processing times. Its double what it takes for Lightroom to process the Canon 5D Mark lll files. My sliders are all delayed too, importing the RAW files takes forever. I do find sharpening in Lightroom to not be as good as with my Canon files. I live with ISO 4000-12,500 everyday and these files have a ton of noise. I still use my Canon cameras and I have to stay in the same program in the need to rename and adjust the photos. I cant use different programs for the different cameras. I am frustrated as heck and I am a bit angry at how Lightroom handles these files. I will have to read more through these posts to see what is working for the others.

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