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Sunday, 17 April 2016


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Leica uses DNG as their raw format, and I have a feeling you would love a first version CCD Monochrom, which is actually attainable now (mind you I didn't use the word cheap.)

I use ACR with Camera Calibration set to "Camera Standard" with my Canon CR2 files and 90% of the time it's quicker and easier to get a good result rather than using Canon's own Digital Photo Professional (aka DPP).

Oh, and by the way, I think "Maven" is a horrible word! As a Brit I never heard or read it until a certain notorious Yank started using it in H-Fi News.

..........Mike.....nothing better: http://www.iridientdigital.com

This is, or has become over the years, a two layer question.

1. - RAW conversion.
How does it perform at the limited task of converting the Raw formats into generalized formats with three color values for each pixel and gamma corrected luminance? Of all the various tabs and sliders, I would only include the first tab and only the color temp choices, Exposure, Highlight and Shadow sliders.

Adobe test new cameras to allow them to produce default colors in ACR conversions that meet their idea of correct WB - and may different considerably from the camera makers' own ideas. Thus they tend to be similar for different makes. I have generally found that I prefer ACR's WB/colors to those of Canon's own conversion software, Oly's Viewer, SilkyPix for Panny and DxO Pro. But that's just my eye.

2. - Editing
ACR has also become a powerful editor in it's own right. Although LR has been adding local area effects, its editing functions are still really a fancy GUI on top of ACR.

I know people who use ACR as their only, or primary, editor.

The two functions are separable. One may, as I do, use ACR for RAW conversion and pass that result on to one's favorite editor for the rest of Post. Or, if there is a converter that does a better job of X-Trans Raw conversion, use that just for that, and pass the image on to your fave editor, ACR.

ACR may be set to open JPEGs, too.

"the digital print by jeff schewe" is a wonderful book for both PS and LR. the USM LR info for high ISO photos {6400+} in magic. Auther writes clear and current.

Oy! Vey is mir. I feel like such a schlub for not knowing the answer to your question.

A couple of words to add to your Yiddish vocabulary:
1. Schlemiel (and its cousin, Schlemazel)
2 Bupkis

My grandparents spoke Yiddish and my parents spoke Yiddish with them. I only learned enough to to stay out of trouble. I think my favorite Yiddish expressions were the curses. When my ancestors lived in Eastern Europe they were basically powerless and persecuted, so they got really good at cursing in Yiddish under their breath. A couple of my favorites (very rough translations--Yiddish is hard to adequately translate):

"May you grow like a potato with your head in the ground!"

"May you become very wealthy. And may you own a hundred estates. On each estate may you own 10 mansions. In each mansion may you have a hundred bedrooms. In each bedroom may you have 10 beds. May you flit from bed to bed with Cholera!!" =)

One of my high-school teachers used to define a Specialist as someone who learns more and more about less and less, until eventually he knows absolutely everything about absolutely nothing. A Generalist pursues the opposite path, until he knows absolutely nothing about absolutely everything.
I have also experimented with different conversion software for RAF files, and continue to do so. Most of the time, ACR seems to be pretty well acceptable. I used to prefer Capture One 7 light for the 16MB files, but to move on to the 24MB files it looks as though I would have to get version 8 full, which I am not planning to do, at least not for now. So far, it seems, there is nothing besides RFC ("by SilkyPix") that can handle the compressed files.
Let's see how it goes after I get an X-Pro 2, which will be after it drops in price a bit.

Photographyblog.com includes a few sample RAW files with just about every camera that they review. Trying them out in ACR (or Lightroom) is very informative.

I have a Fuji camera, and I notice the greenery looks mushier than I would like in Lightroom. However the camera profiles (Astia, Provia, Velvia, Monochrome with filters, etc.) are excellent. You may get sharper greens using ACR with other brands, but the profiles I have tried for Nikon, Canon, and Sony are not very good compared to Fuji.

I also have a Panasonic camera, and ACR/Lightroom only has the Adobe Standard profile for my camera, no Camera Standard, Camera Neutral, etc. This is true for all Panasonic cameras as far as I know.

I won't manifest as a maven here, but my sense is that ACR does a fairly good job all around, but it's not particularly well optimized for anything. That said, my experience is that excellent lenses and high res/low noise sensors need less help, and ACR does fine. For example, I usually use DXO, and I find that it improves my old files with my older, lesser lenses quite dramatically over ACR, but my more recent D800e files with the good Nikkor primes are just fine with ACR. I haven't particularly compared the high res Sony files and primes one over the other, but I also expect ACR will do fine compared to DXO. ACR is not particularly great for my Olympus MFT files, compared to DXO. Rather poor.

I had a case last week where I was quite surprised to find ACR did much better than DxO on one 2007 file from the D200 with a zoom I wouldn't use these days. I was redoing the post processing; I'm trying to re-do everything with DxO and some better practices. I developed the raw file in DxO and dragged the layer over the older ACR file and noticed it was far less sharp than the ACR file, which would not normally be the case. Usually when I do that I notice how much more detailed the DxO file is. Not in this one weird particular case. DxO uses lens correction data and pairs it with camera sensors, and for a vacation zoom like this that would mean every focal length and aperture. I think this particular situation got bad data, because it really screwed it up. I tried it a few times, careful with the settings, and it could never get close to the ACR version, going against my preconception and lots of experience. I guess the moral of the story is you've got to look hard each time and not take any software for granted.

Another interesting thing I recently learned on the internet, put forth by mavens, maybe wrong: highlight recovery is not actually recovering any detail, seeing any deeper in to the file, but rather making guesses based on the channels that are not blown out. If they are all blown out, then it is a pure guess. I never knew exactly, but I never knew the process went that way. That said, I find that ACR does a pretty good job doing highlight recovery on the .ORF and .NEF files I've tested the two against each other. Sometimes DxO has done better for me in recovering highlights where I've tested, but sometimes ACR takes the prize.

Mike said "Is there a Yiddish word for 'wonderful'"

If something was wonderful my grandparents would say it was a Mechaya (where the ch is pronounced as in chutzpah, not as in "chance"). I think Mechaya probably more literally means "miraculous", but they used it to described any wonderful experience. As in "After working hard all day, that shower was such a Mechaya!"

I'm sure some Yiddish maven will chime in with a better word for wonderful.

ACR is pretty good with files from most Sony-sensored cameras (Pentax, Nikon, some Canons, and... Sony). Think about whoever has the most market-share, and that's who Adobe will cater to.

Probably whichever cameras the ACR developers own.

Mechaye, wonderful

It's best for my workflow which is heavily dependent on Light Room for organization. Works well (but maybe not best) for all the cameras I have owned over the years. This allows me to master one software package and as a result I probably get better images overall. My approach probably disqualifies me from being a maven when it comes to RAW converters.

I always liked Schmutz (plural is schmutzeem). Means junk, crap, or s#%t.
"Hey Mike, you have schmutz on your chin".

The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten, is useful.

ACR by way of Lightroom has been my go-to raw processor since it first appeared in Adobe Bridge's predecessor (File Browser?) around the turn of the millennium.
The best raw processor for any given camera is the one supplied by the camera manufacturer, providing you are only judging them by potential file-quality.
For most cameras, the supplied raw processor has the worst interface, buggiest software, clumsiest workflow and the least consistency. There's more but let's keep it seemly – I'm looking at you Silkypix.
As a working professional what I need from a raw processor is intuitive controls, predictability, scalability, responsiveness and accuracy. And it then needs to be able to manage all that with a constant deluge of images. A wedding typically means editing 1500 to 3000 files into 200 perfect images. A book project may involve 20,000 files, 2000 proofs and 250 photographs. Each year I shoot about 100,000 files and as well as developing the images, I need to be able to easily search, collate, create collections, archive, upload and output from any and all of them. Lightroom – with an ACR engine under the hood – has consistently improved those aspects of the programme to the point that every time I have trialled the alternatives I just give up in exasperation. The only realistic challenger is Capture One Pro but it's insistent and restrictive workflow along with the fiddle-with-colour-wheels-until-it-looks-rightish has sent me scurrying gratefully back to the sensible ACR goodness of Lightroom.
With Lightroom I feel like a photographer working in a darkroom creating finished photography.
With all the others I either feel like an out of depth lab technician adjusting faulty valves on a bafflingly complex piece of machinery, or a child playing with the latest colourful bauble-covered toy from Fisher-Price.

I'm not sure ACR aces any particular camera files, but it does ace, vignetting, chromatic aberration and lens distortion correction pretty much.

It's so good at these that I sometimes use ACR for these corrections for the tiff files I've produced from other raw converters.

The big downside for ACR for me, is the relative nature of most of the tonal adjustments. ACR "looks" at the image and makes relative adjustments based on the image. This does not work well if your shooting panoramas or 360's where multiple images will be stitched together.

That's why I use PhotoNinja as at my suggestion/request the developer added an absolute mode that produces very consistent tonal changes across a sequence of images.

Took some chutzpah to leave out my favourite Yiddish word...

Oh dear, i fear this is going to be an example of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread.

I have been processing Fuji photos in Light Room (ACR) for the last four years. I don’t consider myself a maven, since I think processing raw files in any raw converter is really an art form in which only practice and learning over time leads to developing real skills.

When you are satisfied with the results then you have mastered your craft. But teaching that mastery to others is probably not going to be easy. Most likely, it’s a going to be a one on one teaching proposition. A real maven could tell you how to do it in a few words.

That said, I am really quite pleased with results i am getting from Lightroom and the new Fuji X-Pro2 files. Fuji and Adobe announced that they were going cooperate on processing the Xtrans III sensor files, and the results indicate to me that they did.

That wasn’t the always the case with versions of LR earlier than 6.4. There were the well-known problems: water color effect, overly translucent greens, haloing, artifacts, etc. After version 6.4, most of these had been reasonably overcome. And I thought the debate had boiled down to, my converters pine needles are sharper than LR’s pine needles at 200%. Maybe so, but really, the sharpest photo doesn’t always win.

A few observations:
-Lightroom is an adaptive tone mapping program, it excels at controlling highlights and shadows, and in extending or contracting dynamic range
-if you use the Fuji film profiles, you can get truly wonderful color and increased tonal shading.
-To balance the mid-tones, if you compress highlights lift shadows by a similar amount.
-There is very little chromescense noise, you can set the slider to zero, and increase tonality.
-If you want to sharpen, go easy on the sharpening slider, increase detail and/or reduce pixel radius instead.
-The eye excels at pattern recognition and recognizing edges. Clarity and Masking directly affect edges, they interact. And shadow and highlight contrasts also affect edges. Be especially careful here.

Finally, I readily concede that your converters pine needle will always be sharper than Lightroom’s pine needle.

Michael, first, sheynam dank for your labor on behalf of photographers.

The best X-trans developer? I have no personal experience but Iridient Developer seems to draw the most kudos from people who study such things. Are those critics mavens or patzers? I have no idea. As for me, I may be a farbisener, but it's hard to believe that the difference is worth the extra workflow.

Mike, I'm not a maven on ACR, but I do want to say, in so many ways, you/TOP are doing/earning a mitzveh.

Whoa buddy, this is a serious question. Best to hunker down.

I've used Lightroom CC (ACR) with Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic native (raw) file formats and it works great with those. Have tried Capture One Pro, DXO Optics Pro, some of the smaller independent offerings, but none have enticed me away from Lightroom. Adobe has a huge lens profile library, and their long history with color is assuring.

But the subjective nature of choice will mean that in the end we'll all swear by our choice leaving you to scratch your head. Good luck.

You left out the quality that many photographers have: 'chutzpah'.

I like the humorous extrapolation about specialisation:
"You know more and more about less and less until eventually you know everything about nothing"
Of course the opposite extrapolation could also be argued...

ACR works well with Bayer color filter array cameras and cameras with no CFA (i.e. the Leica Monochrom and similar cameras that generate a Linear DNG).

In ACR all of the Bayer CFA cameras use the same Bayer demosaicing algorithm and only vary in the color matrix (to convert RGB values to colors in a color space) and some other trivial parameters (like bit depth and packing) so non is preferred.

Adobe demosaicing works well for the Bayer CFA because the techniques for doing this operation are very well understood. There are several demosaicing algorithms for the Bayer CFA. For example, the review below tests 11 different algorithms (and I can think of two more introduced since this paper was written)


In general the more computation you throw at the problem the better the result but any demosaicing always involves some trade-offs (this is true for any CFA layout). Sebastian Nowozin at Microsoft Research summarizes it this:


Demosaicing for the Bayer layout is largely solved, but for novel color filter array layouts there currently is no all-around best method. [...] Whatever demosaicing method is adopted, it is beneficial to simultaneously perform demosaicing and denoising, because either task becomes more difficult if performed in isolation.

For me the underlying issue with the XTrans CFA is that it is a single vendor solution to a "problem" that didn't really need solving. Fuji threw away years of accumulated industry experience in demosaicing Bayer CFA to use a novel CFA layout.

I think Fuji was worried about leaving out the AA filter after seeing occasional moire problems (in Leica cameras). I think they also realized that "16Mpx APS-C was better than 35mm film" so they could afford to do this. Fujifilm even made comparisons to dye cloud size in film and their CFA unit cell size.

Just looking at identical images taken with the Xtrans and Bayer CFA on the same Sony sensor (IMX071 e.g. Nikon D5100 or similar) in the dpreview studio pictures you can see the CFA has the effect of rolling off the MTF response close to Nyquist frequency so luminance (and color) moire just above Nyquist (and so being aliased below Nyquist) would be suppressed. But this gives a less sharp image at a pixel peeping 100% (though it might give a more "film-like" appearance when viewed at normal size).

If you want a good raw processor for Xtrans (and other cameras) try Sandy McGuffog's AccuRaw and AccuRaw Monochrome (optimized for black & white photography).


[You, Sir, are a maven. And a mensch. --Mike]

I like the way ACR handles the files from my Canon 5D2 (and original 5D before that). It does a fine job of recovering highlights and opening up shadows, and also has some great presets for lens corrections. I try to do only minimal processing of my RAW files and ACR has everything I need.

I have an X-Pro 1 and 18-55 zoom and, with careful use of tripod and exposure, sell stitched together 2' x 3' and larger redwood forest prints with what I think of as wonderful color, etc. I must be "immune" to seeing the "smearing" etc. that I constantly read that ACR is doing to my photos :-) So, just for grins, I have taken up renting Capture 1, ver. 9 and am struggling with it due to everything being new, but I've had some fun cranking a couple images out with it. What I really need to do is process one I thought well done by ACR for comparison (duh), but haven't yet. Since I'm toying with going for another camera other than Fuji, I'll hold off pursuing that curiosity. ACR is so easy to use for me, I'd rather not switch.
Regarding ACR & Capture 1, I have always used ACR as a global adjustment tool and then in Photoshop make more localized adjustments. In my play so far with Capture 1, I have pulled off some local adjustments that worked nicely but I'm slow and still fumbling from unfamiliarity. The LULA videos have helped some.

correct me if am wrong: Jiddish say wunderbar and schejn!

Bei mir bist du schejn!
I'll try to explain ...
I could say 'bella, bella' even 'wunderbar'
Each language only helps me tell you how grand you are.


I tried two other converters: Sigmas Photo Pro converter ... this program is so so basic. Ok, to get a grip for (what raw processing could mean). Silkypix was some kind of slow .... irresponsive (jidd: hakkelig, eijne Plach!), Capture one ... new shortcuts, where is the slider for ? Gave it up: too fiddelich! Lightroom is shejn simpel and ein wahre Freid zu nutzan!

Dear Mike, stop IMMEDIATELY this insane practice of developing X-Trans files in ACR. I used to do the same until three weeks ago, when I tried Capture One 9. The difference is so huge that you will notice it without doing anything, just importing the files. I spend the last four years of my life sitting comfortably in the ACR chair, but now I'm off to trying and learning new software (it's a curse). (So far I think Capture One is better on Nikon files too).

Oy Mikey, Mikey

You're such a nudnik ... You kvell with pride when someone near and dear does something magnificent, or even just plain cute. "Just watching my granddaughters I almost overkvell and burst".

In ordinary usage you can't kvell at yourself, you have to find some schlemiel who'll do it for you.


Dear Folks,

I can't speak at all to the mathematics of Bayer array demosaicing, but I am convinced that with raw converters, just as with developers, there's a lot that goes on under the hood beyond simple well-understood maths. ACR has a hell of a lot of secret sauce built into its processing. You can see that in the JPEG below, which compares ACR on the left with a well-regarded RAW display program on the right (I am intentionally not identifying which one I'm talking about, because I am not trying to badmouth a product, here; please respect the sensibilities).

The author of that unnamed display program has a very good rep, so I am pretty sure his code does a good job of implementing demosaicing, but it doesn't do (and isn't intended to do) anything beyond that.

These are 200% blowups from the same Olympus OMD E-M5 file. I've turned off all the “enhancements” that I can in ACR––clarity is set to zero, as is sharpening and noise reduction. Still, clearly a lot is going on under the hood!. The noise is much finer in the ACR rendering. Even more important, ACR understands the Bayer filter array offset in ways that allow it to produce clean monochromatic edges at the bright transitions. Finally, the fine detail is much better: look at the braiding in the cables where ACR has managed to reconstruct real image detail that the “straight” display program completely misses.

When the ACR "enhancements" are turned on, the differences become even more striking. Look at: http://ctein.com/TOP/Leaves%20BvF.jpg

(I'm not embedding it directly, because I don't want to have to crop it that narrowly)

Again, this is at 200% scale, to enable pixel peeping. Obviously better sharpness and rendition of fine detail, along with a distinctly-superior rendering of subtle tonal and color differences. (You can also see some single-pixel level ringing at edges for the default sharpening settings-- it's invisible at normal viewing magnifications and in prints.)

I'm not opining that ACR will be superior with every camera. Rather, the contrary. I'm illustrating how much goes on behind the curtain in a good raw converter. Those hidden machinations will be different for different converters.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

I have been using LR with Fuji files since I got my X-T1 late last year and have mostly been happy with it. For one, it's nice to continue a familiar work flow. And IQ is mostly excellent.

However, a lot of my photos include foliage, as subject or background. Many folks online say LR makes foliage in X-Trans files look like watercolor. To me it's more like cooked spinach, at least if it's green. This is visible not just while pixel peeping, but at normal zooms, too. (Yes, I have tried many sharpening/detail recipes offered online.)

I downloaded the trial version of Photo Ninja a few days ago. Now foliage looks like, well, foliage. Much more like it, anyway. And PN reveals previously unseen details in my files, such as legible words on distant signs. It also has a lot of cool features that may be worthwhile.

I am just getting to know the app, but at a basic level, I would say Photo Ninja evidently demosaics X-Trans files better than LR—and presumably therefore ACR.

A very timely question from my perspective. I've been an ACR loyalist for a long time due to it's considerable workflow efficiency, but I have also been uneasy about it's sharpening functions which are good, but not best in class. I have had the growing feeling that other new sharpening algorithms (well implemented deconvolution algorithms, for example) were leaving Adobe behind in cutting edge stuff. So, I have recently been downloading and experimenting with trial or free versions of other RAW processing software.

Over this past week, I downloaded Affinity Photo (a full blown PS competitor with built in RAW converter), Irridient Developer (formerly RAW Developer), Photo Ninja, and RAW Therapee (a free app amazingly enough). I'm sure I will get to others as well, but here's my immediate take away from playing with each of these apps for a few hours each. Definitely not enough time to be truly competent with each one.... it's a steep, steep learning curve on some of them (Photo Ninja being most intuitive for us ACR users) but others pretty much requiring an engineering degree to understand.

I have two formats in particular I want the RAW software to tackle, NIkon NEF files and Fuji SR3 RAF files). Guess what? No app does every RAW file equally well! Irridient Developer gets high praise for photographer's using Fuji X-tran sensors, but I quickly gave up trying to get good results from Fuji S3 RAF files. PhotoNinja rocks my world with my D810 NEF files (clearly superior to ACR or Nikon's Capture NX-D software). It's giving me an astonishingly more detailed rendition with much more shadow detail and superior overall sharpening than either ACR or Capture NX-D, but it really stumbled on my FujI S3 RAF files. It even thinks the S-R 45 degree hexagonal pixel geometry of the S3 (very different than the conventional Bayer RGB pattern) means the file is supposed to be viewed on a 45 degree axis, and even when you rotate to correct orientation the default color and tone rendition is way off and extremely difficult to correct in this software.

Bottom line: I'm discovering that there is no universally competent RAW file processing software. Photographers should experiment with different kits (just like camera gear), and decide what works best under any given situation with any given camera. ACR is amazingly well rounded, and relatively easy to master compared to some of the alternatives. It does a commendable and competent job with a wide variety of different RAW formats, but not always "best in class". And it's really integrated well into a LR or PS workflow as one would expect which can be a real timesaver. However, the passionate connoisseur striving for greatest digital image processing control will still find that more than one RAW developer software is necessary for preferred results if you shoot with more than one camera, today or as the years go by (as in my case where I moved from Fuji S3 to Nikon D800E then to D810).

Lastly, all of this unique RAW file manipulation with one's preferred choice of software to demosaic and render the RAW file to tiff, PSD, or jpeg definitely begs the question of what are we archiving when we save our RAW format files for posterity ;-) DNG "open source" RAW file standardization definitely does not solve this RAW file rendering conundrum.


What is ACR?

I have Capture One to do the heavy lifting of my Canon, Sony and Panasonic files these days...but the secret sauce is supplied by Jonathan Sachs' Picture Window Pro (remember Lotus 123?). Anyone who wants to understand the mysteries of digital processing should start there.

Oy gevalt! I'll just comment on Canon CR2 files. All the DSLRs I've used were Canon — 20D, 40D, 5D, 5D2, 5D3 and 1Ds2. Canon doesn't supply Adobe with the recipe for their secret sauce, so Digital Photo Professional (DPP) has the advantage when converting CR2 files. DPP comes on a disc with every Canon camera — it's free. Also on the disc are EOS Utility, Image Browser EX, Picture Style Editor (a software program that allows you to create your own personalised picture style files to achieve the look you want for your images. These picture styles can then be applied to your images in the RAW processing stage or loaded onto the camera and applied at the time of shooting.) and Photo Stitch. All these programs get updated for free.

Sony paid Phase One to fully support their cameras in Capture One. Tethering is supported on the α5000, α6000 and α7 on up.

I don't know how many times I've tried other software than ACR/Lightroom but it has been many and every time I come back. Other software will often seem more impressive by starting at a sharper, more contrasty and saturated level, but after I play around with the same image in Lightroom I realize there's no magic anywhere. Lightroom is ACR with the tools in a vertical side panel, plus a few features like the print and book modules, plus an extensive catalog system. The real difference is not file conversion but image adjustment. It's hard to beat the local adjustment options in Lightroom and ACR. Capture One comes closest, and clearly some prefer it.

Yiddish lesson:

The schlemiel spills his soup on the schlimazel.


As my loving partner said to me the other day: "these are my people"

I only use a few programs, so I can't really speak across the board. But when I tweaked Lightroom to apply a Fuji film preset (eg Astia) automatically upon importing files, my opinion of ACR went up a few notches. I now don't see any significant problem with Fuji and Adobe. Although, with Fuji, there are some situations when I can get a better result using Fuji's own raw converter. Just as previously, I was able to get better results using Canon's raw converter. I suspect that ACR is jack of all trades, but master of none. Luckily for Adobe, Photoshop and Lightroom are significantly better programs overall than any of the camera manufacturer's own software.

In that ACR uses the same engine as Lightroom, I think it is kind of fair to say that there is nothing ACR is best at.
With Lightroom, you get the same editing options, but you also get all of the cataloging, archiving, etc options too. Maybe just me being too pedantic, but thought I would mention that.
The only other converter that I hear of being commonly used is Capture One, especially among higher end corporate types or those doing very demanding portrait work. I am sure that it is ultimately better (not sure about the Fuji files specifically), but for my use, I really like that I can adjust in Lightroom, and then go directly to Photoshop without creating an intermediate TIFF file. Storage is cheap enough, but having a bunch of largish files taking up space on my drives is still something I want to avoid. Of course, this doesn't really answer the question.
Are there options that are commonly used beyond these big two?

ACR is fine for real output. The problem is the sharpening algorithm. RAF files benefit from some detail enhancement, but this doesn't play well with the sharpening slider.

Here's what I do...

Open RAF in ACR (or LR) leaving sharpen at default and bump up detail to 50-80% with some small amount of masking to prevent too much clear colour noise.

Do all the other contrast, distortion correction, film profiles etc. in ACR.

Open in Photoshop. A quick and dirty USM is enough for small prints or web views.

For more impact/quality or large prints, create a high pass filter on a duplicate layer (radius 1.2) and blend in overlay mode. Adjust fill amount to taste.

Some sharpening plugins also work well, but I don't use those either.

If downsizing for screen output, complete the resize and add a little low radius USM. For prints, add USM appropriate to print size and subject.

I compared the output in prints (crops scaled to A2 size or 24X16) with LR/PS, RAWTherapee, C1, PhotoNinja and Silkypix Pro. Mac users also have access to Iridient Developer.

All have pros and cons. Some are easier to get sharp foliage from, but are either more work or lack some of the Adobe tools. Adobe, if used as above, looks pretty good when actually printed or downsized to 50%.

I have no doubt that any maven who looked solely at detail levels in 100% on-screen images would take issue, but that would be to ignore the other weaknesses that each of them has.

[I never sharpen in ACR...in fact I only sharpen before specific output. I no longer sharpen at all for the web, because the blog files are too small to need it. Maybe that's why I haven't seen any problems in ACR...that and the fact that I'm not picky about color rendering. (I am picky about color correction, but that's not quite the same thing). --Mike

ACR makes everything look schmutzy.

Life is too short to do extensive comparisons. I have landed with Photoshop in 2001 when I bought my first film scanner. Used it ever since, except when I moved on the Lightroom 4 or 5 years ago. Never had a reason to use anything else, and I have used with Canon, Nikon, Sony, and yes, Fuji Raw files too.

I am sure there are lots of mavens out there that will be able to answer your question; not me. Life is too short.

I'm no maven when it comes to raw processing software. But I really like how ACR and Lightroom convert my raw Fuji X-Trans files. Fear no smear, see no smear. (is smear Yiddinglish?)

...saw an article years ago where Pop Photo tested the individual camera software RAW conversion apps against all 2nd party converters, and the camera software in all the major brands won hands-down...don't know if it's true today, but worth a try...

Iridient, hands down

If you don't sharpen in ACR, then you won't have many issues with it.

But if you ever do need to sharpen Fuji files for large prints, try high-pass sharpening first before USM. It does help separate the low contrast details.

Is there any benefit to turning the RAF files into DNG's in Lightroom before continuing to post process? Do we lose the "specialness" of the RAF files by doing so?

the word k'velen or k'vel means to glow with pride, i.e. the Bubbeh (grandmother) k'veled at her granddaughters graduation. On the other hand you have k'vetch which means to whine or complain, i.e. the Bubbeh k'vetched about the chopped liver because it wasn't made with schmaltz! OY!

I don't have any problems with Fuji raw files in LR (hardly ever use ACR/PS these days) - I never feel the need to sharpen them much either, but when required I don't see any problems there either

Capture One is outstanding for Fuji X. I have both lightroom and CO installed on a mac and never use LR for Fuji. The colors are dull, the amount of adjusting daunting. On the other hand CO renders beautifully. It cures the so called green impressionist effect found in LR conversions completely - it just doesn't happen with CO. To quote hijack a movie line - Capture One (for Fuji X) - there is no substitute.

Plus, unlike Adobe, where tech help is non-existent - Capture One is unbelievably responsive to email requests for assistance.

The only downside I have found with CO is that loading a large number of files into the catalog dawdles a bit and it doesn't implement auto complete of layers for the X sensors - you have to manually draw them.

PS - I don't do this for a living, I'm just (perhaps) an advanced amateur and I mainly do landscapes.

Sorry, Mike, but not being a maven on software, I can't help you with the ACR question. But mentioning Yiddish got my attention. Yes, there are words that complement in Yiddish, but they are outnumbered by the others. The complements are just not as much fun as the others.
While on the topic of Yiddish, readers living in or visiting the San Francisco Bay Area might want to visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Running through May 29 is an exhibit on Roman Vishniac. There are several books about Vishniac that have been published, including a recent one, but "A Vanished World" is a classic. I don't have the time to elaborate on it now, but the exhibit is well worth visiting. While there, an exhibit on Bill Graham is also on display.
During the 60's, I never thought that some time in the future I would be looking back at that scene in a museum!
In my opinion, both exhibits rate 5 stars.

When Fuji’s unique raw files first appeared, the version of Silkypix bundled with the cameras was just about the only satisfactory processing solution. Capture One was next. Soon a lot of processors could do the job acceptably. Some, like the Adobe processors, continued to make improvements, but it’s tough changing a program that has been built up over the years to handle almost every camera that has come along and make almost every possible adjustment to their raw files. Is there anyone that uses all the features of Photoshop? Is there anyone who even knows what all the features of Photoshop are? Steve’s guidance is absolutely on target, but “Open in Photoshop… For more impact/quality or large prints, create a high pass filter on duplicate layer (radius 1.2) and blend in overlay mode. Adjust fill about to taste.” is pretty complicated.
Much has to be said for the relatively new programs that make it very simple convert a Fuji raw file to tif or dng, make relatively basic tonal adjustments and provide excellent, perhaps superior sharpening either automatically or adjustments that are pretty much limited to radius and strength before passing the image on to another program for local burning and dodging, printing, e.t.c.. Actually, if you are a pixel peeper, I think some of these programs are superior to Camera Raw or Lightroom.
Steve’s list of alternative programs, Raw Therapee (the absolute, ultimate geek program for those folks who love to play with image processing), C1 (the old pro), PhotoNinja (a genuinely different look at image processing) and Iridient Developer (my own personal favorite) are all worth a look. I think combining Lightroom with PhotoNinja or Iridient gives excellent sharpness and tonal control. I would also take a look at AcuRaw and AcuRaw Mono for black-and-white. If you are a Lightroom fanatic, and many of us are, don’t think of these as new programs. Just think of them as added features to your favorite program.

The manufacturers all have their own secret cooking sauce. It is not just a matter of colour but how that colour plays with different light levels and the often overlooked sharpening equations(responsible for much of the noise in blue sky). I prefer the output close to the way the manufacturer intended. As such for Sony/Minolta if you care about colour Lightroom/Camera Raw is a no go. DXO or the manufacturers software. I just wish my manufacturer would put more time into making their software useful. I get the feeling most people do not feel that way. Hence we get the Adobe fallacy where two files from different makes treated with camera Raw are thought of as being equal in process.

I was out of the house when I first saw this question then forgot to type my answer when I got home.

The main reason to use ACR, IMHO, is that you have decided that you want to use the Adobe tool chain as the center for your post-processing flow.

For me this means that I do 99.5% of all of my post-processing in Lightroom, which is mostly just a friendly front end to ACR with a rudimentary support for storing photo metadata as well.

This is mostly a pragmatic decision based on the general fact that all of the software built by the camera companies is unmitigated crap and even if they make prettier images when you are done using them, making yourself use them on a daily basis is too much pain to bear.

The Adobe tools are not perfect but they are reasonably competent and show some indication that a professional interaction designer had some say in their implementation. So in general if you want me to use your camera it better work with ACR/Lightroom or I won't even bother.

The fact that ACR doesn't deal with Fuji files that well is the second most important reason I've avoided the Fuji cameras. The first most was that I rented one of the X-pro bodies a few years ago and didn't like it.

My personal preference for processing digital photos is DxO Optics Pro for the basic development, then ACR for fine tuning, then Photoshop for final enhancements. I'm shooting with a Canon EOS 5ds and find that this combination works particularly well for the majority of my images. I should note that my goal is to produce works of art, so the techniques I use may not suit others. Examples of images processed in this way are available at www.drhaynes.com

ACR is fine for Bayer pattern color filter arrays. There is a long development history behind it and works well for Bayer sensors. Lightroom provides the same functionality for converting RAW files as ACR as it is the same set of demosaicing algorithms lying under LR. Personally, I find ACR kludgy to use compared to LR because you have to go back into Photoshop after the conversion, and your files become bitmapped and all subsequent changes/edit are permanent. LR lets you make changes that do not actually change the underlying RAW file.

Iridient Developer (IRD) just flat rocks for Fuji X files, and is getting better all the time. I've become convinced that Brian Griffith, the developer behind IRD, is an absolute genius. He's singlehandedly been able to do something with X-trans RAF conversion that Adobe, with all it's resources has not, or is not, willing to accomplish. He even has Fuji X specific conversions for B&W as opposed to color. I've timed and "out and back" for conversion from LR to IRD and back and it takes all of 30 seconds.

But the best RAW conversion application I've used for any camera, regardless of RAW file type is Capture One. It has the fastest, most seamless workflow (very similar now to LR), and does the best job of image quality, including demosaicing, sharpening, and provides absolutely glorious color. It also has the best ability to pull up shadow detail and pull down highlight detail without the contrast curve going turning to mushy grays, and a truly excellent and simple keystone correction tool. It now also supports adjustments layers and curves adjustments using only the luminance channel (brilliant). What it can do for skin tones is absolutely amazing. There is a reason so many pros shoot with Phase One MF backs and Capture One for image processing.

I tested ACR, Irident and Dcraw* head to head and I couldn't find a difference in terms of pure "raw engine". Like Steve Jacob in another comment correctly (IMO) pointed out the origin of the poor results with foliage etc. (basically any subject with very fine random structure, compared to the sensor Niquist frequency) lays in the sharpening.

*For the geeks out here, this is the command I use with Dcraw to convert all images in a folder (change "*.raf" with ".RAF" if needed, it's case sensitive):

for filename in *.raf ; do dcraw -H 1 -w -o 4 -q 3 -6 -T "$filename" ; done

Many people using LR or PS are relying on the "Bridgewood method":
basically a low radius - high detail approach.

To me the files sharpened this way often look though either too crunchy or too soft.

I've found another way that works better for my taste. I use a fairly conservative (for X-trans sensors) set of values in the Lightroom sharpening panel:
35 to 45 / radius 1 to 1.4 / details 40 to 60 / masking as needed to clear areas with low/no detail, but usually at least around 10

Obviously the exact values will depend by how fine the details are in the actual image, the amount of it etc.

To this I will then add a ton of "Clarity" (even 100% if the image is really detailed, like some underwood shots), decreasing "Contrast" as needed (even -100% in some rare case) until the image looks good.

This leaves you with images than even at 100% magnification resemble a lot a good medium format 4.5x6cm slide film scan, and that will sharpen beautifully in Photoshop for printing purposes (with the sharpening obviously based on printing media and size).

ACR is Adobe's "middle-of-the-road" vision - generally satisfactory, but far from the best! I recommend Capture One for better RAW conversion, and Iridient Developer specifically for Fuji demosaicing - but its user interface, and workflow, will make you run back to Capture One or Lightroom.... Either software will give you much better resolution and color than ACR - but if you'll only be posting to the web, it's irrelevant!

In every language, there are words and phrases that express a thought so perfectly that they need to be part of our everyday vocabulary, so matter what our everyday spoken language might be. Some of these are slang, others are lent to us from other cultures
Yiddish is also a favorite in our house, as any language that uses the word "cockamamy", and the phrase "hok a chainik" should be.

I suspect my daughter doesn't even know that a "shmatte" is a word we imported from another culture. She just knows what to do when I ask her to go get a shmatte, so we can wash the car.

One of my prized books doesn't have any pictures.
It is Leo Rosten's "The Joys of Yiddish".
His explanation of the nuances between a "shmo", a shlemiel", and a "shmendrik", will have you laughing you tuchis off, and his elaboration of the "SH-" and "SHM-"sound that you can use to prefix any word is priceless-

"Mrs. Siegel confided to her neighbor that her son was was in a terrible state,and going to a psychoanalyst.
'And the doctor says my Marvin is suffering from an Oedipus Complex'.
'Oedipus Shmoedipus', scoffed her neighbor, 'As long as he loves his mother!'".

Without these words and phrases to enrich it, our language would be bubkes.

I've used ACR with Nikon, Sony and Olympus files and it has worked just fine. I've heard opinions that Nikon's own Capture NX produces better output than ACR, but my experience suggests that the differences are pretty small for an experienced user.

The whole question about choosing a better raw conversion seems to mostly come up from Fuji users since the X-trans sensor is difficult to demosaic correctly. For users of more traditional Bayer cameras the raw conversion choice is usually dictated more by workflow choices and getting the results one wants easily rather than image quality in some particular benchmark. In terms of workflow, Adobe's software work pretty well.

ACR and Lightroom use the same raw conversion software engine, so either that meets your expectations is a fine choice.

I hear a lot about how this or that other specialized raw conversion program will be better than the Adobe products. However, if you understand how the Adobe tools work, they really do a fine job.

I've been shooting with the X-trans sensor system since the XE1 came out and I recently acquired the X-Pro2. I regularly print beautiful 18 x 24 prints from the 16MP XE1 files and, although I haven't done so yet, I'm confident that the X-Pro2 (and, soon, XT2) files will be even better.

I haven't been at all tempted to move away from my ACR/Photoshop based workflow.


This is a comment on a post that I feel will be published on Tuesaday 19th. I just don't believe tha mishmash is Yiddish. It feels like English and a quick Google gives at least 1450 for its earliest use. However Yiddish being a Germanic language it is likely that some of its constructs may parallel English. On the other hand, maybe it got into American from Yiddish ;-)

for Fujifilm X-Trans files, ACR gets an "Oy Vey" from me. X-Trans processed through Iridient Developer - Mechaye.

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