Fujifilm Raw photographers rejoice: Adobe and Apple improve Raw support

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Fujifilm X-E1 review

No matter how much I tried processing the Fujifilm Raw files from my Fuji X-E1 I could not get near the JPEG out of camera. Fujifilm employs a sensor that has no optical low-pass filter and a non-standard color-filter-array (as opposed to the Bayer “standard”). There is no denying the output of Fuji X series cameras is amazing! But while everyone was happy with the results of the JPEGS, processing Raw files was a headache.

Update 20 April: Fujifilm has also worked with Apple, and OS X is now supporting X-Trans Raw files. After installing the Raw Compatibility Update for OS X, iPhoto and Aperture play nice with Fuji Raw files. This is an important update for all X-Trans sensor cameras!
I do not have Aperture, so I just hope this update is as good as the one in Lightroom!

Fujifilm Raw support for X-Trans sensor
Fujifilm Raw support for X-Trans sensor

Adobe Lightroom update notification
Adobe Lightroom update notification

But finally Adobe (together with Fujifilm) has officially improved the support for Fuji Raw (.RAF) files. The ACR 7.4 (adobe camera raw – the develop module) brings large improvements to Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. While other Raw converters could process Fujifilm Raw files before, Adobe has (for better or worse) the largest market share. And as I routinely use Adobe Lightroom I was eager to test how the new Lightroom release (4.4) plays with RAF files.

who is the update for

This update of Adobe Camera Raw improves support for Fuji X-E1 (yay!), Fuji X-PRO1 (long time overdue), Fuji X20 and Fuji X100s. It is important to note that the older Fuji X10 and Fuji X100 have different sensor technologies and are not affected by this release. This update is very important if you shoot Fuji Raw files. While I greatly love my Fuji X-E1, I had reconciled myself with Jpeg files. I knew that Fujifim was bound to improve Raw support but in the meantime I preferred the ease-of-use of Jpeg. If you use Capture One, Aperture, DCRaw or other Raw processing software this update of course does not bring anything useful.

Adobe has also started the beta test for Lightroom 5 and not only it includes support for our favorite Fuji cameras it also brings a few upgraded features: a more powerful spot removal tool,  a new tool in the form of radial gradients, a perspective correction in the form of upright and the possibility to edit offline files!

Fujifilm Raw test

As I had a few Raw files on my computer I decided to play a bit and see what the update brings. I love my Fujifilm X-E1 but I haven’t shot a lot of Raw files recently. However, the ones I found I think are pretty good to test on. The photo is shot with the Fuji X-E1 and the beautiful Fuji XF 35mm F1.4 .

  • Raw file with no adjustments (zeroed-out), exported from Lightroom 4.3
  • Raw file processed as I like, trying to get as close as possible to the Jpeg output, exported from Lightroom 4.3
  • Jpeg out of camera, no adjustments
  • Raw file with no adjustments, exported from Lightroom 4.4
  • Raw file processed as I like, trying to get as close as possible to the Jpeg output, exported from Lightroom 4.4
  • in the comparison I used 100% crops
Fujifilm Raw test file
Fujifilm Raw test file | Fuji XF 35mm – F1.4 – 1/125s – ISO 1250

I think this is a good photo to see how Adobe Lightroom works with micro-contrast in hair areas.

Fujifilm Raw processed with Lightroom
Fujifilm Raw processed with Lightroom, before and after ACR 7.4

Fujifilm Raw files converted with Lightroom – my opinions

Until now I would not even touch raw files from the Fuji X-E1. I knew the information was there, but the headache to intensively process the files was not worth it in my opinion. I would prefer to process the Fujifilm Raw file in-camera and export different versions. With Fujifilm X-E1 I became a Jpeg shooter. This has changed with ACR 7.4, and these are my findings:

  • small detail is now processed correctly, and not transformed into a mush
  • some of the colors (especially reds and magentas) I think look a bit better in the Fujifilm Raw as opposed to the Jpegs
  • I can now again use the full power of Adobe Lightroom and not be afraid that every change I make to the Jpeg is destructive
  • for a lot of images, Jpeg is better for the simple fact that out-of-the-box the film emulations look great
  • from now on for critical shootings I will start on using Raw+Fine – and get the best of both worlds
  • the Raw files received a higher degree of sharpness in Lightroom 4.3 than in 4.4
  • it is amazing how good the Jpeg processing in the Fujifilm X cameras is!

What do you think? Have you tried the new ACR? Will you shoot exclusively Raw, Jpegs or a combination?
You can also read my full review of the Fujifilm X-E1 or jump straight to photo galleries shot with this camera in beautiful Rome and at Pompeii.

Series Navigation« the bokeh of the Fuji XF 35mm f1.4the Fuji X-E1 usage in the real-world »

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