15
Jan
2013

Comparing RAW converters: JPEG vs. Lightroom, Capture One, Silkypix & RPP

by Rico Pfirstinger

NOTE: This article has been edited to add Raw Photo Processor (RPP) and Lightroom 4.4RC to the comparison.

Yesterday, Richard Butler of DPREVIEW fame published an article comparing several X-Trans compatible RAW converters. You can download the RAW file of this demo shot yourself by following the link above. Just scroll down to the end of the DPREVIEW article.

This is an X-Pro1 in-camera JPEG of the original demo shot that was used in the article.

DPR Tram DR200% Astia (in-camera JPEG)

You can click on the image for larger views including full-size. Strangely enough, Richard used a DR200% shot (= a RAW that is underexposed by 1 EV) and film simulation mode Astia. Since Astia offers a different color gradation and more shadow contrast than the camera’s standard (default) Provia setting, this version of the demo image is actually not very suitable for comparing external RAW converters with their respective default settings, which will typically try to mimic the camera’s default settings and look. So let’s do a better job, shall we?

This is the same file as before, now developed in-camera with the X-Pro1’s Provia film simulation mode, using the camera’s default JPEG settings:

DPR Tram DR200% Provia (in-camera JPEG)

Again, click on the image to get to larger views on Flickr. As the demo shot was taken in DR200%, the camera’s internal RAW converter automatically adjusted shadow tones and darker midtones to compensate for the RAW’s -1 EV underexposure, while leaving the highlight tones intact (click here for a more elaborate discussion of how to extend dynamic range). As you can see, Provia offers less shadow contrast than Astia, so the shot looks a bit flatter and also “less sharp”, because increased contrast will give a (false) impression of increased sharpness. So let’s forget about the Astia JPEG shown in the DPREVIEW article. Let’s instead make this Provia JPEG our reference image and compare it with the results of three external RAW converters: Lightroom 4.3, Capture One 7.0.2 (release version) and Silkypix 5.

Here’s a screenshot showing a 100% crop of this Provia JPEG. Click on it to go to Flickr for a full-size viewing option:

DPR Tram DR200% Provia detail screenshot

Now that our benchmark image is established, let’s have a look at its Lightroom 4.3 version. Lightroom/ACR recognizes the camera’s DR settings (stored as metadata in the RAW file) and automatically compensates (at least partially) for it in its default import settings. Again, click on the pic for larger views:

DPR Tram DR200% Lightroom 4.3

As you can see, Lightroom’s demoasicing quality is indeed questionable, exhibiting blurry details (the so-called “watercolor effect”) and strong color bleeding in the green/white street name sign. Have a look at this 100% crop:

DPR Tram DR200% LR4.3 detail screenshot

Quite understandably, some paying Adobe customers are not content with such results. Luckily, Adobe has since updated its demosaicing in Lightroom 4.4:

DPR Tram DR200% LR4.4RC

Many X-Trans sensor users also put their hopes in Capture One (C1), a competing RAW converter with plenty of pro appeal that offers full X-Trans support in its current version 7.0.2. So let’s get right to it, you may again click on the pic for larger viewing options:

DPR Tram DR200% Capture One 7.0.2 (release version)

The Capture One 7.0.2 version of the demo file seemingly reveals more detail and appears sharper when using the program’s default settings. Color bleeding in the street sign has almost disappeared. Here’s a screenshot with a crop:

DPR Tram DR200% Capture One 7.0.2 (release version) detail screenshot

By default, C1 apparently does NOT adapt a RAW image’s tonality to match the camera’s DR settings. Instead, it’s simply pushing up exposure by 1 EV (DR200%) or 2 EV (DR400%), sacrificing highlights in the process. This means that the user needs to manually adjust exposure settings, shadows & highlights and tonality when importing DR200% or DR400% X-Trans RAW files.

This Silkypix 5 version of the demo file uses standard default settings, except for the film simulation choice, which was set to Portrait Color 2 (PC2) and “V4 compatible”. These settings typically resemble the out-of-camera Provia settings of the Fuji X series. Click on the pic for larger viewing options:

DPR Tram DR200% SP5 PC2

There’s no visible color bleeding and overall sharpness & detail look quite good, at least in my humble opinion (click image for larger views):

DPR Tram DR200% SP5 PC2 detail screenshot

Silkypix 5 also recognizes the camera’s DR settings in the RAW metadata and adjusts for DR200% by pushing the exposure up +1 EV and increasing DR in the program’s highlight recovery control panel by the same amount.

While it’s often rather difficult to increase sharpness and detail in Lightroom/ACR or Capture One without also emphasizing adverse effects like “watercoloring”, Silkypix users can sharpen X-Trans RAWs by a fair amount without experiencing such problems. Silkypix also offers an optional sharpening method called “Pure Detail”, which was used for the example below. So this is mostly the same Silkypix 5 rendering as before, however with modified sharpness settings (click image for larger views):

DPR Tram DR200% SP5 PC2 Pure Detail Sharpening

Here’s a screenshot showing a 100% crop of this variation:

DPR Tram DR200% SP5 PC2 Pure Detail Sharpening (detail screenshot)

Of course, all these exercises are quite futile when they don’t result in nicely looking images. External RAW conversion is not about using standard import settings, it should be more about using the right tools to turn imagination into images. Never lose track of this, and don’t spend too much of your time with pixel peeping. To wrap things up, here’s my quick personal take on DPREVIEW’s demo file:

DSCF0215 - final result

EDIT: Here’s the demo file processed with Raw Photo Processor, a Russian shareware RAW converter based on DCRAW. I used the software’s K64 PW film gradation to immediately get this retro look. The result looks sharp and detailed, no color bleeding, but there’s the infamous “zipper effect”.

DPR Tram DR200% RPP

RPP does not process any digital lens correction metadata (distortion, vignetting etc.) and uses the full sensor, delivering a larger image of 16.3 megapixels (instead of 16.0 MP). The screenshot below shows the development paramaters I used to process the demo file. Not the numbers in the “Compressed Exposure” fields. This is my compensation for the DR200% RAW which was underexposed by -1 EV.

DPR Tram DR200% RPP screenshot

Finally, let’s look at one of my own sample images to compare how Silkypix 5 and Capture One 7.0.2 can handle increased sharpness and maximum detail without displaying undesirable side effects. I have chosen an old RAW file I shot 10 months ago in Singapore’s botanical garden with my first X-Pro1, then still a pre-production model. I used the 60mm macro lens (also pre-production), put the gear on a tripod and shot this lovely flower in ISO 200. There’s plenty of color, structure and detail in this shot, and this complexity lends itself for an external RAW workflow.

Here’s what I could come up with when fine-tuning the shot in Capture One 7.0.2:

DSCF0544 – C1

As usual, click in the pic to get on Flickr and display a full-size view once you are there. The result looks pretty detailed,doesn’t it? But will it be good enough to beat Silkypix 5? Let’s see, here’s my Silkypix version of the shot:

DSCF0544 - SP5

Here’s a rendering that was done with Lightroom 4.4RC:

DSCF0544 - LR4.4RC

You be the judge. And please don’t trust my mediocre post-processing skills, as I am sure that many of you guys can do a better job. So here you go: Click this link to download the original RAW file from my Dropbox and give it a work-over with the RAW converter(s) of your choice! If you have an X-Pro1 available, also try the internal RAW converter. If you come up with anything interesting, feel free to post and link to it in the comments, and tell us which converter and what settings you have used.

Here’s another direct C1/SP5 comparison illustrating the look and effectiveness of the different sharpening methods when it comes to preserve maximum detail:

DSCF1397 - C1

DSCF1397 – SP5

EDIT 2 (19JAN): If you want to have a look at Silkypix 5 handling green grass and foliage with lots of detail, have a look at this sample (click on pic for full-res) options:

DSCF0998

Capture One 7.0.2:

DSCF0998 - C1

Lightroom 4.3:

DSCF0998 - LR4

Lightroom 4.4RC:

DSCF0998 - LR4.4RC

And RPP:

DSCF0998 - RPP

By the way: Here is the full Flickr set with all sample pics from this article.

Rico Pfirstinger studied communications and has been working as journalist, publicist, and photographer since the mid-80s. He has written a number of books on topics as diverse as Adobe PageMaker and sled dogs, and produced a beautiful book of photographs titled Huskies in Action (German version). He has spent time working as the head of a department with the German Burda-Publishing Company and served as chief editor for a winter sports website. After eight years as a freelance film critic and entertainment writer in Los Angeles, Rico now lives in Germany and devotes his time to digital photography and compact camera systems. His book “Mastering the FUJIFILM X-Pro1” (Kindle Edition) (Apple iBook Store) (German version) is available on Amazon and offers a plethora of tips, secrets and background information on successfully using Fuji’s X-Pro1 and X-E1 system cameras, lenses and key accessories.

  • Pablo

    Thanks for the info. Still hoping Lr gets with it. Not wanting to change workflow.

  • jean pierre

    Hi Rico
    Oh, great work. It seems that Silkypix 5.0.30 works quite good.

    C1 7.0.2 can read the DR information from the RAF-file. I tested it!

    My first quick test with Silkypix 5.0.30 show me more details as C1!!

    That’s good.

    Finally, now we have 2 good RAW-Converter to come nearly JPEG-OOC. For artist and for other effect I can use Lr oder ARC!

    Great choice!

  • http://www.jasonchart.com JasonChart

    The jpeg on aperture: mini heart attack.

    Too bad apple has left us in cold water…

  • TimoB

    I’m using LR since Version 1.0. Tried out C1 7.02 and have to say i will definitely wait for LR supporting X-Trans. LR is the best workflow tool ever. C1 is somewhat slow compared to LR which is also much more user friendly!

  • Marc

    I cannot convert the RAF from your Dropbox or from DPReview in my X-E1, the Raw conversion option in the menu is grayed out. Unfortunately, it seems we cannot try out our in-camera converter on others’ photos.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      That’s why I wrote “if you have an X-Pro1 available”. Not X-E1. ;)

  • Markus

    I reprocessed your file with Capture One and tried to emulate the capture one contrast and detail while keeping noise in check. In my opinion the converters are very, very close. My version seems to have a bit less noise then the SP5 version but trades that for some slight loss in high frequency detail.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/marbla/8383430270/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    Settings are (the ones I changed):

    BASE CHARACTERISTICS
    Curve: Film High Contrast

    EXPOSURE
    Exposure: -0.65
    Contrast: 5
    Saturation -10

    HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE
    Highlights: 40

    CLARITY
    Method: Neutral
    Clarity: 16
    Structure: 40 <– This is one strong determinant of high frequency detail at the cost of noise

    SHARPENING
    Amount: 260
    Radius: 0.5 <— slight decrease in halo artifacts

    NOISE REDUCTION
    Luminance: 60 <— I increased luminance noise reduction because it only slightly decreased detail but reduced background noise
    Color: 15 <– very little visible effect

    NOISE REDUCTION ADVANCED
    Detail: 64 <– another strong determinant of high frequency detail at the cost of increased noise

    As mentioned I am sure that there are much better people than me in terms of processing but I think this improves on the first C1 version.

    • Markus

      Incidentally you guys should download the files to your system to view them, makes a bit of a difference from the browser. Looking at both files after downloading them again (to make sure there is no compression) I think I might actually give C1 the edge.

    • Charuteiro

      Would you upload your image to Flickr as a JPEG? Thanks.

  • Andreas

    I have processed about a dozen files comparing SP and C1. Except of one image, I preferred the results of C1. However, I reduced luminance and color in the noise reduction to 0-30 and increased detail to 55-90 (depending on the ASA of the image). Like that, images with plenty of detail result. One issue with C1 were the bare branches of trees against blue sky: at a certain level thickness (pixelwise) of the intersecting branches, pink color artefacts are created.

    • Markus

      What you are seeing is some moiré. You can try and use the moiré reduction to control it (works with the local adjustment too).

      • Andreas

        Unfortunately, moiré reduction is not really successfull: nothing happens until the slider is moved to 60, than the pink color gets just smeared. Moreover, the pattern causing the aartefact is coarser than the typical one causing moiré.

  • Peter N.

    Rico, thanks for the review and the opportunity to work on the photo ourselves. Very helpful indeed. Your other articles are very helpful as well (I am still in the processing of deciding which camera to buy as successor of my “old” Nikon D200).

    I’d like to thank Markus and Andreas for sharing their postproc settings as well.

    I was quite pleased with LR4 processing by just applying the VSCO Film 02 LR4 Standard Fuji Superia 100 setting. I guess it brings what some people refer to as “fuji colors”.

    I am less pleased with LR4 processing of X10 RAW files. The noise is clearly visible while being virtually absent in C1.

    wrt speed: I did not notice a difference in speed between LR4 and C1 at all.

  • John_N

    Excellent comparison Rico.

    How are you finding C1 on high ISO files?

    I think pushing high ISO is C1′s (7.0,2) Achilles heel at the moment, My intial findings show a lot of chroma smearing and purple tinging. I know its “preliminary support” so fingers crossed that P1 sort it out. as its very good in most other instances.

    • Ryan Williams

      Having the same problems with high ISO files, John. Dark areas are exhibiting a blue/purple tint, which really does look horrible. C1′s chroma noise reduction helps none.

      I suspect using anything higher than DR100% will exaggerate the issue as it’s having to push things up even further, which at high ISOs is a big deal. Try dropping down to DR100% if you haven’t already to see if it helps.

      I really wish Lightroom would just get sorted out. I prefer its interface and workflow to C1′s big time. As for SilkyPix…. well.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      Yes, I experienced some pretty annoying issues with shadow tones in high ISO RAWs, specifically the blue/purple tint. I hoped these issues would be sorted out in the release version, so I didn’t mention it, as reviewing weaknesses of beta or pre-production products is very bad style and uncalled for. I haven’t tested high ISO with the C1 release version, yet, but if you and others are still experiencing those issues, I guess nothing has changed between beta and release regarding this issue.

    • PRM

      great article Rico! also looking fwd to your book release here in NY!

      I’m also having the same problems with high ISO 3200+ in the beta version. anyone see any differences between full release of C1 and beta in the high ISO issue?

      many thanks!

      • Ryan Williams

        Just to clarify, I’ve only used the final release version and that’s what my above comment regarding the blue/purple tint was based on. Here’s an example of some 100% crops…

        Capture One: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/37346336/dog-c1.jpg

        Lightroom: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/37346336/dog-lr.jpg

        SOOC JPEG: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/37346336/dog-sooc.jpg

        I did try and reduce the tint by editing all the noise reduction/sharpening options but had no luck, this is the best I can get it (without pulling black levels down, obscuring other details).

        I still think using DR200% or DR400% can make this issue a lot worse, in particularly bad scenarios it can actually happen in Lightroom too. But it seems to happen much more easily in Capture One.

  • rasterdogs

    Thanks for another great article!

  • Charuteiro

    If one were starting from scratch with no prior software or bias, and were to purchase and learn only one premium software for use with an X Trans camera, which software would you or your readers recommend, Silkypix DSP5 or Capture One Pro 7?

    Thanks for sharing your great photos and expertise!

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      Silkypix 5. It’s the best overall solution for X-Trans that I know of, but I couldn’t try the new AccuRAW, yet, since there has been no reply to my request. Silky 5 gives great detail, works with all ISOs (high and low) and offers a broad variety of color options. It’s sometimes tricky with dynamic range, rather slow in performance (but you don’t have to wait for the entire image to recalculate when changing stuff), not really cheap and certainly not complete in the sense that you will need another program for final post processing and cataloging, like Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop.

      I have just uploaded 5 new samples shot with the 14mm lens. I processed all of them in Silky 5, with some finishing touches (vignette, detail/clarity, mid-contrast, color saturation & vibrancy) applied in Aperture. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/25805910@N05/sets/72157632483673644/ for the full set.

      • Thomas

        Hi Rico,

        How do you export the images from silky to lightroom/aperture? As JPEG? TIFF? Some other format?

        Looking for the best workflow for the fuji raw files that works for me as well.

        Thanks!

        Thomas.

        • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

          16 bit TIFF.

  • Antoine

    It’s a pity there’s no RPP version of that street car.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      Since you can download the RAF, why not make your own? By the way, there is a RPP version of the flower in my book.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      Okay, I am just too nice and have added an RPP version to my article. :)

  • kuishinbou

    Reading all these negative comments about raw conversion has confused me, as some claim that the x-trans sensor is perhaps the best sensor below full frame. So, Rico, could you please tell me whether the raw files are better than other aps-c files, and these issues are merely minor issues? Or are the files inferior to those from other cameras due to the conversion issues? I haven’t bought one yet and would like to know…thanks.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      That’s for you to answer. Just load RAWs from other APS-C cameras in any of these converters and compare them and find out what you like or don’t like. A lot of this bickering is a matter of personal taste, anyway. Some like it sharp, some like it soft. Some are detail hogs, some are color hogs.

      For me, the X-Trans RAW issue is a non-issue, as I have plenty of choices (as illustrated in this article, and there’s still AccuRAW around the corner), and I do get very good results.

      Folks comparing X-Trans RAWs with full-frame sensor RAWs (like from their EOS 5 Mk II or III) have often found that Fuji’s images are equal or almost equal. Of course, you won’t see much of a difference in detail resolution once you stop pixel peeping and look at your pics in normal magnifications. Color grading (“Fuji colors”) is usually more important, and there are also good reasons (including convenience) to stick with JPEGs from the camera’s internal RAW converter for many “everyday” applications. These JPEGs are quite robust. With my X10, I almost always use the internal converter and post-process the JPEGs in Aperture, making use of VSCO Film 01/02. Works like a charm and looks terrific.

      The “negativity” you read is basically caused by an inflexibility to change an established workflow (aka old habits). If people would change RAW converters as often as they change camera models and lenses, this discussion would not be happening, as everybody would simply not use Adobe, but C1, RPP, Silkypix or the internal RAW converter.

      But hey, I have X-Trans pics on Flickr with a huge amount of hits and nice comments that were processed with Lightroom/ACR, and nobody complained. Because they look just fine. I am definitely not “anti-Adobe”, and Lightroom is by a fair margin my first choice for X100 RAWs – not Aperture, not Silkypix, not Capture One, not RPP, not DxO Optics Pro. Yep, I own, use and know them all. So even though I catalog all my files in Aperture, I will always develop critical X100 RAWs in Lightroom, then export them as TIFFs to Aperture.

      • kuishinbou

        Thank you very much, Rico.
        I was just concerned, as many people are still saying there are issues with the raw conversion, even in C1. I am assuming the remaining issues are primarily only noticeable when pixel peeping. And, if we analyzed the raw conversion for other cameras as thoroughly as people have been with the Fuji X-series, I am sure we could find issues as well.

        Once again, thanks Rico!

        • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

          Sure, every RAW converter has some issues, and there are also visible difference between Aperture, LR, C1, DxO and Silky when it comes to files from the X100, a camera with a very popular and common 12 MP Bayer sensor from Sony which was used in plenty of APS-C cameras from several major brands. Was there a shitstorm from Silky, DxO or Aperture users once they found out that Adobe did a better job with these files? Nope. Did they even REALIZE that Adobe does a better job? Probably not, most users probably simply didn’t and don’t know any better.

          On the other hand, improvements can and will still be made regarding X-Trans. It’s a new technology, so there is still room for improvement. Which is good, as there isn’t that much room for improvement left for Bayer sensors, because Bayer is very mature technology. For some (like Chromasoft), X-Trans is a business opportunity. For others (like Adobe) it’s an opportunity to piss-off their paying customers.

          I used C1 with great success for some of my pics. Have a look at this example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25805910@N05/8311689907/in/set-72157631699329942

          • Hanseberhardt

            How to lobby Apple about Aperture & X–trans RAW:

            Apple have always served the creative community,
            and made the aesthetics of their products a priority.

            Sir Jonathan Ives (ex-Royal College of Art, like me)
            is now in overall charge of design innovation at Apple.
            He knows ‘small is beautiful’, ‘less is more’ and the
            cynicism about Apple isn’t justified. Apple being
            primarily a visual company wants Apple users to reflect
            their artistic philosophy. So appealing to their visual
            integrity can work, as it has never been any old cash cow.

            Lets start our campaign here:
            http://www.apple.com/feedback/aperture.html

            Thanks for everyone’s thoughts. Everything helps.

    • jon burtoft

      Hi, i bought a xpro1 4 months ago, i sold my canon 40d dslr kit and lenses and in the middle of selling my micro four thirds gear. I find the image quality of the x-trans sensor to be far superior in every way to my previous files

      My workflow has completely changed as i was solely a raw shooter and lightroom conversionist, i now shoot raw +JPG and 9 out of 10 times i use the jpg, if in require any whitebalance tweaks etc i use the in-camera raw conversion, I the drop the jpgs into lightroom 4 and process from there. I find the latitude for processing these jpgs is amazing with no visible banding/ separation of tones etc which used to happen quite readily with my Panny GF2 raw files if pushed too hard.

      The clarity and detail of the files is fantastic and the range of subtle tones and graduations is superb. The Dynamic range offered by the files is far greater than my previous cameras.

      I occasionally dive back through my archives and i now can see a clear distinction in quality with the x-trans files being so much better. If you pixel peep and only look at files at 100% – %200 on a screen and look for problems you will find them, the same as with most cameras. In the real world the raw conversion issues are very minor and not relevant, at least for me anyway. To see some of my work please visit flickr.com/photos/jonnieburtoft
      Kind regards Jon

  • Charuteiro

    Could you kindly upload an OOC JPEG of DSCF0544 (botanical garden flowers) to Flickr for comparison to the C1-7 and SP-DSP5 images? Thanks!

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      You can actually find this very comparison in my book (which is finally shipping). Or you can download the RAW and develop it in your own X-Pro1 with whatever JPEG settings you like.

  • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger
    • kuishinbou

      I think both images are very nice, with excellent details. To be honest, I can’t tell which one is better for details, though they seem slightly different in light and tones. I would be happy with either…

    • Charuteiro

      Thanks for the additional images for comparison.

      I compared your versions of DSCF0544 from SP-DSP5 and COP-7 relative to mine from RFC-EX. I created an image of DSCF0544 in RFC-EX that has a histogram similar to your version from SP-DSP5. Although the histograms are close, I could not match the details, highlights and colours of SP-DSP5 using RFC-EX. Capture One Pro 7 is closer, but still not the detail resolution of SP-DSP5.

      Screenshots from RFC-EX of my comparison are here:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/91782021@N04/8388521042/in/set-72157632542521726/

      Thanks again for the sample images!

  • Christian

    Comparing these closly side by side I clearly see more fine detail in the SP5 version of the last two samples – nice editing!

    Darf ich fragen, welche genauen Einstellungen/Werte Du bei der Schärfe “Hoher Detailreichtum” verwendet hast?

    (May I ask, which SP5 settings you have used?)

    I found the examples with the flower both a little oversharpend to my taste, but love the PP on the last one!

    I already own Silkypix 5, but use Apple Aperture mainly, though I really liked the Silkypix “look” with some of my X100 RAWs . I thought about getting Capture One for the X-Trans support, but it seems I already have all the software I need?

    One question: I use Silkypix 5.0.30 with my new X-E1 – I always get greenish color casts when using the “Auto” settings from SP WB dialog…I have to set it to “Camera” to get a neutral WB…a bug?

    Thanks a lot for this review!

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      In Pure Detail mode, I usually increase Outline Emphasis a bit and dial down Detail Emphasis a little. Add some False Outline Control and reduce Demoasic Sharpness as required to avoid unpleasant artefacts. NR can usually stay at defaults, at least for low ISO shots.

      Note that SP5 adapts all sharpness/NR default settings depending on the ISO in the Exifs. This includes “false” ISO values coming from DR extended DR200 and DR400 shots, aka underexposed RAWs. So e.g. for a DR200 RAW, I’d rather use the settings of a ISO 200 shot and not those of a ISO 400 shot (which SP5 will use by default).

      Green color cast is easily avoided by always using V4 compatible film modes, as described in the article. No need to adjust WB or anything.

      • jean pierre

        After tests with SP 5.0.30:
        It is very suitable; more detail, better ISO (400 to 6400) and special the DR200 and DR400 processing!
        SP5 is the RAW Converter for the X-Trans shure. Then export it as a 16bit-TIFF and edit in Lightroom, C1, Aperture, Photoshop or other softwares, of your choice.

        Many thanks Rico for your very helpful comments. Without this, I would have never tested SP5!!

        Go and try SP5.0.30, you will not be disappointed.

      • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

        I wouldn’t say that SP5 or any specific raw converter is “THE best converter”. Every product has its weaknesses and strengths. That’s why I like having a choice. I use my raw converters like a toolbox, and you can never have to many tools, right?

        • jean pierre

          Of course, you can have many software in your toolbox.
          However, if I have a tool that does not fit, then I have to take the correct one.

          So it is with SP5.0.30. It fits very well with the RAF-file from the X-Trans Sensor!
          Of course, I can develop the RAF-file with other RAW-onverters. However, I need to know, that it does not fit one hundred percent.

          Nikon has launched its RAW-converter Capture NX on the market, because it develops the NEF-file 100% of sure. Some other RAW-converter were even on the market yet for NEF-file!

  • Paul Amos

    I’m new to this and a bit confused. For many years I have used Canon gear but recently just got a FujiFilm X-E1, and love it. I have used PSE intermittently but having just retired want to get serious, so am loading Lightroom and Photoshop onto my Mac. In the past I have mostly shot jpegs, but understand the benefits of Raw and want to go down this path. I have loaded Silky Pix onto the Mac but cannot load Fine Pix Viewer for some reason so have contacted Fuji to understand why. Do I need this viewer to look at a library of RAF files? Maybe there is some other solution. This all seems a bit hard to me…I just want to enjoy this hobby What can’t Adobe just tell us what there intention is with Fuji support? If they are going to do it, I will wait.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      I have never used or even installed FinePix Viewer, so I am no sure why I’d even need this software. I am quite content with the choice of RAW converters that I have presented in this article, and I use Aperture to manage the results. My RAWs are stored in simple folders on a hard drive, with backup copies automatically going to my virtual Dropbox, just in case something terrible happens to my computer.

      • Paul Amos

        Thanks for your feedback. OK so in effect you are using Aperture as you file viewer?

        By the way, great site and forum.

        • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

          Yep. I am always shooting FINE+RAW, anyway (for several reasons that I am discussing in my book), so there’s always a full-size JPEG to import, sort, compare, discard or catalog, even if the shot is from a camera without Apple RAW support. So I select the “keepers” as JPEGs in Aperture, then copy the keeper RAWs to my hard drive, then decide which of the shots I process as JPEG, internal RAW (in-camera converter) or external RAW (the programs compared in this article). This seperates the cataloging software from the RAW conversion software, giving me the freedom to select a different converter for each shot, if I want to. After RAW processing, the results (TIFF or JPEG) go back into Aperture for final post-processing, cataloging and storage.

    • Roger Crocombe

      Paul, I use a Mac and Lightroom to view the RAF files from my X-E1 every day. BUT the X-E1 was only supported from version LR 4.2 (otherwise the camera type is not recognised) and you have to load the RAF files into the LR catalogue. I have also created a set of Lens correction profiles for the 18mm, 35mm and 60mm primes that have been accepted by Adobe and are available to download using their Lens Profile Downloader application (straight into Lightroom).

  • Douglas

    Since the first day I bought the XP1 I have just taken the SOOC JPEGs then imported them into Aperture and I make a few adjustments. I’ve never really had to do anything beyond that. I make some adjustments with Nik software as well too. With that being said, I have yet to install the SP cd that came with the XP1. With all the talk about being able to process the RAFs now with other software I’m wondering if it would even be worth it for me to dabble with it since I like what comes SOOC as JPEG? It’s kind of relieving too.

    • http://www.lets-ride.de Rico Pfirstinger

      Obviously, the internal RAW converter in the X series is pretty good, but it cannot offer the kind of detail and control you may need for “serious” post-processing applications. It’s not possible to get results like I have shown in the samples of the flower and the old woman with the internal converter. Well, as least I could not pull it off. So at least for critical subjects or applications, an external RAW workflow is a good thing. With Silkypix 5 (or Capture One or even RPP), it’s typically possible to achieve superior results as long as you know what you want and what you are doing. Lightroom/ACR still has some weaknesses (as illustrated in this article).

      Btw, here’s another SP5 sample with plenty of green grass and foliage detail: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25805910@N05/8394720861/in/set-72157632525602228/

  • Geir Inge Jensen

    Have you ever tested DxO? I find it far superior over LR4.3 using my X100. Hopefully 4.4 will be closer to that.

  • papa

    Is there any experience with the Raw Converter Photivo – based on dcraw (there are window and mac versions) , which is the only one to handle the Fuji Raws in the Linux open source world, and I’m one of these ‘exotic species using Linux only, would appreciate any experience report.

  • http://www.coolutils.com/ Marshall

    Thank you for the article, Rico! I’ve been using Lightroom for years but after reading your review downloaded Silkypix. That’s amazing! I liked it much more and am playing with my photos now a lot. With years it’s hard to try new things..

  • http://www.silkypix.eu Jörg

    Hi all,

    just want to share that there is now a new European http://www.silkypix.eu website.
    Local payment methods, …

    The Silkypix 3LE version that comes with your camera entitles you to upgrade. All you need is the camera serial and model number.
    http://www.silkypix.eu/oem-upgrade/

    Latest Win/Mac versions here:
    http://www.silkypix.eu/download

    Best reagrds,

    Jörg

  • FOahu

    Is there any quality difference between Silkypix 5 and the bundled Silkypix?

    • http://www.fujixspot.com/f34/ Rico Pfirstinger

      Yes.

  • Jörg Regier

    Silkypix v6 has been realeased. Great new features…
    http://www.silkypix.eu/developer-studio-pro/
    There is a new Trial version available as well. It installs parallely to the old version, so just give it a try ;-)