Comparison between Capture One-Beta / SOOC JPG / Lightroom / Silkypix

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I’m always very happy when people offer their collaboration with this blog. People send me emails to share news, rumors, deals, reviews, considerations… This collaboration is very important for me and I’m grateful for any help I get from you. Really, thank you very much!

This time Toby invested a lot of time to make an extended comparison between  SOOC JPG/Lightroom/C1-beta/Silkypix. He sent me an email with a lot of images and personal considerations. I’m happy to share it with you. Thank you Toby.

He wrote:

“Fujifilm’s X-Trans CMOS image sensor is designed with  an irregular R, G and B pixel pattern to remove the need of an anti-aliasing filter, improve color reproduction and meet or surpass image quality of a full frame sensor.  Other manufactures use a traditional Bayer Array Sensor, regardless of who makes the sensor or the overall size, the R, G and B layout is the same.

A problem arises when a RAW Fuji image file (RAF) from an X-Trans sensor is processed by software designed to develop Bayer Array RAW files.    It is like the two devices are speaking a different language.

Probably the most popular image editing software is Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.  I’ve used Photoshop since the late 90s and Lightroom since LR1.  In a recent update Adobe’s RAW converter began to be compatible with Fujifilm RAF files.  The only problem is when you start to view the photos closely you notice what I see as an orange peel effect.  It is as if the image was printed on textured canvas.  This visual is easiest seen in some situations more than others, but it is always there.   From the language analogy above, it is like Adobe’s RAF converter is using Google Translate to make sense of the X-Trans array.  Much like Google Translate, the results are understandable but something is not quite right….

You could just deal with it.  Up until now you had two other options though; you could use SOOC JPGs (straight out of camera JPGs) or the included-in-the-box copy of Silkypix  Fujifilm was kind enough to include.  I’ve never come to grips with SOOC JPGs.  I’ve tried, I did a bunch of controlled test shots and took notes of each JPG setting in the camera then analyzed them later to try and find one I liked, I just couldn’t do it.  Some people love SOOC JPGs, others don’t.  The second option, Silkypix, is a good intention with bad execution.  To be frank, it is hard to use and you never get used to it.  I’ve yet to hear or read about anyone that uses it out of choice.

But there is some good news.  Just on the horizon is a new release of Phase One Capture One Pro 7 and it is supposed to have proper support for RAF files.   I’ve been working with a beta of the release and the results speak for themselves.

So enough of that, lets do some testing.  I set up my camera to take a single shot RAW+JPG L/F and ran the RAF image through Lightroom 4.2, Siklypix 3 and Capture One Pro 7 beta and copied the original jpg file from the camera SD over to my work folder.    Each RAF test was imported into the software and exported as a 220 ppi sRGB jpg at the highest quality available.  SOOC JPG settings on the camera were all areas to default with the film type as Standard.

All the files here can be seen as a set on my Flickr page (direct set link:  http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDpaFTK )

Here is one of the original test files from my back patio.  It is a mix of straight lines, dark and light areas and a tree.

Tree House

Here are some crops of JPG, LR, C1 and SP images:

Crops 1

Crops 2

Crops 3

Using LR, you can’t sharpen RAF files much before problems arise:

Converter

On a second image I did the same test but went a bit farther and did my personal choice edits of the image in Lightroom and Capture One just to see the different results.  At this viewing resolution, both files are quite useable.

Lightroom:

Lightroom Plant

Capture One:

C1 Plant

More LR/C1 image test are available here:  http://flickr.com/gp/tdp_photos/Gn53wg/

My two cents:

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been an Adobe user for quite some time.  It would take a lot for me to change to another piece of software, it would have to blow my socks off.  Capture One does just that…..and it is a beta.  Betas are supposed to be buggy little bits of trouble, this one has been flawless – and the image results from RAF files are fantastic.  Oh did I mention it was FAST?   I’m using it on a 1 year old MacBook Pro laptop and the software is very quick.  I’m a happy camper, with great pleasure I will be buying this software once it comes out for three reasons:  The speed, the tools and the results.

It has been mentioned in various places that posting image results from Capture One beta software goes against the terms of service.   According to item 6 in the beta TOS you agree not to distribute the software or download link, nor discuss any issues that go on during the beta test.  I have no issues with the software at all, nor am I discussing any faults or shortcomings – because I have not experienced any problems at all with the software.

– tdp

My 500px   http://500px.com/xaitian

My Flickr    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tdp_photos/

The debate is open in the comments!
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miXed Zone

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Fuji X photography

gizmodo top 10 cameras 2012

Gizmodo released his top 10 cameras 2012 rating (click here). The X-PRO1 reached the 8th position. First position for the Canon EOS 5D MARK III, second position for the Nikon D800 and the RX100 is third.

X-PRO1

Landscape photography and X-PRO1? See the results at fstopguy.com. His landscape photography equipment is: XF 18mm, XF 35mm, XF 60mm. Accessories: L-Bracket and grip for X-PRO1cable release, extra batteries, SanDisk Extreme PRO, Circular Polarizer, ND Filters, Tripod with ball head.

The X-PRO1 in the metro of Paris. See all the people with their mobile phones and read the impressions of parisphototours.

Street photography with the X-PRO1 and 18mm lens? See the pics of the trip in Melbourne here.

Some X-PRO1 pics at high Iso. (click here)

Is the X-PRO1 the perfect travel camera? Read the opinions of mcgaughey here.

X-PRO1 highlight recovery at hfortysixit.com

From 11th. of August 2012 Juha Periniva started to shoot with Fuji X-Pro1 and four lenses. Click here to see his beautiful shots in Finnland.

X-E1

Street photography by derekclark (click here). Don’t avoid to shoot in the rain or in the midday sun! Read why.

All I want for X-mas is a X-E1… read the creativelondonphotographer review here.

Did Simon Peckham the right decision by selling his Nikon DSLR and purchasing the X-E1? Here are his first thoughts. And once he received the camera, he posted his first impressions and pics (click here). (also he enjoyed “the best review of the X-E1 to date” of riflessifotografici as he worte here. If you want to read the riflessifotografici review, click here!)

A German video review on youtube can be seen here. If you want to read the review and look at sample pics click here (translated version).

Many, many snapshots can been seen here: brandonremler

Read the sansmirror review here. It focuses also on the difference between X-PRO1 and X-E1.

Fuji’s has always made cameras and camera sensors that intrigue me and have enabled me to turn out beautiful files. And their lenses are also well regarded“. Read the whole opinion about the X-E1 at visualsciencelab (click here)

X-F1

A video review of PhotoNewsReview here.

Fuji F800 EXR

For a first look at digitalcamerareview click here.

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X-100 Price Drops and no longer available at Adorama

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X-100 Adorama

The X-100 is listed as “no longer available” at the Adorama catalog (click here). There is one “open box” for $1045 here or used for $780.

Check the in stock status and price drops here:

AmazonUS / Amazon US special edition (save $300) / B&H / AmazonGER (save €138) / AmazonUK (save £350)/ Amazon UK limited edition kit (save £601) / AmazonITA / AmazonFRA / ebayUS (via slidoo) / ebay Europe (via slidoo)

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X-mini roundup

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Capture One vs Lightroom

Photo By 夏天: see more ot them on Flickr

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Capture One Beta

Take a look at all the Capture One Beta vs Lightroom comparison pics here on flickr (Photo By 夏天).

There is another “new product” in the Beta version. It’s AccuRaw Beta. Just take a look at chromasoft’s post here.

The Trinity Comparison (part 3): the EVF comparison

Alexander of fujifilm-x-opinions.net posted his third part of the Trinity Comparison (X-PRO1 vs X-E1 vs X-100). It’s an important part, where he compares the EVF. Just click here and read it. Remember, he will sell the “looser” of this comparison. Which camera would you sell? And which one will be the winner?

X-PRO1

All in all, I’m impressed. I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to the quirks and come to really love this camera.  It has only been two days, and like I said, I haven’t used strobes with it or really shot much in the way of people yet. I’m sure the sync speed slowness with frustrate me, once I do. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, this can replace my D700 for that sort of work. That isn’t why I got it, but it is the cherry on top if it works out.” This are some thoughts from the first impressions of rodneyboles.com (click here)

X-E1

Brandon Remler posted some shot taken with the X-F1 (needle) and with the X-E1 14mm and 18-55mm (pigeons). Click here to see them.

We all share the same passion: photography! It’s this passion that brought David to start his blog composinghands.com and write about his experience with the X-E1. So click here an take a look at his site (first time with X-E1) and his clear PROS and CONS post here.

image courtesy: composinghands.com

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Using Shooting Profiles and the Quick Menu

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by Rico Pfirstinger

An “expert” column about the X-Pro1, the X-E1 and other Fujifilm X-series cameras? Isn’t it okay if we just read the owner’s manual? After all, it briefly documents all of the camera’s functions – including features that I (and probably most of you) won’t ever use. There’s something missing, though: background information and practical tips based on experience. What’s the best way to activate a function? Which setting should you use in different circumstances? Why is the camera exhibiting a certain behavior? And what functions don’t work the way you would expect them to and how you should handle them?

So yes, you should definitely read the owner’s manual. But you may also find this column somewhat useful, because (like my book “Mastering the Fujifilm X-Pro1” which it is  based on to a large extent) it picks up where the manual leaves off. I’ll try to include personal experiences, tips, and background information – not only from me, but from other photographers as well. After all, the Internet is full of knowledgeable people and valuable advice. It would be unwise to ignore this wealth of information.

Using the Quick Menu

Let’s get started with something so basic that’s it is mostly ignored: using shooting profiles and the Quick menu. As you will probably know, the Quick menu (aka the Q button) are part of Fujifilm’s efforts to enhance the (not so perfect) electronic user interface of their X-series cameras. You can currently find different iterations of the Quick menu in the X-Pro1, the X-E1 and the X10.

Let’s be clear: The Quick menu isn’t yet another menu to expand the contents of the Shooting, Playback and Setup menus. Instead, it’s here to make frequently used functions (that are buried in those other menus) more accessible. It’s just a shortcut, nothing else.

While your camera is in shooting mode, you can open the Quick menu by pressing the Q button. This allows you direct access to 16 of the most commonly used camera features: select custom settings (aka shooting profiles), change ISO settings, dynamic range settings, select a white balance setting, set noise reduction, image size, image quality, film simulation, highlight tone, shadow tone, color, sharpness, the self-timer, AF mode, flash mode, and change the viewfinder/LCD brightness.

Qmenu1

Use the four selector (arrow) keys to navigate to any of the 16 functions and then use the command dial to change the settings for the function of your choice. You can apply any changes you make in the Quick menu using one of three buttons: you can press the Q button once again, you can press the MENU/OK button, or you can depress the shutter button halfway.

The X-Pro1 and X-E1 allow you to create up to seven custom settings or shooting profiles, which you can bring up and select in no time with the help of the Quick menu. To create a new shooting profile or change the settings of an existing one, hold down the Q button for a few seconds. This will bring you directly to the menu option EDIT/SAVE CUSTOM SETTING in the shooting menu, where you can either save your current camera settings as one of the seven profiles (SAVE CURRENT SETTINGS) or manually set and save values for ISO, dynamic range, film simulation, white balance, color, sharpness, highlights, shadows, and noise reduction for each profile.

While in the Quick menu, you can use the command dial to shuffle rapidly through the seven shooting profiles. As you do this, you will be able to see a live image on the camera’s display depicting the settings of each profile. In other words, you not only see which one of your up to seven profiles is currently selected, you also see all of the actual camera settings that are associated with that profile. You can of course use these predefined profiles as a starting point and then use the Quick menu to make further adjustments to the settings. Any changes you make to each profile’s baseline settings will be indicated with a red dot.

 

Qmenu2

In this illustration the first shooting profile is selected (C1), but the values for the dynamic range (DR100) and color (–2) have been manually adjusted. The camera indicates these changes with a red dot. These changes won’t be saved with the shooting profile; they are only active until you overwrite (change) them again or select another shooting profile. To make permanent changes to a shooting profile, hold down the Q button for a few seconds or select EDIT/SAVE CUSTOM SETTING from the shooting menu.

What about the BASIC setting in the upper left of the Quick menu? I have seen some confusion about in a few photography forums, so here’s the deal: While it’s clear that C1 to C7 are labels for the camera’s custom shooting profiles 1 to 7, BASIC simply means your current, active settings. So once you select one of the seven shooting profiles and then confirm your selection (with or without making any changes), those settings immediately become the camera’s new (= current) BASIC setup and there won’t be any more red dots indicating any changes you made to a previously selected shooting profile. In other words, BASIC simply shows the settings that you and your camera are currently working with. Whatever you do in the Quick Menu – once you close it (by pressing the Q button once again, by pressing the MENU/OK button, or by halfway depressing the shutter button), the settings you left it with become the BASIC settings.

Using Custom Shooting Profiles

The X-Pro1 and X-E1 have a plethora of settings options: ISO, DR function, white balance selection, film simulation, color, contrast (highlights and shadows), sharpness, noise reduction. Excluding ISO and DR, the remaining settings are also referred to as “JPEG settings”, as they do not affect what’s in the RAW file.

You may be wondering, “How am I supposed to define all of these settings quickly when I’m ready to snap an image? I want to take pictures; I don’t want to stand around fumbling with my camera!”

Here is where the seven custom shooting profiles come into play. They allow you to program each variable independently and then save them together in a bundle. Then you can switch back and forth quickly among your predefined profiles.

Examples of Custom Profiles

Which profiles should you save? Only you can answer this question for yourself – photographers not only have individual requirements and aims, but they also have their own stylistic preferences. This is exactly why the X-Pro1 and X-E1 feature so many different programming possibilities. If there were one “optimal” universal setting, Fuji could have done away with many options. Nevertheless, here are a few recommendations for potentially useful custom shooting profiles:

  • General profile: In this profile, I save the settings that generally apply to everyday situations and quick snapshots. My typical settings for my all-around profile are automatic white balance, auto ISO, auto DR, ASTIA or PROVIA, and occasionally a decreased noise reduction set at medium low.
  • DR100% profile: This is a variation of the general profile with the dynamic range setting fixed at DR100%. This profile allows me to use the live histogram for correcting the exposure and target the brighter areas of my image more accurately when defining the exposure settings.
  • Black-and-white profile: Any time I imagine an image would look good in black-and-white, I use this profile, which includes the black-and-white film simulation and increased contrast settings. The electronic viewfinder gives me a practical (black-and-white) preview of my subject.
  • Special profile: I generally reserve one profile for special situations, such as shooting in a studio or taking infrared images, when it is practical to shoot with a color temperature setting predefined in Kelvin.
  • RAW shooter” profile: I use this profile when I know in advance that I will probably want to expose the image very carefully so that I can develop and edit it with an external RAW converter.

A JPEG Profile for RAW Shooters

Yep, no kidding: a JPEG shooting profile for RAW shooters. While JPEG settings have no effect on RAW files, they do affect the image you can see in the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and on the LCD display. Moreover, the data for the live histogram is derived from the image that appears in the live view – in other words, it too is affected by your current JPEG settings.

What does this practically mean? If you select VELVIA as your film simulation, for example, not only will you have a brightly colored JPEG; you’ll also have a brightly colored live view preview with pronounced contrast. This image preview is reflected in the live histogram as well, and the Velvia simulation will cause the peaks of exposure to shift to either the left or the right limits quicker than if Provia were used instead.

The same goes for the contrast settings (HIGHLIGHT TONE and SHADOW TONE): if both parameters are set to HARD then the highlights and shadows will shift beyond the right and left limits of the histogram faster than they would if both were set to SOFT.

As I’ve already said, the RAW file itself isn’t affected by any of this – it collects all of the image information that the sensor is capable of capturing. Conversely, JPEGs rely on only a portion of the RAW data. The objective here is setting the JPEG parameters in a way that allows you to see the largest possible portion of the RAW data – because this is the information that interests us as RAW shooters. We want to squeeze everything possible out of our camera and its sensor – to get the absolute maximum and to leave nothing behind. We want to explore the limits of the dynamic range and expose as close as possible to its borders. And we want the live histogram to inform us of where these limits are as precisely as possible.

The JPEG settings influence how we expose and adjust our images because we make our decisions about exposure using the information we can gather from the histogram and the live image. As a RAW-only photographer, you will be typically shooting with ETTR (Expose To The Right). We are therefore looking for JPEG settings that produce the softest contrast in order to obtain a histogram that reveals the most useful information about dynamic range for RAW files. Here are my recommendations for this profile:

  • DYNAMIC RANGEDR100%. The live histogram supplies meaningful information only with this DR setting.
  • FILM SIMULATIONPROVIA. This is the most neutral film simulation and also has the softest contrast. This setting will prevent highlights and shadows from unnecessarily being cropped at either end of the histogram.
  • HIGHLIGHT TONE(–2) SOFT. The RAW format of the sensor has an exposure reserve of approximately 0.4 EV in comparison to the processed JPEG format. You can access this reserve with an external RAW converter. The live histogram should be set to SOFT at its edges to prevent RAW shooters from exposing their images too conservatively.
  • SHADOW TONE (–2) SOFT. When you use DR100% with high-contrast subjects (in order to use the live histogram to base your exposure on the bright areas of your image), the dark areas often end up appearing as blocked-up black areas. This SHADOW TONE setting of (–2) SOFT counteracts this problem, since it brightens the dark tonal values in the viewfinder (and in the live histogram).

What’s next? Obviously, there’s much more to say about using the live histogram, the camera’s exposure modes or about how to use ETTR. In fact, one could easily fill a book with all this stuff, so that’s exactly what I did. It took me about a year to finish it, and you can have a look at 65 pages of reading samples by clicking this link for the German and this link for the English version of “Mastering the Fujifilm X-Pro1”. Or you can actually buy the book at Amazon by clicking here for the German or here for the English version.

As X-PERT CORNER is supposed to become a weekly column here on FUJIRUMORS, I have already identified over 20 topics I could write about. Here’s a pretty random pick of three of them:

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So what’s it going to be next week? You decide by answering the poll! Till then, I wish you a happy New Year – and have fun with your Fuji X-series camera.

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.

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