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.
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:
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:
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:
I may have found some interesting news about the 14mm prime. Comparing the uncorrected version of a shot with its software corrected SOOC JPEG version reveals that Fuji’s new XF14mmF2.8 R prime lens is apparently almost perfectly optically corrected. This means that the lens doesn’t really need any substantial software corrections which typically have a negative impact on image quality, particularly near the edges of an image.
Have a look at this example (click on the images for high-res versions):
The image above was developed in RPP 64, a Russian RAW converter based on DCRAW that does not interpret or apply any optical correction metadata that the camera is storing in a RAW files.
The image below is a JPEG straight out of the camera that includes all software corrections in the metadata, since the internal RAW converter of the cameras does of course interpret and apply optical correction metadata stored in the RAW files.
It appears that there are only minimal differences between both versions. This suggests that the 14mm is already fully corrected in the lens and does not need any significant additional software corrections. This is good news, as it suggests that the lens (the examples are from a not yet fully suppoerted pre-production sample) will perform well not only in the center, but also near the edges of an image.
EDIT: To wrap things up, here’s also a Silkypix 5 version of this sample:
Since Silkypix is actually using lens correction metadata in the RAW file, this result pretty much overlaps with the SOOC JPEG.
If you want to see more 14mm samples, have a look at my Flickr set.
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.
First of all, what happened with the 14mm at Amazon? Here is a mail from a FR-reader: “I just got off of a very lengthly conversation with amazon.The final feedback I received was that Amazon discovered a mis-match with the manufacturer product number and cancelled all orders so that customers did not receive the wrong product. They are researching the problem. Appears to be an Amazon error. Question, did they order using the wrong product number????? Problem and strong customer complaint has been escalated.”
Whatdigitalcamera Fuji X100S First Look Preveiw at CES 2013
eoshd.com posted his thoughts about the new X100s. They say it’s a significant upgrade to the X100, which was a great cam, but “the terrible AF and fly by wire manual focusing technology spoilt it, and the video mode was very much an afterthought… On the new model the AF system for stills is now one of the fastest around and manual focus is much more responsive… To be honest I find it strange that all this good stuff has been reserved for the $1200 [note: $1300] X100S, and Fuji have based their much more important interchangeable lens system around quite outdated technology, since the X100S seems like generation 2 from Fuji and comes only a few months after their new X-E1 which has none of the essential new AF or MF upgrades that the X100S brings to the table.” Read more at eoshd.com
It’s the old dilemma, X-PRO1 or X-E1. Here is another one that tries to give an answer to this question. Take a look at it here.
“The only thing I have left to say is go out, and buy the Fuji X-E1. This is one of those cameras where you really, REALLY get your money’s worth. The X-E1 is a fantastic little camera, and priced very reasonably allowing many, many photographers out there to easily obtain stellar image quality for not put yourself “in the dog house” price.” Read why findingrange comes to this conclusion here.
“The X100 really has impressive metrics for a compact camera. Its sensor manages to outperform that of the Sony NEX-5, and thus takes first place in the mirrorless rankings. The interesting part though is that it also manages to outperform or rival mid-range DSLRs such as the Nikon D90 and the Canon EOS 60D, thanks to its well-handled noise and good color management, but above all thanks to a truly decent low-light performance.” That’s an extract of the conclusions of the DxOMark review here. There is also a short comparison with the Nex-5, the Nikon D90 and the EOS 60D.
Best Cameras 2012 (MirrorlesCentral)
Which where the best cameras in 2012 according to Mirrorless Central? In the category Still Photo Cameras the winner are the Fuji X-PRO1 and X-E1. See the video here.
The X100s and the X20 are the hot cameras of the moment. And with all the new features inside these cameras, the X-E1 seems already to be old (I hope that a firmware update will bring focus peaking also to the X-E1 / X-PRO1). But just click on the review section at Fujirumors, and read the X-E1 reviews: “the closest thing to perfection”, “for everyone who celebrates photography” and of course the great riflessifotografici review (translated version)… we are talking of an amazing camera.
So, just take a look at this 10 minute enthusiastic review at DigiDirectTV. How the speak without taking breath and put as much information as possible in 10 minutes! :-)
Now, if he convinced you to purchase the X-E1, check the in stock status here.