RAW Converter Shootout Results


by Rico Pfirstinger

Talk to Rico (open forum for questions & feedback)Rico’s Flickr sets – RAW converter comparison Flickr set – Mastering the Fujifilm X-Pro1 reading samples (65 free pages) – Pre-order the new book: Mastering the Fujifilm X-E1 and X-Pro1

Hi there!
The jury is in, and the verdict isn’t clear at all.

Thank you everybody for reading and voting in last week’s little RAW Converter Shootout. About 7,000 readers looked at the comparison set on Flickr, and almost 1,000 made up their minds and cast their vote. In this X-Pert Corner special edition, I am going to present the results of our polling.

Let’s start with the first sample: And the winner is…

DSCF0544-5 / Silkypix 5.0.45

Silkypix! Yes, good old Silkypix. While I used the latest version 5.0.45, you can get similar results with Fuji’s bundled RAW File Converter EX (aka Silkypix 3). You can download a current version of RFC EX here for free. For optimal results with this specific image, I used Silkypix’ “Pure Detail” sharpening option.

Let’s have look at the complete polling results for this sample:

Which two Fujinon Prime Lenses are the Most Sold ones until December 2015? (max. 2 selections)

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
    • RAW converter #5 – Silkypix 5.0.45 (22%, 199 Votes)
    • RAW converter #4 – Capture One Pro 7.1.3 (16%, 144 Votes)
    • RAW converter #7 – RPP 64 4.7.1 (15%, 133 Votes)
    • RAW converter #3 – Apple Aperture 3.4.5 (14%, 126 Votes)
    • RAW converter #2 – Iridient Developer 2.2 (13%, 118 Votes)
    • RAW converter #1 – Lightroom 5.2RC (9%, 85 Votes)
    • RAW converter #8 – X-Pro1 Internal RAW Converter (8%, 77 Votes)
    • RAW converter #6 – AccuRaw 1.1.1 (3%, 30 Votes)

As you can see, there’s no clear winner here. Yes, 22% of all voters prefer the Silkypix version, but this also means that 78% (= the vast majority) of the voters think that another RAW converter did a better job!

Let’s now have a look at our second sample: And the winner is…

DSCF0998-C / Internal RAW Converter

…the camera’s internal RAW converter! This result is even trickier to analyze, as the internal RAW converter is the only option that wasn’t able to produce the slightly oversharpened results that this test was all about, so there’s a chance that at least some you of who prefer softer renderings voted for this version just because of that.

Here are the complete polling results for this sample:

Which Fujinon Prime Lens was the best seller in 2016? (1 selection)

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
    • RAW converter C / X-Pro1 Internal RAW Converter (27%, 120 Votes)
    • RAW converter E / Capture One Pro 7.1.3 (18%, 81 Votes)
    • RAW converter B / Iridient Developer 2.2 (18%, 80 Votes)
    • RAW converter F / Apple Aperture 3.4.5 (11%, 50 Votes)
    • RAW converter A / Lightroom 5.2RC (8%, 34 Votes)
    • RAW converter D / Silkypix 5.0.45 (8%, 34 Votes)
    • RAW converter G / AccuRaw 1.1.1 (7%, 29 Votes)
    • RAW converter H / RPP 64 4.7.1 (3%, 18 Votes)

This time, I used the standard sharpening option of Silkypix. For the sake of completeness, I have also added a Pure Detail version to my Flickr set. Check it out!

Again, we have some pretty mixed results. While 27% prefer the camera’s internal RAW converter for this image, 73% think that another RAW converter did a better job.

Even worse: The winner in the first sample is a loser in the second sample, and vice versa. However, Capture One Pro scored a solid runner-up position in both samples, so some might consider this software  to be the “secret” winner of this contest.

Of course, polls like this are inherently problematic, because voters can see the intermediate results before they cast their vote. It’s human nature to root for the winning team, so once a visible trend has been established, it basically fuels itself. In other words: At least some voters who saw that option C is pretty popular (and option H is not) were more likely to vote for option C (to be part of the winning team and the run with the pack), even though they might have preferred a different option if they hadn’t been aware of the established trend. This means that the actual results are probably even less sketchy than they already look.

Since many of you are using Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW, I have rendered a second Lightroom version of sample image #2, but this time with softer sharpening in order to closely match the result of the winning internal RAW converter. Below are both of them (LR and the internal converter). Click on the images to go to Flickr to view and compare the full-size versions:

DSCF0998 – RAW converter shootout: SOOC JPEG

DSCF0998 – RAW converter shootout: LR 5.2RC

In tomorrow’s regular X-Pert Corner column, I will have a first look at Fuji’s new XF23mmF1.4 R lens. In case you haven’t seen it, yet, here’s a Flickr set with about 50 samples.

For your convenience, here’s a TOC with links to my previous X-PERT CORNER articles:

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.

  • Hi Rico,
    could you please give us the sharpening settings you used in the two LR renderings of sample image number 2? I am especially interested in the softer (second) rendering.

    Thanks in advance,

    • The soft version is 25/1,5/65/0, the (over-)sharp version is 40/1,5/80/5.

  • hendrick

    bah this is useless since a nex FF will come out, we can trow that tiny apsc

    • GrauUhu

      Thank you for a most informative and helpful post, I look forward to reading more of your cutting edge incisive comments.

    • jonnie

      Love this comment, the sony contingent make me smile everytime :)

    • Neil

      How do you trow something?

      • Huh… I know it’s a misspelling, but, it is also a real word! :) Totally not the word that should go there. It’s a nice troll though… ;)

        verb, archaic
        think or believe.
        “why, this is strange, I trow!”

        • GrauUhu

          And another meaning: (I kid you not)

          trow (2) , (Shetland and Orkney) noun, a form of troll. :-)

          Source: The Chambers Dictionary.

    • bah… I enjoy a good ol’ Hendrick trow in the morning with my cup of coffee… Gets my day started right… I hope everyone figures out how to trow their tiny apsc today!

    • dtb

      You must be a great photographer, Hendrick? I am looking forward to seeing the results from your shots with the NEX full frame. I am sure your images are going to be exceptional, unique, and inspiring…Once you get it, please post them here, as I am sure most people here would be very interested in seeing your shots, as they must be pretty amazing – perhaps even more so than your comments…

      By the way, if Sony keeps the same NEX design, in my opinion, it will be a failure, despite the full frame sensor – they are the most imbalanced and uninspiring cameras I have seen or held so far. But that is just my opinion.

      If Fuji were smart, they would make a full frame interchangeable-lens camera similar in size and design to the X-Pro 1. If so, it would be a much better camera overall than any NEX. That said, if Sony changes the design of the NEX for the full frame version, and the design is significantly improved, it may be interesting. Time will tell…

  • Adam

    Initially I was a little surprised but then thought why, this actually makes sense. Fuji are renowned for colour so why wouldn’t their internal converter produce the best colours. And SilkyPics is the Raw converter supplied with the camera by Fuji and the first Raw support for the XTran. And I don’t think Silky has a poor quality reputation, just a not so intuitive interface. Even with the new softened Lightroom samples I preferred the Internal RAW. Might have to brush up on my SilkyPics skills. A double whammy as my Wife’s Lumix also comes bundled with SilkyPic.

  • Roy

    Superb. Thank you for confirming my observations that this search for the “ultimate” raw converter is a waste of time. My searches have varied by image every time. Throw another 5 images into the mix and we would have another 5 markedly different poll results. Let alone all the vagarencies posed by altering PP.

    It was similar in my 40 years of shooting Nikon and it appears the XTrans files are no different.

    Time to get back to taking pictures. Today the pyramids at Lago di Iseo and the hieroglyphics just north of here.

  • Angelo

    You should try also the reborn Lightzone (Dcraw?) and Phozo Zoner 15 (ACR ?).

  • Carlo

    Good shooting Roy! I agree with you. It seems that Fuji has historical problems with raw converters due to their alternative technological choices, read here: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1234768/
    But wait… what colors and tonality! I love CCD sensors, uff…

    Now going back shooting with the X-Pro :)

  • Christian

    Thank you Rico for the work!

    My personal suprise here is RPP, which delivers quite a different look compared to the more established converters. And to my eyes, though not so sharpend, with a realy high level of finest details!

    Would you mind to share your starting point with the RPP settings?

    • I always start with RPP default settings, pick a nice film simulation and take it from there.

  • Paul

    Interesting, interesting! I think the (positive!) conclusion we can really draw from this is that there are now quite some converters that do a “good enough” job on the XTrans files. Considering the large spread in the results themselves, and between the results for the two pictures.

    I have to admit I’m somewhat pleased with myself for picking the same winner and runner up for both pictures; Lightroom first, Iridient second ;).

    As a Lightroom user myself, I find the default color rendering to be the weak link in the chain. If anyone’s interested, I think I have managed to create a preset that comes pretty close to the camera’s own rendering for Provia: I’ve uploaded the template to https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9a6300-8nKxZm1jcmJsaWliLVU/edit?usp=sharing

  • john

    capture one and aperture maintain top 4 position in both pics.

    • MJr

      I wish i has a mac. :(

      • Aperture has really bad problems with some RAW files, and it can’t properly handle RAWs shot with DR200% and DR400%. I found that even the praised Iridient delivers really terrible results (in the chroma department) with some RAWs. IMHO, Lightroom is the most versatile and fastest solution with decent to very good overall results. Personally, I feel I have no problem getting results that surpass the built-in RAW converter.

        • Max

          Completly agree with Rico here.

          Yes Lightroom sometimes will not extract as many details has other processors, but at least the results are consitent and predictable. With others one RAW looks amazing, the next looks terrible. Its a waste of time, just shoot and stop pixel peeping.

        • Bemused

          That’s basically my finding too, Rico. Aperture and Iridient have more sharpness and saturation at default settings, but the chroma noise problems just put me off entirely. Lightroom works fast for me and the results are fine for 99% of prints I make.

          • It is unfortunate that many reviews compare different converters only at their default settings. At default, every software has some kind of severe weakness. With Lightroom, it’s often the sharpening, with Iridient it can be color fringing, Aperture messes up DR400 files, Silkpix tends to be too greenish, C1 uses a quite unique color gradation, and so on.

            Brian just posted how you can get rid of very obvious problems by pushing sliders to their maximum positions, and I totally agree. But I think that many users aren’t comfortable with deviating too strongly from the default. Personally, I sometimes push Lightroom sliders to the max, no problem.

        • MrGecko

          I too have had issues with 400% DR in Aperture. I would not say it “can’t” manage it but does it poorly or in special cases like B&W 400% DR it fails altogether

    • I’m just happy I don’t have to add another program, and another $300 to my workflow. I like Aperture, and Capture One was… not intuitive, but grew on me quickly. :)

  • jonnie

    Hi, I never voted as id be happy with any of the current converters. I think in real world photographs it is splitting hairs to see the difference, only pixel peeping will you see a marginal difference. This is borne out by the results which are quite close among a few of the converters. Cheers jon

    • Completely agree. In this case this is “splitting pixels” :-)

      • MJr

        Rumors are the X-E1s will be splitting a few dedicated pixels just like the X100s. :P

  • Rico, excellent job and thanks for putting in al the time it must of taken.
    I shoot mostly landscape and glad to see Iridient was #3 in the second image basically tied with C1 which I own with Iridient and LR5 which I print from.
    The only reason I gave the Fuji a second chance, sold my first one after it came out was because of Iridient Developer. Curios, what type of sharpening did you use in Iridient, I have talked with Brian the developer and he recommends his RL decon.
    Besides color which of course is a personal thing, the trick seems to be in how capture sharpening is applied and used and this to is a personal thing. There is a difference for how sharpening should be applied depending on output destination,screen for the web or preparing an image for print.
    The ultimate test would be to see how each version printed out.
    Thanks again.

    • I tried several methods and settled for the hybrid method in order to keep the perceived sharpness consistent with the other converters. Personally, I think deconvolution is quite nice. As usual, it’s all a matter of personal tastes, the results show this quite clearly.

      I bought and paid full end customer price for all converters I tested here (including donating for RPP), so I have no agenda to promote or diss a particular product. I simply use them all and expect them to do the job (that’s what I paid for, right?).

      As for Iridient and landscapes, have a look at this sample: https://www.dropbox.com/s/l1loxldmgv2qqsu/DSCF2320.RAF. Really FUBAR with the flowers on the pond. Luckily, other converters get it right. So I don’t think Iridient is the miracle solution, at least not yet. That said, I heartily applaud Brian’s work and time he takes to help and keep in touch with us customers. Great customer support.

      • Thanks for posting this RAF to test with! To clean up this image with strong color fringing on the water lilies, I’d recommend you just max out the chroma NR options in Iridient Developer (+8 for Chromalogic2 and +30 for ChromAdaptive). Should clean this issue up well while still retaining some of the natural green color in the water lilies that other converters may lose.

        For a completely different handling of this fringing issue in Iridient Developer there is also the Apple RAW based conversion method available which will give results virtually identical in color and noise to Aperture, the Apple conversion on this particular image will give up some of the green color for reduced color fringing near the extreme highlights.

        I try to keep a reasonable noise reduction range in Iridient Developer so even completely maxed out they should never totally destroy your image. The primary tradeoff to maxing out the chroma NR is some minor loss of overall color saturation. You can increase Saturation to +5-10 to recover much of that, depending on preferences and subject this may not be necessary.

        Best regards,
        Brian Griffith
        Iridient Digital

        • Thank you, Brian, for this quick response, I totally counted on that. :) Please keep up the good work!

      • Rico, thanks for your response and of course Brian chiming in. I highly doubt any other developer is even following this very informative test you did.
        So I am not sure this is a fair question, but if you personally shot mostly landscape images, mountains, trees, lakes, fall colors, etc with your Fuji X Tran camera, what converter would you start with first? Or have you come to the conclusions at this point that deciding which converter to use is to image dependent?

        • That really depends on what image it is and what I have in mind with it. Silkypix 5 can be great with landscapes (using a suitable film gradation and the HDR or Dodging tool). If I have to do plenty of local adjustments and masking, Lightroom is very attractive. If I am lazy, I’ll use Aperture, as I am managing my images with it (saves me a large intermediate TIFF or PNG). I

          Iridient has also become quite attractive since it finally supports lens correction metadata, that used to be a deal breaker. It’s also pretty straightforward in supporting “underexposed” DR 200/400 RAWs.

          I should use Capture One more often, but Phase One is so lazy, once they finally support a new Fuji camera model, I have usually already moved on testing an even newer model, so they can hardly catch up with me. Adobe and Silkypix (and sometimes even Apple) are snappier, and I guess so is Brian. He seems to care about and listen to the X-Trans community.

  • Mike

    I didn’t understand…which is the best?

    few months..ago..all sites..say…iridient 2.2 is the best fuji raw converter..now..there are a lot of doubts

    • Typical for the Internet. These days, all sites are blabbing about a X100 firmware update that hasn’t even been announced and doesn’t exist, yet.

  • Max

    I just wished Fuji would release the next genera of X-Mount cameras with standard Bayer sensors so we can finally just process the RAWs with our usual workflow without feeling the stupid need of always pixel peeping and comparing in case some miracle RAW converter can extract a tiny bit more detail. I was always happy with Lightroom only until I got an X-Mount camera…

    • Bayer fans, check back next Tuesday.

    • Roy

      Are you suggesting shooting a Bayer sensored Nikon means its immaterial what rendering engine you use? Its not much different than XTrans. Different rendering engines give different results and can vary by image. If you want to avoid all of this XTrans rendering discussion, stick to what you have and be done with it. Same as you probably do when you shoot Bayer.

    • ph

      I for one applaud Fuji (and Sigma) for walking a diferent road. If you prefer Bayer array sensors there are plenty camera’s to choose from.

      • Max

        I would for Fuji to develop a new sensor that can improve on Bayer but I don’t think X-Trans is an improvement, if you read the blog of ChromaSoft (creator of AccuRaw) he describes that the demosaic algorithms used by fuji for the X-Trans are very primitive and require a lot of processing power. I have yet to see any real advantage of the X-Trans. The fuji cameras have great controls, the lenses are sharp, but the sensor definitly is either less sharp with no artefacts, or sharp with many artefacts.

  • john

    ya, it will be interesting to look forward to the comparison of Fujifilm’s Bayer with X trans sensor. One aspect will be chroma noise. Personally, i found X-trans sensor less chroma noise at high ISO. Would the new Fujifilm’s Bayer sensor perform the same feat as well?? It’s interesting to to know.

  • Dante

    Good, now do that same test at 100% with a high ISO image that’s been pushed half a stop.

  • hendrick

    bah those fuji are really CRAP!!!! How you can continue with that small crappy sensor? pfui Sony nex FF

    • GrauUhu

      pfui ? Is this a new Sony 135 24×36 mm double frame (18x 24mm is Full Frame) camera?

      I wonder… ;-)

    • Christian


      you didn´t use a FF camera yet, did you? I used the SONY a850 and Canon 5D a lot, and can tell you they are more or less on par with my Fuji X-trans. The FF Canon lags the DR, the Sony isn´t as sharp ;)

    • dtb

      Really? As I mentioned above, lets see your photos, from whatever camera you are using now. I am sure they are just as inspiring as your comments!

  • me

    I’ve done a similar test before on some Fuji fanboys,
    All the Fuji guys raved about the colors, until they found out that what they choose as the best pic was taken by a nex-6 with the simple kit lens.
    That’s what’s good about Fuji followers, you can sell them anything as long as you cripple the tech and triple the price :)

    • lettherebelight

      I love tests! Where can I take yours? I would be interested to see your setup and how you achieve statistical evidence that is significant.

    • Bemused

      The troll is strong with this one…

      • lettherebelight

        Best comment of the day Bemused! Made my night!

  • jaduffy007

    Awesome and revealing. I have been an outspoken supporter of Iridient Developer and C1P7. My votes reflected that preference. That said, the differences are far less than I had been proclaiming. Hate when that happens :)

  • Isaac

    Great comparison. It is great to see that it was so balanced out. It also depends of the person, their vision and if they know how and what to tweak. There is also skill involved. Just use any tool and get the job done.
    PS Oh and would someone ban people who keep going on about SONY and other totally off-topic nonsense. Fancy bragging about something that hasn’t even happened yet. I think his name is hendrick. Yes, hendrick. Nobody wants to hear you hendrick. Rubbishing and calling an APS-C sensor camera small? What on earth must hendrick write on the Olympus micro-fourthirds forum!?

  • Thanks Rico! I won’t use a Silkypix (its interface is even worse than RPP’s), but will definitely try to develop a C1 workflow. Which is going to be a major PITA, since I was a Bridge/PS guy for over a decade now.

  • Mike

    I just bought iridient 2.2 and for me it’s the best x-raw converter.

    but..last camera raw 8…is very good too.

    I don’t like c1…for my x100s…(imho) it doesn’t support well yet

    I would like to see a good fuji support in DXO products…but they don’t like..x-trans raw :-(

    mmm I continue to use iridient 2.2.

    read this post about iridient settings:

    • MJr

      Linking to “a-non-scientific-review”, how ironic. :P

      Great shots and comparison though. :)

  • tim

    What does “maximum fine detail at critical sharpness” mean? I got curious about the results, the even spread, and what is really being compared here. The subject of “Acutance” comes up, the sharpening done by software.

    Is this more a comparison of sharpening algorithms, than overall RAW conversion? Since the resolution in the file is constant, and the algorithm to decode it somewhat fixed (I assume as Fuji has supplied that). I ask because I’ve noticed something with Aperture and noise in photos of clouds at anything other than base ISO – noise reduction fixes it from ISO 800, but its so bad before-hand that I wonder ifs a characteristic of the sensor pattern in this particular situation.

    Will test more this weekend, only wish I had an A1 to compare against ;-)

  • Mike

    I think a poll like this and its results….born from vote by unknow users with differen hardware (lcd, led, mac, etc) it is not enough to declare which is the best raw converter.

    What do you think about..what you see in your not calibrated monitor…?

    many users say:
    my is a gizo calibrated
    my is a 13′
    my is a imac 27 with lcd defualt setting
    my..is a windows with poor light
    my is an ipad
    etc etc
    unScientific analysis produce unpredicabile results

    • MJr

      Well, isn’t it always like that? It’s just part of the equation, no way around it. In any case it’s a matter of taste anyway, so what’s scientific about that. Just so long as each individual doesn’t switch displays right in the middle of the comparison there’s no problem imho.

    • tim

      If there are 8 RAW converters on the market that all give similar results then its fair to assume that RAW conversion is the application of fairly well know techniques – one should expect a flat statistical survey result.

      So the results would support that perfectly.

      Present some more difficult situations, which expose weakness in the implemented algorithms, and the outcome might be different. Significantly different.

  • CaptureOne is the one I chose and looks form this poll that others like the output too :)

    • Mike

      I don’t like capture for x100s raw file …for x-e1 or x-pro1 yes

    • dtb

      I use capture one for the conversion and Photoshop for the rest, and I am very happy with it.

  • Actually, Rico… Your comparison won’t be complete without “bad” samples. For example, raw files that required 1 or even 2 stops of push/pull processing. Samples that push dynamic range to the extreme and then some. Let’s see how different converters handle that!

    We live in imperfect world, after all 8-)

  • pkh


    Personally I think the results of this are skewed by the use of a portrait style image, which isn’t going to stress detail rendering of any camera, due to the limited vertical resolution of (almost) everyone’s monitor. a landscape orientation image would have allowed better subjective comparison of detail rendering.

    a 2:3 image on a typical 16:10 or 16:9 monitor fills up only 25% some of the screen. Unless a person clicks through to view each image separately at full size in separate browser tabs, it’s hard to make comparison of detail rendering. Any rendering, even a poor one, is going to look OK at that level of downscale.

    Lastly the flickr viewer doesn’t do a great job on portrait style renderings, IMO. I need to soften the image relative to a portrait image to avoid sharpening artifacts from appearing through the lightbox viewer.

    that’s just my 2 cents on the whole matter

  • Dante

    Ditto to both of the above.

  • Francis400

    Is there a way to use the silkypix superior raw reading and then work on it in Lightroom?

  • Antonio

    You should try RawTherapee with R-L deconvolution

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

What are Cookies?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is stored in a temporary location on your computer to allow our website to distinguish you from other users of the website. If you don't want to accept cookies, you'll still be able to browse the site and use it for research purposes. Most web browsers have cookies enabled, but at the bottom of this page you can see how to disable cookies. Please note that cookies can't harm your computer. We don't store personally identifiable information in the cookies, but we do use encrypted information gathered from them to help provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allow us to improve our site. You can watch a simple video from Google to find more information about cookies.

Cookies used by our Website
The Fujirumors website, Fujirumors.com, uses the following cookies for the collection of website usage statistics and to ensure that we can . These are anonymous and temporary. By using our website, you agree that we may place these types of cookies on your device.
Read how Google uses data when you use our partners' sites or apps: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/partners/
Google Analytics Cookie Usage on Websites: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/cookie-usage?csw=1#cookiesSet Addthis cookies: http://www.addthis.com/privacy.
Disqus cookies: https://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/466235-use-of-cookies.
Vimeo cookies: http://vimeo.com/privacy.
Youtube cookies: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/171780?hl=en-GB

Disabling/Enabling Cookies
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser. Please note however that by deleting our cookies or disabling future cookies you may not be able to access certain areas or features of our site. For information about how to disable cookies in your browser please visit the About Cookies website.