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x-trans raw converters : acr, c1, lz (dcraw)


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#1 schwett

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:44

like many x-trans sensor camera users i've been following the various raw converter announcements with interest as well as fred's posts here about various tools. my general opinion of the matter is that fuji's sensor design unneccesarily complicates the demosaicing and nobody - fuji included - has gotten it right. i certainly hope someone will, since other attributes of the sensor and system - color, dynamic range, and noise levels - are all really excellent.

i revisited my earlier conclusions (use acr, don't use this camera for large prints or crops where the detail smearing is visible) with what seem to be the three most interesting raw converters currently. adobe camera raw, capture one, and lightzone, which as we all know now is based on david coffin's dcraw.

here's an overall shot, uncropped, unrotated (as you can see i blew the framing) and selected not because it's a great photo but simply because it has a range of elements. water, foliage, rocks, architecture, people, etc.

this is reduced to 1400 pixels wide in the hope that the forum software will make a decent 700 pixel version of it. ;) click to see the 1400 pixels.

adobe camera raw :
Posted Image

capture one :
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lightzone :
Posted Image

i attempted to get the overall coloration and tones to match. as you can see i was only partly successful but i think with time i could probably use any of these to achieve similar results on that front. my comments on the user interfaces and workflow :

ACR benefits enormously from the bridge browser/front end, which is unmatched for speed and reliability and flexbility. it makes lightzone and capture one feel like they're running on a bunch of hamsters on a wheel in a faraway land. none of these processors require any sort of cataloging nonsense (a la lightroom). you just browse a folder and then open the files for processing. once you get the image open for processing, the applications become fairly similar. ACR is far and away the fastest with immediate response to every adjustment in real time regardless of the scale of the image on screen. i prefer the sequence of panels presented by adobe but in general each application uses the same principles. the controls are arranged a little differently, and i personally prefer adobe's approach which has almost all the controls you need on two panels. one for color and tone, one for sharpness and noise. for many images, i don't use anything other than those two. both lightzone and capture one spread these functions out over a few more panels, but they also allow panels to be stacked up and seen all at once. the only notable variation between them is lightzone's "zone" panel, which basically replaces curves and/or shadow/highlight controls.

where they really vary - other than speed and cost - is how they demosaic the x-trans raw files. here are 1:1 crops of the same area of the image in the same sequence as above.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

at this point, one can draw their own conclusions about which is the better approach. adobe has smeared and blurred over many fine details and created a painterly and entirely unpleasant effect on the rocks and foliage. note for example that there are small white specks in the water which are almost totally obliterated. the capture one version is better in the details, in particular the green reedy plants on the lake bank. take a look at the one at far left. adobe's doesn't even really look like a plant any more, whereas capture one's does.

it's a little harder to characterize lightzone's approach. the smeary, posterized look of the rocks is gone. the foliage (take again a look at the plant at far left) lacks the detail of capture one's, but is somewhat more natural looking than adobe. however, all sharp or high contrast edges are speckled with multicolored single pixel artifacts, to the point that fine vertical or horizontal structures (take a look at the vertical stalks in front of the shadow side column base about 1/5 from the left side of the frame) are represented as dotted or dithered lines. in areas with lots of detail, this repeating pattern (every 6 pixels) is extremely obnoxious.

printed at 18" in width, all of these artifacts are clearly visible to my eye. printed at 12" in width, they all look more or less fine with a slight edge to capture one, then lightzone since resampling by half eliminates their smaller scale artifacts more definitively.

finally, just for kicks, here's fuji's jpg. it has neither the dithery brightly colored speckles OR the smudged painter effect, but is a little soft overall. looking at this again actually gives me a bit more hope that someone will do a better job than the current candidates at demosaicing this thing:

Posted Image
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#2 Lars Hansen

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 21:14

printed at 18" in width, all of these artifacts are clearly visible to my eye. printed at 12" in width, they all look more or less fine with a slight edge to capture one, then lightzone since resampling by half eliminates their smaller scale artifacts more definitively.


Schwett - thanks for sharing.
I'm a printing noob, so forgive any ignorance - I'm printing my 6mp files on an Epson R3000 at 300ppi at A4 and have quite fine results to my eye. I'm a bit surprised that you find these Fuji 16mp files "fine" at same printing size - our standards are probably different or maybe the 16mp files just reveal so much more detail.. and flaws. Maybe I should just stick to my 6mp ... :)

#3 aerobat

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 22:43

Hi Schwett,

Thanks for this comparison. I'm pretty bogged down by work at the moment and didn't find much time to use LZ and C1. To me both are welcome tools as ACR doesn't cut it. But to me it seems that all current converters misuse a tweaked bayer demosaicing algorithm. Probably a cleansheet approach would be needed. But I'm realistic in expecting that we cannot have all the Xtrans benefits like high resolution, DR and low noise for free.
I quite like both user interfaces of LZ and C1. The zone system of LZ didn't grow on me enough yet. But then again I need more time on it to judge. LZ could benefit from a better default tone curve.
Anyway the results of LZ and C1 are fine for my usage. I'll have to try and print A2 to see it on paper.
My D800 is certainly glad that the Fuji isn't perfect.
I love the Fuji X System and if Fuji follow their current path in close contact to us photographers then the future is bright.

Regards, Daniel

Edited by aerobat, 30 January 2013 - 22:52 .


#4 schwett

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:59

Schwett - thanks for sharing.
I'm a printing noob, so forgive any ignorance - I'm printing my 6mp files on an Epson R3000 at 300ppi at A4 and have quite fine results to my eye. I'm a bit surprised that you find these Fuji 16mp files "fine" at same printing size - our standards are probably different or maybe the 16mp files just reveal so much more detail.. and flaws. Maybe I should just stick to my 6mp ... :)


6 clean megapixels is certainly enough for anyone at A4... but the x-e1 raw files are not producing clean pixels, and when you print them big enough (A3) the wierd smeary areas or the repeating pattern of dithery colored dots are visible. however, if you resample it to say half, you get 4 clean mp. of course, this only gives you 140ppi at A3, which is not a particularly sharp and detailed print. at a4 it's fine.
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#5 schwett

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 04:04

Hi Schwett,

Thanks for this comparison. I'm pretty bogged down by work at the moment and didn't find much time to use LZ and C1. To me both are welcome tools as ACR doesn't cut it. But to me it seems that all current converters misuse a tweaked bayer demosaicing algorithm. Probably a cleansheet approach would be needed. But I'm realistic in expecting that we cannot have all the Xtrans benefits like high resolution, DR and low noise for free.
I quite like both user interfaces of LZ and C1. The zone system of LZ didn't grow on me enough yet. But then again I need more time on it to judge. LZ could benefit from a better default tone curve.
Anyway the results of LZ and C1 are fine for my usage. I'll have to try and print A2 to see it on paper.
My D800 is certainly glad that the Fuji isn't perfect.
I love the Fuji X System and if Fuji follow their current path in close contact to us photographers then the future is bright.

Regards, Daniel


i agree on most all points - it's a really nice system. i just wish they hadn't gone with the goofball color filter pattern. since that's a done deal, one can only hope that adobe will completely rewrite their raw conversion algorithm for this sensor rather than continuing to kludge along some adaption of the bayer matrix version. the only way that will happen is if the cameras gain in popularity, which at this point is unclear.

as for the d800(e) vs the x-pro/x-e1.... sadly (or happily?) there's no comparison. twice the size, twice the weight, ten times the autofocus speed, twenty times as many lenses, and a far more detailed image.
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#6 schwett

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:55

this is a dead horse to some - but i was very interested in the language surrounding the release of iridient developer's new demosaic algorithm for the fuji x-trans cameras. although you can never trust these blurbs, it sounded promising :

 

Iridient Developer 2.1.1 is now available with all new, native demosaic processing for the Fuji X-Trans models!!

 

two big downsides of course - poor integration (file duplication) into an adobe-based workflow, and it's mac os only. i downloaded the demo to check it out. i don't really use mac os, but have it installed on my macbook air from the original factory configuration.

 

in my opinion the results from iridient developer reveal how TRULY piss-poor the dcraw and adobe and capture one implementations of the x-trans sensor demosaic are.

 

to review, here's the dcraw result (through the lightzone front end)

9080-lz-700c.jpg

 

utterly ruined, in my opinion, by dithery edge artifacts and magenta hot pixels all over the place, and not very detailed to boot. it looks like a scan of a magazine or something.

 

now the iridient developer version

9080-id-700c.jpg

it's a world apart. no artifacts - or very few - and better detail. look at the detailwork on the base of the column to the left of the lady in the red sweater. mashed and blurry from lightzone, reasonably crisp and clear in irididient. or the rocks on the shore - the lightzone version looks almost out of focus. these are 100% crops but the intent here is not pixel peeping. the lightzone artifacts are visible to anyone with reasonably good vision in a large (12x18) print. and the ACR result, while a little less obviously terrible, is just kind of blurry.

 

i think this is a great sign for users of the fuji x-trans cameras - hopefully adobe will continue to improve their algorithm and catch up with this obviously better result. if they were smart they'd just license whatever iridient has done.


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#7 Akira

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 04:58

Hi, schwett, as a guy now looking at the new X-M1, this thread appears to be a revived horse to me.  :)

 

The image developed in ID does look detailed, but the ropes connecting pickets look a bit too jaggy which could be more related to the absense of the AA filter.

 

The C1 image still looks the best to me, and SOC JPEG image appears to be very well balanced in terms of the detail and smoothness.


"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius

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#8 schwett

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 16:49

hi akira

the slightly stepped edges don't bother me but you're right, they are more pronounced in the iridient version. i will have to admit that i didn't spend that much time experimenting with the sharpening settings, so there may be some user error here ;) the same kind of thing is visible on my d800e files with some subjects, so I think you're right that it's the lack of a traditional AA filter.

what i'm pleased by is the good detail without any of adobe's smearing artifacts or lightzone's speckling artifacts.

Edited by schwett, 08 July 2013 - 16:50 .

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#9 Ann

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 17:13

I notice excessive USM-style haloing, aliasing, and green/magenta CA in both of the last two examples.

I would have no interest in using a camera if it could not produce better results than these.

Have you tried running Ps CC's Smart Sharpen in advanced mode on the Fuji Silky Pix conversion? That might produce better results than any of these?

#10 Ron Scubadiver

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 17:33

This thread is giving a malware warning on google chrome due to content from 431 org.


Edited by Ron Scubadiver, 08 July 2013 - 17:33 .

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#11 schwett

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 18:30

431.org is 100% free of malware. google is incorrect and unfortunately they are completely impossible to reach to update their database.
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#12 Longhiker

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 18:42

Maybe Chrome is the malware. :mosking:


There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept. - Ansel Adams

#13 Tejpor

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 16:24

A most useful and revealing comparison! Thanks schwett for providing this.

 

The images look like they were generated in the XX. century using 256-color VGA monitor. Really turned me off the Fuji - pity for the lenses.

 

Lloyd put it right: x-trans is a cure worse than the disease.



#14 Alan7140

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 22:15

Avoiding any major comment here, but perhaps it should be pointed out that ACR, LZ and dcraw have had at least one update since those samples were done by the date of the original posts in this old thread - the latest ACR 8.1 is a vast improvement over ACR 7.3, and LZ 3 has been completely revamped from its earlier defunct state into a new Open Source release as LZ 4.0. for both Windows and Linux and is available for Mac in beta testing form at the moment, with a release in the near future likely.


Edited by Fred Nirque, 09 July 2013 - 22:15 .





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