Iridient Developer and its implications for the Fuji X system.

Fuji X-E1 18-55mm lens

The biggest boost for the Fuji X system, for Apple Mac users only unforunately, has come from the small software company Iridient.  I've been testing out their Developer software for the last few days on my X-E1 and X-Pro1 files and its simply superb. The conversions are everything I hoped I would get when I bought the non-AA filtered X Pro1 over 15 months ago. Finally, the raw files have shown just what they are capable of in terms of sharpness and resolution. The software is a good alternative to other raw developers for all my other cameras, but it is for the Fuji X cameras where it really shines.

I'm not going to show any sample or test images here because, unlike when I review a camera or lens, the software is available for testing as a trial demo (with a watermark) so you can easily see for yourselves what its capable of for no charge. If you have a Mac of course. PC users who are also Fuji X owners, will I'm sure be somewhat frustrated by this, but its worth remembering that Mac owners have been putting up with PC only software for years, so now you know how it feels!

I don't really know what a 'demosiacing algorithm' is but I know what I see with my eyes. Unlike all other software conversions for the Fuji X files, there is no 'foliage mush' 'smearing' or 'watercolour effect' present in the converted files. The files are crisp and sharp, even without any added sharpening in the software. There are also several noise reduction options which eliminate the colour noise and moire that occurs when the files are developed, which works very well and in a non-destructive way. 

My current way of working with the software is to produce a reasonably 'flat' tiff file from Iridient Developer, with no sharpening but some colour noise reduction applied and then finish it off in Photoshop. The conversions are so good that I'm able to upsize them quite dramatically to 24MP and 36MP in Photoshop, using the new resize option, with very little loss of detail. In fact the 24MP upsized files I'm producing look virtually identical to my Nikon D7100 files. so you will get an idea as to just how good they are. I hesitate to say that I'm getting Leica M9 sharpness here, but its pretty close. Also unlike Raw Photo Processor 64 conversions, there are no problems with getting the colours right. The Iridient Developer interface is also much more user friendly than RPP and the whole programme works reasonably quickly and is easy to navigate and well laid out. There are a few improvements I could suggest, but on the whole its designed pretty well.

So for me this takes my X-E1 into another league. It is pretty much like I suddenly have a new camera. In terms of image quality, I thought that my X Vario just shaded the X-E1, but now I'm not so sure. The X Vario files can be processed via Iridient Developer, and they are very good, but not quite as spectacular as the X-E1 files. Plus Leica have optimised the camera for use with Adobe ACR, so there is little point in adding the extra step. When you factor in the high ISO performance, the Fuji X's now become pretty special cameras in terms of image quality. In one of my 'frustrated with Fuji' pieces I wrote that raw conversion and awful battery life were the 'difficulties' that I had with the X-E1, but now only battery life remains, so it moves up the pecking order in terms of my cameras.

I didn't take the Fuji with me to the south coast, because of the two issues above, and the thing that did come out of that trip was the fact that I used my Nikon D800E's very little, and in the case of the D7100, not at all. I spent most of the time using my Leica and the Nikon 1 V1 I took with me. Much as I respect and admire the Nikon D's, I'm only really using them because they give me superb images. The D800E really is a wonderful camera, but its a brute to carry around, which is what happened on the day I used it exclusively. A morning battling along a shingle beach and an afternoon walking through a very hilly town, left me me with tired legs and a sore back, and after that I went out with the Leica the next day and the Nikon 1 V1 the day after that. A few years ago I was having the same experience with a Nikon D3X, until I jumped at the chance at buying the Leica M9, which gave me as good as, if not better IQ, after upsizing, than I was getting with the Nikon, with substantial weight and size advantage. To date I haven't had that option, until now. 

I'm not saying that upsized Fuji X-E1 or Leica X Vario upsized files are as good as native D800E files, they are not, but they are pretty damn close. Close enough in fact to suggest that I would be better off selling the Nikons and concentrating on the Fuji X system, which in terms of speed, features etc. is fine for me and what I shoot, and as far as I'm concerned pretty much the right size and weight. Particularly since today Fuji have announced another of their 'superdeals'. Buy an X-Pro 1 + 35mm f/1.4 combination and Fuji will send you an 18mm f/2 for nothing. This camera / 35 lens kit can be bought in the UK for £1200. Since the two lenses currently cost around £800-850 to buy separately, you can see how cheap that makes a new X-Pro 1 and I may well go for this deal. 

So a £60 software programme turns a decent camera into a pretty special one and I'm going to be using the X-E1 a lot over the next few days to shoot some new images knowing that I'm going to get some pretty impressive files. The UK heatwave is set to continue for some time to come with temperatures of 30 selsius becoming commonplace. Unbelieveable really, but very welcome. So I'll have plenty of opportunity to try it out.

I would finish by saying that if you have a Fuji X camera and a Mac, do try out the Iridient software. I would be surprised if you are not impressed by it.