Fuji X-E2 - Review and User Experience - Part 7 - With the 18mm lens - X-Trans raw processing.

The 18mm f/2 wide-angle was one of the first three primes Fuji released for the X system. It's always had some mixed reactions and far from universal praise. I had one before when I had my first X-Pro 1 and despite some CA and fringing that needed to be removed I did like the lens. It is a very small, very light and pretty fast lens, so it certainly has its virtues. 

With firmware updates (though for some reason not the current one to enable it to use the PDAF / CDAF dual system in the X-E2 or the Lens Modulation Optimisation) and the improvements in Adobe raw processing, it now produces excellent results for me.

While not having quite the zip of the lenses that have been updated, it also takes advantage of the improved AF in the X-E2 and I certainly had no problem using it yesterday for some autumn landscape shots. I also find it pretty sharp across the frame when stopped down. It doesn't get mentioned very often these days but I do really like it. I can see why it gets little attention these days because the 18-55mm zoom is f/2.8 at this focal length, and the one stop advantage of the prime isn't that significant because of the ability of the X-Trans sensor to produce great files at high ISO's. 


For the second half of this post I thought I would outline the processing and archiving I use for my Fuji X raw files which is somewhat unusual.

To stop the processing taking significantly longer than my other cameras this is what I do.

After inserting my SD card into the computer, I open up all the files in Iridient Developer. I then batch process the whole lot to tiffs with all sharpening and noise reduction turned off. I also push the highlight and shadow recovery sliders to the maximum. When that's done I open up all of the tiffs in Adobe Camera Raw and once again batch process the whole lot into .dng files. I then work on these in exactly the same way as files from any other camera and this is also how I archive them.

So why do this? Well the main reason is to avoid the smearing / watercolour effects with green foliage that ACR conversion seems cursed with. Iridient Developer files don't exhibit this problem, but that software doesn't have a lot else that I want to use and as is my usual habit, I want to get my raw files into Photoshop quickly and with the minimum of processing in the conversion software. 

Now it may be the case that eventually Fuji and Adobe sort out X-Trans processing and it will be interesting to see what happens when Adobe supports the X-E2. However, at this moment in time its still a problem and my complicated solution bypasses that. The converted tiffs have no 'smearing' problems and process very well with no loss of sharpness nor increase in noise and they are much more suitable for what I want to do with the files. 

It does take more time, but I can usually get on with some editing while the batch processes are going on. Not ideal, but it does work well and avoids the problems. Shooting what I do, I take an awful lot of pictures that would exhibit the 'smearing' problem. Certainly if I shot portraits exclusively I wouldn't bother, but I don't so its important to me to have the files looking at their best. Hopefully there will a time in the future when I don't have to do this, but I'm not holding my breath!

For all my posts on the X-E2 CLICK HERE

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