THE GOOD NEWS
Iridient Developer 3.0 beta 4 has just been released and it has the best sharpening parameters I've ever used. It's pretty much given me a whole lot of new sensors and lenses. Everything I have is suddenly sharper without any real increase in noise levels. My non-AA filter cameras, like my Leica T and especially my Fuji X cameras benefit the most from this, but EVERY FILE I've processed with this software has a new crispness and depth. Very impressive indeed.
THE BAD NEWS
You have to own an Apple Mac to use it! So PC readers might want to ignore the rest of this post.
I got this email yesterday that included:-
'New features in this beta include Clarity, two new sharpening methods (High Pass plus "Iridient Reveal" which combines some of the best aspects of a few of my other methods deconvolution, DoG, USM and High Pass into one "super" sharpener) and Edge Masking. Edge masking is available for use with any of the sharpening methods. All these new changes can be found on the Detail pane.'
And boy is Iridient Reveal sharpening good. Superb micro sharpening that gives my files a super-crisp Medium Format scan / Leica CCD / Foveon sensor look. Plus Iridient seem to have speeded up the software somewhat so it's much quicker to get my files processed.
And finally, I'm pleased to say, that the quality I always suspected was lurking within my Fuji X files has indeed been 'revealed.' I've glimpsed this before using Raw Photo Processor, Photo Ninja and earlier versions of Iridient Developer, but the sharpness seemed to come with a price, and that price was higher noise. To a large extent Iridient have overcome this and finally shown that the Fuji X jpgs. and Adobe Camera Raw processing are the mush I always thought they were. Here's the difference.
(N.B. No 'shrprning' isn't a new technique I've discovered, it's a typo and I don't want to go back and do the whole thing again, so I'll leave it.)
The bottom (fruit) shot is ISO 4000 and there is some 'grain' / noise visible, but for me it's still a very usable image and I'm happy with the trade off that adds a lot more detail.
Below are full-size samples. Click on the images to download.
Fuji X-T1 23mm lens. Top - Photoshop ACR, Bottom - Iridient Developer.
Fuji X100s. Top Out of camera jpg. Bottom Iridient Developer.
Sharpening is an individual thing and depends on the use of an image and often personal. All of the above are sharpened both to my taste and for the files I upload to picture libraries to take account of the fact that I upload one size (the largest) and I have to make sure that those files can be published in print or electronically at any size. But as you can clearly see IR brings out detail and texture that just isn't there in the OOC jpgs. and processing via the Fuji / Silkypix software or Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, which is hindered by the background, unremovable 'corrections' that Fuji load into the raw files. IR like Photo Ninja, let's us process our files how we want, which is what I prefer.
And yes, this means there is some distortion, colour noise and moire to take care of, but I'd rather have that and a non-softening demosiacing algorithm than put up any longer with how Fuji want me to process their files. Because now I get to see just how good those lenses are and what a sensor without a physical AA filter can produce. Since IR lets me bypass the software filtering that Fuji impose as well, I can now see my Fuji X files in all their glory. The added sharpness also lets me upsize the images quite dramatically, which I appreciate. Plus I do like IR's colour rendition very much.
Now some may not like what IR produces, may not think it's necessary and actually like what Fuji dictate to us ( Which I can't understand at all, but hey it's their choice) but finally there is an option that allows each of us to decide what we want our Fuji X files to look like. The samples above show how I want them to look and this IR option is right on the money for me.
If you like them too or would like to experiment with what IR can offer you then you can download a demo version HERE. The demo is fully functioning but watermarks the files.
As ever I have to state that I have no relationship with Iridient apart from being a customer. However, I have to say that this is my software of the year and probably the one thing that will improve the quality of my output more than anything else I've ever bought. I absolutely love what IR does to all my files and particularly my Fuji X images which have frustrated me over the years. My lenses look sharper, my sensors look better and over the past day I've processed hundreds of images using IR and have been consistently impressed with what I can achieve. I urge you to at least try it, it works with pretty much any camera.
If you have a PC then you won't be able to and you have my sympathies, because as far as I'm concerned this is special software that can dramatically improve image quality. It will finally sever my relationship with Adobe ACR as my favoured raw processor. And while I will use it for little more than basic converting and continue to most of my post production work in Photoshop, it is incredibly important in getting my images to look how I want them. IR is software for grown-ups and allows me to make the decisions as to how much noise I want to see in my images and how I remove it, how much sharpening I want and how I choose to apply it and finally lets me gain control over my work and offers me high quality options as to what to do to present it in the best possible way.
And 'nanny' Fuji and 'nanny' Adobe can no more exercise their noise paranoia on the files from my Fuji cameras and my raw X files will appreciate being liberated from the processing straight jacket that those two companies have imposed on them. And if you have Fuji X cameras and lenses (and a Mac of course) then you can judge for yourself if want to free your files as well.