Micro four thirds super resolution

Micro four thirds super resolution
'The above image is why I'm not bothered about the lack of pixels in m4/3 (compared to some other systems) It consists of 76 (yes that is 76) images shot in three rows with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II plus Panasonic 100-300 zoom and stitched together in Photoshop CC using the Photomerge function. As you might image the resolution and level of detail are jaw dropping. '
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Fuji X Trans Sensor and Adobe Camera Raw - The real deal at last?

Fuji X Trans Sensor and Adobe Camera Raw - The real deal at last?
'

The latest version of Adobe Camera Raw, 9.1 has this from Adobe:-

'Reduced “color blur” artifacts when processing Fujifilm X-Trans raw images. In collaboration with Fujifilm, we are still investigating methods to improve fine detail rendering and overall edge definition.'

Now as Fuji X users we might be entitled to ask 'WHY HAS THIS TAKEN SO LONG!!!!!!!'

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Fuji and Adobe FINALLY sort out raw processing Photoshop + Firmware updates. (Updated)

FUJI are on a bit of a roll this weekend. The X-T1 is becoming available worldwide, there are lots of camera and lens firmware updates and there is a new Adobe beta version of Adobe Camera Raw with built-in lens profiles, the ability to apply the film presets - Velva, Astia etc. to raw files plus, finally, what appears to be a much improved demosiacing algorithm that eliminates the smearing / watercolour problem with foliage in particular and in fact produces extremely nice raw conversions within Photoshop without the need for additional software. 
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/02/21/adobe-update-adds-fujifilm-color-profiles-to-camera-raw-and-lightroom?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=news-list&utm_medium=text&ref=title_0_1
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/02/21/fujifilm-firmware-updates-56mm-lens-compatibility-and-improved-ois?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=news-list&utm_medium=text&ref=title_0_2

It's taken close to 2 years for Adobe and Fuji between them to get this ACR processing right and while it is very welcome, it does beg the question - WHY ON EARTH DID IT TAKE THIS LONG ?!?!?!?

Perhaps the best way I can illustrate this improvement is by showing how a file processed in this new Photoshop ACR version compares with Photo Ninja, until now the best of the Fuji X raw conversion options.


It is now possible, as I have shown in this case, to add some sharpening to these ACR images without destroying the fine detail. In fact with just default sharpening I can get a slightly better result in terms of detail and sharpness with Photoshop. So from being pretty much the worst software in which to process .RAF files from the X-Trans sensor, it now in effect becomes the best, because this improvement doesn't see a trade-off between sharpness and low noise / smooth block colours. Photo Ninja conversions can in fact be quite noisy, but this new ACR with it's built in lens profiles and colour noise and CA removal tools now produces images that are pretty much the best of both worlds. Smooth and clean but with the capacity to sharpen to taste with excellent separation of detail. A by product of this is that the files upsize better too. Very handy for my picture library work.

This of course speeds up my workflow dramatically and turns my Fuji X files from 'difficult' to work with into easy to work with. Now as far as I'm aware this is a Photoshop Camera Raw update only and Lightroom doesn't have any of this at the moment, though I'm sure that's coming. I would also point out that this update is for Photoshop CS6 as well as CC, which is again good, since after the hacking debacle I've cancelled my subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and gone back to CS6, which I'm planning to use until I have to change. In the publicity I've seen there is no mention of this improvement in fine detail and I doubt Adobe want to publicise it because it demonstrates that there was something wrong with what they came up with before. From my work with my files in this new version it strikes me that Adobe have pretty much started from scratch again with the Fuji files and have at last taken the criticisms of what they came up with on board. How much input Fuji have contributed will of course probably remain unknown. Maybe that petition I signed a while ago had some impact!!

I will be returning to this, particularly as my Fuji X-T1 is due to arrive later today. I must say in the light of the above I'm looking forward to it's arrival a lot more now.

UPDATE.

There has been some 'discussion' as to whether there is in fact any difference between this update and the previous versions of ACR. This could be because:-
1) Those herbal cigarettes had something 'extra' added.
2) I've been ingesting the same chemicals that caused Dpreview to see those jpg. artefacts in Sony A7 jpgs.
3) I'm lying and in the pay of Adobe.
4) All those who can't see any difference are lying and in the pay of Apple and the companies who produce Photo Ninja, Capture One and Iridient Developer.
5) Adobe have included a subliminal message in the conversions that convinces me I see something when I don't or should that be I see nothing when I should see something.
6) It's all a conspirancy. 
7) I'm pickier than most.
8) I wrote it just to get more traffic to my site.
9) I've just bought a pile of Fuji shares.
10) I wrote it to wind people up. (and get more traffic to my site and increase the value of my Fuji shares)
11) I need some new glasses.
12) Other people need some new glasses.

Now it may well be all or none of those. However one thing is for sure. When I processed my Fuji files using the latest ACR I saw no, none, not any, not even a little bit of smearing or the 'watercolour effect' for the first time ever. 

The answer of course is, if you own and use the current versions of Photoshop, download it try it out and come to your own conclusion. I'm happy with what I see (those little fairies on the ceiling are pretty!!) and I'm happy that there has been some alteration of the Fuji X processing. In fact I suspect that this happens with every update, that things get tweaked to a greater or lesser extent. 

It is now possible for me to get Fuji X raw conversions that are free of the problems I once encountered. If that is because of how I process raw files (sharpening, colour noise reduction all turned off in ACR) then so be it. Raw file processing is such a personal thing anyway and we all do it differently. I'm happy with what I wrote earlier today and see no reason to change it or qualify it. 

Plus my Fuji X-T1 arrived earlier and I'm much more interested in that.

UPDATE 2
For my further thoughts on this see later post at:-
http://soundimageplus.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-adobe-acr-issue-for-fuji-x-cameras.html

All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus
Please Respect That 

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Adobe - Creative Clods



So Adobe haven't managed to keep the details of their customers safe. Fortunately as a subscriber I have actually been in the process of changing my bank account, so if I've been hacked, there is nothing there any more. I will of course be cancelling my subscription. If they are this vulnerable then I want nothing more to do with this software version or the Creative Cloud (Or open invitation to rip people off as it should be more correctly named)

It does of course confirm what many people have thought and wrote about ever since this method of payment was announced. THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA!!!

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NIKON 1 files - dynamic range, upsizing and preparing for picture libraries.


In a previous post I wrote about preparing images from my Nikon 1 V1 for uploading to picture libraries and how I upsize them.

The reason I do this is both to give my pictures more chance of selling by making them available at larger sizes and secondly as a 'psychological' boost i.e. 'bigger is better'. And yes I know that's not always the case, but many think it is.

What needs to be done initially, of course, is to get a workable exposure. Fortunately the Nikon 1 V1 has excellent metering and I'm rarely struggling with a 'difficult' file.

So here's what I do. Firstly I work on the dynamic range.

 DYNAMIC RANGE

The very first thing I do is to produce a 'flat' 'clean' file. I do very little in the actual raw conversion software itself (I use ACR in Photoshop CS6) and have a series of presets that I can apply to all my cameras, making any other adjustments that are necessary.

To this end in ACR I turn all sharpening off, use the tool to remove CA and fringing and apply a small amount of colour noise removal, usually the default setting.

These are screen grabs from ACR.



I also get as much dynamic headroom as I can. For this I use the highlight and shadow sliders and my own custom curves preset.



Using curves I dramatically tone down the highlights and bring up the shadows. This gives me a very neutral 'flat' file that I can work on in Photoshop. which I do my major editing in, no matter what conversion software I use.

The difference in levels between an out of camera jpg. and one of my raw file conversions can be seen here.



The reason I do this is firstly for commercial reasons, i.e. picture libraries are very hot on dynamic range. Since they sell to clients for print reproduction its essential that there is no absolute black or white, neither of which work for printing. Secondly, I much prefer using Photoshop to work on my files, and the amount of sharpening, saturation, contrast etc. that I wish to apply is much better done in that software as far as I'm concerned, since there are a lot more options.

UPSIZING

I've also found that this produces much better files if I choose to upsize a file. Currently I'm sending my Nikon 1 files to libraries upsized to 5150 x 3447 pixels, which is an increase of 133%, produces a file of 50.8MB and is a 17.75MP file size. Again I choose the 50+ MB size for those 'psychological' reasons. Firstly, its slightly bigger than A3 and secondly some libraries show the MP size and 50+MB looks good.

Now in terms of upsizing, once I've got my file with as much dynamic headroom as possible, I immediately upsize it on a preset. This is because I want to see the effects on the file at the size I'm sending it out, and if I need to scale back some of this to preserve quality, then I can immediately see what needs to be done.


I then apply an Auto Contrast setting. Now this isn't the Photoshop preset, but a customised version of one of the options in the levels menu. Again this is avoiding absolute black and white.


I will then do some colour and contrast adjusting and bring some 'punch' back to the image.

I don't apply this to all of the image. In fact I use Quick Mask to eliminate sky and light areas of the image.


I then use curves again to lighten up the selected area.


After that I use a preset which brings back some colour saturation and contrast.



I then do whatever colour correcting I feel appropriate, in the case adding some magenta to the cyan sky in selective colour.


I may then use the sponge tool to selectively saturate certain areas of the picture. This tool also lightens those areas.


This then gives me a 'punchy' saturated file which is still within the dynamic range limits that I'm seeking to preserve.


Finally, I will add some sharpening. I always keep the pixel size down, which gives me a result I prefer. Again I won't sharpen the whole image. Using Quick Mask again I select the part of the image I want to sharpen. I never sharpen sky areas.



Here is a 100% blowup from what I end up with.


Sounds complicated and I suppose it is, but I can do all of this very quickly, since most of it is saved as Actions in Photoshop and I just press a button to do it. And yes I do this, or something like it for every single image I send to a picture library.

Just out of interest I timed how long it took me to get from this


To this


It was just under 2 minutes, so not so long. As well as doing this for Nikon 1 V1 files I also use it for my other cameras as well. I'm currently upsizing my Fuji X-E1 files to 24MP and my Nikon D7100 files to 36MP. And as I say, these are being accepted by the image libraries I upload to. I do remove the exif data when I do this, so that the editors make their decision on what they see, rather than the camera model. They seem happy with what I produce, so it works all round.

Now I'm not saying this is some great way files should be processed and edited and I've made it clear that this is for a specific purpose. It does however produce images I personally like. I'm fond of saturated and 'punchy' images as you would guess from what I post.

All of this was developed when I was shooting a lot on m4/3, and I had to find a way of coming up with images that looked good but didn't make them unacceptable to libraries. The process transfers very well to the Nikon 1 files and I've also taken advantage of the improvements in ACR over the years. 

This does all show, I think, just what a Nikon 1 file is capable of and the amount of flexibility it has and its ability to be printed at A3. Again I've been surprised by how comfortably these files handle what I put them through and this once again proves the point that its not the amount of pixels you have in an image, but just how well they are captured in the camera. And again it shows me that the Nikon 1 system, at least the 28MB versions of it (since thats all I've used), does this very well and perhaps better than I had a right to expect. 


Fuji X-E1 - jpgs, raw conversions and dynamic range

I saw a comment recently that 'Aperture conversions look just like the jpgs. that the Fuji X-E1 produces, so why bother with raw conversions?'

Well this is why.

Out of camera jpg.

Conversion from raw using Aperture

Conversion from raw using ACR in Photoshop

And the Aperture and ACR versions are just the starting points.


Fuji X-Trans sensor and Aperture raw conversions - Part 1


OK, this might be a post that Fuji X-Pro 1, X-E1 and 100s owners, who work with PC's, might like to ignore. Apple have just released a raw file compatibility update to the Mac operating system that means that Fuji X-Trans raw .RAF files will now open in Aperture and iPhoto. (Finally!!) I happen to think that this (Aperture) is now the best conversion software yet and I'm going to be showing why in this article. I think its better (with reservations) than Photoshop / Lightroom, Capture One, Silkypix (of course) and even Raw Photo Processor 64. 
I updated my Mac yesterday and since I didn't have Aperture on my computer (I have an old version) I initially tried some Fuji X raw files in iPhoto and compared them with Photoshop ACR.


Now the iPhoto files were supposed to be unsharpened, and I had turned all the sharpening off, but the files did seem to me to have sharpening applied in some way. There were telltale white halos around the branches, so I think something is going on in the background here. However, I was impressed enough by the obviously crisper files and the foliage / grass rendition to buy myself the latest version of Aperture from the Apple App. Store for £54. 

Now Aperture is software I don't like much and having bought the first and second versions I was so unhappy with it I was moved to write a letter of complaint to Apple. However I decided to risk £54 on my quest for the 'Perfect' Fuji X-Trans raw conversion. I was particularly keen to see if the 'smearing / watercolour effect' in foliage was better than Adobe and how sharpening impacted on this. In essence the two main problems that these files have created over the last year. Photoshop and Lightrooms latest version of ACR have improved this greatly, but I've still always thought that there is more detail in the files as Raw Photo Processor 64 has proved. I did try the Capture One attempt (via a trial version of their software), but was very disappointed with that. I thought if anything it was worse that Adobes first attempt in terms of the smearing and problems with sharpening. So I was keen to see what Aperture could produce.

Here are a couple of comparisons. There are versions with sharpening turned off in both software packages and with some sharpening applied in Photoshop to both. I really don't rate Apertures parameters for this and to try and get a valid comparison, I applied the same level of Smart Sharpen to the ACR file and the Aperture file, saved as a tif, opened up in Photoshop. For the original raw conversion I turned all sharpening off in both Photoshop and Aperture.



Now I like the Aperture versions here. There is not much in it, but notice how the Photoshop rendition has almost 'noise-reduced' away part of the writing on the canal boat. However when I looked at typical 'problem' areas for the Fuji files, dense areas of green foliage, it was a different story.




The Aperture files, as you can see, are clearly superior and don't have that unnatural look that the Adobe files have, even with the latest version of ACR. There is none of that 'smudging' of detail and the look that some kind of dodgy filter effect has been added.

Great you might think, but this does come at a (slight) price. There is definitely some colour noise and moire present in the Aperture files. Below is a comparison showing that. The Adobe file has all colour noise reduction turned off and its totally noise free. However on the Aperture file you can see colour noise on the white letters of the notice.



Again you can see that Aperture has rendered the foliage and the grass on the lawn in a more defined way. Also have a look at the flowers on the sign. As I said all colour noise reduction, plus CA and fringing removal as well, was turned off in the Adobe ACR conversion, so its not anything in the Camera Raw software creating this desaturation. At least nothing that can be seen or altered. Most people who have looked at the latest ACR update have noticed that the conversions of Fuji X-Trans files are slightly softer than other programmes and I think that its now obvious that Adobe are pre-processing the files before we can get our hands on them. Presumably because they think we can't cope with the sight of moire or colour noise and will probably swoon at the mere thought of it!! 

And indeed there is more colour noise, CA and fringing in the Aperture files in general. However since I'm an adult I am able to deal with things like this and don't need protecting from the big bad world of colour artefacts. (Note to Adobe, can we have the files as is please.)

So overall, I'm VERY impressed with the Aperture renditions and the colour problems I can deal with easily. Finally, this is commonly used raw conversion software (if you use an Apple-Mac that is!) that does justice to the Fuji files and I got some spectacularly good conversions using it. Only surpassed in definition by what I got from my Sigma DP Merrills, and yes that means that I think the X-Trans sensor gives me nicer looking files than the Leica / Kodak CCD in the M9.

I'll be doing more on this in the next few days.

Fuji X-Trans Raw conversion - a different view



N.B. I would recommend you read the whole piece, it is very well argued and puts together a coherent argument. I may not agree with it but I can appreciate it.

Above there is a somewhat opposite view to the general enthusiasm for the new updated Adobe Camera Raw conversions for the Fuji X-Trans Sensor. It includes this -

"Firstly, Adobe's products, even in the new LR 4.4RC/ACR7.4 form, still don't stack up. Although much improved over the previous generation, they still have excessive chroma smearing relative to image resolution.  If you were to select a raw processor purely on the basis of getting the maximum out of your X-Trans based camera, Lightroom wouldn't be it."

and this

"If the users are the winners here, who are the losers? Adobe certainly haven't covered themselves with glory - they have huge reserves of money and probably the best engineering talent in the business, but don't seem to have been able to apply it. Fuji is also a loser. It's ten months since I first blogged about the X-Trans processor, and so far it's delivered nothing to justify the "greater resolution than conventional sensors" hype. Finally, the really big losers are the many camera "reviewers" out there that uncritically repeated Fuji's claims about the X-Trans sensor's greater resolution. To their credit, some reviewers did raise warning flags - Sean Reid and Thom Hogan to mention two, but they were the exceptions. So next time you read a camera review, here's a suggestion - take look at what they wrote about the X-Pro when it was introduced, and judge accordingly."

Now the second quote is something that I would have agreed with until last week. However I find I now don't agree with the first either. Now I'm well aware that we all process in different ways and we are all looking for different things. As a landscape photographer who often includes a lot of foliage in his images, the previous ACR conversions were VERY disappointing to me and I made that pretty clear in a number of somewhat robust posts. However there is now a huge improvement. I will admit that its taking me a while to work out an optimum setting for all of those X-Pro 1 raw files I've had around for almost a year, waiting for a decent converter to get the best out of them. Trying some things out I'm currently going between, "Wow that looks great" to "Mmmm.. thats not much better than before." This isn't particularly unusual, it usually takes me a while to work out a preset for ACR that handles the majority of files from a camera.
Firstly though its clear to me that the "smearing" or the so-called "watercolour effect" is non-existent in areas where it clearly showed before. It is also the case that some quite aggressive sharpening can be applied to the files without the degrading of the image that also occurred before.


This has resulted in images with much more satisfactory definition.

Secondly, the normal responses I would expect from a Bayer sensor file when I adjust parameters in ACR simply don't apply. In many instances with regard to sharpening I'm getting results more to my taste by applying the sharpening in Photoshop and not in ACR. This does mean that I'm working with a somewhat soft original. And this is somewhat softer than I would expect from a sensor with no AA filter. And lots of people have mentioned this in terms of these revised ACR conversions. But then there is more than one way to process a raw file, and every camera I've ever used has a different set of camera raw defaults.

So I'm very much inclined to differ with the opinion expressed in the piece linked to above. And those who have read some of my previous posts on this sensor and the raw processing available for it, will know that I have on occasions been ultra-critical of Fuji and Adobe's part in this saga.

I haven't found a go-to-every-time setting yet, but from what I've seen already I'm confident I will. As I mentioned before we all look to do different things and I'm sure that many would be happy with the results I have obtained so far. But as ever I'm looking to squeeze the most noiseless sharpening out of the files that I can, and hopefully be able to upsize them to 24MP or so. Pretty much pushing them to the limit of whats possible, much as I do with everything else. 

I took some useful pictures with my X-Pro 1 when I had it and I would like to make sure that now uploading them to my libraries I can give them the best possible opportunity to be commercially successful, after all this time. I'm still seeing what I can get out of them and I am much encouraged by what I see, but as I said I'm not there yet, but I have every expectation that I will be soon. 

Lastly a few comments about the quote "Finally, the really big losers are the many camera "reviewers" out there that uncritically repeated Fuji's claims about the X-Trans sensor's greater resolution." Well there may be be some reviews out there like that and I'll take the writer at his word, but I certainly haven't seen any. I've talked about how good I think the X-Trans image quality is, seen as a whole package including ISO performance, clean results etc., but I'm not sure resolution is part of this. The X-Trans sensor has some way to go before it equals the Sigma DP Merrills at ISO 100 in terms of clarity, but then so does virtually every other camera. 16MP can't suddenly magically become more and though the files upsize very nicely, this is about a perception of increased resolution rather than evidence of it. 

Despite all my criticisms I have always liked Fuji's colour rendition, some don't I know but this is very much personal preference, and I've always been impressed with the colour depth and the richness of the tones, which strikes me as very Leicaesque and film like. To often digital files can look a bit "weedy" and the Fuji files have never looked like that to me. Incidentally this isn't colour saturation, which is admittedly a bit muted, but that is easy enough to fix. 

Bottom Line - I like what I can now get from my X-Pro 1 files. (and yes its taken long enough!!) They are different to what I'm used to, but I find them very attractive and quite flexible. Everyone who has files from this family of cameras with this sensor will of course have to decide if they are now getting something they are happy with. I was beginning to think that I would never say this, but I am now very happy with what I see. I've even managed to sell a few already so that always makes me think more positively!! 

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Fuji X-Pro 1 file - ACR compared to RPP


To download the full-size image - CLICK HERE
 
I've done a comparison on a Fuji X-Pro 1 file using The new Photoshop ACR 7.4 and Raw Photo Processor 64, the excellent Mac platform raw converter. Different software but I processed each with no sharpening added and only added a slight amount in Photoshop later. I used the same values for each file. Click on the link for the full-size high-res file.
 
As many who have tried the new ACR are saying, the files are slightly softer than they were before, but unlike the previous ACR conversion, it is now possible to add sharpening to these X-Trans files without creating unpleasant artefacts. RPP still produces slightly sharper results to my eyes, but there isn't a lot in it. 

After waiting a long time to see this, I spent yesterday working on some X-Pro 1 files and it was pleasing to see the results. I have been so frustrated by the fact that I knew that there was more in the files, but was unable to get to it. RPP is great and I recommend it, but Photoshop is the cornerstone of my processing workflow and I know it well and how to get what I want from it. So for any camera I use, proper support is essential. It is now finally available.

So what went on? Was this a spat between Fuji and Adobe? Did Adobe just take their time to get round to this? We will never know the whole story, but it has been a long wait. As you know I baled out on the X-Pro 1 early when it looked like there wasn't going to be decent ACR support and I've had lots of files sitting on my hard drives that I haven't done much with, since I wasn't keen to upload what I considered to be sub-standard versions to my picture libraries. I can now get some really nice files from my original raws and they do have a different 'look' to conventional bayer sensor files. 
 
With the ACR conversions and indeed with the RPP ones as well, there isn't that classic non-AA filter look. But then with the different sensor array I'm not sure that there would be. What is extraordinary is the ability to produce 'clean' files at high(er) ISO's. I believe it would be perfectly feasible to shoot high-quality landscape at ISO 400 and even ISO 800 with an x-trans sensor and I'm seeing a 2-stop improvement in noise levels over virtually everything else I use. This has all sorts of advantages in terms of narrower apertures and higher shutter speeds when shooting in good light, which for what I do is a good thing.

I've been very critical of this whole raw conversion saga and indeed seem to have developed somewhat of a reputation as a 'Fuji basher', but my only concern was to see a realisation of the FULL potential of these files. We do now have that and I'm glad to become a Fuji X-Trans enthusiast at long last. But lets be honest, its been a long and unnecessary wait and thats not really good enough. 
 
For those who had the patience to stick with it, welcome to your new camera!



Is this finally a converter that does the Fuji X-Trans sensor justice?


From Dpreview - LINK HERE

The much anticipated new versions of Adobe Camera Raw for Lightroom and Photoshop are out. The most interesting thing is obviously the reworked conversion parameters for the Fuji X-Trans sensor and the X-PRO 1 X-E1 and X100s cameras. Whatever has been going on between Adobe and Fuji during the last year we can only guess at, but it seems Adobe have done some serious work to get this right.

My first look at how ACR processes X-Pro 1 files in Photoshop CS6 is encouraging. 







There is certainly now much more foliage detail, colour rendition is excellent and as you can see with the last 100% blowup ISO 6400 with some noise reduction added in Photoshop is simply spectacular.

There is still an unusual look to the files when I examinine the files at 100% and I suspect that ultimately Raw Photo Processor 64 may still be the best converter, but these are MUCH better, as I think you can see. This sensors strength is still the high ISO performance, and that church interior shot at ISO 6400 from raw is the best I've ever seen at that setting. Noise reduction has removed some detail from the white statue, but considering what its shot at, I can't see many people complaining too much. The level of detail retained overall and the low noise are still very impressive.

I'll be looking more at this, but it does seem that finally we can see the potential of the raw files from this sensor, in an efficient and familiar workflow. We will probably never know how this finally got done and a year is a ridiculous time to wait but a lot of people may now feel inclined to look again at what this Fuji sensor is capable of. I'm certainly pleased to see this. This was my primary complaint about the X-Pro 1. It also deals to a large extent with some of my other criticisms, in that I didn't see how people could write about the camera with uncritical worship when this obvious lack of decent raw conversion capability was creating files that just weren't good enough.

However, throughout all of my pieces on the camera, I have maintained that my initial comment that taking everything into consideration and particularly the high ISO rendition, this sensor is the best for overall IQ that I have ever used. And I still stand by that. If you have the time (and an Apple-Mac) I still think that Raw Photo Processor 64 will yield the sharpest results, particularly at low ISO's, but this Photoshop update shows that there is no need to to accept the compromises of the Fuji / Silkypix software anymore. Fuji owners can now process their files easily and quickly with every expectation that they will get a very good result. I'm going to see just what I can get out of X-Pro 1 files and I'll post more on this in the coming days. 

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The reinterpretation of raw files


I'm really glad I had my 'discussion' with the gentleman who advocated making tiffs and throwing away raw files. Ever since then I've been going through lots of images taken with some of my early digital cameras and reprocessing them. Images from noisy sensors and lenses with CA and fringing have, via ACR and the latest version of Photoshop, yielded some really nice results, much better than I was able to get before. 

I've been working on lots of them and uploading them to libraries. The shot at the top of the page (from 2005) sold the first day I uploaded it. Below are some others I've been able to 'reinterpret' successfully.







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Adobe ACR Photoshop and Lightroom Beta 7.2 released



There is a new update for ACR in Photoshop and Lightroom which supports more cameras.

  • Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i
  • Canon EOS M
  • Fuji FinePix F800EXR
  • Leaf Credo 40
  • Leaf Credo 60
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ200
  • Panasonic DMC-G5
  • Panasonic DMC-LX7
  • Pentax K-30
  • Sony DSC-RX100
I'm obviously interested in the Sony RX100 support, which looks OK. I was also interested to see whether conversions for the Fuji X-Pro 1 are any better, since I have a lot of files waiting to be "developed". Unfortunately no improvement there. Still the same old mush. So it looks like I'll have to go with whats available or just use the jpgs. A shame and a somewhat disappointing lack of response from both Fuji and Adobe.

I'll do a post on the RX100 raw potential soon.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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OLYMPUS OM-D Panasonic 7-14mm - Adobe Camera Raw

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom

It used to be that I found this lens problematic with m4/3 cameras. Sharp certainly, but there was an awful lot of CA and fringing, even on Panasonic cameras. These days with the wonders of Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS6, that is a thing of the past. Its no coincidence that my intention to move to a m4/3 only system has a lot to do with this.

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
Ever since I started CS6, I've been getting some superb results from almost every camera I use. With the unfortunate exception of the Fuji X-Pro 1. The new parameters available in ACR remove virtually all CA and fringing and handle dynamic range issues simply and efficiently. It is to a large extent, a great leveller. I was wondering recently if I was getting such great results with m4/3 and NEX cameras, what would my Leica M9 files look like? This morning I had a look at a few. To be honest they weren't much better. If indeed they were better at all.

I've written a lot about how good the new sharpening parameters are in ACR. Well, I'm assuming they are new because the sharpening seems cleaner and more subtle. However whether I'm right or wrong about this, I'm certainly getting some pretty impressive looking files.

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom

This ability to "neutralise" previously perceived lens problems is having a beneficial effect. The Panasonic 7-14mm wide angle lens has moved in my estimation from a good lens to a really superb one, mainly because of the absence of purple edges and fringing and the ability to provide excellent clean sharpening.

Incidentally there has been a lot written about it in the past, and there have been 1000's of words written about the "corrections' Panasonic cameras make when this lens is used, and the "ethics" of that. I've always maintained that this is greatly exaggerated. As far as I am aware, Olympus cameras do not make these "corrections" and as I think you can see from the pictures above, after a bit of manual work in Photoshop, there aren't any problems anyway. I certainly have no issues with any of the pictures I took yesterday.

So all in all a successful outcome yet again and its nice to use a seriously wide-angle lens without having to worry about magenta casts, vignetting and manual focusing. There's no doubt the 7-14mm zoom has always been a very useful lens and one that has a character all of its own. It has now become more than that for me and I can see myself using this one (This is my third!!) a lot.

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 PANASONIC 7-14mm zoom

Finally here's a video shot using the OM-D + the 7-14mm and Olympus 17mm f/2.8 and 45mm f/1.8 lenses.


N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus
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Is the new Adobe Camera Raw update making the differences in cameras irrelevant?

Sony NEX-5n Voigtlander 12mm lens

With the obvious exception of the Fuji X-Pro 1, the Adobe Camera raw update in Photoshop CS6 is giving me some amazing results. With its one tick chromatic aberration removal and fringing control, the new improved highlight and shadow control sliders and what I'm convinced are tweaked and improved sharpening parameters, I'm able to get optimum results from whatever cameras files I process with it. The above shot was one of a 3 image bracketed sequence and the out of camera jpgs. are shown below.


With its ability to control lens and sensor issues and seemingly perform miracles in terms of dynamic range, it does seem to matter less what camera / lens combination is used. The shot above was very difficult and after taking it I had little confidence that I would be able to get a useable image from it. However as you can see I was wrong.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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FUJI X-PRO 1 - Raw file workaround (revised)

I've decided not to give up on the X-Pro 1 yet, and have gone back to using a (revised) version of the workaround I posted some time ago.

This involves creating a raw file.

First I create a Tiff from the raw file in SilkyPix using a modified Super Neutral Setting. This involves making the file low contrast, turning all sharpening off and setting the dynamic range expansion slider to maximum.


I then import this tiff file into Adobe Camera Raw and create a .dng file.



I then process these created .dng files using these settings.




Above is a 100% blowup of a raw file processed using my custom settings. As in the example I posted yesterday there is a distinct "watercolour effect"

Below is a 100% blowup using the same sharpening parameters as above and as you can see this is a much more "normal" sharpened look.


If you can't see the difference well enough click on image below > flikr > Actions > View all sizes > Original.

Fuji X-Pro-1 35mm f/1.4 lens

And yes, its complicated, long winded, over-elaborate and shouldn't be necessary. And yes again its my highly personal take on what constitutes a good raw file conversion. However the files I can produce using this method are what I want, are very similar to what I can get from my other cameras and are very sharp and crisp. They also look very much like I would expect from a camera with no AA filter.

If you  are interested to see what my "RAW" file looks like there's a link to a .dng version below. It should work with all versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, but it may not look right in anything other than the latest ACR update in both programmes.

To download this raw .dng file click HERE

There are also further links to discussions and samples of this issue below.





Previous blog posts on this issue:-


N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus
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FUJI X-PRO 1 and ADOBE CAMERA RAW

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens

While now having Adobe Camera Raw support for the X-PRO 1, there is a distinct improvement over the Silkypix Fuji software. However, I'm discovering that this is not just the case of using my usual settings and everything's great. Because of the nature of the colour array in the Fuji sensor, I'm finding that I'm having to exercise some care. I haven't yet found what I think is the best way to process for me, but here's what I'm experiencing so far.

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens

First off its nice to be able to use the same work flow for all my cameras, without having to use two software programmes to work on my images. This will also give me the chance to compare properly the differences between the Fuji and other cameras results.

So, some early observations.

Its very easy to improve the dynamic range.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Adobe Camera Raw

This gives an example of just what detail ACR can pull out of an X-Pro 1 file.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Adobe Camera Raw

This shows the level of detail possible with raw files at ISO 6400. Note the relative lack of noise combined with the total lack of "smoothing" "smudging" etc. I think this is quite remarkable.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Adobe Camera Raw

Here is a full-size comparison with an out of camera jpg. and a raw file processed in ACR. I will get this better given time to experiment, and this shows a very minor difference at first glance, but there are improvements over the jpg.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Adobe Camera Raw
Click on image > flickr > Actions > View all sizes > Original for the high-res version

One thing that doesn't work is oversharpening. I got a "painterly watercolour effect" particularly in the greens. If you look at the example below and look at the grass on the canal bank to the left of the boat on the blown-up version and you'll see what I mean.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Adobe Camera Raw


So, good news in terms of a more versatile way of processing the raw files. The Silkypix software certainly has problems. I often got blown highlights and an overall softness when using it and try as I might I couldn't really get anything that improved on the jpgs. That software more or less looks like a version of what goes on inside the camera transferred into a stand-alone package, with no real options to seriously work on an image.

ACR is obviously a much more responsive and flexible programme, but it does seem that the unique nature of the sensor means that some of my normal techniques may not work so well. Interestingly, I have a preset saved that defaults to the parameters in the previous version of the Camera Raw plug-in, and I felt that I got slightly better results.

I will obviously be spending more time with this and it usually does take a while before I'm happy with what I get. I have a suspicion that this may take a while longer than normal. However, despite all this, it does once again confirm my belief that the output from the X-Pro1 produces extraordinary image quality, which as far as I'm concerned is the best I've seen.

If anyone else is experimenting with this, it would be good to hear your experiences, since we all process in different ways. 

More posts on these issues:-
http://soundimageplus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/fuji-x-pro-1-raw-file-workaround.html 

http://soundimageplus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-lunch-fuji.html







N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus
For comment and discussion - join me over at Google+
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ADOBE CAMERA RAW support for the Fuji X-Pro 1



AT LAST!!! 

New update for Lightroom and ACR 7.1 in Photoshop that supports the X-PRO 1 (+ the other cameras above) To get the links from Photo Rumors either click on the screenshot above or click here.

Just tried it with some X-Pro 1 files and its WAY better than Silkypix. Finally I can see just how sharp the pictures it produces are. I know what camera I'm using today!!


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Yesterdays announcement that WILL make your pictures look better.

Most of yesterdays excitement seem to come from the Leica announcements. These did make me wonder just how many more times Leica are going to recycle the M9, and why exactly they feel they can charge close to £2000 for an ugly little compact with a Sony sensor and an Olympus viewfinder. I guess Brad Pitt and Seal will buy the former and anyone who can't afford an M9, but craves one, will buy the latter. Maybe the Leica name on the EVF will flash, just so people don't fail to understand who made it.

I'm a fan of Leica, I've bought 3 M series digital rangefinders and yes I did buy an X1. However there are some unsavoury aspects of what they do that make me wonder what they are about. Apart from their limited editions with diamond encrusted shutter buttons and Albanian badger trim, they do seem to taking financial advantage of their current popularity and fashionable status. Why a B/W M9 should cost more than the colour version is beyond me. The same with the X2. Still, you pays your money..........

Prior to this came an announcement that will have more impact on making pictures look better than any of the above. Adobe announced the new camera raw update for Photoshop CS6, and truly wonderful it is.



It retains the button that you tick to remove Chromatic Aberration, but now this has been joined with an auto analysing defringing function. This works incredibly well and all of a sudden I have "super clean" files free of all that purple nasty. 

It now supports the Olympus OM-5 and I processed some raw files yesterday. They looked terrific on the screen. Really very impressive indeed. There seem to be a few tweaks from the version that came with CS6 Beta, and things like handling dynamic range are now a breeze.

It was almost like getting a new camera and lens. So if you are frustrated by the quality of some of your cheaper optics and were getting fed up with CA and fringing, try this first. It might just save you a bundle of money.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus

For comment and discussion - join me over at Google+
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Olympus E-P3 and Photoshop ACR - finally!

_8030732
Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2

Last night and before this mornings bid from Sony to dominate the Professional, Enthusiast, DSLR and CSC photographic markets all at once from here on in, (they may well succeed!) there was another announcement that gave me great pleasure. Photoshop ACR 6.5 has finally been released. 

Finally I've been able to see what the raw files from the Olympus E-P3 look like, processed in decent software. Rawker gave me the sharpness, but very flat colour and a lot of noise, and the Olympus software gave me files that looked just like the jpgs. Finally. I've been able to see what the camera is capable of.

_8231176
Olympus E-P3 Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4


_1010305
Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2 

_1010205
Olympus E-P3 14-42mm

_8231149
Olympus E-P3 Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4

And its capable of a great deal. 

It seems to me it is an improved sensor. 

ISO 200 looks as good as ISO 100 on previous cameras without the dynamic range problems.

A head to head comparison with the NEX-C3 (which the update also supports) produced sharper results for me than the Sony. (I can now do a proper test)

The 12mm f/2 is a stunning lens on the E-P3.

The 25mm f/1.4 is an even more stunning lens on the E-P3.

Following on from that last sentence, I'll be spending the rest of the day trying to sort out this "aperture clicking", which is really annoying. It doesn't do it at all indoors in low light, but since I spend most of my time photographing in bright sunlight, when it does do it, I have to find a solution.

No matter how good the NEX-7 is, it will never look as beautiful as the E-P3. I know thats not a good reason to buy it or justify my keeping it around.............  or maybe it is!!

Panasonic Leica m4/3 25mm f/1.4 Olympus E-PL1