If you are wise enough to shoot JPEG only, if you don’t print larger than 12×18 or prefer to spend your time on what is really important in photography (light, composition, etc.) – enjoy the images below but please ignore the article. It is not going to do your photography any good. Quite the opposite!
However, if you cannot sleep at night because your processed files don’t show every single detail available at 100% or you print larger than 12×18, please keep going. Keep in mind that the subject matter presented in this article is secondary to almost all other topics in photography. It won’t make you a better photographer, it won’t help you to take a better photos and it may drag you into the dark world of pixel peeping and other such disorders.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
When Fuji introduced the X-Trans Sensor there was great excitement in the photographic community. The APS-C sensor that could challenge full format cameras was something that hadn’t been done before. Indeed, the JPEGs from Fuji X-Trans cameras have been spectacular.
For the RAW shooters, however, it wasn’t all roses. The RAW saga with the X-Trans Sensor started when Adobe issued its support for the sensor (I didn’t mention Silkypix since nobody wanted to learn this unintuitive software). Anticipation and excitement turned into a spate of cries and accusations. What happened to the details that are supposed to be present in the files of an aliasing-filter-free camera with a revolutionary sensor? They were simply not there for many.
Then there was Capture One. Along with the support came a sigh of relief, as the files from C1 show a much better rendition of tiny things. All pixel peepers went berserk with 100%, 200% and __% comparisons between different RAW processors. As usual with the Internet, everyone saw something different but in general the majority crowned the C1 as the best bet for the X-Trans sensor files treatment.
Then, almost out of the blue came a little known software, Iridient Developer. I have to admit that my early reaction was sceptical. If Adobe couldn’t do it, why would they do it? One weekend I decided to download a trial version of Iridient Developer and take a look. From the first I liked the simple, logical layout. I processed a few files and exported them to Lightroom. Then when nobody was watching I indulged myself in an orgy of pixel peeping. What a party it was! First on my agenda were some photos of dusty old trucks. The difference was clear. I could see every imperfection on the hood and tire marks I hadn’t seen before. In fact, the details I saw approached the details on the D800 files. Unbelievable!
Grinning happily, I went back to the Iridient Developer site and bought the full version. More processing followed and after a few days of comparing the files with the C1 and Lightroom, my conclusion was in: This is the best processing software for X-Trans Sensor files if you are looking for razor-sharp details!
Take a look at the examples below. Please ignore the colour matching and other minor differences. The purpose of this comparison is to look at details only. Please click on double images for full view.
Look at the stunning details in this example (Iridient Developer).
Clearly, the Iridient Developer is doing a fantastic job of extracting every single detail from the RAW files. Part of the secret formula could be the unique R-L deconvolusion sharpening method offered by the program. After talking to my more technically oriented friends they assured me this is the best way to sharpen files as of today.
After working for a few months with this software, I admit I like it a lot. Its simplicity and layout are refreshing. The results are fantastic but as with all software, it has its shortcomings. In comparison to Lightroom and C1, its highlight and shadow recovery capabilities are limited. As a result, for the images that require a lot of adjustments in this way, we use C1 or LR. There are also some colour issues, which to my eye are not as accurate as C1 or Lightroom. It appears that the reds are a bit overrepresented. Finally, it is Mac only. Other than that I haven’t found anything else that bothers me.
Putting those things aside, I would strongly recommend this software for processing Fuji RAW files for maximum details. Here’s how we do it.
We use R-L deconvolusion sharpening with the following inputs 0.5 & 30. Then we put saturation at 7 or 10 and adjust the exposure to our liking. That’s all! Then we export the file to Lightroom for any final touches if needed. Simple and straightforward!
I would like to finish where I started. The topic presented here is the least important in the whole spectrum of things that comprise the art of photography. After all, it is the vision, light, deep thought, composition and fascinating topic that should occupy your attention – not pixels. While presenting our prints we have never heard anybody saying: “Wow, look at those marvellous pixels!” But we have heard: “What a great view!” or “fantastic composition” or “great light,” etc. If you worry excessively about pixels, then you have probably lost sight of what’s important. Maybe it’s time to start all over again!
P.S. …and now when nobody is watching try Iridient Developer here, you won’t regret it (:
I would like to thank Brian Griffith from Iridient Developer for his insights and guidance. He and his team did a truly marvelous job creating fantastic software.
© Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.