X-trans sensors have definite benefits and the Fugi lens/camera combinations are very attractive, but as with many new systems there has been some delay in the availability of good RAW converters. The X-trans sensors are also more complex to interpolate as Fugi not only removed the anti-aliasing filter, but also abandoned the 2x2 colour array of the standard Bayer configuration for a 6X6 array with red, green and blue photosites in each row/column. This requires a different mathematical algorithm for demosaicing. Some manufacturers, such as DXO, have decided not to develop convertors for the X-trans, and point out that noise, exposure and white balance corrections are also based on Bayer matrices (http://support.dxo.com/entries/22223617 ... 7lv3pxg0sn) and may not therefore work properly with the X-trans.
The good news is that the latest version of Lightroom 5.3 will convert X-E2 RAW files so that the full range of X-trans sensors are now catered for. My experience is limited to the X-E2 where the demosaicing works well with LR, though is not quite as revealing in finer detail as some of the competition. Sharpening requires a higher setting than normal and I use: amount 70-95, with a radius of 0.6 and detail of 25. Clarity can desaturate and seems more vicious than with Bayer sensors, so I keep this below 15.
Two more minor players in RAW convertors are Iridient, which works well though is a little difficult to understand as it has several sharpening tools that I am unfamiliar with, and Photo Ninja v1.2.1 from PictureCode in Texas. This has 2 conversion systems: one for Bayer sensors with anti-aliasing filters and a more complex one for those without. The quality of the demosaicing is very high and slightly better than with LR 5.3. PN also incorporates Ninja noise reduction that seems to work well. The most useful sliders are “illumination” that gives adaptive changes to the dynamic range and may be linked to the exposure and highlights to prevent clipping. The detail slider effects local contrast, but does not change saturation and is said to act rather like a deconvolutional sharpener. It is very simple and quick to produce really stunning images that reveal the full capability of the X-trans sensor, and then render the file to jpeg or tif. PN is also very good at improving jpegs. A version of Silkypix comes with the camera, but I just cannot get to grips with this programme. As with Iridient and Photo Ninja it is best used for batch conversion in conjunction with another programme.
Another major player that has just added RAW conversion for the X-E2 is Capture One. The Express version is a bargain at about €60 but misses out on some very useful features in the Pro Version, such as layers for local and gradient adjustments. The RAW conversion, colour, noise adjustment and sharpening are excellent and it has a good print module.
Version 12 of Photoshop Elements uses DNG conversion before processing Fugi RAW files. This seems to work well and one advantage is that the DNG files are smaller.
There is therefore now quite a range of RAW convertors. The best of the bunch is probably Capture One. However, the really good news is that the latest V1.10 for the camera body seems to produce even better jpegs, so I am thinking of keeping RAW for just the difficult or special shots.
Clive Bartram (Jan 2014)
RAW convertors for the Fugi X Trans
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