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James Thurley

Comparison of X-Transformer and Lightroom Enhance Details

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I pre-ordered my first Fuji camera (X-T30!) last week, and so I wanted to investigate the X-Trans/Lightroom issues for myself to work out what my workflow would look like, given I don't particularly want to switch away from Lightroom. I posted what I found in this article here. In summary I found that X-Transformer and Enhance Details produced very similar results, both of which were better than the default Lightroom rendering. I'd be interested to know what others have found in real-world use.

I feel like using X-Transformer would ultimately be more convenient than Enhance Details as it is faster and I can just batch convert the RAF files to DNG straight off the camera, and from there my workflow doesn't change: I can import the DNG files into Lightroom and continue as normal, and probably delete the RAFs. Do others do this?

I notice that Thomas Fitzgerald thought Enhance Details was an decent improvement over X-Transformer, and his picture of the wall is quite convincing, but I didn't manage to replicate that kind of difference in the pictures I chose. Has anyone got any sample RAF files where Enhance Details is significantly better so I could try for myself?

Edited by James Thurley
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I own the XT-2 & 3 and have also tested with my own files.  I took 3 RAW images and converted them with IRXT, Enhanced DNG, CR DNG, and Tiff using CR.  Then compared all the files in Lightroom.  At normal viewing and even at 100% you will not see much difference.  Most people had to zoom to 300 & 400% to see the difference.  However I have been using Fuji and LR for a long time, the issue asserts itself with Clarity and sharpening. 

So to view the issues at their worst I increased Clarity, Luminance, and Detail to 100%.  The RAW and CR DNG files looked like a horror movie with alien worms about to jump out (at normal viewing on a small monitor.  The IRXT & Enhanced DNG were very close to equal, with maybe an EXTREMELY small benefit  going to the Enhanced.  The CR Tiff showed the best appearance.  These results were at all zoom levels - the worms were just not there on any of the three.

I started to export to Tiff just recently as I was experimenting with alternative software and not all are compatible with XT-3 files or even DNG.  I found exporting to Tiff gave me the freedom to use any software I wish and the worm effect no longer occurred.  The disadvantage is the larger file size of course.  My new workflow is:

  1. Use Bridge "Review Mode" to sort out which images I want to process
  2. Open them in Camera Raw and Export to new location as Tiff (Full size, 16bit, Profoto RGB)
  3. Process "Global" adjustments using Luminar 3 (My preferred processing software)
  4. After global adjustments - export as Tiff to my "Gallery" folder
  5. Import the "Gallery" into Lightroom for the excellent DAM provided and round trip to Photoshop if any local adjustments may be needed.
  6. Export from Lightroom for final destination in format as required (Internet, Printing, Web, etc.)

 

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23 hours ago, James Thurley said:

feel like using X-Transformer would ultimately be more convenient than Enhance Details as it is faster and I can just batch convert the RAF files to DNG straight off the camera, and from there my workflow doesn't change: I can import the DNG files into Lightroom and continue as normal, and probably delete the RAFs. Do others do this?

 

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts after you have used your new camera with this workflow (IT+LR) vs just using LR. Fuji introduced X-Raw recently, there is also Capture one's free version for Fuji to consider. I'm still looking for the process that'll give me what I'm looking for. Best of luck with your new camera.

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I'll update here once I've got the camera in a few weeks. I've got photos going back to 2004 in Lightroom catalogs, so I'm unlikely to switch software unless the post-processing tools are significantly better, or I really can't get the RAF files into Lightroom in a way I like. Having said that, X-Raw Studio looks like a very interesting concept.

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Update: X-T30 received. My workflow so far is:

1) Plug camera in to computer. 

2) Copy photos from camera into temp directory.

3) Configure X-Transformer output directory to the place I want the DNG files stored.

4) Drag photos from temp directory to X-Transformer.

5) Tell Lightroom to import the files from the output directory, keeping them in place.

 

There are some nice advantages:

 - X-Transformer is generating full size previews in the DNG files, so I can open the DNG files in a lightweight viewer and quickly see the full resolution image.

 - The actual Lightroom import is extremely fast.

 - I prefer keeping the RAW files in an open format like DNG rather than proprietary RAF.

 

There are also some disadvantages:

 - More steps than just importing into Lightroom directly from the camera.

 - The DNG files are about 3x the size of the RAF files.

 

Overall I'm pretty happy with this workflow. It's minimal extra hassle. Compared to my previous camera I now go and make a cup of tea while X-Transformer is doing the conversion rather than while Lightroom is doing the importing, and there are a few extra clicks either side.

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Hi James,

What are your parameters in X-Transformer? I used X-Transformer a bit before, but only for some images having really fine details. But always used default params..

In past 2-3 months, I tried ON1 Photo Raw to get rid of LR, but finally decided to stay on LR for now, as ON1 is not yet mature enough, and I'm too comfortable using LR modules. But I'd like to review my workflow to get the best of my X-T3 files. Do you think it's an issue deleting the RAF file, if I decide to switch from LR to something else in the future? Does the DNG contains all Fujifilm information like their built-in lens correction?

Thanks

 

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For the parameters I basically tried to make the DNG as "raw" as possible, so that only the demosaicing would be done by X-Transformer and Lightroom would still handle everything else. If you look at this post I wrote I go into more detail on each setting and why I chose it and have screenshots of my X-Transformer configuration. I went to quite a lot of effort to make sure I understood each setting, so I'm fairly confident in the result.

The built in lens corrections are passed through in the DNG for Lightroom to apply. Unexpectedly though the lens corrections come out slightly differently after going through X-Transformer: Even with "Include as DNG Metadata" set as the lens correction option, when Lightroom applies the corrections from the DNG the result matches what you would get if you got X-Transformer to apply the corrections itself, and doesn't match what you get applying the lens corrections directly from the RAF file. My guess is that when X-Transformer maps the lens corrections from RAF format to DNG format it goes via their algorithm in some way. Although this sounds concerning, in my brief test (again, see the post I linked to above for more detail) the lens corrections applied from the DNG were actually slightly better than when they were applied directly from the RAF.

I'm not overly concerned about deleting the RAF files, as DNG is a more standard format anyway. It's just a shame the DNGs are about 3x the size, but that is unavoidable as they now contain RGB values per pixel rather than the single color value from the X-Trans filter that the RAF stored. Keeping the RAF files is only about 33% more space though, so keeping them isn't a bad option if you have the space.

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