Monday, March 24, 2014
Sorry Fuji Fans, The X-T1 is Going Back
(NOTE: First, let me say that I buy and use camera gear based upon what will most likely best serve my needs. Over the past 44 years, I have owned most brands and all have served me well at the time. They are all good. So, this is not a knock on Fujifilm or an endorsement of any other brand or format.)
After several days of making images with the X-T1 in a variety of situations and several times closely reviewing those images, I am still very disappointed in the mushy detail in the green foliage. Balancing those feelings with the thoughts of how much I liked making photographs with this camera, how good it felt and what a joy it was to use, as well as how good the lenses are, in the end, I decided that I have to send them all back. You can see some of the images and read about my experience here and here.
From the comments I have received, X-Trans sensor cameras probably work better with Photo Ninja, Iridient and Capture One than it does with Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. But I use Lightroom and Photoshop. They are my standard and my entire photographic editing and cataloging system is built around those two programs. I have been using those programs, which are considered by many to be about the best in the industry, for 15 years (Photoshop at least, Lightroom since it was introduced). In today's technologically advanced photographic world and, considering how much the craft and hobby has grown over the past 20 years, we, as photographers, should not have to modify our working procedures, buy additional software nor have to compromise when buying a new camera. Parts of the same industry should work together seamlessly. Sometimes they don't. But they should. This is not the 19th century where independent photographic industry mom and pop outfits, inventors or small companies are developing equipment and processes independent of the rest of the world. Things didn't work together back then and that is understandable. They should now.
I just can't get past the problems with the demosaicing shortcomings that are very apparent in the image files. I think Fujifilm should have been working with Adobe and other manufacturers to ensure that when the X-Trans sensor hit the market, everything worked as well as possible. I think Adobe has not yet hit the magic combination in their construction of the raw conversion process. I don't know why as it has been a couple of years since the X-Trans sensor has been on the market. No other sensor or camera of which I am aware, has not been fully functional at this point in the process. The detail is in the files, from what I have seen of samples of X-T1 image files converted with Photo Ninja and others. It is just not in the ACR files.
Here is another, but different, example of what I mean. The image at the top of this post looks great–when viewed as a full sized image, small and on the Web. But look below and see what the 1:1 crop looks like. There is just no clear detail in the grass, even near the cannon. It looks like it was painted with watercolors. This image was made at f/8 at quite a distance, so there should be some gradual falloff of focus due to the depth of field. But all of the grass looks bad, even at the point of the location of the cannons, where focus was set. If you look at the tree branches in the full-sized image, they really look funny–almost as though they were painted in also. Just really disappointing. The cannon looks good, however. Go figure? Now this particular image is from a RAW file. The JPEGs look a bit worse as you can see some compression artifacts.
Since I submit my work for stock, I have to look at the images 1:1 and ensure the quality is as good as it can be. I don't believe this image would be accepted. I'm not a pixel peeper but I have to have sharp detail in my images otherwise they don't make the cut for stock.
One commenter to this blog mentioned that it looks like noise reduction artifacts. He may have a point there. Fujifilm may be including in-camera noise reduction to their RAW files in a similar way that Sony includes in-camera compression to their RAW files. That may also explain why their files have less noise at higher ISOs than other manufacturers. I'm going to run a test later in the week to see if I can further explore this idea. I say, just give us the RAW data and let us edit them to our needs. Don't do anything to them!
At this point, I am back to my Olympus M4/3 E-M1 and associated lenses. That camera with both Olympus and Panasonic lenses has never disappointed me in the image quality it produces. The large stock agency with which I have a contract has no issue accepting those files.
Am I disappointed? Very. Maybe my expectations are too high after using the E-M5 and E-M1? Did I agonize over this? Yes. Will I watch and monitor Fujifilm and Adobe over these issues? You bet!
In the mean time, I can't afford to have a great camera and 4 lenses sitting around not being used because of the aforementioned issues. When and if everyone agrees the green foliage detail issues are solved, I will probably delve back into this system. After all, it is a good system for photographers.
Thanks for looking. Enjoy!
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