Friday, April 11, 2014

Image Comparisons from the X-T1 and E-M1 with Adobe's Final Version of ACR and Lightroom

Fujifilm X-T1; 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 @ 86mm; 1/80th @ f/8; ISO 800; Velvia film setting (click to enlarge)
Since Adobe has released their final version of Camera Raw as well as Lightroom 5.4, I thought I would see how similar images from the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Olympus E-M1 compared.  In a previous comparison, I used the Beta version of Adobe's software. I went out yesterday with my Olympus E-M1 and tried to recreate some of the test images I made with the X-T1.  This is not a true scientific comparison as the images were taken on different days.  So, there will be a bit of variation.  I no longer have the X-T1 so I couldn't directly compare images taken concurrently.  Just a warning for those who may want to jump on that fact.

However, I did try to, as accurately as I could, recreate the images I made while testing the X-T1 a couple of weeks ago (before Adobe released the final versions of the software updates) with the E-M1.  The times of day were within a couple of minutes or each other.  The focal lengths are almost the same (may have varied a mm or 2 at most) and the point of view (where I was standing) was almost the same.  ISOs were the same.  But the shutter speeds and apertures varied ever so slightly due to different light conditions, but the difference were negligible.  Since nothing was moving and nothing was at a close distance, a small difference in shutter speed or aperture should not have impacted sharpness nor depth of field.  The colors of the images from the two cameras is different.  My fault.  I had the X-T1 on daylight white balance.  I had the E-M1 on auto white balance.  My intention was to take the camera off auto white balance and set it for daylight.  As my wife so often reminds me, I'm not perfect!  So, take this evaluation for what it may be worth to you.  I did it out of curiosity and for my own knowledge.  I found value in the comparisons.

Just so you don't have to read or look through the entire post, my evaluation of the image differences are this:

The X-T1 still doesn't give you the sharp detail in the greens.  I looked at several images and the E-M1 gives much better detail.  Whether is was pine needles (images below) or grass or green leaves, the green foliage in the E-M1 images is much more detailed and discernible.  I think this may go back to the demosaicing algorithm.  But I could be wrong.  But the difference is easy to see in the images.  Again, this is with Adobe's newest release of ACR and Lightroom.

The images that are not primarily of green foliage are very much closer in detail, but look differently.  The X-T1 produces a smoother image, which is probably from in-camera application noise reduction or just because the pixels are bigger.  I don't have any way of knowing, but the effect seems to be the same.  The X-T1 produces an image, to me that looks more "digital", if you know what I mean?  The image looks a bit sterile.  But that doesn't mean I don't like the image.  It is just different.

The E-M1's non-foliage images seem to have just a bit more detail or "tooth" to them.  That may, in fact, be a bit of digital noise that you can see at 1:1.  The image is more "film-like", again if you know what I mean.  And, again, it doesn't mean I don't like it or like it more, it is just a bit different look than the X-T1's images.  You may like one or the other.  I think that it is a matter of taste.  You can smooth this "tooth" out with more noise reduction and you can give the X-T1 image the look of film.  The tools are there for you to tailor your images in a way that please you most.  At regular viewing distance, there is no practical difference, except the color.

The X-T1's color rendition is more pleasing to me.  You may disagree.  It is an individual thing.  The blue skies are very different in all images from both cameras.  The images were made on different days, however, and that may make a difference, even though both days were clear, blue sky days.  Humidity could have been different and that will effect the clarity of the blue sky.  The sky in the E-M1 is too cyan and the overall images have a bit more yellow and red in them, in other words, warmer than neutral.  That may be a function of the "auto" white balance.  I can match each image so they look the same, so any differences between the two can be equalized.

At this point, I don't there is much difference between the images from either camera, at least at regular viewing distances.  Some will pixel peep and nitpick and that is okay.  But for the most part, I think anyone would be pretty pleased with either camera.  I suspect Adobe will, again, provide improvements to the green foliage rendition in their next release.

Here are some image comparisons.  The only thing added was input sharpening.  Click on the images to see larger versions of them.

X-T1 Image from Raw file (click to enlarge)
E-M1 Image from Raw file (click to enlarge)
Detail showing comparison of the X-T1 image on left and the E-M1 image on the right;  Only input sharpening added
(click to enlarge)
X-T1 image from RAW file (click to enlarge)
E-M1 Image from RAW file (click to enlarge)
Detail showing comparison of the X-T1 image on left and the E-M1 image on the right;  Only input sharpening added
(click to enlarge)
So there you have it.  Two great cameras which produce wonderful images.  The images are a bit different in look, but that is exactly what one would expect from different manufacturers.  My recommendation is to buy either one.  I think you will be happy.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy!

Dennis Mook

(Note: These thoughts may not apply to photographers who perform work for hire.  In their cases, they are hired to produce specific products for specific reasons.  Therefore, they may not be able to only photograph what they love.)

Many of my images can be found at www.dennismook.com.  Please pay it a visit.  I add new images regularly.  Thank you.


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5 comments:

Larry J. Clark said...

I wouldn't have expected any X-T1 processing difference from either of the latest two LR/ACR versions. The update allowed LR/ACR (and Bridge) to recognize images from the new body (EXIF), and added the Fujifilm film simulations.

Adobe has more than enough intellectual and computing horsepower to resolve any perceived shortcomings in their RAW conversion process. They made a business decision months ago regarding the acceptable output from the X-Trans conversion process, as well as other factors in that workflow. There is nothing for them to "fix".

Dennis Mook said...

Larry, I have had enough public and private responses from readers of my rather minor blog that, extrapolated up to the general photographic population, would seem to mean a significant number of users or potential users of X-Trans sensored cameras are rather unhappy with Adobe's raw conversion. Whether or not Adobe has made a business decision to end improvements, I can't say. I only had the benefit of using the latest RC that was released a short time ago. I had read in more than one place on the web that others who had used X-Trans sensored cameras and Adobe in the past thought that this last release of ACR and Lightroom was an improvement over past releases. My comments about the matter were based on their comments.

Peter F. said...

David Taylor on his blog is suggesting that the new "Topaz Detail" is giving him good results on his fujifilm raw files. I think it is only a $20 program ($40 after Apr 30), and is available for free 30 day trial. Might be a good thing to try out in your free (haha) time. Oh, it's a LR plug in... I think. I haven't tried it yet for my Olympus files but thought I'd give it a go in the next few weeks. Peter F.

Dennis Mook said...

Peter, I have been a user of Topaz Labs plug-ins for several years. After I wrote Friday's post, I started thinking if I had any tools that may help extract detail. I had been playing with the X-T1 files all weekend in Detail 3. What I have found is that, indeed Detail does pull out more detail from the image files--almost! It pulls some out, but not on the same level as you get in the E-M1 raw files. Additionally, the "look" of the image is slightly changed by having a rather large increase in micro-contrast. There is more detail to be seen, however. The other downside is that each image is different and each image, so far in my tests, has to be adjusted differently. It takes quite a bit of time to get it the best you can, then some of the detail is still not there. The upshot so far is that it does extract detail but it doesn't yet match the Olympus files with no tweaking. If I still had the X-T1 I would certainly be using Detail for my important images.

I'm going to continue to experiment all week with Detail and I'll write about it for next Monday's post. Oh! After I had been playing with Detail, I saw David Taylor had found the same plug-in and had probably similar results to mine. Interesting that he found it necessary, as I did, to try to find a way to extract detail from the files.

Peter F. said...

Thanks for that "user" report! BTW, I see dpreview has finished their review of the X-T1. In the For What It's Worth Deparment, both it and the E-M1 get 84 points. I still think ACR has some work to do.