Home Features Fujifilm X Raw Studio review

Fujifilm X Raw Studio review

890
9
 Liverpool Pier Head after Velvia conversion in Fujifilm X Raw Studios with no extra tweaking outside the system. Below: The RAW image as shot
Liverpool Pier Head after Velvia conversion in Fujifilm X Raw Studios with no extra tweaking outside the system. Below: The RAW image as shot

Released by Fujifilm in November 2017, this is a new kind of software for RAW conversion. Instead of doing conversions on your computer in software such as Lightroom, Capture One, Iridient Developer or Affinity Photo, FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO, once installed on your computer, enables one to do RAW conversion in a compatible camera connected via its USB port to your computer.

It sounds kind of crazy. After all we’ve spent years downloading our images to computers via cables, from SD or other cards and, more recently wirelessly, in order to do our RAW conversions in our favoured converter which just has to reside on the computer, doesn’t it? No longer, at least for some Fuji camera owners.

     The original RAW file on left and the Velvia conversion on right, just before pressing CONVERT button
  The original RAW file on left and the Velvia conversion on right, just before pressing CONVERT button

Lets look at the supposed “madness” head on. Fuji have in fact been very smart. Their cameras have been winning increasing approval from a growing number of photographers because of the quality of their jpegs straight out of the camera, amongst other good reasons. Yet this powerful in-camera processor is massively under-utilised when not actually being used to take photographs. You might say it’s looking for a job. It therefore starts to make sense to hook up the camera to your computer and use that processor more intensively.

A further method in the Fuji “madness” is that third-party RAW convertors have a very mixed record in dealing with X-Trans RAW files. There is considerable frustration among some Fuji users about the lengths they have to go in order to reproduce Fuji colours on their computers and, even then, with mixed success. Lightroom Fuji pre-sets for one are by no means exact replacements for Fuji detail or colours. For such users it may make eminent sense to try Fujifilm X Raw Studio so that the same processor which gave them, for example, the gorgeous Velvia or Acros simulation when they took the shot is reproduced with the same settings they used in camera. 

  Before Shot: The original RAW file
Before Shot: The original RAW file
  After shot: Velvia conversion done in Fujifilm X Raw Studio
After shot: Velvia conversion done in Fujifilm X Raw Studio

Fujifilm X Raw Studio is very easy to use. The interface comprises a logical series of panes, the first of which is the source image folder pane where you locate the RAW images on your hard drive which you wish to convert. The thumbnail view filmstrip is where you select the image or series of images you wish to convert. Then you move straight into the conversion settings pane where you can set all the parameters exactly as if you were in camera. 

The adjustments are push/pull (EV), dynamic range, film simulation, grain effect, white balance, WB shift, highlight tone, shadow tone, colour, sharpness, noise reduction, lens modulation optimiser, colour space and rotate image. As you make choices here you are able to view the result of your selections in real time with a comparative view of your starting RAW image and the preview of the image incorporating your conversion settings.

Once you are happy with the choices you have made for each of these settings you press the CONVERT button and that is that. The converted jpeg is returned to the source folder.

Your choice of settings automatically generates a user profile which can be saved for future use by clicking the save profile button and then applied with one click to another image or series of images.

There are many advantages to this software:

  1. The ability to retain the exceptional image quality generated in camera including tonality, colour reproduction and noise reduction. 
  2. RAW conversion speed is independent of the performance of your computer. Operation speed is subjectively much faster than other RAW converters
  3. Use those adjustments which are not available in other RAW conversion programmes, like the Fuji specific highlight and shadow tone, WB shift and the Fuji film simulations.
  4. Absolute consistency of conversion once your profile/profiles are set up.
  5. Independence from the variable performance of other RAW convertors when de-mosaicing X-Trans files. In particular, the preservation of fine detail is superior in FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO. 
  6. Many regard the Fuji film simulations as the secret sauce which differentiates Fuji jpegs from those out of other brands of camera. If you are one of these, then FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO is right up your street.
  7. Viewing conversions (and the effect of differing conversion choices) is much easier on the computer screen than on the camera’s LCD or viewfinder. 
  8. It’s easy to choose and view all the different film simulations to decide your choice for a particular image or series of images. Each simulation can be tweaked to your hearts content using exactly the same controls as in camera.
  9. It’s free!
  The  Fujifilm X Raw Studio  interface, as described below, with the original RAW file on left and Acros + Ye conversion on right, just before pressing the CONVERT button
The  Fujifilm X Raw Studio  interface, as described below, with the original RAW file on left and Acros + Ye conversion on right, just before pressing the CONVERT button

Here are some points to note:

  1. Mac only until February 2018
  2. Currently restricted to four Fuji cameras: the GFX 50S, the X-T2, the X-PRO2 and the X100F. One would expect in due course that all Fuji cameras with the new larger processors such as the X-T20 will also be included, but I have no positive information on this.
  3. The RAW conversion is compatible only with a RAW file taken by the same camera model as the camera connected to the computer. For example, if the connected camera is an X-T2, the RAW file to be converted must be taken by an X-T2

I am increasingly confident that Fuji has launched a really useful product for some Fuji owners. It will not however appeal to all. For me, the ability to shoot completely in RAW and not RAW plus jpeg saves space on my cards. It also makes it easier for me to utilise Fuji film simulation modes more creatively. I am therefore using Fujifilm X Raw Studio alongside Affinity Photo which of course is still needed for advanced photo editing. 

A final word. Fujifilm X Raw Studio is in my opinion something special. It reinforces my ability to make the most of the capabilities of my Fuji X-T2. It is easy to use and does what it says on the tin. The introduction of this software is another fine example of the Fuji philosophy of “kaizen” or gradual improvement. In my view it also contrasts very favourably with the clunky and unhelpful software put out by Canon and Nikon of which I have had unhappy past experience. Others may disagree with this view.

____________

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks David. I must investigate this. I have been getting splendid images from using the Fujifilm Profiles in Lightroom under Camera Calibration. They can be added to Fujifilm Raw (RAF) images in Lightroom after downloading . I like the Velvia setting, but you need to have a subject that suits it. I have one very nice set of photos taken in Donegal last Easter which have a real John Hinde postcard look to them. I had been using Iridient Developer along with Lightroom, but as both Adobe and Fujifilm have improved their act, Iridient has not been so necessary. It is a long time (about 14 years I would say) since I plugged a camera into a computer. I have always used card readers, as the process is more direct and there are no compatibility issues.

    Lightroom can be a bit harsh on images. This morning I installed the latest version of Lightroom under Creative Cloud and I found that it is more harsh with Leica M10 images than the version I used last week. I generally, do not use set profiles but rather I ‘cook to taste’ each image that I process. There is, however, a lesson in this for those who do use set profiles. Always check your set profiles after Adobe (or whatever software company’s products you use) have updated your main processing software. In particular, I look at clarity, vibrance, saturation and sharpening and generally tone these down a bit to deal with the new Lightroom versions, which are generally more ‘pumped up’ than their predecessor.

    Going back to your article, I must find the cable that came with my X-Pro 2.

    William

  2. William,

    Thanks your very useful comments re Lightroom. I think your caveats re keeping an eagle eye on matters do indeed support the case for at least a partial use of Fujifilm X RAW Studio. At the very least, one has a check of what one’s Lightroom profile is doing and can compare it with a real Fuji simulation done easily in camera. I suspect that a fair number of Fuji users of Lightroom may not be as meticulous as you in maintaining their output against software changes etc.
    Agree your view of Velvia which I primarily use for wild life and selected landscapes. It also made an easily recognisable and vivid "after" image for this article.

    David

    • Happy Christmas, John. I use both makes and each has its merits. Using cameras is not like supporting a football team. Horses for courses etc.

      William

    • John,

      If only you used a Fuji……

      I have no doubt of the excellence of Leicas from enjoying the high quality images taken with them and posted by you and others on this blog and elsewhere. However, using a Leica would not on its own improve the quality of my images. I am firmly of the opinion that images are first seen then taken and that the quality of most modern cameras can fulfil the creative needs of most photographers.

      Perhaps you might have commented upon the subject of the article which was Fujifilm X RAW studio which is a type of converter currently unique to Fuji and so far unattempted by Leica?

      Happy Christmas,

      David

      • Yes David I was indeed commenting on the Fuji software-not your choice of camera.
        .But why would Leica need such software? Leicas produce excellent jpegs straight from the camera -nearly all my published photos are jpegs and I rarely use RAW. But if I did I could rest easy knowing that Leicas produce DNG files-the international standard-easily processible in many apps including,of course,Lightroom.
        Happy new year to you and yours

  3. Fatal flaw in Fuji x raw Studio ? If Fuji camera is replaced by later model, in the course of time, then the earlier RAF files can no longer be converted using the process described.

    Mike Watson

  4. Mike

    The current position is entirely reasonable in that the files to be converted must have been taken by the type of camera connected. You could not attempt to convert files taken by a GFX 50 s with an X-T2 connected for example.

    I would suggets it is equally reasonable to suppose that Fuji will keep the software up to date and even extend its capabilities as new and replacement cameras are developed. They are customer focussed and highly unlikely to allow such a "fatal flaw" to happen. They want to encourage continued growth in the use of their products and software.

    David

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.