Fujifilm X Raw Studio review
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.
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.
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:
- The ability to retain the exceptional image quality generated in camera including tonality, colour reproduction and noise reduction.
- RAW conversion speed is independent of the performance of your computer. Operation speed is subjectively much faster than other RAW converters
- 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.
- Absolute consistency of conversion once your profile/profiles are set up.
- 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.
- 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.
- Viewing conversions (and the effect of differing conversion choices) is much easier on the computer screen than on the camera’s LCD or viewfinder.
- 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.
- It’s free!
Here are some points to note:
- Mac only until February 2018
- 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.
- 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.
- Subscribe to Macfilos for free updates on articles as they are published
- Want to make a comment on this article but having problems?