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Author Topic: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files  (Read 7275 times)

rdonson

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Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« on: November 25, 2016, 01:13:42 PM »

I know this could be a contentious subject with some people espousing their favorite software for Fuji RAW files.  It's not my desire to turn this thread into that.

I've been using only Lightroom for sharpening and I was generally pleased although not thrilled.  A gentleman on another site suggested the use of Nik Sharpener Pro 3.  He said it worked the best for him. 

What really brought it all together for me was a video by Dan Hughes for Nik that outlined a multi-pass sharpening workflow using Nik Sharpener.  I've been super pleased with the results by following his approach.

Here's a link to the video -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE_JeP06IG4&t=3108s

For those not completely satisfied with your current tools or workflow you might find this works for you as well.  YMMV

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Ron

David Sutton

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2016, 05:21:30 PM »

Thanks for the link Ron.
I watched the first 50 minutes and it's a useful addition to the range of tools available for Fuji files.
His " multi-pass" sharpening is another name for capture, creative and output sharpening. So nothing new there apart from doing the capture sharpening after converting to a tiff. That seems to me to work well with X-trans files. Maybe better than with Bayer array, but I don't know why that should be so. The X-trans certainly seem more malleable as far as sharpening goes, with less risk of the result looking unnatural.
One advantage of using Nik's output sharpener for creative sharpening is I see you can adjust local contrast and focus within that step, which I usually do as separate layers using Topaz Detail and then Nik Tonal Contrast.
I have a couple of thousand images from the X-T2 and haven't had time to do any editing yet  ::), so I'll try out Hughes' workflow as part of playing around to see what works. Maybe this week.
David
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2016, 07:29:04 PM »

David, you're welcome.

Yes, multi-pass sharpening is just another name for something we all take for granted these day.  I'm sure that just about everyone involved with programming sharpening algorithms and workflows is aware of Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe's work.  I think Dan Hughes graduated from RIT and may still be an associate professor there.  I doubt he wrote any code but he was involved with the effort and teaching at Nik, Google and I think other photography software companies.

I'm just guessing that the lack of an AA filter helps the X-Trans sensors a bunch.  I'm not sure how it compares to Bayer sensors without an AA filter though.  Like you I see far few sharpening artifacts with Nik Sharpener than the others I've used on RAF files.  My understanding is that the X-Trans array may produce better color but I have no idea how to quantify that.  I do like the Fuji film emulations though and the latest Lightroom profiles for the films seem to have improved.

This is a result of my going through a few thousand X-T2 files trying to find the optimum approach.  My impression is that with the 50% increase in resolution over the X-T1 it's a different ball game with regards to sharpening and color/tonal contrasts. 
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Ron

Jack Hogan

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2016, 05:13:10 AM »

I'm just guessing that the lack of an AA filter helps the X-Trans sensors a bunch.  I'm not sure how it compares to Bayer sensors without an AA filter though.  Like you I see far few sharpening artifacts with Nik Sharpener than the others I've used on RAF files.  My understanding is that the X-Trans array may produce better color but I have no idea how to quantify that.  I do like the Fuji film emulations though and the latest Lightroom profiles for the films seem to have improved.

Hi Ron, thanks for the link, I use Nik's Sharpener Pro Raw Presharpener often and like its deconvolution implementation for capture sharpening (although on Nikon gear, not Fuji).

Your question about whether X-Trans lends itself to better deconvolution than Bayer is interesting.  I don't have personal experience to say either way but if it were so, it could be because the pseudo-random layout could make Nyquist less clear cut in the dominant green channel - although intuitively I would think that what counts for the perception of sharpness is the luminance/luma channel which in the end goes back to pixel pitch.  Interesting though, I'll keep thinking about it.

I would take AA and color out of the equation.  AA because most new 24MP APS-C cameras over the last couple of years do not have them.  And color because the fact that one may find colors from a manufacturer more pleasing than another's have very little or nothing to do with sharpness.  And all to do with the preferred 'look' of the manufacturer.

Cheers,
Jack
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2016, 11:45:28 AM »

Keep thinking about it, Jack.  I'd enjoy whatever thoughts you have on the topic.

If I understand correctly Nyquist is used in the signal processing. I read a recent article that most of the improvements in dynamic range over the last 10 years were only due in a small part to the sensor itself.  According to the article most of the gains were made in signal processing. Thoughts?

A lot of processing goes on in the camera but I'm also very curious about demosaicing of the X-Trans sensors.  I understand that with X-Trans there is no need for the AA filter but what is the state of the art for demosaicing the X-Trans?  There are many different Bayer demosaicing algorithms but it seems Fuji holds the key to demosaicing X-Trans and apparently only shares with certain companies, likely under nondisclosure agreements.
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Ron

Jack Hogan

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2016, 01:23:12 PM »

I read a recent article that most of the improvements in dynamic range over the last 10 years were only due in a small part to the sensor itself.  According to the article most of the gains were made in signal processing. Thoughts?

I'd be interested to see the article Ron, but that would not have been my first guess.  Other than continuous tweaking it seems to me that there was a discontinuity in DR about 5 years ago when Sony started building sensors with on-board ADCs (D7000 and K5).  You could almost feel a collective sigh of relief earlier this year when Canon finally started to follow suit, which explains their proud DR gain claims for cameras like the 5DM4.

A lot of processing goes on in the camera but I'm also very curious about demosaicing of the X-Trans sensors.  I understand that with X-Trans there is no need for the AA filter but what is the state of the art for demosaicing the X-Trans?  There are many different Bayer demosaicing algorithms but it seems Fuji holds the key to demosaicing X-Trans and apparently only shares with certain companies, likely under nondisclosure agreements.

Can't help you there, as I know very little about demosaicing pseudo random patterns.  On the other hand Bayer demosaicers were a competitive field of research over the last twenty years and now appear to be quite mature. Sometimes one runs faster when chased by a pack of wolves than when strolling with one's dog (;-)

Jack
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budjames

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2016, 01:46:14 PM »

I own (purchased) all of the NIK plugins. I love the U-Point technology.

Since becoming a Fuji-X camera user, I have switched to CaptureOne Pro 9 for all of my image management and processing. Therefore, I don't use Nik products as much.

Now that Google has relegated the NIK suite to freeware status, I expect future development and updates to cease. You might want to consider looking elsewhere for a sharpening solution.

Bud
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2016, 05:45:58 PM »

I'd be interested to see the article Ron, but that would not have been my first guess.  Other than continuous tweaking it seems to me that there was a discontinuity in DR about 5 years ago when Sony started building sensors with on-board ADCs (D7000 and K5).  You could almost feel a collective sigh of relief earlier this year when Canon finally started to follow suit, which explains their proud DR gain claims for cameras like the 5DM4.

Jack

I thought I saved a link to the article but now I can't find it.  I'll continue the search.  I can see it in my mind now all I have to do is find it.
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Ron

rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2016, 05:50:37 PM »


Now that Google has relegated the NIK suite to freeware status, I expect future development and updates to cease. You might want to consider looking elsewhere for a sharpening solution.

Bud

Hi Bud, 

I have many sharpening solutions.  So far, none of them compare with Nik Sharpener for my Fuji RAF files.  Some suggest it is the advanced deconvolution abilities.

Even if Google walks away from the Nik Collection I don't see why the Sharpener would grow stale any time soon.  The only hazard I see is if Adobe changes how it handles plugins but I think even that could be mitigated.
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Ron

David Sutton

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2016, 03:06:37 PM »

Hi Ron.
I got to start processing the X-T2 files this week. I've only tried sharpening a photo of an oil on canvas I'm preparing for reproduction and haven't tried foliage yet.
Any use of the detail slider in LR turned the background canvas into what I can only describe as a nasty mess of "worms". I could have masked it out but I don't think the masking slider is there to cover up that sort of thing. So I turned LR sharpening off.
The two pass Nik sharpener method by Hughes worked fine.
I suspect he is correct in saying the two pass method works best where the first round of sharpening is very subtle and the second "sharpens the sharpening".
I tried this with Topaz Detail and another sharpener on top and was also happy with the result. Can't say that one was better, just different. The thing I found with the second pass using Nik's output sharpening is that the focus and contrast sliders are very effective and I think I'd need to play with them for a while to avoid over-doing it.
David
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2016, 05:36:58 PM »

David,

Sharpening X-Trans III  RAW files in Lr has been a challenge for me too.  I had some Lr sharpening settings that work with my X-T1 but were quite unsatisfactory for the X-T2.

I started processing X-T2 files using Pete Bridgwood's recommend starting point for Lightroom.

Amount 40
Radius 0.8
Detail 80
Masking 0
NR Luminance 0
NR Color 0

I could avoid the 'worms" but I just couldn't achieve satisfactory sharpening no matter how I set the sliders.  Perhaps I gave up too soon.

I tried all the sharpening tools I had such as Topaz Detail and Clarity but they didn't quite achieve what I could get with Nik Sharpener.
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Ron

john beardsworth

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2016, 03:57:44 AM »

I feel you've got to distinguish why you might go outside Lightroom for sharpening, and I only do so for individual images, not in general. Generally, you don't need to leave Lightroom to sharpen XT2 photos. And I think we're only talking capture sharpening.

But I have also struggled to find the ideal starting point in Lightroom, in the sense of changing my default setting 3-4 times. I seem to have settled on this:

Amount 90
Radius 0.8
Detail 10
Masking 50

So compared with my Nikon defaults, sharpening is high, radius smaller, masking high, and the detail setting is the opposite of the Bridgwood XT1 method (which I had doubted from the outset). I won't include NR settings as they're ISO dependent.

BTW, I disagree with the comment "I don't think the masking slider is there to cover up that sort of thing". Masking isn't for covering anything up, it's for targeting.

But I don't rule out changing my defaults again!

John

Ken Bennett

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2016, 08:59:21 AM »

I've not tried the Nik tools, so I downloaded the set and installed everything. I can open through Lightroom into Silver Effects and Color Effects just fine, but when I open into Sharpener Pro I get a blank screen, like the attached screenshot.

Note that at the bottom it shows the filename and info.

What am I doing wrong? I've restarted everything, of course.

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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2016, 10:21:44 AM »

I feel you've got to distinguish why you might go outside Lightroom for sharpening, and I only do so for individual images, not in general. Generally, you don't need to leave Lightroom to sharpen XT2 photos. And I think we're only talking capture sharpening.

But I have also struggled to find the ideal starting point in Lightroom, in the sense of changing my default setting 3-4 times. I seem to have settled on this:

Amount 90
Radius 0.8
Detail 10
Masking 50

So compared with my Nikon defaults, sharpening is high, radius smaller, masking high, and the detail setting is the opposite of the Bridgwood XT1 method (which I had doubted from the outset). I won't include NR settings as they're ISO dependent.

BTW, I disagree with the comment "I don't think the masking slider is there to cover up that sort of thing". Masking isn't for covering anything up, it's for targeting.

But I don't rule out changing my defaults again!

John

John, I've changed my defaults setting so often in Lr for my X-T2 files that I was getting quite frustrated.  After looking at 3,000+ X-T2 files I was ready to think outside the Lr box. That's what drove me to seriously consider what some were saying about Nik Sharpener Pro and RAF files.   I've long followed Bruce Fraser's concept of capture, creative and output sharpening.  The Nik Sharpener follows this concept workflow.

As you were saying, masking in Lr sharpening enables sharpening of a reduced portion of the image.  What turns black while holding the Option/Alt key will not be sharpened.

As you say, I certainly don't apply Nik Sharpener to every X-T2 RAF file I have.  I save that for only those images I think are truly worthy of the effort.  If it's an image important to me I start by zeroing out Lr sharpening then I "Edit In" PS and apply Nik Sharpener as depicted in the video for performing capture and creative sharpening on layers.  I've been quite satisfied with that approach so far.  I print from Lr so output sharpening is done there in the Print Module.
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Ron

David Sutton

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2016, 03:25:09 PM »


BTW, I disagree with the comment "I don't think the masking slider is there to cover up that sort of thing". Masking isn't for covering anything up, it's for targeting.

Yes, John, exactly. We agree.  :)
David
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2016, 09:05:04 PM »

I've not tried the Nik tools, so I downloaded the set and installed everything. I can open through Lightroom into Silver Effects and Color Effects just fine, but when I open into Sharpener Pro I get a blank screen, like the attached screenshot.

Note that at the bottom it shows the filename and info.

What am I doing wrong? I've restarted everything, of course.

Ken, have you tried executing the "Edit In" from the Develop Module.  You screen shot looks like Lr is in the Library Module.  Not sure if that makes a difference though...
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Ron

David Sutton

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2016, 03:45:02 AM »

Hello Ron.
This has been a useful exercise, thank you for starting the thread.
I have found a foliage image, so now have experience with two photos as against your 3,000+.
With that caveat it seems to me that at this level, we are discussing whether we are looking for sharpness or detail, and how we want to draw the eye of the viewer, so there is a large subjective component to the workflow we settle on. That's not a bad thing if we don't want our processing to look the same as everyone else's.
One problem for me is that in the past I would take the amount slider in LR right up to see the effect of the other parameters, then drop it down again. This isn't working in LR 6 with the X-T2 files. The effect is ghastly.
I think I'm getting the sharpest result with:
Amount 20, Radius .8, Detail 10 and masking 10. Then the two step sharpening in Nik.
The LR values are a little arbitrary, but get me in the ballpark.
The result is not crunchy or over the top, but sharper than I want for the way I see the world in my photographs. So if I want to use the Nik software I will leave out the LR step, and probably knock the Nik step back 20% for the papers I use for printing.
It would be interesting to try sharpening with Nik after a raw conversion with PhotoNinja or Iridient.
I wasn't expecting to have to change my approach so much with the new camera. Cripes it has a lot of detail.
Cheers,
David
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2016, 08:31:35 AM »

Hello David,

This is a good conversation and I'm very glad you're contributing your experiences and thoughts.

Like you, I haven't found a magic, single approach to sharpening all X-T2 files.  There's no "press this button" satisfactory solution for all photos that I've seen.  It's possible we'll be experimenting a while longer before any of us say, "Ah hah! I've got it all figured it out". 

I feel like I'm still learning Nik Sharpener and what it's like to view the photo at 300% and keeping the sharpening subtle and getting a pleasing 100 or 200% view.

My goal is for us to share our experiences and thoughts to shorten this learning period, if that's at all possible.  A team effort, if you will.

As you say, I'm amazed by the detail available from my X-T2 compared to my X-T1. 

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Ron

Ken Bennett

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2016, 03:56:17 PM »

Ken, have you tried executing the "Edit In" from the Develop Module.  You screen shot looks like Lr is in the Library Module.  Not sure if that makes a difference though...

Thanks. I tried in the Develop module, same result. The funny thing is, any sharpening that I do shows up in the file back in Lightroom -- I just don't get any preview in Sharpener Pro. Odd.
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rdonson

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Re: Achieving tack sharp photos with Fuji X-T2 RAW files
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2016, 04:21:15 PM »

Ken, just a thought although you've likely already had it....

When you go into Lightroom, Preferences, External Editing what does the preset for "Nik Sharpener Pro 4 RAW Presharpener" look like?

Application ? 
File Format ?
Color Space ?
Bit Depth ?
Resolution ?
Compression?

Stack with Original?

If there's nothing out of the usual here have you tried reinstalling Nik?
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Ron
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