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Author Topic: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom  (Read 46603 times)

Chris Kern

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Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« on: October 14, 2014, 06:46:04 pm »

I've been using Iridient Developer to convert raw files from my FujiFilm X-E2 for critical work until now because no matter how much I fiddled with the sliders in Lightroom, I just didn't feel I could capture as much fine detail without introducing artifacts.

I'd prefer to avoid the extra overhead of having Iridient produce a TIFF, however, and the other day I stumbled on an interesting article by Pete Bridgwood which suggests, among other things, that moving the LR sharpening-detail slider all the way to the right — something it had never occurred to me to try — works very well with files from the Fuji X-Trans sensor.

The results of my initial tests of Bridgwood's technique are quite promising.  With very little effort, I'm now able to perform capture sharpening with Lightroom that is essentially indistinguishable from what I was seeing with Iridient.  At least that seems to be true with respect to detail; inevitably, the default settings of both programs produce differences in color and perhaps other characteristics of the respective images.

I really don't understand what goes on under the hood during a raw conversion, but apparently the use of non-Bayer patterns such as X-Trans may require changing some entrenched post-processing habits.

Alan Smallbone

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 10:42:59 am »

My understanding is that Irident uses some deconvolution, which is what happens when you slide the detail slider to the right, from 50-100 a form of deconvolution is being used in Lightroom.

Alan
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Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 11:08:00 am »

My understanding is that Irident uses some deconvolution, which is what happens when you slide the detail slider to the right, from 50-100 a form of deconvolution is being used in Lightroom.

That's what Bridgwood says in the essay I cited, and Jeff Schewe explains what happens with that slider in even greater ... ummm ... detail in The Digital Negative (p. 89 in the print version).  At the time I read Jeff's book, I wasn't using a camera with an X-Trans sensor; I rarely had occasion to stray from LR's default sharpening-detail setting of 25 when working with Bayer-sensor files as long as the images were properly focused.  It didn't occur to me that a different sensor pattern would demand a different sharpening algorithm, which is what Bridgwood claims.

deejjjaaaa

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 02:37:10 pm »

It didn't occur to me that a different sensor pattern would demand a different sharpening algorithm, which is what Bridgwood claims.
rather different demosaicking (which in xtrans case involves blurring to avoid artefacts) requires more deblurring... that may or may not be incorporated into demosaick itself, in Adobe's case it was apparently not... try NoiseNinja - their approach is apparently different - they intentionally produce artefacts (false details) creating an impression of better resolving demosaick
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Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom (Update)
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2014, 06:40:51 pm »

I've just finished a quick test of the public Beta of Iridient Developer version 3 (3.0b3).  Using a maxed-out sharpening detail slider in Lightroom and leaving all the other settings at their default values, I'm still seeing capture-sharpening results form LR that are competitive with those from Iridient at its default settings.  And the results remain comparable after I have made whatever additional sharpening adjustments I want for a given image.  Again, there are other differences between respective images — default colors, for example — but the two products seem to have equal ability to represent the details of the original capture.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 10:28:23 pm by Chris Kern »
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AFairley

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2014, 11:35:04 am »

I find that the detail=100 method is indeed less prone to introducing haloing in my X-E2 files than keeping it around 25-35 as I do for my Bayer sensor cameras. 

However, the problem for me is that in a fair number of files, Lightroom's demosaicing introduces halos or similar artifacts even when there is no sharpening at all applied in LR.  So I'm using Photo Ninja for initial exposure adjustments, sharpening and perspective control before refining and printing in LR.  But you need a really light hand on the Detail slider in PN because it's easy to produce files that look horribly "digital" in the print, although they may look OK on the monitor. 

I'm in the process of exploring how the Sharpening Radius and Detail sliders interact in Photo Ninja, will post crops when I have the results.
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XE11

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2014, 12:47:44 pm »

i, too, found the detail slider tip in LR5 very useful. although i found that i stop around 80 instead going all the way too 100. at 80, it looks abit more natural to me. i'm still exploring how to sharpen X-E1 files. i always end up with photos that looks like oil painting.... some times it works, some time just looks like cartoon....

i do mostly landscape shots, i will do amount:40, radius: 0.7, detail: 80, then mask will depends on the picture, but generally make sure the sky is not sharpened. then i use 10-15 on noise reduction.

any more tips?
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Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2014, 06:20:32 pm »

I find that the detail=100 method is indeed less prone to introducing haloing in my X-E2 files than keeping it around 25-35 as I do for my Bayer sensor cameras.  

However, the problem for me is that in a fair number of files, Lightroom's demosaicing introduces halos or similar artifacts even when there is no sharpening at all applied in LR.

I've not seen this, myself, although my experience has been that raw files produced by the X-Trans cameras neither require nor can tolerate much sharpening beyond the amount I automatically apply during import (i.e., the sharpening-amount slider set to 25 and the sharpening-detail slider to 100).  The files from cameras with Bayer-pattern sensors seem to be more accepting of aggressive sharpening.  On the other hand, I've been very favorably impressed with the focus accuracy of the two Fujifilm cameras I have used—the X-E2 and the X-T1—as well as the quality of the Fuji lenses.  So I don't often feel the need to sharpen the Fujifilm images aggressively.

What version of Lightroom are you using?  From what I've read, here and elsewhere, Fuji reps have been helping Adobe refine the X-Trans demosaicing algorithms in LR and Camera Raw.  If you're not using the latest rev of Lightroom, perhaps that's the reason for the artifacts you're seeing.

I've attached three test shots I made this afternoon to illustrate the results I get from my default import capture sharpening:

(1) the approximate coverage of the full frame in the following two examples;
(2) a full-resolution crop from an X-T1 with the Fuji 10-24mm zoom at 10mm;
(3) a full-resolution crop from a Nikon D800E with the Nikon 18-35mm zoom at 18mm.

I applied the Lightroom lens-correction module to the D800E image; it's my understanding that LR automagically performs lens corrections on files made with all Fuji lenses based on manufacturer's makernotes included in the metadata.  The D800E image also had the sharpening-amount slider set at 25, but the sharpening detail value was 25.  Both crops represent my typical starting point for post-processing images made with the respective cameras.  (Obviously, the dimensions of the D800E sample are larger because of the higher resolution of the sensor.)  Both look equally clean to my eye.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 09:13:51 pm by Chris Kern »
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Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2014, 06:46:07 pm »

i, too, found the detail slider tip in LR5 very useful. although i found that i stop around 80 instead going all the way too 100. at 80, it looks abit more natural to me. i'm still exploring how to sharpen X-E1 files. i always end up with photos that looks like oil painting.... some times it works, some time just looks like cartoon....

i do mostly landscape shots, i will do amount:40, radius: 0.7, detail: 80, then mask will depends on the picture, but generally make sure the sky is not sharpened. then i use 10-15 on noise reduction.

any more tips?

Nope.  I think every image pretty much needs to stand on its own.  The gimmick I reported in my original post is an exception—and even it probably shouldn't be applied mechanically.

soboyle

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2014, 11:09:56 am »

I'm interested in settings that work in Lightroom. I have been shooting with x-trans since they were first released and never have been happy with the files for landscape work where there are a lot of fine details such as leaves, or bare branches. I'm on a PC so can't use Iridient, and my trials with Noise ninja haven't been much better than Lightroom.
Sometimes adding grain will break up the smooth halo/watercolor effect which can surround fine detail, but that adds grain to the entire image, which isn't always desirable.
Any specific setting that you see working best, or as a starting point?
I tend to start at about 50-80 on Amount, .7 or .8 on Radius, and vary the detail to suit the image.
Using Lightroom 5.6

Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2014, 05:18:23 pm »

Any specific setting that you see working best, or as a starting point?
I tend to start at about 50-80 on Amount, .7 or .8 on Radius, and vary the detail to suit the image.
Using Lightroom 5.6

Since I read the article that prompted me to start this thread, I've been setting the sharpening detail to 100 on import for my X-Trans files and the sharpening amount to 25, and leaving the radius at 1 until I begin working manually on a particular image.  These import settings appear to produce the same amount of detail as Iridient at its default (i.e., out-of-the-box) settings.  I really don't have any way of knowing whether they allow me to exploit every bit of detail a particular sensor-lens combination is able to capture, but cranking up the detail value (i.e., using as much deconvolution as Lightroom 5.6 offers) allowed me to remove Iridient from my standard workflow.  The files at this point always look clean to me: I can't detect any halos or other objectionable artifacts.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I find I have to use a very light hand on the sharpening-amount slider after this initial capture sharpening.  The X-Trans files don't seem to tolerate aggressive sharpening as well as files from cameras with Bayer-pattern sensors.

Having said that, I tend to think of the Fujifilm cameras as better suited to street photography or cityscapes than to landscapes with a lot of fine, irregular detail.

Lemondixon

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2014, 07:54:19 pm »

Hi Chris,

I read your comments with much interest and also relief at the thought that there is finally an acceptable alternative to messing with my LR workflow. In the end I finally bit the bullet and spent several hours testing out these suggestions on 6 of my own files, including both 2 portraits (for skin tones) and some tricky landscapes (one extreme high contrast situation and others with fine, regular tree details) to see if I could replicate the talked of issues and then get a satisfactory fix in LR 5.6. I compared outputs form the same 6 images using Capture One's trial version and also Iridient Developer's latest release. Put simply, the objective was to see what all the fuss is about and whether the other converters make a big enough difference to be bothered about.

Long story short is that I was blown away by just how much extra detail I can get from ID than LR (and to a lesser extent Capture One, which had the nicest "look"  aesthetically but still less detail). Bearing in mind I am a competent LR user and hadn't used either of the others until today, and I spent many hours trying to prove myself wrong as I so desperately would like to stick with LR only. No contest (still) I'm afraid and I couldn't get rid of those awful "paint effect" trees in LR whatever I tried :(. Capture One had the same effect, but more muted.  The extra detail in ID is truly remarkable as much as I hate to admit it! No contest.

Steve
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Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2014, 09:50:01 pm »

Long story short is that I was blown away by just how much extra detail I can get from ID than LR (and to a lesser extent Capture One, which had the nicest "look"  aesthetically but still less detail).

If I were to take a stab at summarizing the comments from this and a related thread, I think it's accurate to say that none of the contributors felt Lightroom provided the best conversion of raw X-Trans files of the four major contenders: LR, Iridient, Capture One and Photo Ninja.  We didn't agree on which of the four was best, but we all agreed it wasn't Lightroom.

My conclusion from my own experiments was that Photo Ninja seemed to provide the best detail when comparing three of the software products at their default settings.  (I didn't test C1.)  However, I need to qualify that conclusion carefully.  I didn't attempt to tweak any of my test images in any of the products.  I assumed it would be possible to get better results for any particular image with any of the products by skillfully using the tools they provide, but I didn't make that kind of best-case comparison.  My purpose was simply to determine whether the "trick" of moving Lightroom's sharpening-detail slider to the right sufficiently improved the level of detail in X-Trans files, as Pete Bridgwood claimed, that I could stop routinely using Iridient to demosaic all my Fuji files.  I decided the improvement was sufficient that I can now make a decision on an image-by-image basis.  But I'm not entirely satisfied with any of the products I tested.

My hope is that Adobe will do a better job with X-Trans files in Lightroom 6.  I presume we'll find out before too much longer.

rdonson

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2014, 11:51:14 am »


My hope is that Adobe will do a better job with X-Trans files in Lightroom 6.  I presume we'll find out before too much longer.

I'm generally satisfied with Pete Bridgwood's guidance as well.  When it comes to demosaicing non-Bayer sensors though I wonder if Adobe would really undertake that kind of effort.  Have the other RAW converters really done that or have they just developed ways of dealing with X-Trans that doesn't require them to write new demosaicing routines?
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Lemondixon

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2014, 12:16:43 pm »

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the quick response. As it happens, I reluctantly spent a bit more time playing around with these results earlier today. I say "reluctantly" as, being a bit lazy, what I'm really after is a solution to this issue that will work without having to spend forever tweaking images in front of a computer - I'd rather be taking images and get it almost right in camera, and just have minimal routines for processing (or at least ones to give me a reasonable starting point, that can be played with if necessary from there).

As it happens, I think I now need to retract pretty much most of what I said late last night! By then I had lost patience and felt defeated at having to accept an outcome that was not what I was hoping for. Now, on further analysis I think I HAVE successfully managed to get versions of all 6 test images that are every bit as detailed in LR (in each different scenario) as I previously got in ID. The thing that was bugging me (and lead to further experimentation) was that (a) I preferred the interpretations of the colours I was getting in LR to ID, and nothing whatsoever I tried before or since could get them to match adequately, and (b) I've recently invested in using the amazing VSCO Film simulation products for LR, which are designed to work with their unique and carefully mapped Camera Profiles (i.e. from RAW or DNG files) to give the best results (though they do have generic "Standard" profile presets for when you have to use other formats including TIFF, which is my only real output file option when using ID as it doesn't support DNG or other outputs with embedded camera profiles to the best of my knowledge). In fact, if you're impressed with the look of the Fuji in camera simulations (but Jpeg isn't sufficient for your needs), then I'd highly recommend a look at the VSCO Film packs, which bring back gorgeous film like looks to your images (with or without the optional film grain simulations too). These guys really know there stuff and have invested a lot of time doing amazing profiles of processed films.

Here's how I cracked the problem: First, I was using output settings for ID suggested by Olaf Stzaba, who's work I love (see -http:////olafphotoblog.com/?s=iridient+developer). His simplified approach (after input from the author of ID) is "R-L deconvolusion sharpening with the following inputs 0.5 & 30. Then we put saturation at 7 or 10 and adjust the exposure to our liking". To start with, with my DNG files in LR I used Pete Bridgwood's settings and ended up going with his sharpest "Tack " settings to give me anything like the detail I was getting in the ID files. However, the detail in the LR files was nowhere near as good, especially in the very high contrast landscape test shot I was using and, worse still, the example I used to test out the painterly effect in LR with repeated fine tree details showed up really strongly in one particular file (though we're talking pixel peeping at 200%). Here the comparison in detail of the ID files was huge.

Today however, whilst trying in vain to get the ID files to better match the colour rendition of the  LR files, I started playing more with the Noise Reduction settings in the Detail panel in LR. I had noticed that, although the ID files had better detail, there were some observable artefacts being introduced (using ID's default noise reduction settings) though we're talking pretty subtle when scrutinised at 200%. In fact, if you look at the full sized files in Olaf's examples (link above), you can see them appearing there too (the best/worst example is the beach scene (bottom left corner), in the wet sand just before it meets the water to the right of the guy in the red t-shirt). They look like faint worm like patterns. So, in my LR files, I backed off the Noise Reduction settings to where you could see a tiny bit of noise zoomed at 200% (comparable to the ID files). First thing I noticed was that "voila" the painterly effect on my LR file with the tree detail was suddenly gone! So I pushed the Sharpening settings some more (leaving Detail set at 100, to still get RL Deconvolution), increasing the Amount slider (and in some cases pushing Radius a tad too) until comparable artefacts started appearing, and then backed them off a bit and/or played around with Masking.

In the end, I would say that some of the originally worst areas of the LR files (compared to ID) became at least as detailed, and here and there even MORE detailed than I had got with ID - unbelievable! For the life of me, I have no idea how or why I couldn't get this with my experimenting yesterday, but I guess learning the finer nuances of the LR settings takes time (and I'm not talking about "wanging" around the sliders as Guy Gowan likes to say, just tiny adjustments, a bit at a time).  End result is that I'm finally every bit as happy with my LR files (and in some cases/respects more so) than those from ID. However, I confess I haven't experimented with the ID settings to see if I can improve output detail further still (and I don't think I can be bothered to). I did initially try some more subtle settings in ID for the portrait examples (as per http://www.marksoon.com/blog/2014/fuji-x-trans-raw-processing - note the Iterations level is only 7, not 30 as used by Olaf Stzaba) but based on the preview in ID it looked ok when I pushed it higher - So I never checked actual output TIFF's at these lower settings.

The only down side (if you could call it that) was that EVERY image had to be tweaked differently in LR (just a bit) to get these results, whereas ID was originally giving me better results off the bat using the same settings. However, it has given me a better starting point to use for my own files from now on (and I have learnt a great deal), and in reality I will only be fine tuning my very best images, not every single one - so it's not a big issue.

Well, I think that's more than enough rambling from me - I apologise for going into such detail, but I thought this may help those of you pondering the same issues. Feel free to message me if you have any questions, or if you would like to see any of the files for side by side comparison.

Steve

« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 12:28:29 pm by Lemondixon »
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armand

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2014, 01:16:56 pm »

If you did not see it I also played here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=94681.0 with some files.
I'll try some of your suggestions and see if there is any improvement.

Lemondixon

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2014, 06:51:09 pm »

Armand, thanks for the heads up on the other discussion - I wasn't aware of that and in particular the halo issue until you pointed it out. Don't know whether to thank you or to cry! Just when I thought I'd finally got what I needed all sorted eh? (ha, ha!)

I see that Chris has also posted details of halo issues he's been having, though I struggled to see it in the images attached to his post (all I could see looked like a bit of colour CA fringing). By the way Chris, love that image. Do I take it that's the Charles Bridge tower in Prague? Amazing place, though last time I went there was many years ago when I was still shooting film!

Anyhow, after reading all your posts (and seeing the halos in Armand's LR shots) I found it too in one the 6 X-E2 test files I'd been using (damn!). I haven't had time to investigate this fully within LR yet, but here's what I found so far. In my own image it's again in a high contrast boundary between sky and the dark edge of a tree's structure. However, this had been processed using VSCO Film's Fuji Velvia 50 from Pack 04, which as they explain in their support pages make some pretty extreme changes and can bring about artefacts in boundaries between colours sometimes (see their suggested fix here - )https://vsco.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/200324310-VSCO-Film-04-I-m-seeing-some-unnatural-looking-lines-and-artifacts-on-my-photo-with-a-VSCO-Film-04-preset-applied-what-s-wrong-

Note, when I examined this same image in the out of camera Jpeg there was NO halo/fringing at the same boundary, nor in the original RAW/DNG before processing with VSCO Film, and it also appeared in the ID TIFF file only after this was processed the same (so perhaps this is not a good example to illustrate the point you guys are making). Having said that, it may be worth you guys trying the fix suggested by VSCO using the HSL panel all the same. So far, I successfully managed to remove the fringe, but only by reducing the sharpening Amount and/or Radius sliders but to such a point that I was no longer happy with the level of detail in the image (i.e. it fell back below the standard in the ID file), so I'm not happy going down this route to solve it.

In the meantime, I'll have another look for a different image where there's halos even with the sharpening turned off (if I can find one like Chris mentioned). Would be interested to know what you both think on the other changes I mentioned before to get rid of the plastic/painted details and to improve overall detail. I could clearly see this in Chris' shot of the trees over the lake (which were fine in the Nikon D800e version) - I'm sure you can fix that trying what I did.

Also Armand, I note you're particularly keen on the profiling to give you something like the Fuji Provia (and others perhaps?) look without having to spend ages getting there - In which case, definitely check out the VSCO Film packs, which will do exactly that (in a massive list of flavours) with just one click (and they don't generally give you problems like the exception detailed above).

Finally, if it helps to share and compare full sized images properly (or if you want to try some VSCO presets and profiles), it would make life a lot easier to do this using a shared Dropbox folder (or similar). If you like I could set one up for you guys?

Cheers,

Steve
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Chris Kern

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2014, 10:02:46 pm »

I see that Chris has also posted details of halo issues he's been having, though I struggled to see it in the images attached to his post (all I could see looked like a bit of colour CA fringing).

I didn't even notice it until you pointed it out, Steve.  There is indeed some green fringing, although probably not visible at resolutions less than 1:1.

By the way Chris, love that image. Do I take it that's the Charles Bridge tower in Prague?

Thanks, and yes: that's the Charles Bridge tower in the Nové Město, shot at the end of a warm summer day in August, just minutes before the skies opened up and my wife and I got drenched walking back to our hotel.

AFairley

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2014, 11:27:07 am »

Steve, thanks for your detailed posts!  Please continue to keep us informed of what you discover.
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Lemondixon

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Re: Sharpening FujiFilm X-Trans Files in Lightroom
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2014, 07:31:55 am »

Hey Chris & Armand,

I think I've found the Holly Grail of solutions to these perplexing issues (the detail recovery and the halo issues too) .... However I'm not yet finished exploring this enough to give you the low down, but I'll let you know as soon as I have.

Don't know if either of you have heard of Guy Gowan? I came across his details whilst looking into this subject over at Fujix-Forum.com. He has VERY frank views on a lot of things, but he really, really knows a lot of amazing techniques based on what he learnt about Colour Theory and techniques they used back in the days of Lithographic Darkrooms before Desktop Publishing came along. He's been adapting these for digital since the very first version of Photoshop and the results are nothing short of jaw dropping compared to what we're all used to.

After much deliberating (principally due to some negative, but largely uninformed, opinions about him caused by his brash views and style) I recently took the plunge and subscribed to membership of his site GuyGowan.com which has massive resources of really useful information and techniques, if you have the time and determination to get your head around it all and navigate through the many, many video tutorials and webcasts. I do not regret this one bit. I have learnt sooooo much great stuff already.

When I get to the point I need to, I will do you guys a detailed post with some comparison examples. The sharpening techniques alone are worth the cost of membership, and I'm confident you will be blown away by the detail that can be extracted from ALL your files (not just the Fuji's) without the slightest trace of halos or artefacts even at 500% on the Amount slider!

Be back soon ...
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