Processing X100S RAW with IRIDIENT DEVELOPER - Part 1 - The Visual Experience
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Iridient Developer 2.1 is a neat RAW processor. It’s not written by a big company but from quite a small one which makes it even more interesting to me (I love craftsmanship in a world of big industries). It is partly based on DCRAW (altought the developer claims to have an “original” demosaicing algorithm) and supports 400+ models of camera. The latest announced version, 2.1, published some days ago, promises a good support for the XTRANS sensors onboard the latest Fujifilm cameras, making use of Apple algorithm for the XTRANS files.
Having used mostly ACR (in Lightroom or in Photoshop) and giving the issues the latter have in processing properly X100S files (indeed not really mind-stopping) I’ve performed an analysis of this software based on the same image (first scene) of my latest comparison btw the X100 and the X100S. To complete the test I’ll be using other photographs and a more toughtful approach in part 2 of this review.

The question was pretty simple: can I have a better output from the X100S files using a different RAW processor (specifically IRIDIENT)? If YES, what is the cost of this choice in a Lightroom based workflow?

Of course I know there are also other options in the market being Aperture the biggest one. But somehow if there is a tools that does only one single thing, there are possibilities that this simple thing is done properly, don’t you agree?

So let’s start. I’ve simply downloaded IRIDIENT DEVELOPER and opened a file and started to record a 5 minutes long video. NEVER seen this application before. So the video is not “built” upon a script. This is why sometimes you’ll notice some lag watching it: it’s me thinking on what to do and slowly getting familiar with Iridient Developer. Why I did so? I wanted really to understand how simple is to use the software and how effective is the conversion for a first time user, using standard settings and just doing what (probably) a photographer would do on one image.

I’ve also use the video to keep track of the speed of the software on my “average” Macbook pro.

Let’s recap the actions performed on the RAF file of the Firstscene.


What I did

Openened the file. Noticed circa 11 sec on my quite fast Samsung SSD
Fast examination of the file. The colors are pleasant, a bit better then LR
Notice the histogram. Really different from LR. It allows up to 1024 levels and it's fully customizable. 
Looks better and more informative.
Turned on the highlight warning. Notices A LOT OF WARNING in my image compared to LR.
Played with highlight recovery. Not really convinced I needed it but I wanted to have my image 
"corrected" in terms of highglights according to IRIDIENT suggestions
Giving a look to the sharpening algorithm and compare the output of an unsharpened image with a 
sharpened one
Appreciate the effect of R-L deconvolution on this particular image. Sharp foliage but not 
OVER sharpened
Played with Lens profile. Nothing is found for the X100s
Givin a look to the white balance. It says 5.000K and, when I changed to daylight, nothing happend, 
it stayed on 5.000K (I was thinking it would have been grown to 5.600). Looks like IRIDIENT is a bit 
on the "cool" zone too, as the X100s is. The two Auto settings are explained in the manual but not very 
useful in this particular image. So I left everything as it was, also to have the possibility to 
compare images with ACR output.
Went to the dark part of the image, where the grass in in the shadow. Wow. Here the detail resolved seams 
much better then ACR, but I wanted to compare it with the same image processed in ACR 7.4 in photoshop.
I decided to write the output file. Circa 11 second to write on the Samsung SSD on my MAC and a huge 
(circa 90Mb) file size. TIFF 16bit. LR same size too.
Opened the RAF with ACR keeping all the standard settings. Checked only the highlight warning and I had 
it only in the cloud. BIG BIG difference from IRIDIENT, it is something that should be further investigated.
I put both the layers in Photoshop and and inspected the images. The shadow detail is much better 
retained in IRIDIENT DEVELOPER. Be sure the video is in HD mode to see the differences or check the two 
enclosed crops.




First conclusions

Promising. The level of details, linked to the R-L sharpening is better then ACR. I’ll be investigating more tweaking the settings and trying to get similar results with ACR. It would be interesting to her IRIDIENT feedback on some of the “strange” things (i.e. AWB, Highlight warning) I experienced.

Update: Brian Griffith, developer of IRIDIENT DEVELOPER, sent me a timely feedback to my remarks:

1) Regarding use of dcraw. At this point (been developing the software now for 8+ years) almost nothing is shared with dcraw any longer. Specifically with the X-trans files, absolutely nothing is used from dcraw at all. Still I like to give credit where credit is due and Dave Coffin’s open source efforts with dcraw were an important start to my software in the beginning.

2) Regarding white balance with the X-trans files, because these files go through Apple RAW libraries for conversion some things are very differently handled from most all RAW image processing in Iridient Developer. Apple’s RAW libraries demosaic the files, do initial color processing of the image, do some initial early stage noise reduction and apply default white balancing. Some of the Apple processing can be adjusted and/or disabled, for example I entirely disable Apple’s sharpening and use my own methods. I also fine tune the noise reduction amounts used though they cannot entirely be disabled and also color match to a wide gamut space that allows my own ICC color management and LAB adjustments to work with close to the original RAW image gamut, however Apple does do some initial color matching so I no longer have direct access to the original camera color data.

With all other RAW image formats I do my own custom demosaic processing, my own tone mapping (baseline exposure, contrast, white point, black point, etc), my own color processing (generally either ICC based camera profile and/or DNG camera profile used for initial color matching), my own white balancing (generally based on camera and/or manufacturer file metadata), my own noise reduction, my own sharpening and so on. With the Apple RAW conversion it is almost more like opening a standard image (TIFF, JPEG, etc) as a fair amount of the low level RAW processing is already handled.

So when an image is processed using the Apple RAW libraries in Iridient Developer it will come in as basically pre-white balanced, or neutral. I call this “daylight” or 5000K for temperature. The original image color temperature is likely not exactly 5000K. This is how TIFF or JPEG images are handled as well. There is no way to know the original color temperature after the files have been processed so the assumption is that they are daylight balanced,

You can still alter white balance after the fact, using the WB dropper or temp/tint sliders, but it is not quite like a RAW image that is processed through my own low level RAW processing stages where I still have direct access to the actual RAW image data with no processing applied whatsoever (other than what minimal processing the camera hardware may due prior to creating the RAW file).

3) Regarding highlights, most all RAW processors handle default exposure, contrast and tone mapping slightly differently. Also note that Adobe always color matches into a very wide gamut ProPhoto RGB based color space which will impact the amount of “blown” highlights as well. By adjusting base exposure, contrast and output color space you may be able to get a much closer match between Iridient Developer and ACR regarding blown highlights. With RAW there generally is a significant amount of highlight headroom and by adjusting exposure or highlight recovery you likely can recover most if not all “blown” highlights so the image data with RAW is often not hard clipped even when the highlight warnings are displayed.

Also note with the X-trans files as they currently always go through Apple’s RAW processing some exposure and contrast adjustment is already applied by the Apple processing which is different from most RAW images where the camera tone curve is under complete control of the user in Iridient Developer (see the Camera Curve pane).

Thank you Brian for your clarification. I’ll use your input for Part 2 of the review.


Massimo Cristaldi

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