This second part of IRIDIENT developer RAW processor starts from the conclusion of the first part: IRIDIENT develper looked promising to my eyes, expecially in extracting details from shadows. The open question was: is it worth in a Lightroom based workflow, to add this other piece of software or not?
So I decided to test it in real conditions,processing a file shoot in the best conditions for the X100S (f11, the upper aperture value before adding diffraction) at ISO 200 and in full daylight. On purpose I let the camera choose the proper time without exposing to the right as I normally do.
The test scene is a typical Sicilian landscape. Arsh light, many details, strong shadows, architecture and nature mixed together. As requested by many user the RAF file is available for download from here.
First of all let’s give a look to the file as it was shot. Mmm… As usual the camera is too much on the cooler side, 5.100 k in full daylight. The sky color looks unnatural, really different from what was in reality. This is, in my opinion, the current major drawback of the X100s: as I’ve already noticed in comparison with the X100 I still believe the white balance is far too much cool and produces colors I don’t like since they’re simply unrealistic. This is the main difference btw the X100 and the X100s and why, IMHO, JPG only shooting with the X100S is a no-go. I still hope for a good firmware update fixing this strange behavior.
In the first part of the video you’ll have a full look&feel of my trials with WB. Given this from the RAW I had to adjust the white balance. Selected a good white point on the traffing sign, and rebalanced the image.
I had an hard time to find adjust WB in ACR to make it look similar to IRIDIENT and, at the end, I arrived to something similar but without a great deal of success. Then I moved to the so called “capture sharpening” which is that kind of sharpening you normally add to the image in Camera Raw or with specific tools (I’m a look time user of the PIXELGENIUS apps).
Lastly I just changed the exposure moving 2/3 of a stop on both the processors.
And here the conclusions.
1) White balances are different. Many differences in color rendering btw the two RAW processors.
I sent an email to Brian to check his view on these differences and he came back with this reply:
Digital camera white balance color temperature is just a rough estimate and there are various different methods to estimate it. Iridient Developer features 2 different calculations which basically do the same type of white balance adjustments, but the estimated numbers and slider adjustments differ.
Originally I used the data and calculations used by Minolta color temperature meters. These values are labeled Correlated Color Temperature and Color Correction and match up with the old software that shared these identical estimates. Minolta used to make some highly regarded color temperature meters and these calculations produced values which seemed to match up quite nicely with several other RAW converters of the time (way back in 2003-2004).
When Adobe began producing RAW conversion software and created the DNG format they used a different set of calculations (and naming conventions) for estimating white balance. The Adobe tools quickly became very popular and many users were confused that my white balance values did not appear to be the same as Adobe’s. To reduce confusion I chose to add support for the Adobe estimates. The Color Temp (DNG) option uses these Adobe DNG based estimates and use the labels of Temperature and Tint to match up with the Adobe naming conventions used by Photoshop and Lightroom. When processing DNG images the Temp and Tint values should match up very closely, in most cases identically, to those shown in Lightroom or Photoshop.
The actual white balance correction behind the scenes in both cases is for all intents identical, just the values presented by the 2 sliders differ. Because the math behind the estimates is different the scale and effect is also slightly different between the 2 sliders in the different modes. However, in both cases the sliders are translated to R,G,B channel balance multipliers in both cases. Iridient Developer also provides an option (“RGB Balance”) to directly adjust each of the channel multipliers directly with 3 separate sliders. Most RAW converters have moved to the 2 slider temperature/tint white balance adjustment now.
2) The exposure is different by circa 1/5 stop.
The IRIDIENT output, in the same conditions as ACR, give a darker and more contrasty image.
3) There is some “vignetting” in the IRIDIENT output.
The Sky was much more uniform blue in reality. So ACR does in this case a better job. I was able to remove this vignetting in post processing but of course one may derive many different takes on this situation. Is the LENS? Is there something magic ACR does that is not done by IRIDIENT? Now, this is pretty much a strange behaviour. It’s quite improbable that the lens has some “vignette” @f11. You can see it with your own eyes but, if you don’t believe, you can analyze the output of this crop with the IMAGE COLOR SUMMARIZER or, simply, check the RGB values of the three sample points in the figure. Interested to hear your opinion.
4) The details extracted from the RAW by IRIDIENT blow out ACR
The underneath APPLE 4.05 converter and the sharpening procedures (the default processing for the X-trans cameras with Iridient Developer is to use Apple RAW support, and requires Mac OS X version 10.7.5) makes really thinking that you’re processing 2 different cameras!
Even adding “clarity” and playing with the ACR sharpeming do not increase the details to match the information extracted from IRIDIENT DEVELOPER: it just add artifacts to the images and haloes that (be aware!) are evident in ACR also with the standard settings. In the foliage and in the details the difference is embarassing and really shows the GREAT capabilities of the X100S when used with a good RAW processor. ACR lovers: I’ve played a lot (after the video recording) to get similar results, using various tools and procedures (i.e. Photokit, microcontrast): what you get from ACR is a mushy file that I believe you cannot bring to look similar to IRIDIENT.
Overall I should say that the IRIDIENT output is better for my eyes even if the image has some “vignetting” not visible in ACR. And coming to the original question my reply is: YES. IRIDIENT DEVELOPER is really to consider if you’re serious with your Fujifilm X100S outputs. I have already other tools to complement my worflow (i.e. Photo Mechanic) so I know that, until ADOBE does not come with something better this is the way to go.
Silkypix has announced a new version (126.96.36.199) if it’s raw developer claiming a better compatibility with the XTrans files. I gave it a try following the same steps described in the video. Color redention is pleasing and the details extraction are for sure better then ACR. No Vignette is visible. However the Sharpening algorithm is weak when compared to IRIDIENT, producing haloes and artifacts.