Why Adobe Programs are Terrible for Processing Fujifilm Raw Files

Recently I've seen a lot of people asking why it is that using Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom is potentially detrimental to their RAF file processing.

The poor results from these programs are because of the Fuji X-Trans Sensor family. The simple reason why the X-T2 can rival a Canon 5d III in terms of image quality is the placement of green pixels on the sensor (read the link I'll place below), a side effect of this is an almost complete lack of colour noise at even high ISO.

Essentially every other camera on the market uses the Bayer sensor which was designed with different needs in mind.

Unfortunately this has led to a frankly pathetic attempt to support the X-Trans sensor by the majority of software companies who have simply patched their Raw demosaic algorithm to work with both sensors instead of writing new code to support the hardware.

Economically this makes sense as Fujifilm users make up such a small market segment, but the results are akin to playing British Comedy on US TV; usually they find it simpler to remake the show from scratch than expect the audience to get past the cultural differences.

The only company which I've seen approach this conundrum sensibly is DXO who have stated: "As DxO Optics Pro is not currently able to process RAW files from Fuji cameras with X-Trans sensor, DxO Labs has chosen instead to focus — as it always has — on the best image quality, and thus for the moment has decided not to support cameras for which it cannot provide results that perfectly fulfill this criterion."

Sometimes this "near enough is good enough" approach from software companies is ok, for instance using Lightroom for image management and not development, but if you attempt to use them to demosaic the data from your Raw files the results will line you up for potential frustration due to "worms" in noise reduction and artificially induced colour noise.

The free Fujifilm SilkyPix and Iridient Developer programs have been built from the ground up to work with the X-Trans sensors so these frustrations can be avoided by setting these programs as external developers for Lightroom or other image editors and working with Tiff files in Lightroom. Thomas Fitzgerald has written several guides to this process to make life easier (see links in comments).

I personally believe that the extra step in the workflow saves more time and frustration than attempting to make the most out of a programming attempt to "make do".

By using the right tool for the job, you will get the best results.

Matthew Aspland