Fujifilm X-Pro1 JPEG vs. RAW Processing

Just to warn upfront, this is another technical post. I'll get back to sharing weddings next as I have a few in the queue still but wanted to mention something else about the Fujifilm X-Pro1. I've been trialling the X-Pro1 to see if this compact mirrorless camera system could earn its place in a documentary wedding photographer kitbag. One of the things that initially concerned me with the X-Pro was the lack of support for its RAW files at launch. None of the main processing platforms - Adobe Lightroom, Aperture, etc - were able to read the X-Pro files; apparently the unique sensor layout requires different algorithms to decode and a fair bit of work to implement this.

The JPEGs that the X-Pro1 outputs are very nice as standard, but my visual style and consistency requires a certain amount of processing; usually this is in the RAW format due to the extra latitude, flexibility and quality achievable. Support will come for the X-Pro1 RAW files - soon hopefully - but in the meantime where I have been using and testing the X-Pro at weddings, the only option has been to process the JPEGs.

I'm impressed. Really impressed.

In the example below, the X-Pro1 quite badly underexposed the scene. Based on my use of the camera, this was quite unusual in itself as the metering and exposure has been extremely good and consistent. But anyway, it left me with a flower / cake shot that I really liked but was obviously going to need some tweaking.

X-Pro1_originals

Original. ISO 800, f/2, 1/75s, Aperture Priority, Auto White Balance

It is generally accepted that with RAW files, plus or minus two stops of exposure adjustment is quite achievable. I never (or rarely) have to go to those extremes as even in the RAW format, noise can creep in and processing artifacts can become more pronounced, particularly at higher ISOs. From what I've seen (at least with this example), that same kind of range looks achievable with JPEG.

This file happily took 1 stop of exposure plus a fair chunk of fill light, brightness and colour adjustment. I was fairly heavy with some of the settings to see what could be done whilst maintiaining quality and it definitely could handle more. For a JPEG file to hold up to that kind of correction and still control noise whilst holding shadow and highlight detail is really excellent.

X-Pro1_processed

Processed. +1 exposure, +10 recovery, +20 fill light, +40 brightness, +25 contrast, colour tweaks.

It's a credit to the camera that this is possible, but also a great example of how powerful and flexible Lightroom is.

I'm not sure if I would want to go to a RAW-free workflow just yet. But I'd say the potential is there and that is quite an interesting prospect. I'm still very keen to see what is possible with RAW files from the X-Pro1, but there's no question in my mind that the JPEGs are of an exceptional standard.

As a final example, the image below is an X-Pro1 JPEG processed with my custom black and white conversion. Again, I'm very impressed by the dynamics and noise control in the image and have no qualms about processing the Fuji files in this way.

X-Pro1_BW

I've attached the original, unedited file straight out of camera below for reference.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Original File

As always, I welcome comments and questions below if you have enjoyed reading or found this information useful.