A lot has been written about how Fuji RAW (RAF) files are processed by various software packages. I’ve been processing mine in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) from Day One and never had cause for complaint. However, popular wisdom is that Iridient X-Transformer (IXT) is the way to go, although typically no one can quite agree on the best way to configure this software.
I thought though that I’d give it a try and, again following perceived wisdom, have set the parameters so that there is no sharpening applied. That seems to me to be a fairer test, turning sharpening off in both ACR and IXT and applying equal sharpening using the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop.
In the screenshot above the IXT processed file is on the left and the ACR version on the right. There is very little manual tweaking to be done with IXT – apart from initial set up of the interface everything is automatic. The ACR file however was manually tweaked to get the best image, to my taste, from the RAW file. Both files then had exactly the same degree of Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop. Looking at the side by side there is little to choose and the most striking thing for me is how close to how I envisaged the file is the IXT conversion.
I’m not sure how well it shows up here but pixel peeping at 100% the ACR conversion has the smallest of edges but to be honest the difference is so small that it is not going to register when uploaded to Instagram or even printed and viewed at an appropriate distance for the size of the print.
For my part I will probably continue manually processing RAW files in ACR, saving IXT for those “tricky” files where I can’t seem to get quite what I want. However, if I wanted to quickly batch process a lot of RAF files I wouldn’t hesitate to put them through IXT and then applying basic sharpening through a batch process in Photoshop should I feel the need to sharpen the converted files. However, as I only use DNG files from IXT I can be safe in the knowledge that any DNG file on my hard drive will be unsharpened so I doubt if this second step will be required that often.