Solutions to my

Fuji Film XT2 Problems: X-Trans Sensor

My Problems are relative

Now I am a person that believes in the fact that if you present a problem with a solution. Then really, there is no problem at all. Over the last year I did encounter some little niggles with the XT2, a camera that has rejuvenated my photography. Some of these problems are specific to the XT2, and others are to mirrorless cameras.
This is the third post, in my series about the Fujifilm XT2. If you have not read the other 2, the links are below …

Understanding the X-Trans Sensor

Now the problem that I encountered with the Fujifilm XT2 and this would be a Fujifilm problem, was with the type noise produced by the X-trans sensor. Now I mention the type of noise, however its more to do with how the structure of the noise changes as you apply sharpening to the photograph. However before I continue, I need you (the reader) to understand how the Fuji sensor is different to all other cameras. Please watch the video below, it shows the fundamental differences between standard CMOS sensors and the X-trans sensor.

X-Trans vs CMOS sensor

The difference between X-Trans an Bayer color array on a digital sensor

How a Pixel Gets its Color

Every photographer needs to watch this

A unique X-Trans problem

So with the X-Trans sensors you get punchier colors, less moire and sharper images because of how the sensor RGB colors are arranged. What the video did not cover and what I only found out after I had bought my XT2.

The noise that comes from the X-Trans sensor is more random than what I had expected. However when you add sharpening to these images there is a worming or waxing of the photographs colors. Now when I first encountered this problem I freaked out, because it was so different to anything I had ever seen. See below

The Full image, with no sharpening

Gear: Fujifilm XT2 + 50-140mm f/2.8

Exposure: ISO/1600 | f/16 | 1/125sec

Film: Provia

The 100% image, with no sharpening

Gear: Fujifilm XT2 + 50-140mm f/2.8

Exposure: ISO/1600 | f/16 | 1/125sec

Film: Provia

Crop to see Noise at ISO/1600 with no sharpening

Gear: Fujifilm XT2 + 50-140mm f/2.8

Exposure: ISO/1600 | f/16 | 1/125sec

Film: Provia

Understanding how the problem occurs

So like on a normal CMOS sensor, the noise become very evident in dark/shadow regions of the photographs. However, what is very different about this noise from the X-Trans, in my opinion. Is that it does not have the same effect on the sharpness of the detail as a CMOS sensor. The same can also be said about the color rendition, that it is less effected by the noise from a X-Trans sensor. So the only real effect of the noise is this waxing/worming. Which is amplified if you apply a lot of sharpening during the course of your photographic workflow.

If you would like further reading, below are some great links to other photographers who have raised this issue.

First things first: Changing your mind set

As I have mentioned I freaked out the first time I saw this worming/waxing on my photographs. This in its self made me step back and rethink my whole photographic philosophy. Because I was approaching my new fuji camera, the same way a computer user would if they make the switch from PC to Mac. You really need to sit down, stop and take a step back.

The Fuji X-Trans is unique in the photography world and it should be treated as such. The systems, presets and everything else that you have developed in your photographic work flow needs to be re designed for the X-Trans sensor. Everything.

X-Trans RAF files and Adobe Lightroom, they are not mates!

Adobe have developed their software empire on the backs of photographs that have been produced by CMOS sensors. This leaves Fuji’s X-Trans with a little problem, because the biggest editing software company does not render their files correctly. This is especially true, when it comes to how the images are sharpened. The worming/waxing noise that is produced by the X-Trans sensor is amplified by Adobe LR.

During my own learning curve I tried other editing software that can sharpen the photographs without producing the same amount of worming/waxing as Adobe LR does. I tested both Capture One and Iridient Developer software and both controlled the waxing/worming much better than Adobe software.

Read this post from F Stoppers – Adobe Lightroom vs Capture One

My final decision finally came down to speed and ease of use. I still use DSLR for my photography as I love telephoto primes for wildlife. So I decided to rather work with the devil I know, than try and learn new software. I just had to change how I processed and used Adobe in my own workflow.

You don’t need to add Sharpening

One of the beautiful things about the X-trans sensor is that it does not have the low pass filter. Added to this is the quality of the Fujinon lenses, so your native Raw image file is sharp. While I was developing a new workflow for my XT2, I tried different software and various plugin and presets from all over the net to manage the worming/waxing. What eventually worked for me, was to create a preset in Adobe Lightroom CC, that removes all sharpening on IMPORT. If you did not know, LR adds 25% sharpening by default to all photographs on import. So I prefer to remove this and start my editing with the cleanest file possible.

Then I don’t do any sharpening during my development of the images/photographs and I save files unsharpened. I hardly require bulk actions for my style of photography as I am prepared to spend the extra time and edit/sharpen images individually. However there are times when a Bulk action is needed and I have found the following to work best for me.

Low res Jpegs for Web

I actually don’t add any sharpening at all during my editing, to any of my web images. This is even after I have removed the default LR sharpening. I may ad a standard amount of sharpening on Export of my files, but usually this is not necessary.

I have found that the CapturEarth free Web sharpening preset work really well for some of my images however this requires Adobe Photoshop  – Download here

Alternatively, I have found the Adobe Lightroom presents from Thomas Fitzgerald photography work ok – Download Here

Hi Res Jpegs

This presented a problem for me, as the sharpening that I needed to do for this was reflected by my use of this Hi res Jpeg file. My personal website (www.etienneoosthuizen) is a photo shelter site, so I am able to upload hi res files and the site will resize and sell files at the specifications of the client. So I needed to produce a workflow to create great sharp images with out introducing noise to these Hi res files. Unlike my low res workflow, my Hi res workflow does involve some sharpening.

I have found that the free Google Nik Collection software works really well for this and I have developed some of my own presets depending on the ISO I have used to capture the photograph. Download the Nix Collection here

For Print and Website Portfolio

This is done on an individual image level, with the use of Adobe photoshop layers. I may share this is another post at a later date.

One size does not fit all

During my research I found that people have very different views on this common problem and many have found their own solution that are very different to mine. So if you are/were frustrated with the noise from the Fuji X-Trans sensor, suggest you start reading blogs. Some where you will encounter a solution that works for you. Knowledge is power and there are plenty photographers that have shared their experiences with the X-Trans sensor.

Another positive is that Fujifilm are eating up a great % of the market, so software developers like Adobe are having to rethink and create updates for the X-Trans sensor.

This is far from a scientific look at the Fuji sensors noise and sharpening, its just my take on it. I decided to tackle each of my Fuji problems and solutions as individual posts and give each the attention they deserve.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below.

Regards

Etienne

www.etienneoosthuizen.com

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