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My Workflow for Working with Fuji X-Trans Files in Aperture

A little while ago Apple finally added support for the Fuji X-Trans series of cameras into Aperture. With their non-bayer sensor design I had previously been skeptical that it would ever happen, but as an owner of a Fuji XE-1 I was delighted that it did. The quality of Aperture’s conversion was a little difficult to quantify at first. On the one hand it seems to render detail and colour much better than other converters, particularly Lightroom, and it doesn’t suffer from the fractal pattern issue that Lightroom conversions seem to suffer from in fine detail. On the other hand the control of moire is not great, and you can get some pretty bad patterns and colour noise depending on the source material. Since it came out, I’ve been going back and forward on whether or not I prefer it to Lightroom. I’ve written a few posts (2) about it over on my photography blog.

Since then I’ve come up with a workflow for dealing with the Fuji X series files in Aperture that provides a way to deal with the issues, and gives you the best of both worlds. The approach starts by making a few tweaks to the raw conversion. You’ll need at least one raw file from either an X100s, a X-Pro 1, an XE-1 or a X20 to make these changes for the first time. (If you have more than one fuji camera, you need to set the raw fine tuning for each of them) Here’s what to do to set things up:

1. Select a file in Aperture and go to the Adjustment brick

Aperture fine tuning brick

2. Go to the raw fine tuning brick and turn the sharpening control off. In my experimenting, I found that this exacerbates any artefacts. Don’t worry though, we’re going to add another sharpening brick later.

3. From the cog menu on the Raw fine tuning brick choose Save as camera default.

Ok, that’s the first step done with. Now we need to create a preset to apply on import. The main thing we want to do is add a sharpen adjustment automatically. I added an edge sharpen adjustment with the following settings.

Aperture edge sharpen

I also made a few other changes. I added a little bit of contrast using curves, and I also added some shadow and highlight adjustments, to mimic the shadow and highlight tone options I use on my Fuji XE-1. You don’t want to make andy drastic changes as this is an import preset that we’re creating, so only do very mind tweaks, and remember this is war you want to apply to everything. If you want just leave it with the sharpening.

Once you’ve set it up the way you want to, save your preset with some name so that you can find it easily later. I called mine XTRANS-import.

Ok, tat’s the set-up part of the workflow over with. Now for the actual workflow!

When Importing X-Trans files I use a three step approach:

Step 1

First, I always shoot RAW+JPEG, and when I import the files front he camera I choose Raw+ Jpeg Pairs with RAW as default. In the import dialog under Effect Preset, I choose the Xtrans-Import preset I created earlier.

Aperture xtrans import

Step 2

If any of my images have any issues with the raw conversion, such as the colour noise, aliasing or moire, I simply right click on the image and choose Use Jpeg as Original. This generally solves 90% of the problems.

Aperture use jpeg as original

Step 3

If I’m still not happy with the file, for example if there are blown highlights, or if there’s any other reason that I would prefer to have the raw file I use the plug in Catapult to send my raw file to Silkypix to do the conversion. Once I’ve made my changes in Silkypix I just render out the file and Catapult will re-import it and re-stack it to the original in the Aperture library. Incidentally, you don’t have to use Silkypix with catapult, you could use camera raw or Lightroom or Capture one if you have it.

In my opinion Capture One does the best quality conversion over all of X-Trans files, but that’s a whole other story! Send your hate mail to….. :-)

So there you have it. For the most part, Aperture’s conversion is fine, it’s only really when you run into an issue with a file that you need to go to step 2 or three.  I know that sounds awfully complicated, but in practice it’s really not, and it means you can use Aperture to manage your X-Trans Raw files without having to sacrifice any quality.



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10 Responses to My Workflow for Working with Fuji X-Trans Files in Aperture

  1. Ben Jamieson June 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    I’m battling with RAW conversion in Aperture on my X-Pro1 files.

    Specifically, low light/LED lighting.

    The conversion is utterly unusable. Aperture in general struggles with LED lighting, as it’s bad on my 5D III RAWs too, but nowhere near as bad as the X-Trans conversions, which are pretty much unusable.

    Screencap of Aperture vs ACR:

    On the upside, I’ve had a few calls form the Aperture engineering team over the past couple of months asking for more info, samples, etc and have received assurances the 5D III issue is almost resolved. Hopefully they’ll be able to work on the X-Trans issues in the same fixes.

    Makes being a wedding photog who uses Aperture very tricky though, as nearly every venue now uses LED lighting for receptions, meaning 50% of my work can’t be processed in Aperture.

    • Thomas Fitzgerald June 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      Wow, that’s an interesting one – I hadn’t come across that before.

      Just out of interest have you tried playing with the Boost and Hue boost in the raw fine tuning options? I found issues before with the 5DII being over saturated and default to having it set to 50%.

      Apple do seem to be pro-active in reaching out to people with regard to the raw conversion though. I’ve been in touch with some engineers too, and they do seem determined to correct the issues.

      I hadn’t seen this one though. I’m curious as to what would cause that.

      • Ben Jamieson June 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

        I’ve tried pretty much everything on the 5D files – this has been the state of play for Canon conversions for about 2 years (when I first wrote to Apple about it)

        Holding out hope for RAW 5, which will be in Mavericks.

      • Ben Jamieson June 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

        OK, just tried on a couple of 5D III files.

        Setting the Boost and Hue Boost at 0 (I went all the way!) reduced the saturation massively, but LED lit areas are still a solid block of colour – none of the detail that’s lost is recovered – it’s like it gets posterized into just a solid block.

        • Hernan Zenteno June 29, 2013 at 6:42 am #

          I have a photo that is very difficult to process, the image have a police car with the led blue lights illuminating. So, now I understand why this photo is so hard of process. The blue led lights appear as a fast way to see if a processor works ok. Accord my tests Capture One is the best for Fuji X trans files. But the file systems sucks and is a loooot sloooow. And I am using a new macbook pro retina so, is not a computer issue. I hope they find a solution soon.
          Thomas, many thanks for share your experience. Best regards

  2. Jorge June 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Well I’ve been a LR user since Beta v 1.0 however two weeks ago I purchased Aperture to use specifically on my X-E1 raw files. I must say Aperture definitely brings out much more details than LR ever has with the X Files. Wow is all I can say. As a very un-scientific test I processed a raw file through LR 4.4 and then did the samething in Aperture. The difference was stunning. And I mean stunning especially at 100% on screen. I then printed both at 13 x 19 which is the largest my printer can handle as I didn’t want to wait to get them back from my printer (MpixPRo) Again, what a world of difference! This was accomplished using Aperture by a complete novice as I said I’ve only had Aperture for about two weeks. I had the Manual in one hand, and I’m poking around on screen with the other and the results were still amazing. Anyway I just wanted to point that out. Oh, I also used Silkypix that came bundled with the X-E1 and I really liked the number of adjustments but it was just too clunky to work with.
    Thanks for the read.

  3. Dirk June 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Same experience I had. Did perform quite a comparisons between my X-Pro1, and other camera’s also Leica M9P, and software Aperture, C1, LR and Silkypix. Nothing beats at this moment Aperture, it has the best IQ, best colors and almost no artifacts. The X-Pro1C RAF-files were even a lot better than what I expected to see, placed in my view the camera truly on the top position of everything I’ve seen from mirrorless compacts, even above Leica. But I know a lot of people will disagree, this is a ‘dangerous’ subject. Moiré: yes I’ve seen it in Aperture, but the LED lighting… is completely new to me. Strange.

  4. David Nusbaum June 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Not hate mail, but I’m curious what the issue is with Capture One?

    I’ve been using Capture One (sessions, not a catalog) to do my RAW conversion and initial edit and then sending by selects to Aperture as TIFFs for cataloging, printing, building books, etc. Aperture has the best library management and Capture One has the best RAW conversion (in my humble opinion of course). I’m hoping Capture One actually improves their X raw process yet again when we get the final support vs preliminary. Once I saw my 5D files in Capture One I really couldn’t use anything else.

    Not starting a debate, just curious about your comment….

    • Thomas Fitzgerald June 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      By the way – the hate mail joke about capture one was because I get hate mail before every time I say something is better than something else – inevitably someone disagrees!

      It wasn’t a knock on Capture one – it’s a great piece of software and I do actually think Capture one does the best conversion of Fuji files. I personally just can’t justify buying another piece of software at the moment. Well, not at the moment any way. You can use capture one with catapult too by the way. I tried it with the trial and it works perfectly.

      I might to do a video on using catapult next week. You can do all your sorting in Aperture and then send your selects to capture one or some other software and then send it back to Aperture. It’s seamless enough.

  5. David Nusbaum June 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Ok… it is the Aperture Blog, so along with my Capture One comment I’ll say that I am a huge Aperture fan and have owned every release, including that first one at $299.

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