Fujifilm has released a new raw processor app, along with firmware for certain of its cameras, including the X100F, which I own. (Read my review of the X100F.) This app offers an interesting approach to working with raw files shot with the camera.
The Fujifilm X Raw Studio app is only available for Mac right now; a Windows version will follow soon. If you have a Mac, you can download the app here. It works with the GFX 50S, the X-T2, the X-Pro2, and the X100F. You’ll need to update the firmware on your camera, and you can download the necessary firmware update for the app from the download page.
The X Raw Studio app works with raw files in a unique way. Since the image processors in these Fujifilm cameras are so good, why try to reproduce what they can do in camera on a computer? Fujifilm’s film simulations are one of the best features of this camera, and if you’ve tried to reproduce them on a computer – even in the weak app that Fujifilm has offered in the past – you know that they just don’t have the same quality.
You can already convert raw files on the camera, or even take existing files, load them on an SD card, and convert them on the camera, but you’re limited to viewing them on the small display the camera offers. (I explain how to do that in this article.) Now, you can use your existing raw files on the computer, convert them in the X Raw Studio app, but do so through the camera.
This may seem a bit confusing, but it makes sense. Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor is something that not all raw processor apps can handle. So rather than use what may be a substandard way of processing – notably in the de-mosaicing of the files – go right to the source. It may be a bit unwieldy, since you need to connect the camera to work with these files, but the results are superior.
To use this feature, you must connect the camera to your computer, and adjust a setting. Go to the wrench menu, then Connection Setting > PC Connection Mode and choose USB RAW CONV./BACKUP RESTORE. When you connect the camera and launch the app, it will allow you to work with your raw files.
Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s start with a raw file, as seen in the macOS Finder using Quick Look. It is unprocessed; there are no alterations to it in color, contrast, etc.
If I open it in X Raw Studio, here’s what I see, after applying the Classic Chrome film simulation:
You can see on the right that there are a number of options for processing the file:
- Push/Pull Process (by 1/3 EV steps)
- Dynamic Range
- Film Simulation
- Grain Effect
- White Balance
- WB Shift
- Highlight Tone
- Shadow Tone
- Noise Reduction
- Color Space
- Rotate Image
You’ll note that these are all settings you can adjust in the camera, in order to create JPEGs on the fly, or from raw files you’ve already shot.
The biggest advantage of X Raw Studio is the ability to apply film simulations. I’ve chosen Classic Chrome in the above example, and I can further adjust highlights, shadows, color (saturation), and more. I can already set the camera to shoot raw and JPEG using one simulation, or I can bracket simulations if I’m shooting JPEG only, but the ability to choose after the fact means that I have more options.
For example, I like black and white photos, and sometimes set the Acros film simulation in my camera. However, there are a number of Acros simulations, each using different color filter effects. Here, I’ve chosen to process a file using Acros and the red filter, and I’ve tweaked the highlights (-2) and the shadows (+2) to heighten the contrast. You’ll see that as you make each change, an LED on the camera flashes, showing that the processor is working; these changes are all made in real time as you choose the various options.
When you’ve settled on what you want, click Convert, and X Raw Studio sends the file through the camera, converts it, and saves a JPEG. You can also save profiles if you want to store preset for a batch of photos, or if you decide that you like specific settings and want to use them regularly. For me, the Acros + red filter, with lower highlights and higher shadows, creates a contrasted black and white look that I like a lot, and I’ve saved that. I also like the saturated Velvia film simulation, with a bit of tweaking, and I’ll be going through the others to find the settings that work best for me. But you can, of course, tweak each individual photo according to its subject, light, colors, etc.
I really like getting it right in camera, and not messing around with too much editing afterwards, and I had started to think about just shooting in JPEG because this camera creates such great looking JPEGs. But the ability to now sample and tweak all the various film simulations has convinced me to keep on shooting raw and JPEG, using the JPEGs as a reference image for the film simulation that I thought would look best with my subject. This makes the X100F a much more powerful tool, because it can not only shoot great photos, but it can also now process the photos in so many ways.
In many cases, I’ll be happy with my JPEGs, and won’t need to alter them, but if I’m not, or if I want to try out other film simulations, it will be easy to do so.