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Fuji X100S RAW vs Jpeg

UPDATE: Please see the wedding I photographed completely on the Fuji X100S!

Let me start by saying–this not a comprehensive look at all aspects of the X100S’s characteristics of RAW and jpeg. In fact, it’s a very specific look at a very narrow slice of variables. A look that interests me… and hopefully some others that shoot in low light and may be “brave” (or stupid?) enough to shoot jpeg as an option. Since the upper limit of ISO choice with the X100S, when shooting in RAW is 6400, I’ve been asking myself– what would the comparison look like if you took a RAW shot at ISO 6400 and knew you would need to push it two full stops in post (because you were limited by speed and aperture) and compared it to the same shot if you just took it as a jpeg and put the ISO up to 25,600 and let the camera do the pushing for you? I have an answer as to what it looks like. You can make the judgement as to what would work best for you.

Both shots were at 1/250 sec and f/5.6. In Lightroom CR 4.4, I left the jpeg as is (all default settings in camera, aside from me setting it to NR minus 1–a personal preference). For the RAW file, I pushed the exposure up exactly 2 full stops. Then I tried my best to match the jpeg and did some minor adjusting to WB, Tint, Contrast, Blacks, Vibrance, and then went through all the Sharpening and Noise Reduction settings to get it as close as I could. It was not easy and it was a bit time consuming. Someone else may be able to get a closer look, but that’s the best I could do to strike a happy balance between all things.

I will provide my opinion and feel free to form your own. I’d be happy to know your thoughts in the comments below! In general, I think they are quite close. It’s quite a testament to Fuji’s in-camera processing! You know, it’s also quite a testament to Fuji’s new X Trans II sensor as well– pushing 6400 two full stops is not child’s play! Sure, you can see differences between the two, but considering the amount of time I spent on the RAW file, I’d rather spend time on something else and just have that jpeg file there all ready to go (or close to it). Now, I know there are times when either you want to head in a little different direction with a file in post, and so the RAW file would afford you more latitude to do so. Or, if you don’t have the luxury to take the shot multiple times and it’s important you get it right (uh… give or take a couple of stops) the first time, then RAW is your friend. But, if it’s not a critical situation or you can chimp and re-shoot, then going with the jpeg may just suit you.

To tell you the truth, I like both images better, depending on the view. I actually like the jpeg slightly better at full view. I like the RAW image better with the detail in the center of the frame (focus point on the “240″ on the headphones). And I like the jpeg better with the detail in the text off to the side a little. It’s interesting how the headphone text seems sharper in the RAW file, but sharper on the paper in the jpeg file.

 

RAW 6400 + Pushed Two Stops

X100s RAW

Jpeg (SOOC) ISO 25,000

X100s JPEG

100% crops- RAW (top) + Jpeg (bottom)

X100S raw jpeg comparison

100% crops- RAW (top) + Jpeg (bottom)

X100S raw jpeg comparisons

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know! Also, be sure to check back on the blog in a few days to see the results of me shooting an entire wedding with just the X100S! My wedding photography can be seen here- Brian Kraft Wedding Photography. Also, I continue to update the X100S Pros and Cons page, so check that as well!

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5 Responses

  1. Roger

    Hi,

    I like your (tortuous) RAW conversion best, at least in pixel peeping.

    I find the noise structure in the jpg to have a bit more blotchy structure. From my D200 days, this structure was usually not visible in “normal” sized prints but became more contentious in larger size and was a bit more difficult to deal with at this starting structure.

    The jpg also seems to have reduced micro and global contrast.

    Are you planning on using the new ACR pre-release. It’s supposed to handle the XTrans sensor a bit better.

    Best Regards,
    Roger

    March 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    • Thanks, Roger. I believe the new ACR pre-release is the same engine under the hood in Lightroom RC 4.4. I don’t know too much about it, but that’s my (limited) understanding.

      March 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm

  2. Brian

    Top crop is better from Raw
    Bottom crop is better from JPEG.

    Maybe the focus was slightly different.

    March 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    • Brian

      Also, even in first crop the detail on the darker leather headphone band is better in JPEG, even if the “55 ohms” bit did not turn out as well.

      My old X100 has spoiled me so that I only am shooting JPEG anymore!

      March 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm

  3. I go with Brian on this. The JPEG shadow area seems to hold better. And I also agree with Roger with regards to contrast but can be easily overcome with a slight S curve if it really bugs you.

    Overall I wouldn’t use 25600 ISO if I can help it.

    March 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm

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