It’s well understood that the JPeg files straight out of the FujiFim X cameras are second to none. But there’s a bit more to it than that, and certainly a few other things worth considering in your workflow.
First off all, What is a raw file? (Don’t worry, I wont’ spend too much time on this) A raw file is a digital negative. It’s ALL the data captured by the light sensor at the back of your camera before the camera itself does ANYTHING to it. No white balance adjustment, No lens distortion correction, No dynamic range normalization… NOTHING.
That all sounds a bit negative, but it is ALL the data with no loss if detail information, and you then have all the freedom to process later..
The alternative is a Jpeg. A “processed” and more importantly “compressed” image… like a Polaroid. All the image’s attributes are set and saved and any further adjustments would be the equivalent of re-scanning a photo, loosing even more detail and then printing it again.
So it seems a clear win for RAW then – well no. Not with Fuji, and here’s why:
I think Fujifilm are the ONLY manufacturers of digital cameras today who made film… not just any film, but very, very successful beautiful film. They are connoisseurs of tone, colour and grain. And they have instilled this experience into their digital cameras in a way that is nigh on impossible to emulate with post-processing software such as lightroom.
Right then… so with Fuji we use Jpeg!…? Well yes. But there’s still more.
Fujifilm have another trick up their sleeve; They process in-camera. You can take your photos in RAW and then run ANY of the fuji film simulations, colour enhancements, shadow and highlight, white balance adjustments etc… all in-camera and then spit out as many different JPeg versions you like. And all without the need for expensive software too.
Seems the best of both worlds, but it does mean:
- Having less space on your memory card – RAW files are much larger
- Having to convert all the images you want after, which takes time to manually process
..Unless you shoot RAW+Jpeg (FINE). This really is having your cake and eating it too, because you only then need the RAW file if you’re not quite happy with how it’s turned out. You then delete all the unwanted files later (when you back up your memory card).
Here are a few other things worth noting:
- Make sure that any management software you’re using (such as Lightroom) isn’t converting your native .RAF files to .DNG (the open source RAW format)
- …The reason is, that you can copy them back onto your SD card and back into your camera (providing it’s the same camera*) and re-use the in-camera processing functions again whenever you like.
*I tried copying a Fujifilm X-E2 .RAF file into my X-T10, but although it read and displayed the image, it wouldn’t allow modification or further processing.
It’s definitely worth playing around with to see what suits you.