Fuji XT-2 Raw & worm effect why I chose Capture One.

Worm effect in my leaves during post-processing, what can I do ?

Fuji X-T2 Raw editing with Capture One, Luminar, On 1, Lightroom and Iridient X Transformer ? My experience…

Spring came out of nowhere 3 weeks ago, bringing with it small and tender leaves and flowers. I got photography fever…

I went out several times with my Fuji X-T2 and its 55-200 lens, a tripod and had a great time in the forests of Meudon and Fontainebleau, in France, near Paris.

I then started to edit the raw files in Lightroom, and had a schock : I saw worms in my images. I knew, one day, it would happen, I would have to investigate on this point. But I did not have the case this winter with portraits, streetphotography and sports. I postponed. So here they were…

Before digging into the subject, I must say I’m not a pixel peeper at all. If an image I want to look sharp looks sharp, it’s ok for me… So let’s go further with our Xtrans III raws :-).

Here is a foliage detail at 100% in Lightroom with 3 sharpening parameters. In the Develop Module, the amount of detail is 0, 40 (default value) and 80. All other parameters have the default value of Lightroom. When we cancel the Lightroom sharpening on the left, we get a very unsharp image. Worms start to be present in the middle with the default sharpening, and they are clearly here on the right image.

I played around with the four parameters in the sharpening menu : Amount, Radius, Detail, Masking. Either the image is unsharp, or worms are here. So I concluded it’s complicated to get sharpness along with no artifacts, and even when it’s possible, it’s on an image basis, and it then involves a lot of uncertain per image work…

So I looked for an alternative to Lightroom for the development of Fuji raws.

I first opened Photoshop on the Lightroom file with the sharpening amount of 0, I tried to apply alternatively both Nik Software plugins “Raw presharpener” and “Output sharpener”, but did not like the result so much. Same with a copied layer of the image and a high pass filter applied as an overlay.

Digging in the web, I learnt about Iridient X Transformer and tried :

  • raw process “more detailed” + “Preserve Lightroom settings” No + Turn Off Lightroom Sharpening Yes. I found it too much accentuated.
  • raw process “smooth” + “Preserve Lightroom settings” No + Turn Off Lightroom Sharpening Yes. The result is OK, but when I apply additional sharpening in Lightroom, worms appear soon. No latitude.

I then downloaded the evaluation versions of Phase One Capture One, Skylum Luminar and On1 :

  • Capture One : with the default options, the image I get is nice. No worm. It’s a little bit unsharp. I can play around with the 3 options though, clarity, structure and sharpening without seeing worms appear. I like the idea to get a usable image by default, that you can work on and get better, I prefer this idea rather than to have an image to save.
  • Luminar : with the default options, the image is not sharp enough, but does not show worms. However, the structure filter does not improve the sharpness. Foliage accentuation changes colors. The detail filter leads quickly to worm artifacts…
  • On1 : with the default options, no worm in the image, but the leaves are smooth. Almost watercolor.

Here are the images I got. I created Jpeg in each program with the default parameters. Jpegs are 6000×4000 with max quality. I then compared them one to another in Lightroom on a 1920×2000 screen, took screen shots and stored them as 1920×1200 Jpegs in Photoshop.

At this stage, Capture One had my preference. I investigated the flexibility it provides for the improvement of sharpness. I compare here the image I got with the default parameters (clarity = 0, structure = 0 & sharpening = 140) with another one I slightly reworked (clarity = 0, structure = 12 & sharpening = 200). I like the sharpness of the right image.

Fuji X-T2 raw sharpening with capture One

After having checked I can develop Fuji raws of leaves and small flowers, I’m now investigating on a bigger set on my images. I guess it will take some time… I have also to see how to work with Capture One, see how he gets along with my process. Probably thoughts in another post !

UPDATE one year later…

It’s been one year since I started to use Capture one as my main raw editor and photo developer. I don’t worry when I shoot greens and foliage anymore, I’m confident and it’s a great feeling.

Plus, I like the way Capture One handles colors a lot. It lets you define you color management preferences in a delicate and subtle way…

So that’s all for today.

Thank you for your visit, and…

… Stay tuned !