Goin’ Fuji and Photoshop Trippin’

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff Harmon5 Comments

Going Fuji

Brent, after shooting Canon for many years you are giving Fuji a serious try.  What did you buy and what made you decide to give Fuji a try?

Brent: Bought the Fuji X-T3, the Fuji 23mm f/2 and Fuji 14mm f/2.8.  Wanted to give Fuji a try for a long time, just looked like the perfect camera for me.  I have had access to and shot the Fuji X10 for a couple of weeks and just two weeks ago pulled the trigger with my own purchase of the X-T3.

Smaller and Fun To Shoot – Fuji X-T3!  

Brent: I LOVE the styling of the Fuji X-T3, though that’s hardly a reason to shoot a camera. That’s like saying I want to shoot Leica because it’s a Leica. Some might use that reasoning, but I never would (also, it’s too expensive!)

The biggest reason is that I know I leave the Canon behind all to often on my trips/excursions is because it’s a huge beast. I have had huge droughts where I don’t shoot and most of the reason for it is the size and bulk of my Canon gear.  I love travel photography and I wanted to incorporate a camera that is easier to take with me almost everywhere. It will shake up my image making and so far I’m loving that aspect of it. 

Additionally, with the smaller size, I can travel so much lighter and so much more efficiently.  Of course I could get a similar size reduction by going with the Canon EOS R camera, so I sort of had to decide if I wanted to stay with Canon or if I wanted to go through switching systems.  Ultimately I decided I needed to go all in on this size reduction thing and the most appealing system to me for that was Fuji.

Not too concerned with the sensor size like I might have been in the past.  Fuji using an APS-C crop sensor vs. the full frame sensor in my Canon 5DM4 wasn’t a real concern to me.  More important to me that I get out there and shoot and the camera system be light enough to encourage me to get out there rather than covering the few situations where the full frame sensor might have slightly improved the image quality.

Jeff: You’re not alone in wanting to lighten the load.  I have heard from a lot of listeners and other photographers who are popular in the media about how they have been told by doctors they need to stop doing photography or get considerably lighter gear.

Brent:  Absolutely.  I have had some medical issues as of late where I don’t think it is totally due to the bulk and weight of the photography gear, more attributed to my stress levels, and it just made me consider that I need to do this.

I also switched to prime lenses for the wide to normal lengths. The lenses are tiny and I’m loving it. Shooting the Fuji X-T3 has been a joy, I love everything about the shooting process.  But I am struggling with the post processing of Fuji raw files.

There’s a lot of photographers that I admire, three of them I’ve interviewed for Latitude, who shoot Fujifilm cameras and I know they produce great work, so that gave me the confidence to jump in.

Public Perception of “Small” Cameras Like The Fuji X-T3

Brent: This sounds silly, but the “uninformed” public perceive you differently when you have a small camera. They assume big camera equals professional.  In less than I month of going out with a smaller Fuji camera I’ve already had several interactions with people who are less intimidated by the smaller camera and they are more willing to talk to me which is great. I love talking photography so that’s a plus. 

I also had a co-worker ask “if those great images I took of Plitvice lakes was made with ‘that’ camera or… something else.” His assumption was that such a small machine couldn’t be responsible for creating such awesome images. I took the opportunity to let him know I could have done the same with either camera but that I did in fact use my Canon to create those images.

Jeff: It is amazing how “normal” people can’t tell the difference between a point and shoot camera that they know doesn’t usually take incredible photos because they have all used them vs a small interchangeable lens camera that can create stunning images in the right hands.  

EARLY Thoughts of Fuji X-T3

Jeff: You haven’t been shooting Fuji X-T3 for very long, so it is almost unfair to even discuss this yet, but what are your thoughts thus far?

Brent: The Fuji X-T3 has only been in my hands a couple of weeks.  So far my experience is a little mixed. As we already said, the shooting process is great. I love it so much.  It makes shooting a super enjoyable experience. 

The two prime lenses have also helped me to have less to think about when I am out shooting because I only have the two focal lengths to choose from and I get right to the shooting process and making decisions so much faster.  

The place where I have struggled with the camera is after the shooting.  The post-production has been a challenge and is the thing making me wonder a little if I can really stay with Fuji.  I have had a few photos that I just can’t seem to figure out how to get processed so that they look like the scene I was capturing.

Switching Camera Systems Is Hard!

Jeff: Really the things you are facing are probably going to be a challenge for any photographer who switches camera systems.  Switching camera systems is hard. Especially if you have shot the same system for 10 or more years. Shooting the Fuji X-T3 and Fuji X10 for 4 weeks compared with those 10 years is just not really fair.

Brent: Absolutely true and that is why I am not exactly sure where I am going to go from here.  I want to give the system a fair chance. I have talked with Dan Bailey, a long time Fuji shooter and I think a Fuji ambassador, about expectations like this.  Letting go of some things and understanding it is a new format and a new way of thinking.  The discussion was really helpful but I haven’t solved all my problems. The process is really exciting.

Jeff: The challenges you are facing can’t be because it is Fuji.  There are so many photographers I have interacted with who are Fuji shooters and they are creating incredible images.  Dale Rogers comes to mind. Jim Harmer shot Fuji for a while before he kind of got out of photography. Our Facebook group is filled with people who are shooting Fuji.  If you shoot Fuji don’t mistake what we are saying in this episode as being down on Fuji as a camera system.

Instead, I think the expectations photographers should have with any switch of camera systems should be that there will be some growing pains.  Doesn’t matter which camera system you are coming from or going to, there are going to be differences that will slow you down and bother you. You have to learn how to work with that new system in order to realize your creative vision just like it took some time to learn how to use the camera system you are currently shooting.

Brent: I’ve shot Canon since 2003 and Nikon from 1996–2003. And Contax for a year before that. So yes, it’s a huge shift. And I just went out with my Canon last night, and there were many things that were so great and comfortable. I did a head to head shoot to get some comparison images so I can truly test what’s going on there and hopefully get some good answers going for myself.

Fuji X-T3 Post Processing Challenges

Brent: Like we have already mentioned, the shooting process has been excellent with the Fuji X-T3.  I love it. So fun to shoot with. It’s the last part, the post-production part, where I’m having the challenge. It’s not the shooting part. I think I’m on the right path there, but it has only been a couple of weeks so the jury is still out. 

I interviewed Dan Bailey on my podcast, a long-time Fujifilm shooter. It will be published on Sunday the 14th. Dan went so far as to suggest I abandon raw files. I’m not sure I can do that. I’ve considered it, but I’m too used to the flexibility I have with raw, I think I need to keep that around.

Jeff: Lightroom isn’t as good at processing raw files from Fuji cameras as it is with nearly every camera that is out there, which is probably why you are seeing the issues you are with post processing and not knowing what to do in order to produce images with the same creative feel that you worked out with you Canon camera.

Brent:  Yes, Fuji cameras use the X-Trans sensor whereas pretty much all other cameras use a bayer pattern sensor.  It is a big difference in how the photo sites on the camera sensor are laid out on the sensor. Fuji does it differently than pretty much all the other cameras out there today.  Raw processors have to “demosaic” the data coming from the sensors and I am struggling to find a raw processor that makes the images come out like I want them to.

It isn’t a problem with every image.  Flowers, wood, rope have all come out gorgeous using the Fuji X-T3.  Even in Lightroom. Glassy water, no problem. The image I had the most issue with was a shot I took of sand on the beach.  It just looked terrible and I can’t find a way to process the image to make it look like it did there on the beach. I am even trying other raw processors like Capture One and On1.  None of them made the image look like sand.  

Even the JPEG image out of the camera looked bad to me.  The image looks “wormy”, at least the is the common way I have found people describe the effect as I have researched what to do about this.  It isn’t noise, that tends to be a lot more subtle than the effect I see in this particular shot out of the Fuji X-T3.

The standard processing in Lightroom of some of the other images didn’t go well.  Like a rock that I took a photo of as I was testing things out. No matter what I did in Lightroom I couldn’t make the surface of that rock look like a rock.  Sharpening didn’t help at all. Usually I don’t do the sharpening in Lightroom but I usually do a little pixel peeping in Lightroom and sharpen there just to get an idea of how good I can get the photo.  I couldn’t get it to look like I wanted it in Lightroom at all.

I am starting to learn how to do things in Capture One, and boy am I liking a lot of things in Capture One.  I wasn’t expecting that I might have to change away from Lightroom as part of this camera system switch. I am not married to Lightroom, willing to switch away from it to get good results with the Fuji X-T3, but I am so familiar with Lightroom that I sort of feel like I am engaged to it.

It means there is a lot to consider about this camera system switch.  The shooting with the X-T3 is so great and it is a smaller and lighter system that I REALLY want, but the changes to post processing are really making me think about this.

Lightroom Enhance Details For Fuji X-Trans Sensor

Jeff: I don’t think that this is an issue totally specific to Fuji.  Switching camera systems is just hard! All camera systems have to be processed just a little bit differently.  Still, in this specific case Fuji uses those X-Trans sensors and Lightroom is notorious for not processing those images well.  If listeners want to learn more about the differences between X-Trans and bayer pattern sensors, check out the Photo Taco episode called “Adobe’s New Enhance Details Feature Explained” where I go into a lot of detail on that and how the Enhance Details feature is supposed to help with this.

This Enhance Details feature is Adobe’s attempt to improve Lightroom’s capabilities to work with Fuji’s X-Trans sensor raw files, but it is cumbersome.  You can’t apply the different processing on import. It is an extra step after you import. It takes a long time to make it work and it is just painful. Not a great solution to this specific issue, feels more like something Adobe was giving a try and not a final solution.

Gear Shouldn’t Be The Main Factor For a Good Photographer

Jeff: I believe that gear really shouldn’t matter.  Meaning the name brand you choose shouldn’t be the most significant factor in the quality of the images you can create.  A good and experienced photographer should be able to pick up any modern camera and do great things with it. If you can’t then you may have some work to do on technique.

I know lots of photographers are going to disagree with that statement.  Before you write the email or comment in the article about how wrong I am on this, if you have found some combination of gear that allows you to create the photos you want, great!  It doesn’t mean you have to seek out others who use a different brand and try to rain on their parade. In the end we all want to create compelling images that tell a story or convey a mood and I have seen so many incredible images from all camera brands I know all of them are extremely capable.

Brent: Totally agree with that. That was my expectation going into this camera system switch.  Maybe I was being arrogant in my thinking but I totally felt like I knew enough about photography that this should be no big deal.  I’ll have a smaller, lighter system that will help me be more excited to get out and shoot. The gear shouldn’t matter, with the caveat that it has to allow you to create the images you want to create.

I am just at a crossroads on this early stage with this Fuji X-T3.  Some images look great. My problem is that I have found a few subjects that I just can’t get something looking “good” out of the Fujifilm X-T3 camera. 

It wasn’t until I downloaded Luminar 3 that it actually looked like sand. Lightroom was the worst, CaptureOne did a bit better, On1 was about the same as CaptureOne. But that also brings up the fact that I’m pretty entrenched into Adobe products, I’ve been looking at the mobile editing options and thus far, Adobe has the best solution for that in my opinion. If you’re wanting to go back and forth between the desktop and an iOS device, or now iPadOS, Adobe has a really good solution.

So with my testing I did last night, I went out and shot some images with both cameras, trying to get a cross section of the types of subjects I shoot. I then processed them and printed them because I was challenged by Dan Bailey to not pixel peep. And I don’t think what I was doing was pixel peeping. Because when you have the “worms” in the image they are much larger than individual pixels. 

I processed and printed them on my canon printer because that’s my ultimate usage. I know I can make the images look good on Facebook with either camera. But printing is key for me. So that’s where I’m at right now, still in this process. I spent way too much time last night and I’ll continue working with it until I can have the confidence for myself that this camera will allow me to create the images I want to create in the fashion I want to create them. 

But I don’t know how much longer B&H will allow me to return it so I have to figure this out fast! 🙂  If anyone out there has advice on how I can solve my post processing problem please let me know. I am all ears because I really want to switch to the Fuji X-T3.  I love shooting it so much and it is exactly what I was looking for in switching camera systems apart from the post processing issues I haven’t been able to solve.

5 Things to Check For Round Tripping Photoshop

Jeff talked about the 5 things photographers should check in Lightroom or do in Photoshop to make sure the photos edited in Photoshop show up in Lightroom.  Check out the blog post at the link below for all of the details:

Doodads

Brent: Pixel Pocket Rocket Secure ($21.75) by ThinkTank Photo.

Jeff: WD My Passport External Hard Drive.  4TB $100

Reminders:

Comments

  1. Fuji tip. If switching from Canon, try bracketing. Canon favors exposing on the right of the histogram. Fuji often favors detail in the left. Avoid Lightroom if that’s an option. Still basically incompatible with Fuji. Also rent some fast glass if making comparisons. The f2/f2.8 are great and inexpensive for their size but hardly compare to $1500 Canon glass.

  2. Brent, I went Fuji about 5 years ago, after shooting Nikon for several decades. I’ve dealt with Lightroom not rendering Fuji the best I could. But I just decided, given the severe discounts available this week, to buy Capture One for Fuji. I’m also hoping to try out a free month’s trial on Lynda.com, where Derrick Story teaches a class on Capture One 12. So I’m probably going to move to Capture One, but not all the way there yet.

  3. Have you tried using Bridge, I am shoot a Fuji T1 X IR, and have had good luck with just using the RAW processor in bridge.

  4. A little late listening to this podcast, but I own both a Fuji X-H1 and X-T3, converted from Nikon. I was told out of the gate to avoid Lightroom. With that, I blindly accepted that comment and now understand why, but here is where I might be ignorant. I was told to use Adobe Bridge / into Photoshop instead and I now have my whole routine baked into this process, but now after listening wondering if / how Bridge / Photoshop doesn’t have the same issue as Lightroom. But, I cannot find anywhere on the internet where people are talking about it outside of Lightroom. Still a problem? If not, how? Great podcast, thanks.

    1. Author

      The raw processing in Photoshop Camera Raw is exactly the same engine as Lightroom. The exact same problem would exist there in processing X-Trans Raw data.

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