Sometimes we may use other Raw Converters as pre-processors for our work in Lightroom because
• We get better detail and less artifacts for some special cameras (e.g. Fujifilm X-Pro1)
• We like the look we get or we get this look easier/faster
Using other Raw Converter as Lightroom Pre-Processor
Here is a real world example. Fuji created a new sensor Bayer layout for its X-Pro1 camera. This means all third party raw converter manufacturers have to invest a lot of work to get the best out of it. Fuji worked on these algorithms while developing the sensor and has a major head start. Lightroom supported the new sensor in a timely manner but we prefer the way Fuji handles these raw files.
• We think we get more detail out of the Fuji rendering
• There are less false color artifacts (e.g. on white letters on black background) in Fuji's way to render the files than in Lightroom 4.1
False Color Artifacts
• Some people find color smudging of fine foliage detail with Lightroom
We hope that Lightroom will improve here over time. But what can we do now? Some users just use the out of camera JPEG images and they are pretty good for the X-Pro1. If you go this route you should turn in camera sharpening off and create as soft shadows and highlights as you can.
We always want the more flexibility we get from the raw files for the following reasons:
• Lower compression artifacts
• Better highlight recovery
• More exposure latitude
For the X-Pro1 we ended up using the Fuji Raw File Converter EX (a special version of Silkypix) and use it as a raw pre-processor. We are only doing some essential work in the pre-processor raw converter (screenshots from Silkypix):
• (*)Debayering of course (that is the nature of a raw converter)
• (*)Mild capture sharpening
• White balance tuning
• Some highlight recovery
• Mild black point tuning (we call it mild because we want to avoid blocked shadows at all cost)
• (*)Some shadow boost curve
All items marked with (*) are part of our own preset in Silkypix.
The goal is to create an image with soft, not clipped highlights and as open shadows as possible because the rest we edit in Lightroom.
Sample Histogram with open shadow and highlights
The image is then exported from Silkypix as JPEG or TIFF into a temporary folder . From this folder we finally import into Lightroom via the "Synchronize Folder" feature.
These are the tasks we leave for Lightroom:
• Opening Shadows
• Global and local contrast
• Final black and white point
• Vibrance and/or Saturation
• Selective color tuning
• CA removal
• Lens distortion correction
• Perspective corrections
• Gradients (major)
• Adjustment Brushes (very powerful)
• Artistic look creation
• B&W conversion
Using a different raw converter as a pre-processor works fine if we need it. Of course it is not as elegant as doing all the work in Lightroom but also not that of a big deal. You can apply this workflow use other raw converters than Silkypix instead.
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