Thoughts on Adobe's new Fujifilm camera profiles.

A lot of attention this week surrounding Adobe’s Lightroom Mobile for iPad. I even saw a headline heralding its arrival as some sort of watershed moment in mobile photography… Hmm. From what I can tell image editing is extremely limited (no curves?) and it doesn’t even allow metadata editing beyond picks and rejects. Of course it’s also free… as long as you’re as CC subscriber — Lightroom purchasers need not apply. Moving on.

For me the more interesting release is Lightroom 5.4, which not only adds support for X-T1 raw files but also includes new Fujifilm camera profiles. If you’re an ACR user you already had access to these via the last RC candidate, but now they’re official and available to everyone. This is new territory for me since my only use of camera profiles has been through VSCO presets; I switched to Lightroom after my move to the X Series, which means I never used them on Nikon files. So I can’t really speak to their usefulness on other cameras. But on Fujis? So far I’m quite impressed.

I’ve never been one to praise Adobe’s handling of X-Trans demosaicing and have long considered them laggards compared to… Everyone else really. But while I still can’t say their decoding is at the top of the heap, it has gotten better; now with these new profiles they finally seem to be taking the system more seriously.

I love shooting JPEG with the X Series. I’d say at least 95% of the personal work you see on this site was shot in JPEG. I went from being a raw bigot to embracing the internal processing and capabilities of the Fuji cameras wholeheartedly, to the benefit of my hard drive space but also, I think, to the benefit of my photography, mainly because this change ended up forcing me to get many things right in camera, as opposed to relying on the freedom afforded by raw in post.

But I never shot JPEG to save drive space: I did it because from day one I was floored by the resulting files and saw little reason not to take advantage of it. Of course I’ve always been able to work with the raw files as well — a necessity for anything work related — but I’ve mostly preferred the results I could achieve from the in-camera film simulations. We usually associate these simulations with colour but they also affect the way highlights are rendered, which in turn affects much more than just the tone of an image; there’s a lot of voodoo that seems to be going on for which I have zero scientific explanation, or even proof for that matter. All I know is what I see when I sit down to process my images.

A long winded tirade just say this: that voodoo now lives in the raw files.
Minor differences aside, Adobe has pretty much nailed the film simulations and their addition is surprisingly powerful. Aside from being my first X-T1 images processed from raw, all the colour images below were created from the camera profiles to which I’ve added what I call my film curve, a tweaked S curve that slightly clips the highlights and fades the shadows while boosting contrast in the midrange. I’ve saved 5 presets in a new folder called Fuji RAW — one for each colour film simulation — and all they do is apply the corresponding camera profile with this film curve; honestly, this is getting me 90% of the way there in all the tests I’ve done so far. Using these as starting points, Fuji raw files now behave much more like their JPEG counterparts — with the added bonus of everything raw allows us to do in terms of correction and tweaking.

There’s no coherence, no rhyme or reason to the selection below… Just random images from this week processed with these new settings. The black and white images were done with my usual process but I’ve incorporated the available monochrome filter simulations, a quick way to apply yellow, red or green filters. Not as powerful or game changing as the other profiles but still a nice addition.

And spring has FINALLY come to these northern shores. Life is good.
Have a great weekend guys :)

Shot with the X-T1, the XF 56mm F/1.2R or XF 23mm F/1.4R

Patrick La Roque

laROQUE, 311 Lorncliff, Otterburn Park, Canada