The future of X-Trans RAW: Apple Aperture?

I was really surprised at the message telling me Apple Aperture had acquired Fuji X-trans compatibility (for use with the X-Pro1, X-E1 and X100S). I downloaded it, gave a conversion a look, thought it looked OK and disregarded it on the basis that Aperture is way overdue for an update and lacks decent CA control and state of the art dynamic range control. It doesn’t use masking either, so spot edits can produce wacky results.

A health warning – these are all processed photos and some may not be to your taste (I will link to a comparison further down).

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Before anyone accuses me of using props, the Daffodil was in Emperor Trajan’s hand before I got there…

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It is however, quick and easy, as it has a “recipe” it applies to each camera, supposedly to get the best results for each camera. I always had the full suite of NIK plugins to use with Aperture (whereas I only had Silver EFEX for Lightroom).

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Look at the colours and definition in this shot – really impressive

I thought I would give it another whirl on some photos from Friday (a lovely walk to the Tower of London) and yesterday (a visit to a local farm). The results looked very interesting. What’s very, very impressive even at first glance is that it looks like the cameras have gained a few extra megapixels of resolution.

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Now bear with me because I know some of you will be chomping at the bit for the comparisons etc. But I do hate comparisons! I will give some (eventually) but most of this post is really about my own subjective assessment of the output.

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I don’t claim these shots are perfect and lets just say that keystone correction might well have been handy here (not a feature Aperture has built in).

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My walk on Friday was the first time I had used the X100S and X-Pro1 together in anger. This was a really good combination with the 14mm mounted on the X-Pro1. The OVF on each camera proved its worth in some high contrast lighting.

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It does make your life easier to have two cameras ready to go in your bag and the speed and size of the X100S demands that one of them is it.

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So, back to the output for a second. The really impressive thing about Aperture output is that it doesn’t create artefacts at 100% (though it does create colour artefacts instead). So your output has this very sharp, 3D like quality, similar to full frame output (this is what I mean above, when I talk about extra megapixels). The colour artefacts appear in similar places to CA (often in free branches), but I’m pretty sure they are a demosaicing artefact (the fact they are yellow rather than purple is a clue).

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I’ve never seen output quite like this from the Fuji X-trans cameras before. Even RPP, which produced lovely results in some ways, was beset by jagged edges to straight lines (the so called zipper effect).

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Now I headed over to Hatfield House yesterday, a local stately home which has a farm attached that my son enjoys charging about in. For that trip I took the D600 and X100S. This was mainly so I could try out the Zeiss 50mm makro-planar F2 I had bought for it. However, the trip did also allow me to take some shots with my X100S, which I then processed through Aperture and Nik.

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The last one could have done with some fill flash, but in honesty I was impressed, particularly with how detail like fleece, hair and horn was being rendered. So now, Mac owning Fuji users have another choice that can give a little extra in terms of image quality (to my eye). However, all is not perfect. Aperture hasn’t been updated for a long time. It is feature weak compared to either of Lightroom or Capture One. It lacks tools or implements them less effectively. It is however definitely worth a look, particularly for processing photos with decent exposure.

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So finally, to some actual comparisons. Here is the link to a derivative of my original RAW converter comparison post, including LR 4.4 and Aperture: X-trans RAW Conversion Comparisons

Taken with my Fujifilm X100S and Fujifilm X-Pro1 and 14mm XF lens.

One thought

  1. Although I bought an educational copy of Lightroom, I am much happier to be back in Aperture. It’s just so much more intuitive to my mind, and the organisational part is much better.

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