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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Fuji raw files
Old 12-14-2012   #1
Bill Pierce
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Fuji raw files

I’ve had a couple of requests to outline how I process raw files from the Fuji X Pro and X E1.

As many on the forum have commented, often you can simply use the jpegs instead which are of exceptional quality. (I find I get the most manipulatable jpegs by setting the highlight and shadow tone to minus 2 on the cameras.) But there are plenty of times when color and tonal shifts that you want to make are beyond the limits of the jpeg.

My basic image processing program for the X Pro and E1 files is Lightroom. Hopefully we will see improvements in the way that Lightroom handles the unique Fuji files (perhaps in Lightroom 5, perhaps in Capture One or DxO). But we are fooling ourselves if we think that in many, many cases the Lightroom processing is not adequate. Certainly it is more than adequate for relatively small prints or the web or those pictures whose technical quality is less than optimum because of our limitations, not the camera’s.

When I want to see if I can improve on the results I am getting from Lightroom, the majority of times I turn to the latest Raw File Converter EX (Version 3.2.12.0) furnished with the cameras. I make the tonal and color adjustments I want, but set the noise reduction, noise level and all the sharpness controls to zero. I convert to a 16bit tif and open that file in Lightroom. At that point I use the Lightroom controls to sharpen and fine tune the image.

Now, here comes the final step. I compare the image produced by Lightroom alone and the hybrid Raw File Converter/Lightroom. Is the difference significant? Sometime yes; sometimes no. If there is no significant difference, and I really want to punish myself, I’ll process the raw file in Raw Photo Processor. (In that case, when the file is returned to Lightroom as a tif, the first step in Lightroom will often be noise reduction in Dfine 2.) The whole process can turn into a quest, albeit an informative one. Most important, look at the picture. If what you have done isn’t significant, throw it away and chalk up your efforts to self education.
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Old 12-14-2012   #2
Saul
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This is a timely post because I'm interested in both those cameras but also hesitant because so much is being made over the lack of 'true' support from Adobe for Fuji's RAW files. I normally shoot only RAW (NEFs) and haven't acclimated to the idea that OOC JPEGs might suffice for my print needs. The hardware seems to be what I've always wanted; wish I could shoot some files and see for myself!
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Old 12-14-2012   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saul View Post
This is a timely post because I'm interested in both those cameras but also hesitant because so much is being made over the lack of 'true' support from Adobe for Fuji's RAW files. I normally shoot only RAW (NEFs) and haven't acclimated to the idea that OOC JPEGs might suffice for my print needs. The hardware seems to be what I've always wanted; wish I could shoot some files and see for myself!
In like 99% of situations the LR raw conversion is actually really good. Files similar to a 5d, but way less chroma noise. For the other 1%, it won't matter unless you crop 100% and print the file.
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Old 12-15-2012   #4
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Yeah, I use lightroom to process my files. In most of the situations I photograph, it's been no issue.
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Old 12-15-2012   #5
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I also find LR sufficient. Still, Adobe needs to do better. I hope Fuji is actively working with Adobe.

The X-Trans raws require different rendering LR parameters than Bayer raw files. Sharpening, Clarity and Defringing are the one I pay closest attention to.
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Old 12-15-2012   #6
Duane Pandorf
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For the life of me I still cannot understand why any camera manufacturer will not work directly with Adobe, Apple and the other top digital photography software companies to allow them to have access to their Raw files.

At least Leica includes a copy of Lightroom and has worked with Adobe to create Lens Profiles. WTFO!

Here Fuji names there camera "X Pro". Yet there's not a "Pro" out there that's going to change there work flow to spend any extra time to make this work.

Here Bill is converting to TIFF then importing to LR and then has to compare the results.

I'm sure there's a bunch of photographers sitting on the fence until there's native Raw support they can count on until thinking of buying the camera.

Of course it's the hobbyist/amateur who's the major cash supporter for a lot of these cameras.
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Old 12-15-2012   #7
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I assume the conversion in Photoshop would be the same as in LR since both use ACR...
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Old 12-15-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablito View Post
I assume the conversion in Photoshop would be the same as in LR since both use ACR...
Correct.

Superfluous characters are here
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Old 12-15-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post
For the life of me I still cannot understand why any camera manufacturer will not work directly with Adobe, Apple and the other top digital photography software companies to allow them to have access to their Raw files.

At least Leica includes a copy of Lightroom and has worked with Adobe to create Lens Profiles. WTFO!

Here Fuji names there camera "X Pro". Yet there's not a "Pro" out there that's going to change there work flow to spend any extra time to make this work.

Here Bill is converting to TIFF then importing to LR and then has to compare the results.

I'm sure there's a bunch of photographers sitting on the fence until there's native Raw support they can count on until thinking of buying the camera.

Of course it's the hobbyist/amateur who's the major cash supporter for a lot of these cameras.
X-pro1 and xe-1 files do work with LR and have full native support. All the Fuji XF lenses also have lens profiles in LR. Fujifilm has been working with 3rd party raw converters. The formula for the interpolation of the color filter array on the X-trans sensor took Fujifilm something like 6 years to get right - it's only been out for a year or so, so it would be silly to think that everything would be optimized amongst 3rd party manufacturers.

Note that capture one software also announced that the x-pro1 would have full support in their next update.
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Old 12-15-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gavinlg View Post
X-pro1 and xe-1 files do work with LR and have full native support. All the Fuji XF lenses also have lens profiles in LR. Fujifilm has been working with 3rd party raw converters. The formula for the interpolation of the color filter array on the X-trans sensor took Fujifilm something like 6 years to get right - it's only been out for a year or so, so it would be silly to think that everything would be optimized amongst 3rd party manufacturers.

Note that capture one software also announced that the x-pro1 would have full support in their next update.
I guess what I was trying to say is that when the camera comes to market native support is included. One should not have to wait to fully access the RAW files.
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Old 12-15-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gavinlg View Post
All the Fuji XF lenses also have lens profiles in LR.
People keep saying this, but they are not listed on my version of LR (4. whatever)... why am I missing these?
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Old 12-15-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
People keep saying this, but they are not listed on my version of LR (4. whatever)... why am I missing these?
The profiles are built into the raw converter and correct distortion and most of any vignetting. So you can't manually select a profile, it's just done with the raw conversion in the background.
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Old 12-15-2012   #13
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As galvinig wrote, the XF lens' firmware contains the optical corrections LR automatically applies upon import. The correction parmeters are tansfered from the lens written to the raw file. These are the same corrections applied to the in-camera jpegs.

The other lens correction profiles you can scroll through in the Devlopment Module have to be applied manually. While you can create and save a user customized import profile that specifies automatic correction upon import, this is different. In the XF case you are using Fuji's corrections and in the other you are using Adobe's parameters. This is why the XF lens profiles do not appear in the list.
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Old 12-15-2012   #14
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how do you guys know this stuff?
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Old 12-15-2012   #15
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Wasting time on photography forums and figuring out how to separate the useful stuff from the useless stuff.

In the case of LR, the Adobe User Forum is useful. The Panasonic m4/3 lenses worked the same way, but the Olympus lenses were different. In the early days of m4/3 this caused a lot of confusion and was discussed endlessly for a while in m4/3 forums.

When you use LR daily for hours at a time to deliver work to clients, you don't have much choice.
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Old 12-15-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
how do you guys know this stuff?
A lot of the early reviews missed the geometry correction since LR does it automatically. Open a photo shot with the XF 18/2 in Raw Photo Processor 64, however, and you'll see that the lens -- just like the outstanding Panasonic 20/1.7 -- barrels like a disco ball. RPP64 doesn't deal with the lens profiles...
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Old 12-15-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post
I guess what I was trying to say is that when the camera comes to market native support is included. One should not have to wait to fully access the RAW files.
This is a very different sensor than any other on the market. Almost all others use the Beyer array or a variant thereof. Consequently, getting one's software ready for most new cameras is easier than it was for the X-Pro1. Fortuntely, once demosaicing is accomplished for one XTRANS sensor it's easily done for another. So this delay in support should not repeat for additional entries in the Fuji X series.

BTW, not only has Phase One said support will be forthcoming in the next Capture One release, a Fuji US rep told me today that we should expect to see the X-100 successor at CES in early January. I think it safe to expect that that camera will contain an XTRANS sensor as well.
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