UPDATE: April 2014

Adobe have released Lightroom 5.4 which includes official camera profiles for the XTrans sensor including all the film simulation modes available on the X100S – except the Sepia mode, but that’s rubbish anyway so we won’t miss that! I’ve posted a quick review of them but it’s safe to say they’re fantastic.

This means that the custom Develop settings I came up with below to ‘sort of’ mimic the Provia/Standard look are now pretty redundant. Feel free to give it a try if you can’t run Lightroom 5.4, but otherwise if I were you I’d download the update and rejoice! Seriously: there is very little reason to download my preset below if you have Lightroom 5.4 – but if you prefer it I’d love to know why! Let me know in the comments.

Original post, January 2014

The Fujifilm X100S produces great JPGs using the on-board settings – I personally think even the lowest-level Noise Reduction setting is a bit strong but otherwise it does a lovely job. Unfortunately Lightroom doesn’t have any X100S-specific camera profiles built in like it does for my Nikon D700 which means that when I import my RAF files (the X100S RAW format) they look pretty flat and lifeless, especially next to D700 RAW files from the same job that have had the built-in Nikon-based ‘Camera Standard V4’ profile applied on import. I want a way to quickly get them looking like the JPGs do. Why not just use the JPGs? Well they’re great, but sometimes they need tweaking and I prefer the control of tweaking a RAW.

To remedy this situation many have tried rolling their own Lightroom profiles and presets for the X100S. I’ve tried a few, both paid and free, and they certainly produce more impactful images than the standard Lightroom RAW starting point but I haven’t found anything that comes close to the JPGs I’ve got my X100S set up to produce: I tend to leave it on the standard colour setting, with shadows and highlights set to zero, NR turned down to -2 (I wish it went to -3!), sharpening on medium.

However, there’s a bigger issue that was driving me nuts: neon and powerful LED event and effect lighting. I often photograph TV shows and corporate and private events, and these often feature extremely powerful LED uplighting or neon set decoration. The X100S JPGs handle these with aplomb: all the colours flow nicely, hot-spots blend in well, everything looks great. The RAW as interpreted by Lightroom fails miserably with craggy ridges of crushed colour crashing into hard-edged hot-spots especially in the blue/pink/purple range, a notorious trouble spot for digital colour rendering.

Original JPG and Original RAW1 - My custom X100S preset for Lightroom
Left: the original X100S in-camera JPG; Right: the original X100S RAW as seen by Lightroom. Note the purples!

This was a major problem for me when I started using the X100S professionally as my best client, Thomsons Online Benefits, bathes their events in their corporate colours – bright pink lighting. You can see above how the X100S in-camera JPG fares next to Lightroom’s first pass at the RAW. Not a single Lightroom preset or profile I tried for the X100S was handling this pitfall and in fact many made it worse, so I started digging around to solve it myself.

Over-saturated purples

I forget where I read it, but I learned from a forum that the nasty crushed colours and ‘hot zones’ were being caused by severe over-saturation in certain channels as interpreted by the Adobe Standard colour profile. The first step to solving it was to dive into the Camera Calibration panel and pull back the saturation on reds and blues to -25, and instantly the problem was alleviated although naturally this exacerbated the flat and lifeless feel.

To balance this I did some fiddling around in the Color panel to adjust hue, saturation and luminance of mainly the reds, blues and purples; and also in the Basic panel to increase overall vibrance and saturation a little.

Once I got colours in the right area I turned to sharpening and noise reduction. I often shoot events at very high ISO so as to work in available light and let the lowest level of NR on the X100S deal with it; I’d rather have a kind of grainy image that had some detail than a completely noise-free image with everyones faces smudged. But the RAW files look pretty bad with no NR applied so I added some medium luminosity NR and light sharpening to the profile.

Original JPG and Processed RAW - My custom X100S preset for Lightroom
Left: the original X100S in-camera JPG; Right: the X100S RAW processed with my Lightroom preset.

You can immediately see the over-saturation problem has been fixed, and overall the image looks much closer to the JPG the X100S produced. The hue and saturation of the pinks and purples still isn’t quite right but overall I can work with this – save it as a preset, quick!

Problem solved

And that’s all there was to it. I haven’t calibrated with a colour chart or anything but if I flick between an in-camera JPG and a processed RAF file of the same image the differences are now negligible to my eye. If you’d like to download this preset and give it a go please feel free:

[sociallocker id=”8802″]
Download X100S ‘Standard’ Lightroom Preset

It’s not bang-on but as the X100S seems to adjust its JPG processing per image depending on the conditions as opposed to applying a one-size-fits-all look it’ll never be possible to completely match it, but I’m happy to have a much closer starting point than Lightroom was offering me. Over time I’ve tweaked a value here and there and re-saved it as a new version and V3.5 seems to be working so far, so this is what I apply to all my X100S RAW files on import.If anyone has any tweaks or questions let me know in the comments, and if anybody comes up with a better preset or profile I’ll happily give it a whirl. Thanks for stopping by.

UPDATE: Seriously – as I mentioned about I really wouldn’t use this unless you really hate the new official Lightroom profiles for X-Series cameras. They’re really good!

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