The Press Release That Was a Year Late

"FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima) announced that Fujifilm and Adobe Systems Incorporated have been working together to improve image processing of X-Trans and EXR-Sensor based raw captures. X-Trans CMOS has a new type of sensor filter array developed by Fujifilm to improve image quality. The release of Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 4.4 and Adobe Camera Raw 7.4 today offers significant improvements in the processing of X-Trans raw files for the X100S, X20, X-Pro1 and X-E1, resulting in better Moire reduction and enhanced performance in color reproduction.

'We worked closely with Fujifilm to increase the quality of image processing of X-Trans and EXR-Sensor based raw captures,' said Tom Hogarty, group product manager, Adobe. 'Lightroom 4.4 and Adobe Camera Raw 7.4 demonstrate the results of this cooperation and provide remarkable improvements in the raw file rendering.'"

Hmm. Anyone notice anything peculiar in that press release? Bueller? 

Yep, you guessed it. From the Fujifilm original marketing materials relating to the X-Trans sensor: "the [new X-Trans] color filter minimizes the generation of moire and false colors." Hmm, then why did Fujifilm and Adobe have to work together to get "better moire reduction and enhanced…color reproduction?" And why over a year after the first camera using the sensor appeared?

I've noticed that Fujifilm lately has tempered their statements on moire over the time the X-Trans has been marketed. The latest wording about moire is "minimizes the generation of false colors," though they still claim that despite fewer color sensing elements the sensor "delivers higher color...fidelity." 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the X-Trans filter here. I'm commenting instead on Fujifilm's marketing of same. As I stated when the X-Trans was first introduced, the primary benefit of the non-Bayer filtering was more luminosity data at the expense of color data (and by implication, color discrimination). As I also stated at the X-Pro1 announcement: Fujifilm needed to work with established software workflow vendors more closely. Here it is a year later, and at least one of those is being addressed. 

So just exactly how well does the X-Trans avoid moire? 

starpattern.jpg

This chart should be clean black lines spiraling into the center. This conversion was done with the new Adobe conversion engine being talked about in the press release. As you can tell, there's color moire here, and it smears between narrow black lines. The new Adobe engine now looks a lot like the original JPEG:

starpatternjpeg.jpg

That's good, but as I've noted before, there's still color smearing and possible moire in the Fujifilm JPEG rendering engine. 

None of this makes the X-Pro1 or X-E1 worse cameras. They've always been very good, though with the potential to produce some annoying low-level artifacts from time to time. They just produce somewhat different artifacts than Bayer-sensor cameras, and under different, somewhat less common, circumstances.    

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