I've done a comparison on a Fuji X-Pro 1 file using The new Photoshop ACR 7.4 and Raw Photo Processor 64, the excellent Mac platform raw converter. Different software but I processed each with no sharpening added and only added a slight amount in Photoshop later. I used the same values for each file. Click on the link for the full-size high-res file. As many who have tried the new ACR are saying, the files are slightly softer than they were before, but unlike the previous ACR conversion, it is now possible to add sharpening to these X-Trans files without creating unpleasant artefacts. RPP still produces slightly sharper results to my eyes, but there isn't a lot in it.
After waiting a long time to see this, I spent yesterday working on some X-Pro 1 files and it was pleasing to see the results. I have been so frustrated by the fact that I knew that there was more in the files, but was unable to get to it. RPP is great and I recommend it, but Photoshop is the cornerstone of my processing workflow and I know it well and how to get what I want from it. So for any camera I use, proper support is essential. It is now finally available.
So what went on? Was this a spat between Fuji and Adobe? Did Adobe just take their time to get round to this? We will never know the whole story, but it has been a long wait. As you know I baled out on the X-Pro 1 early when it looked like there wasn't going to be decent ACR support and I've had lots of files sitting on my hard drives that I haven't done much with, since I wasn't keen to upload what I considered to be sub-standard versions to my picture libraries. I can now get some really nice files from my original raws and they do have a different 'look' to conventional bayer sensor files. With the ACR conversions and indeed with the RPP ones as well, there isn't that classic non-AA filter look. But then with the different sensor array I'm not sure that there would be. What is extraordinary is the ability to produce 'clean' files at high(er) ISO's. I believe it would be perfectly feasible to shoot high-quality landscape at ISO 400 and even ISO 800 with an x-trans sensor and I'm seeing a 2-stop improvement in noise levels over virtually everything else I use. This has all sorts of advantages in terms of narrower apertures and higher shutter speeds when shooting in good light, which for what I do is a good thing.
I've been very critical of this whole raw conversion saga and indeed seem to have developed somewhat of a reputation as a 'Fuji basher', but my only concern was to see a realisation of the FULL potential of these files. We do now have that and I'm glad to become a Fuji X-Trans enthusiast at long last. But lets be honest, its been a long and unnecessary wait and thats not really good enough. For those who had the patience to stick with it, welcome to your new camera!