Monday, 25 February 2013

ACR 7.4 (RC) vs. Capture One 7 Express

Today is a special day for Fuji X-Trans users. Finally, Adobe has released ACR 7.4 with an improved X-Trans support, and, on the same day as Phase One released their affordable Capture One 7 Express. So what's so special?
Here is some background.
Since Fujifilm launched its revolutionary X-Trans in early 2012 the only software that properly supported raw file conversion was bundled RFC (aka SilkyPix). Almost immediately after the launch Adobe released their update to include Fuji X-Pro but it came out with important deficiency. Some converted files could suffer from "water colour" effect and / or "colour bleeding".

Nobody wanted to admit that issue does really exist. Fuji pointed fingers at Adobe, Adobe at Fuji and so on and so forth. Apple Aperture and Phase One didn't even mention Fuji X-Pro1 as their supported camera.  Open source solutions (mostly DCRAW based) were good but suffered from so called "zipper" effect. The game changed in December 2012, when Phase One came out with really good demosaicing algorithm (Capture One Pro 7.0.2).

I was one of the C1-7 Pro beta testers and I liked the product a lot (check my test results). But after testing, retesting and comparing various tools I still couldn't pick one that I was really comfortable with. Why I didn't like them?
1. RFC because of poorly designed user interface
2. ACR because of the infamous "water colour" effect
3. Capture One 7 Pro because of the steep price tag (I have already invested in Adobe products and could't justify additional $299)
4. SilkyPix Pro (same as above)
5. DCRAW based converters  because of their "zipper" effect

X-Trans OOC jpegs are insanely good, but I was still concern about lack of proper raw converter for situation when I need WB, H/S tweaking. Until today.
Today Phase One released a much cheaper standalone raw converter (Capture One Express, $99) and Adobe released ACR 7.4 update.  And both with excellent X-Trans support! Here is my first and quick comparison:

ACR 7.4 results look very good. It seems "water colour" effect is gone now, but images need much more aggressive sharpening.
And yet, "out of the box", C1-7 Express output still looks crispier and cleaner to me. I will test more in the next couple days and will provide an update soon.

++++ more testing. After applying a bit of sharpening in ACR both C1 and ACR outputs are almost indistinguishable.

Bottom line:
After hours of testing , re-testing and pixel peeping I have to say that I am impressed. Adobe finally delivered excellent RAF converter. "Water colour" and "colour bleeding" effects are completely gone, the output has accurate colours and tons of details.
Both LR4.4/ACR7.4 and Capture One 7 Express are excellent tools, you can't go wrong with either. But I am also keeping Raw Photo Processor in my tool box.


P.S. This is my 100th blog post :)

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