In celebration of getting a tiny little nudge towards a new Aperture in the form of Aperture 3.5 I thought I would share one of the seemingly thousands of twitter/email conversations so far this week regarding Aperture 3 and post processing. This one is specific to getting the most out of the Fuji X-TRANS sensor in Aperture 3. I am going to focus in a something I never brought up before even though it can be an extremely powerful adjustment in Aperture 3 - RAW fine tuning.
First off the disclosure…
In this day and age where the quest seems to be all about how sharp and detailed and noise free any particular image is - sometimes to the detriment of the actual picture mess about with a few of these things at your own risk. Especially the specific sliders I am going to discuss today - all of these things bring in sharpness etc very early in the process and any changes are magnified a bunch as you pile on any other contrast or sharpness adjustment after this. They take a very light touch and I wouldn't assume a one size fits all default unless you shoot all your images the exact same way at the exact same ISO's etc.
Okay - there you have it. Personally I think Aperture 3 has some of the best X-TRANS RAW decode going. Even it was late and this is the first iteration. Personally I care more about macro level image effects than some of this minute detail stuff but I thought some of you may benefit from this that are in need of extracting the maximum IQ from the Fuji's.
If we take a look at the screenshot at the top (you can see it in all it's pixels by opening it in a new window) I did a bit of extreme treatment to this particular Fuji RAW file - at least for my taste - I went way too far then I dialed it back to just right or what I would consider maximum then I went one tiny little bit further just for illustration purposes. This image was shoot of a moving target wide open at ISO 1600. It has some minor subtle noise - that get's exaggerated as you boost contrast, up the original exposure, or add sharpening. If you look really close here you can see it - no big deal this is at 100% magnification anyway.
Take a look at the RAW fine tuning block. It might not look much different than the default Apple supplied defaults but the effect is extreme. Specifically the combination of the sharpening slider, the detail slider, and the de-noise slider. All of them are more than the defaults.
All three of those sliders probably are going to need balanced out if you change any of them - especially if you are not shooting with perfect exposure at base ISO. The detail slider doubly so. If you up the detail slider you are probably going to also up the de-noise slider. Adjusting it can be a bit tricky since the changes are usually not rendered real-time. Go slow because the name of the game here is balance and tiny nudges. I went a tiny nudge too far on the detail and the sharpness and de-noise. If you take a close look at the points that are actually in focus and not motion blurred you can see there is crazy detail and crazy sharpness - the too far part is clearly visible in some of the very fine hairs on the left. Aside from the JPEG artifacts that are probably there on the screenshot you can clearly see the aliasing artifacts. The other sliders below that may help but they will also start making other things happen like the blocking up of the red detail in the lips.
Balance and close attention to the actual image you are optimizing here is key. This is probably not something you just want to get right for one image where maximum detail and sharpness is important to you then slap it on everything it's more of a one off thing if you are going for extreme effects. Play with it - tastes vary. Aperture 3 can give pretty much as much detail as you want. The other point is at higher ISOs it can make for some very ugly noise as well - you may not see it during your playing with fine-tuning but you will if you add final sharpening and in a downsized image. It's delicate an touchy with the X-TRANS but might give you what you are looking for.
Here's another with a bit too far adjustments - same conditions just different things in focus or not motion blurred. Checkout the tiny little hairs on the edge of Anastasia's arm on the left side of the frame. Nutty.
Ps. This set was not my idea to shoot but I actually like a couple of them. Story some other day.