Which Program Handles Fujifilm Raw Files Better, Lightroom or Capture One?

Fujifilm cameras have long been praised for the colors they produce. Lightroom has often been criticized for being incapable of effectively processing Fujifilm raw files. Capture One is generally recommended. Therefore, in this article, we will be comparing Lightroom and Capture One to see which is best for Fujifilm raw files.

Fujifilm cameras predominantly use two types of sensors. The first kind of sensor is used in Fujifilm GF mount medium format cameras, a Bayer color filter array. The second kind is mostly used in Fujifilm X-mount APS-C cameras, an X-Trans color filter array. In short, each sensor uses a different mosaic pattern for how the red, blue, and green pixels are arranged on the sensor.

There’s no clear answer as to which pattern is better between the two. However, there has been a lot of discussion about whether Lightroom is capable of managing images taken with X-Trans sensors. For this reason, in this third installment of the series, we will be focusing predominantly on Fujifilm APS-C cameras. We will also briefly touch upon Fujifilm medium format cameras too.

In the gallery above, you’ll see images shot on the Fujifilm GFX 50S, the Fujifilm X-T4, and the Fujifilm GFX 100. The profile used was Provia Standard, and at a glance, there’s no real difference. This is something I noticed with every Fujifilm film simulation profile. In most cases, there is very little difference in how the profiles are rendered in each software.

This is especially the case with Fujifilm medium format cameras. There is virtually no difference in how each of the film simulations are rendered. There is some back and forth between how Lightroom and Capture One work, however, for the most part, there’s no clear winner. You can watch the full comparison for Fujifilm medium format cameras in the video linked above.

On the other hand, it’s quite a different story when it comes to Fujifilm APS-C cameras. Lightroom seems to have some problems with X-Trans sensors. Also, there are subtle differences in how the film profiles are rendered too.

In the comparison above, you may notice that the image exported from Capture One has slightly more saturated red tones in the skin. This appears more pleasing in comparison to the Lightroom file, which leans more into the yellows tones. This is, of course, a matter of preference; However, the point is that for Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, there is a difference in how the film profiles are rendered.

The other noticeable difference between Capture One and Lightroom is how each manages the lens profiles. Lightroom seems to do a better job at mitigating the vignette cast by the lens. Although Capture One does have the lens profile features built into the software, it’s not quite as impactful.

You may notice in the comparison above that the Capture One file is much darker on the top and bottom of the image. This could be used creatively; However, it seems that Lightroom does a better job at preventing optical issues through the use of lens profiles.

Aside from this, the overall look from both images is relatively close when it comes to the colors. The blue and yellow tones are represented well between the two images, and there aren’t any unsightly issues appearing in the files. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, because in some files, a strange, noise-like texture appears in the images that have been processed in Lightroom.

Before we get into the noise-like issues, we can take a look at the full images in the comparison above. The first thing to notice is that the Capture One image appears to have more contrast and vibrance. Due to these subtle differences, most people may prefer the results from Capture One. Also, Lightroom does do a better job at managing the vignette, but once again, some may prefer the darker corners.

Additionally, Lightroom seems to have a problem when it comes to rendering green tones from an X-Trans sensor. In the previous image, the blue and yellow tones were perfectly fine in how Lightroom rendered them; However, green seems to cause a lot of problems.

The image exported from Lightroom has this strange noise appearing in the file. This anomaly is also referred to as X-Trans worming and doesn’t seem to occur in any other raw processor. Even though it’s only properly visible when you zoom into the image by at least 100%, it still affects the overall feel of the image. The file has a “rough” look to it even from a reasonable distance.

A closer look

From the images that have been tested over the last month, it seems Lightroom mostly struggles with the color green. All of the other images tested did not demonstrate any issues. Effectively, this worming issue is going to be a problem if what you photograph contains a lot of green tones, for example, landscape photography,

If you’re a landscape photographer, you will likely come across this issue in your images. If you’re creating content for social media, then this may be a forgivable issue. If you’re a professional photographer, it may be wise to avoid Lightroom and use Capture One instead.

Final Thoughts

In this series of articles, we cover Canon, Sony, and now Fujifilm. With Canon and Sony, the choice between Lightroom and Capture One was entirely down to personal preference. There was no clear way to determine a winner because both programs produced great results. With Fujifilm, there are objective differences that cannot be ignored.

The worming issue creates an unwanted variable for which there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable fix. Essentially, it makes images look like they have high ISO noise, regardless of what ISO they were shot at.

If you shoot with medium format cameras such as the GFX 100S and the new GFX 50S II, then the differences are negligible. Capture One and Lightroom perform admirably with Fujifilm medium format cameras. This may also be the case with some Fujifilm APS-C cameras that use a Bayer sensor. However, with Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, it’s clear that Capture One is the best choice.

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