Lightroom vs Luminar: Fuji Raw Sharpening
Why I took a gamble on Fuji
I just picked up the Fujifilm X-T2 and the kit 18-55mm lens, as well as the recently released Luminar 2018 editing software. I’m coming from the Sony A7ii, which produced a lot of great results, but has some significant drawbacks. I wanted to try out Fuji again after getting dissatisfied with the shooting experience of Sony cameras. The poor video quality of the A7ii (not to be confused with the A7sii and A7rii which excel in this category), and the exorbitant prices of the Sony full-frame lenses were my main reasons for switching. The Fuji lineup seemed to check all the boxes for me. Great out-of-camera images, a lightweight system with a great lens lineup, and probably the best shooting experience offered by digital camera that isn't a Leica or a Hasselblad. However, one of my biggest hesitations coming over to the Fuji side of things is the “worms” that you get when shooting complex detail like foliage, grass, and other natural elements. This phenomenon is well documented, so I won’t go into it too much. Despite my frustrations with the Sony full-frame cameras, I nearly chose the A6500 over the X-T2 because of this issue alone. Landscapes aren’t my primary subject these days, but I do want a capable camera for landscapes and natural elements, and I had already grown wary of the issue when I owned an X-E1, which used the first iteration of the X-Trans sensor. I had seen promising results from early results coming out from the Luminar editing software, and had already wanted to look for alternatives to Lightroom due to the way Lightroom is going. So, would Luminar be RAW processor I was looking for? Would I go crawling back to Sony? Are the worms even that bad? These are the questions I pondered while I drove home with my newly purchased X-T2.
Fuji evangelists who are familiar with the way Lightroom interprets images from X-Trans cameras generally point to alternatives like Capture One or Iridient Developer. For me, those solutions are not ideal. First of all, one of the main reasons I want to use the Fuji system is to do less post-processing after a shoot. Much of my work is event photography, and having images that need as little post-processing as possible is a huge benefit for me, and one of my biggest dissatisfactions with the Sony full-frame sensor. You can get drop dead gorgeous results from that camera, but it takes a lot of post-processing work. I was tired of spending hours pulling out the great image buried underneath bad RAW interpretations, and don’t get me started on their JPGs. So importing in Lightroom, exporting to Iridient Developer, and reimporting did not sound appealing to me. Neither did learning a completely new program in Capture One, and Capture One is also an expensive program, twice as expensive monthly as Lightroom, or a big upfront cost that I’d rather spend on a new lens.
Is Luminar 2018 the solution?
Enter Luminar 2018. I bought Luminar without ever having used any previous versions or any Macphun software, the developer that creates Luminar. A bit of a gamble! But I had seen promising results coming from betas of the software. I pre-ordered the software, and started playing around with a few images I shot around my neighborhood during my first afternoon with my X-T2. Take a look at the video below for the results!
Overall I'm pretty happy with how it is handling things! I'll post an update when I've had a bit more time to experiment with more files.