Much has been said about the difficulties sharpening Fujifim X-Trans files in Lightroom. The “worm” artifacts that are generated are a real problem.
Adobe have optimized their algorithm to work best with the bayer sensor layout and this doesn’t play well with thhe x-trans sensor pattern.
For many of us moving to Capture One has been a solution, but if you already have a large Lightroom library and have developed a workflow around that software then changing to Capture One isn’t ideal.
Capture One also lacks some very useful features found in Lightroom such as multi-image stitching (HDR and panorama), book printing and web galleries, better print module and superior library funtions etc.
So how can we solve the one main issue with Lightroom; X-Trans file sharpening?
I have worked out a method that closely mimicks the results I get from Capture One.
It involves using the standard Detail module + a targeted sharpening mask applied with a Brush, Radial or Gradient mask.
The main culprit for the generating of “worms” is the Detail slider in the Detail panel.
As soon as you start to apply detail the artifacts appear:
Here is the same section processed with Capture One (both at 200% zoom):
Here is the result with Lightroom with some masking applied to the sharpening and some Luminance NR.
The setting used were as follows:
Detail (NR): 100
The background is cleaner, but there is still a lot of artifacting on the main subject.
So lets look at the full solution.
The Sharpening Process
In lightroom there are two sharpening modules – not just one!
The main one is the Detail module.
Here we have the following controls:
The default settings are as follows;
I suggest using the following settings:
Note that the panel is switched off – that is deliberate.
IMPORTANT: set Detail to 1
This step is nescessary for the next step to work.
The second sharpening tool we have in Lightroom is found in the targeted edit section.
We have the Brush tool, Radial tool and Gradiant tool.
The control panel looks like this:
Use the tool that best suits your needs to mark out the mask.
Set the Sharpness slider to +100 (or what you prefer) as in the image above.
Paint in at full flow (100).
This shapeness algorithm is somewhat different to the Detail slider in the main Detail module. It only works if you have applied some Detail value in the main module – hence I have set it to 1 (the minimum amount).
I don’t know why and how this works – it just does.
Now apply the Sharpness with the targeted tool (Brush – Radial – Gradient) to the area you want to add extra detail.
Using the example above we now get the following result:
Compared to the Capture One result:
Remember thsese are 200% crops.
Lets look at 100% crops of the larger image:
Lightroom with the suggested settings from above:
For comparison here is Lightroom with standard sharpening + NR set to 18.
Have a look at this YouTube video. It describes very well how to apply the sharpening and noise reduction with the brush tool. The video describes the process for a Nikon D500 file, but the principle is the same.
The one difference to note is that for the Fujifilm X-trans files set the detail slider in the Detail panel to 1.
Here are some other exaples – Capture One edit on the left – Lightroom edit on the right:
Click the gallery to open the images.
There are still some diffrences, but they are minimal.
Capture One has a better algorithm for the Fujifilm X-Trans files, but I feel I can get acceptable results now with Lightroom.
I hope this may help some and I would also like to hear others comments and suggestions to improve this further.