How to Get Accurate Fuji Colors in Lightroom
07 / Mar, 2019
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How to Get Accurate Fuji Colors in Lightroom

Our readers often ask us if it is possible to get Lightroom to provide the same colors as one would see from camera-rendered JPEG files when shooting in RAW format. Many photographers often choose specific color profiles in their cameras and they get surprised when images are imported into Lightroom and all those changes are lost. You might have noticed when importing files that Lightroom changes the colors immediately after import, when the embedded JPEG files are re-rendered using Adobe’s standard color profiles and settings. As a result, images might appear dull, lack contrast and have completely different colors. I have heard plenty of complaints on this issue for a while now, so I decided to post series of articles for each major manufacturer on how to obtain more accurate colors in Lightroom that resemble the image preview seen on the camera LCD and in camera-rendered JPEG images. In this article, I will talk about getting accurate colors from Fuji mirrorless cameras in Lightroom. 

Camera JPEG vs Adobe RAW
X-T1 @ 24mm, ISO 200, 10/2100, f/4.0

Due to the fact that Adobe’s RAW converters are unable to read proprietary RAW header data, some settings have to be either applied manually or applied upon import. My personal preference is to apply a preset while importing images, which saves me time later. Before we get into Lightroom, let me first go over camera settings and explain a few important things.

1) RAW File Nuances and Metadata

When shooting in RAW format, most camera settings like White Balance, Sharpness, Saturation, Lens Corrections and Color Profiles do not matter. Unless you use Fuji-provided RAW File Converter that comes with Fuji-specific color profiles (based on SILKYPIX software), those custom settings are mostly discarded by third party applications, including Lightroom and Photoshop. Unfortunately, camera manufacturers rarely ever publish full specifications for their RAW files and do not work closely with third party application development companies like Adobe in order to take a full advantage of their cameras. Because of this, color profiles, along with all other camera settings are lost upon import of images. Although Adobe has been working hard on providing manufacturer and camera-specific color profiles, only the most popular cameras are typically covered. In addition, those color profiles are generated in Adobe’s own lab environment, which can result in slightly different color rendering when compared to the manufacturer’s.

Let’s go over data that is actually read by Lightroom / Photoshop Camera RAW:

  1. White Balance, as set by the camera. Instead of your chosen value such as Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, etc, only the actual color temperature and tint are read from the RAW file.
  2. Common image metadata such as Capture Date/Time, Exposure, Focal Length, Flash, Camera Make and Model, Lens information, etc.
  3. Copyright information such as Author’s Name, etc. (if it exists)

That’s basically it. Now here is the information that is completely discarded:

  1. Film Simulation and Filter Effects
  2. Color Space (only relevant for JPEG images and JPEG images embedded into RAW files)
  3. Dynamic Range
  4. Intelligent Face Detection
  5. Focus Area and focus point location in the frame
  6. Color, Sharpness, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone and Noise Reduction
  7. Distortion Correction, Color Shading Correction and Peripheral Illumination Correction
  8. Lens Modulation Optimizer
  9. All other settings in the camera menus

All of the above settings do not affect RAW files in any way. Whatever you choose in your camera simply gets written as header information to Fuji’s RAF files. Please note that “Long exposure NR” (Noise Reduction) is the only setting that affects RAW files. However, Adobe will still not know if Long exposure noise reduction was turned on or off in your camera.

2) Camera Settings

Because the above settings do not affect your RAW files, they are essentially of no use, so I would recommend to keep them turned off by default. You might be wondering why JPEG images or the image on the back of the LCD change when you pick different Film Simulation or other settings while shooting in RAW. That’s because RAW files actually contain full size JPEG previews, which is what your camera shows on the back of the LCD. Hence, any change you make in your camera will simply be reflected in the embedded JPEG file only. When RAW files are imported into Lightroom / Camera RAW, the embedded JPEG file is discarded and a new one is generated, based on Adobe’s default settings, or a chosen import preset. That’s why when I talk about getting more accurate Fuji colors in Lightroom, we are simply trying to match Fuji’s default rendering of colors in JPEG images to those rendered by Lightroom or Camera RAW. Remember, a RAW file is just like unprocessed film – you can interpret and process colors any way you like.

However, changing camera settings can indirectly affect your RAW files. For example, if you have Dynamic Range turned on (which simply applies a tone curve to the embedded JPEG image), you might think that you have enough shadow details in your image and you might end up underexposing the image. Noise Reduction setting might make it seem like you do not have much noise in your images, so you might not notice that your ISO value is unnecessarily high. That’s why it is best to turn all custom settings off completely.

Fuji has a set of color profiles known as “Film Simulation” available in its cameras. By default, a camera profile called “PROVIA/STANDARD” gets applied to images. That’s the profile I typically use when shooting with Fuji cameras. Whichever Film Simulation you pick, I would suggest to stick to it if you want to see consistent colors in Lightroom (or it will be too much of a headache). And do not worry about modifying other color adjustments, since those might indirectly affect your RAW images as well (for example, setting high values for Highlight Tone and Shadow Tone).

3) Lightroom and Camera RAW: Camera Calibration

Since photographers want to see colors as rendered by their cameras, Adobe ended up creating different camera profiles based on the colors they saw from the rendered JPEG images. The process of creating such camera profiles is fairly complex and it involves shooting different color charts in JPEG format, then trying to match those colors while rendering RAW files. Adobe did a decent job with Fuji’s color profiles (although as demonstrated below, some colors do appear different) and re-created many of the most commonly used ones. For example, here is the full list of created profiles for the Fuji X-T1:

  2. Camera Velvia/VIVID
  3. Camera ASTIA/SOFT
  4. Camera Pro Neg. Hi
  5. Camera Pro Neg. Std
  6. Camera MONOCHROME

The only film simulation that is missing in Lightroom 5.5 is Sepia. Usually Adobe does not bother with black and white / monochrome profiles, but they specifically added four of them to Lightroom, so you can actually get some decent black and white images just by picking one of the monochrome profiles.

You can find the above-mentioned profiles under the “Camera Calibration” sub-module in Lightroom, or the “Camera Calibration” tab in Camera RAW, as seen below:

Lightroom vs Camera RAW Camera Calibration

Basically, these try match the Film Simulations in your camera one to one. If you set your camera Film Simulation to “PROVIA/STANDARD”, picking “Camera PROVIA/STANDARD” from the Camera Calibration sub-module of Lightroom / Camera RAW will imitate those colors (assuming that additional tweaking of colors and contrast was not performed in the camera).

That’s why it is a good idea to stick to one Film Simulation in your camera, because you can set that same Camera Calibration profile to all images every time you import them.

Adobe also provides the ability to tweak individual colors for hue and saturation after applying a profile, but if you choose to do that, it might deviate from Fuji’s original colors.

4) Applying a Camera Profile During Import

If you want to always have Fuji’s native colors in your images and not the default “Adobe Standard” camera profile (which is often pretty dull), you might want to set up an import preset that gets applied to your images when they are imported into Lightroom. This is a very simple and straightforward process, so let me show you the best way to do it.

  1. First, open any Fuji RAW / RAF file in Lightroom’s Develop Module.
  2. Keep White Balance under the “Basic” sub-module “As Shot”, if you want Lightroom to read what your camera set WB and Tint to.
  3. Scroll down to the Camera Calibration sub-module.
  4. Pick the same color profile as what you have set in your camera (for example, Camera PROVIA/STANDARD).
  5. On the left panel, scroll down to the “Presets” sub-module and press the “+” sign next to it, which is used for creating a new preset.
  6. A new window will pop-up. Give the preset a name, for example “Fuji Import Preset”. The default folder “User Presets” is fine, but you can create a different folder if you want to.
  7. Only select “White Balance”, “Process Version” and “Calibration”, then click “Create”, as shown below:
    Import Preset

Once you do this, a new preset will appear in the Preset menu, under the specified folder. Now all you need to do is specify this preset when importing images. Bring up the Import Window, then look at the right side of the window and expand “Apply During Import”. Click the “Develop Settings” drop-down and pick the newly created import preset, as shown below:

Lightroom Apply During Import

Once you import the photos, every one of them will be automatically changed to the previously selected camera profile, which will match whatever you picked in your camera.

5) Adobe Camera Profiles vs Fuji Film Simulations

Now let’s take a look at a photo and see how closely Adobe’s Camera Profiles match Fuji’s Film Simulations. I did a quick experiment, setting the Fuji X-T1 to “PROVIA/STANDARD” Film Simulation, then taking a picture of flowers. I set the camera’s file format to RAW + JPEG, so that I could use the JPEG file as a reference. Here is the JPEG file that the camera captured:

X-T1 @ 24mm, ISO 200, 10/2100, f/4.0

And here is what the image looked like after I applied the “Camera PROVIA/STANDARD” profile in Lightroom:

X-T1 @ 24mm, ISO 200, 1/210, f/4.0

As you can see, unlike Sony camera profiles, the colors from Adobe profiles closely match the colors from in-camera JPEG, which is great news! Looking at the above images, I do not feel the need to change any color settings. This means that once you set the same color profile on the camera and in Adobe Lightroom/Camera RAW, the colors should match quite well.