Last year I decided that the local backup strategy I had in place for my photos wasn’t cutting it. Not to mention leaving for vacation with my computer and external hard drive backups “hidden” didn’t leave me feeling particularly at ease. A break-in or fire could have resulted in my gear—and thus, all my photos—being gone forever.

I decided it was time to give Backblaze a try. For those who don’t already know, Backblaze is remote backup for everything that’s on your computer, including any connected external hard drives for $5/month. The price was never an issue; $60 a year for unlimited remote backup, and crazy fast retrieval of my files is a no-brainer. The problem I was faced with was my initial backup, which clocked in at just under 1 terabyte.

I’m not gonna lie, for me it sort of sucked. In Canada, we’re faced with mostly terrible options when it comes to ISPs that have comically low bandwidth caps, and even worse upload speeds. I initially tried to manage my backup to only allow my monthly allotted bandwidth. It was impossible. What I ended up doing was paying for unlimited bandwidth during the time it took for my initial backup to complete. It gets worse. If I dared use the entirety of my puny upload limit of 3 whole MB, my 35MB/second download speed would grind to a halt. This makes absolutely no sense, but that’s what we get for trying to use the service for which we’re paying, for legitimate reasons. This meant keeping my upload speed to 1MB or maybe 2MB for the majority of my initial upload. That was painful. The initial backup took well over a month, but that was 100% the fault of my awful ISP, and the fairly large amount of data I had to push upstream. I’ve heard many reports of people pushing many times the data I had in well under a week.

Now that my initial back up has completed, Backblaze could not be easier. I don’t even think about it. I leave my max upload speed at around 2MB/second, and take solace in the fact that I have a complete remote backup of all my stuff. I’ve tested the retrieval process a bunch of times, and it works flawlessly. The only minor inconvenience is having to pause my backup on occasion while watching Netflix. That terrible ISP again.

So why am I writing about this? Well, if there’s one thing I know my readers have, it’s photos. Losing all your photos would suck. I also like Backblaze so much that I can recommend them without hesitation. If you’re thinking about getting yourself a remote back up, and you should, consider using a link to my newest affiliate, Backblaze. A full year will probably cost less than your monthly cell phone bill, and I guarantee you will feel better knowing you digital stuff is safe. I know I do.

The “Best” X-Trans RAW Converter

Aperture vs Capture One vs Iridient Developer vs Lightroom vs LightZone vs Nik Sharpener vs OnOne vs Photo Ninja.jpg

Perhaps my most fussy article to date, I’m going to great lengths to determine what the “best” RAW converter is for X-Trans sensors. As it stands, I’ve only examined how these applications treat a typical wide angle image shot with a FUJINON XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 on an X-E1. I will add more images as time permits.

See for yourself what the best RAW converter for X-Trans is.


Now that I’ve had a couple days to consider Apple’s WWDC announcements, I put together some thoughts on how they will, or could, impact us as Fuji photographers. Perhaps the initial response is one of dread, doom, and gloom. Yes, Apple is opening up the iPhone’s camera API to allow for manual control, but as I’ve stated elsewhere on the internet, we are a long, long way from a smartphone becoming my primary camera. I use my iPhone for photography when it’s all I have or for less important images like pictures of prices and dimensions of furniture or images headed directly to one social network or another. Smartphones are perfectly capable of producing great images, but I don’t enjoy using them as a camera, and will always have that nagging feeling that the image could be better if shot with a proper camera.


The things I think will be interesting for Fuji shooters are Apple’s cloud offerings, and the potential for Fujifilm within their app. With the iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Drive announcements, even more people could switch over to using an iPad as their primary photo management and editing platform, complete with remote backup of all your photos.

Initially this might mean shooting JPEG as iPads and RAFs don’t exactly play well together where editing is concerned.1 Even that might be ok—since switching over to Fujifilm, I’ve been shooting JPEG a lot more—but this is where Fuji needs to step in. What’s stopping them from giving their iOS app the ability to process RAF files the same way their cameras do? In fact, now that I think of it, why doesn’t it already?2 Fuji could also conceivably let users shoot “tethered” wirelessly to an iPhone or iPad. JPEGs get pushed merrily along, complete with GPS coordinates to the Photos app and then to the cloud, RAFs sit in the app waiting to be processed out to JPEGs. RAFs could also be stored on your iCloud Drive,3 or deleted when you’re done editing or your device runs out of space. Making use of extensions, our photos will gain access to VSCO filters via their iOS app which is considerably more affordable than their desktop alternative. That’s just one example of photo-editing.

Even if the idea of using an iPad exclusively doesn’t sound appealling, iCloud Drive offers some great potential features. Go on vacation, shoot for a day, then copy all your photos to your iPad. They’ll be backed up, and waiting for you to edit back home on your Mac.

In short, I hope Fuji have their devs working hard on adding as many iOS 8/Yosemite/iCloud features as possible, as soon as possible. Getting my photos onto my iDevice needs to be even faster and easier than it is now. There are too many hoops to jump through, too much back and forth connecting, reconnecting. I want to open my Fujifilm app, select my camera, and start mucking with images. I want to edit on my devices with real Fujifilm X-Trans demosaicing algorithms and Lens Modulation Optimizers.4 This, in my opinion, is how Fuji will come away from the smartphone camera slaughter as unscathed as possible, and ahead of their competition. By embracing it.

  1. There should be no trouble storing RAF files on your device, and iCloud via Fujifilm’s app.
  2. Manually processing photos in-camera is not fun.
  3. At $3.99/month for 200GB, this is a decent-sized photo library and isn’t a bad price for a remote backup of all of it. Now if only Fuji offered lossless compression of their RAF format.
  4. Not Adobe’s reverse-engineered Camera profiles.

Adobe’s Fujifilm Camera Calibration Profiles

Another new page has been added to the “Extras” menu called Adobe’s Fujifilm Camera Calibration Profiles This will be another evolving oage. Currently it has just one images with each of the Fujifilm-endorsed profiles for a quick visual comparison, and brief analysis. This is pretty heavy duty pixel-peeping stuff, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I feel little shame in being picky about the end result of my images.

I’ll add the lake and valley image seen in my X-Trans Before & After page next so we can have a close look at how landscapes and greens are handled.

Adobe’s Fujifilm Camera Calibration Profiles Compared

On Adobe, and Lightroom for iPad

Today marked the release of Lightroom 5.4 which delivers the long awaited Fujifilm X-T1 support, and Film Simulation Modes for RAFs via the Camera Calibration panel. Awesome stuff. I plan to throughly analyze their profiles and compare them with their in-camera counterparts as soon as possible.

Today also marked Adobe’s announcement (or confirmation) that Lightroom will be available on the iPad for Creative Cloud subscribers only. This comes as little surprise, and yet I can’t help wondering what the hell they are thinking. It seems to me they are leaving money and users on the table by choosing (or sticking with) a pricing model they hope will encourage Creative Cloud subscriptions.

At the end of 2013, Adobe announced 1.4 million subscribers to Creative Cloud. That’s 1.4 million + people who will get Lightroom for iPad “for free.”1 Maybe Lightroom on iPad will keep some of those subscribers loyal,2 maybe some people will begrudgingly subscribe in order to get it.3 I won’t, and I think they’ve passed up an app pricing structure that would make them more money, make their customers happier, and be more future-proof. I’ve been pondering this morning about what that might be. One idea involves the dreaded in-app purchase (IAP).

“This app offers in-app purchases”

It’s not uncommon for top-tier apps on iPad to sell for $19.99. Twenty bucks is a fair price for an app like Lightroom, but that could be cut down to $15, $10, or even $0 because camera and lens profiles would cost anywhere from $1 - $5 each.


Things could be kept simple ($5/camera, $1/lens), but there’s tremendous flexibility in this pricing structure too. “Consumer” gear could be less expensive, “Pro” gear more expensive. Exotics or lenses with complex distortion correction profiles could also command a premium.

How many Creative Cloud subscriptions does Adobe realistically hope to gain making Lightroom for iPad subscription-only? Compare that number with how many photographers would happily shell out for Lightroom as a standalone application while being able to purchase camera and lens profiles as they see fit? I’d have happily paid Adobe $5 for the Film Simulation Modes they released for Fujifilm cameras today. Don’t want or need ’em? Then you’ve got the built-in Adobe profile already. The nice thing about Fujifilm is those same profiles would work across every camera that shares the X-Trans sensor, but let’s get back to Adobe for this post.

This model gives customers the freedom to purchase what they want, and more importantly what they actually need, something Creative Cloud fails at miserably. It’s also self-sustaining since we photographers can be a fickle bunch, generally speaking, many of us collect lenses, and we love our upgrades. Maybe Adobe would only ever get $7 less Apple’s cut from some photographers, but 70% of $7 is better than 100% of nothing.

I’d upgrade to a 128GB iPad just to have this imaginary version of Lightroom with me when I go on vacation. It would be an immediate backup of my photos to the iPad I’d have with me anyway, and I could start the selecting, rejecting, and editing process while still on vacation or on the flight home. I could see a lot of photographers doing the same for jobs.

What about Lightroom for the desktop?

Maybe it’s time the desktop version moves to a pricing structure like this one too with a reduced core applicaiton price. I’m personally not a fan having 100’s of MB of profiles I don’t need on my computer, and if DxO can implement a decent profile download system, Adobe sure can. We’d just have to hope they wouldn’t build it in Flash.

Of course the pay once and get everything model we’ve enjoyed to date with the desktop version of Lightroom would be ideal, but I’m trying to see this somewhat from Adobe’s side, and acknowledge that additional and recurring revenue might be a necessity.

The future of photography?

Perhaps most importantly of all, it protects Adobe from a potentially huge threat from Apple. Not strictly from Aperture, but from the iPhone. With any luck, Aperture for iPad is on its way. Maybe it will be announced alongside the iPhone 6 which presumably will feature an even better built-in camera. Now consider the iPhone 6 (or even a simple iOS update) allows owners to capture and manipulate RAW data with immediate support for it via the newly released Aperture. Given Apple’s track record these days, Aperture would be free. Now you’ve got the most popular camera on the planet’s RAW files editable via Apple’s competitively-priced one-time fee (or free) iPad app, and Adobe’s subscription-only app, once they get around to supporting the iPhone’s RAW files. Or, Adobe could just sell the iPhone profile for $2 to a ton of “iPhoneographers” who want to keep using Lightroom on the desktop.4

Apple isn’t known to add complexity the way adding RAW support certainly would. However, they are heavily focused on the photography market in general, and it seems there should be a very easy way to make RAW data available to users who want it via Aperture for iOS and the Mac, while keeping those who aren’t interested blissfully unaware. If photography continues to be an area Apple hopes to dominate, RAW support of some kind ought to be in their future. Just imagine all those VSCO presets being applied to sensor data rather than JPEGs.


I can’t be totally sure the pricing structure I outlined above would work, or if it would ultimately even be profitable after the content delivery system is in place. It’s really just musing with some griping for good measure. What I do know is Adobe’s actions are getting frustrating, and are starting to reek of hubris. I’m curious what it would take for them to wake up. Extraordinary apps like Pixelmator are already putting a dent in the once invincible Photoshop. If I wasn’t so deeply entrenched in the industry I am (advertising, marketing, etc.), I’d have dumped Photoshop for Pixelmator already.

Adobe’s apps have become uncontrollably bloated and hopelessly inconsistent. Lightroom was widely regarded as they only app they were still “getting right.” I think that sentiment will change with photographers to some degree today, and that’s a shame.

  1. Anyone who believes this needs to reassess their definition of “free.”
  2. I doubt this number is very high. Most people who subscribe do so out of necessity.
  3. This number is probably even lower.
  4. Or on Windows for that matter.