Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR review - Quality

Quality

Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR Program mode vs Resolution Priority EXR vs High ISO & Low Noise EXR

 
  Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results
1 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Quality
2 Fujifilm HS30 EXR RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise
4 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise Reduction
5 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Sample images

To compare the noise performance of the FujiFilm FinePix HS30 EXR in its EXR modes I shot this scene with the camera in Aperture priority exposure mode and two of its EXR modes – Resolution Priority (HR) and High ISO and Low Noise (SN).

For this test the camera was mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was turned off. The FinePix HS30 EXR was set to its largest 16 Megapixel image size with image quality set to Fine. However, in SN EXR mode the image size is automatically reduced to 8 Megapixels. The sensitivity was selected manually at each available ISO setting.

The above shot was taken with the Fijifilm FinePix HS30 EXR. The camera was placed on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. F4 was selected in Aperture priority exposure mode and the metering chose a shutter speed of 0.6 at 100 ISO.

The purpose of Resolution Priority EXR (HR) mode is to produce the best possible results at the full 16 Megapixel resolution of the EXR sensor in good lighting conditions, so I was interested to see how it compares with Program mode at the lower ISO settings here – the maximum available sensitivity in HR mode is 800 ISO. Exposure in HR mode is automatic and for all of the HR shots the HS30 EXR selected an aperture of f3.2 – slightly wider than the f4 I selected for the Aperture priority shots, but close enough for a valid comparison.

At 100 and 200 ISO there’s definitely more detail in the crops which look sharper and a little more contrasty, but they look a little bit grainier too. At 400 and 800 ISO you’re probably better off with Program mode but, at the lower sensitivity settings, there’s evidence here that HR mode is worth trying if you want to capture the maximum amount of detail possible.

SN EXR mode combines multiple photosites to produce a single image pixel. This improves the light-gathering capacity and, in theory, improves the noise performance, but at the cost of halving the maximum image resolution to 8 Megapixels. So how does it measure up in practice?

Well, there’s a huge improvement in the noise quality of the SN crops, clear evidence that Fujifilm’s EXR SN mode really works. The upper sensitivity limit of this mode has been extended to 3200 ISO making it more useful for exrtreme low light conditions so the only drawback is the 8 Megapixel maximum resolution. But if you don’t plan on making big prints there’s every reason to switch to SN EXR mode for cleaner images with more detail and significantly less noise.

Now head over to my Fujifilm HS30 EXR sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

FinePix HS30 EXR
Aperture Priority mode
 
FinePix HS30 EXR
Resolution Priority EXR mode
 
FinePix HS30 EXR
High ISO & Low Noise EXR mode
100 ISO
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200 ISO
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400 ISO
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800 ISO
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1600 ISO
1600 ISO Not available
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO Not available
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO Not available
6400 ISO Not available
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO Not available
Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise / EXR Noise Reduction

Fujifilm HS30 EXR JPEG vs RAW

 

To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR, I shot this scene in the camera’s RAW plus Large Fine JPEG mode enabling me to compare images created from exactly the same data. The sensitivity was set to 100 ISO and the aperture to f5.6.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using the supplied Raw File Converter EX 3.2 software which is based on SilkyPix. The conversion was done first using the software’s default settings, I then tried to improve on the default result by tweaking the parameters.

  Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results
1 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Quality
2 Fujifilm HS30 EXR RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise
4 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise Reduction
5 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Sample images

The image above was taken with the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR.The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f5.6 and the sensitivity was set to 100 ISO. The HS30 EXR metered an exposure of 1/850 at f5.6

It’s immediately appearent from the crops that the RAW file conversion using the software’s default settings produces quite a disappointing result that doesn’t come close to the in-camera JPEG in terms of overall quality. Looking at the first crop, there’s a lot less detail in the RAW file conversion and what there is looks blurry and smeared. The lighthouse in the second crop is a lot less distinct and, more worryingly, the windows in the middle distance of this crop appear to be sufferring from the same jagged edge ‘aliasing’ effect that was evident in the central crop from the outdoor test results. That’s the same crop as the fourth crop on this page where you can see that the effect is much more pronounced in the RAW conversion.

I tried for quite some time to eliminate, or at least minimise this artifact without success. It begins to appear when you apply output sharpening (as opposed to demosaic sharpening) in Raw File Converter EX. Applying the No Sharpeness preset gets rid of it, but results in a very soft image. And if you apply unsharp Mask, either in the output settings when you save the file from Raw File Converter EX, or later in Photoshop, the jagged edges make an unwelcome return.

In the end it comes down to striking a balance between image sharpness and reducing the effect. The best I could manage was by reducing the Outline emphasis and detail emphasis from their defaults of 60 and 75 to 50 and 40 respectively, then increasing the False outline control setting from 0 to 20. The result is an improvement on the default, but overall, though the jagged edges aren’t as much of a problem as in the in-camera JPEG, I don’t think the result is as good.

Now check out how the camera performs in my Fujifilm HS30 EXR noise results.

 
FinePix HS30 EXR in-camera JPEG
 
FinePix HS30 EXR RAW default
 
FinePix HS30 EXR RAW custom
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise / EXR Noise Reduction

Fujifilm HS30 EXR vs Sony Cyber-shot HX200V vs Panasonic Lumix FZ150 quality

 
To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the Fujifilm HS30 EXR, the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V and the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The zoom on all three cameras was set to produce an approximately equal field of view and image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test.

  Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results
1 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Quality
2 Fujifilm HS30 EXR RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise
4 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise Reduction
5 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Sample images

The image above was taken with the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f5.6 and the sensitivity set to 100 ISO. The HS30 EXR metered an exposure of 1/850 at f5.6.

Overall, the HS30 EXR has produced a nice result from this sunny scene, the exposure and white balance are good, with excellent detail throughout the tonal range and the colours are bright and saturated. Moving onto the crops, the overall level of detail is reasonably good, but they’re not as clean as I would have expected after having my expectation raised a little by Fujufilm’s claims. The fine detail in the first crop is obscured by a general grainy look and there’s also a little smearing of the detail in the rocks.

The graininess is even more in evidence in the second crop, particularly in the sea and distant cliffs. The lighthouse is more of a clumpy white blob than a distinct white column and the window frames of the houses in the foreground lack crisp sharp edges. In the third crop a little softness has crept in which reduces the clumpy look, but does nothing for the resolution of fine detail and there’s a touch of coloured fringing. The final crop from close to the centre of the frame is the best in terms of sharpness and edge detail, but there’s still that processed clumpy look to the pixels. Also there’s something a little odd going on with the diagonal lines of the white balcony rails which look ‘stepped’.

Check out my Fujifilm HS30 EXR RAW vs JPEG results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Fujfilm HS30 EXR Noise results.

 
Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR
 
Sony Cyber-shot HX200V
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ150
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise / EXR Noise Reduction

Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR vs Sony Cyber-shot HX200V vs Panasonic Lumix FZ150 noise

 
  Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results
1 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Quality
2 Fujifilm HS30 EXR RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise
4 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise Reduction
5 Fujifilm HS30 EXR Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions , I shot this scene with the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR, the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V and the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The zoom on all three cameras was set to produce an approximately equal field of view and image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test.

The above shot was taken with the Fijifilm FinePix HS30 EXR. The camera was placed on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. F4 was selected in Aperture priority exposure mode and the metering chose a shutter speed of 0.6 at 100 ISO.

Looking at the HS30 EXR crops, things start out pretty well, with the 100 ISO crop looking reasonably clean and noise-free. At 200 ISO things don’t look quite so pristine and the detail in the memorial plaque is starting to look a little granular. The text is stil readable though, and the flat colour of the wall remains texture-free.

The step up to 400 ISO produces another visible increase in noise levels with the whole crop area now taking on a textured appearance. The finer detail is suffering as a result of this, but it’s worth noting that this is only visible in these 100 percent crops – viewed side-by-side at screen maginifications of aroud 20 percent, it’s hard to tell the difference between the 100 and 400 ISO shots.

The transition from 400 to 800 ISO is an interesting one, because this was the point the point at which the HS30 EXR’s predecessor, the HS20 EXR begain to suffer quite badly from noise. With the claimed improved high ISO noise performance of the HS30 EXR’s redesigned sensor I was looking forward to seeing a marked improvement at 800 ISO but, disappointingly, the HS30 EXR fares little better at this stage on the sensitivity scale than its predecessor. Moving up from 400 to 800 ISO still results in a big increase in the amount of visible noise to the extent that it’s visible even without pixel peeping these 100 percent crops.

Beyond 3200 ISO the resolution drops to 8 Megapixels (6400 ISO) and then 4 Megapixels (12,800 ISO). While it’s good to have the option of these higher ISO sensitivities, if you’re going to make do with a lower resolution image you may as well switch to one of the EXR modes. See my EXR noise results page to see how they compare.

Compared with the 18.2 Megapixel Sony Cyber-shot HX200V, the Finepix HS30 EXR crops stand up very well. At the base 100 ISO level the crop from the Cyber-shot HX200V is visibly noisier than the HS30 EXR and the latter maintains a quality edge right the way up the ISO range. Like the HS30 EXR, the HX200V suffers from a big noise hike at the 800 ISO setting and here, as further up the range, fine and medium-sized detail is being obscured.

Compared with the 12.1 Megapixel Panasonic Lumix FZ150, the Finepix HS30 EXR doesn’t fare quite so well. The lower 12.1 Megapixel count on the FZ150’s sensor means the crops show a larger area and the detail is smaller, it’s also clearer, and though at the lower ISO settings the margin is quite small, as you move up the sensitivity range it widens, with the Lumix FZ150’s 400 ISO crop showing none of the salt and pepper graininess of the HS30 EXR. Crucially, the FZ150 doesn’t suffer the same big step up in noise from 400 to 800 ISO that plagues both the FinePix HS30 EXR and Cyber-shot HX200V sensors.

The final row of crops compares the stacking low light modes of the three models. Because the ISO is set automatically in these modes it proved impossible to match the sensitivity on all the cameras so these crops are of limited use for side-by-side comparisons. One thing that’s clear from past tests, however, is that these stacking modes provide a marked improvement on single frame exposures shot at the equivalent ISO sensitivity. The HS30 EXR is no exception, however, whereas the Cyber-shot HX200V and the Lumix FZ150 operate at full resolution, the HS30 EXR drops to 8 Megapixels.

Now check out the performance of the EXR modes in my Fujifilm HS30 EXR Noise Reduction page, or head over to my Fujifilm HS30 EXR sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

FinePix HS30 EXR
 
Cyber-shot HX200V
 
Lumix FZ150
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
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1600 ISO
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3200 ISO
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6400 ISO
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6400 ISO Not available
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
Pro Low Light 1000 ISO
Hand-held Twilight 125 ISO
Handheld Nite Shot 400 ISO
Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise / EXR Noise Reduction

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