Fujifilm X-Pro1 review - Quality

Quality

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Canon EOS 7D

 
To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the Fujifilm X-Pro1, the Sony NEX-7 and the Canon EOS 7D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The X-Pro1 was fitted with the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 R, the NEX-7 with the 18-55 f3.5-5.6 OSS kit zoom and the EOS 7D with the EF-S 15-85 f3.5-5.6 IS USM.

Prime lenses for the Sony and Canon bodies were not available to us at matching focal lengths at the time of testing. I hope to retest in the near future with primes on each body.

The zoom lenses on the Sony and Canon cameras were set to an equivalent field of view to the 18mm prime on the X-Pro1 and all were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode.

The ISO sensitivity was manually set to 200 ISO on the X-Pro1 and 100 ISO on the NEX-7 and EOS 7D.

  Fujifilm X-Pro1 results
1 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Quality
2 Fujifilm X-Pro1 RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Noise
5 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the FX 18mm f2 R lens. I took a series of shots with the lens at all aperture settings and the most detail was recorded at f5.6 which is the aperture I chose to make these comparisons. The X-Pro1 is capable of recording at 100 ISO, but Fujifilm warns that dynamic range will be reduced at this sensitivity setting. The camera’s default base sensitivity is 200 ISO so that’s what I’ve used for these comparisons. The X-Pro1 metered an exposure of 1/1300 at f5.6 at 200 ISO. The Sony NEX-7 and Canon EOS 7D metred similar exposures at 100 ISO but as they produced similar results to the X-Pro1 their exposures were not adjusted. The X-Pro1’s original Fine JPEG image size was 6.2MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.

Given its unconventional sensor, I was expecting the X-Pro1’s crops would make for interesting viewing and I wasn’t disappointed. Overall and at first glance this test shot with the 18mm f2 lens looks very impressive with crisp detail, good colour and punchy contrast. The first of the crops shows excellent detail in the chapel and the foreground hill with little evidence of processing or noise.

The second crop is even more impressive. The first thing I look at on this crop is the lighthouse which should be a distinct white cylinder with clean edges – it is here – and as an added bonus you can also make out the lamp room on the top. The X-Pro1 has also managed to pick out detail in the distant coast. The window frames in the foreground houses are sharp with cleanly defined edges and you can also make out the fine detail in the roof tiles and brickwork.

Moving on to the fourth crop, here the detail is a little softer than nearer the centre of the frame. That and the obvious chromatic aberration, both lens-related issues, are about the only two negative elements in an otherwise sparkling performance. The final crop taken from close to the middle of the frame is hard to fault with clean edges and very impressive resolution of the finest detail.

The NEX-7’s 24 Megapixel sensor produces larger image detail at the equivalent 18mm focal length. From the first crop it’s hard to say if there’s much of a qualitative difference but in the second crop the detail in both the foreground as well as the lighthouse and distant coast looks softer in the NEX-7 crop. Interestingly, the detail in the edge crop from the NEX-7 with its 18-55mm zoom not only looks sharper and better defined, it doesn’t suffer from chromatic aberration, though the absence of fringing is more likely due to the NEX-7’s JPEG processing. In the final crop from close to the centre of the frame both cameras produce excellent detail, but the X-Pro1 has a definite edge in terms of sharpness and resolution.

Compared with the crops from the EOS 7D with its 15-85mm kit lens, the X-Pro1 has a clear advantage in every one of these crops. Only in the final crop does the quality of the EOS 7D come close to matching that of the X-Pro1, but even here, the edges are softer and the fine detail isn’t as well resolved.

While some of these differences are undoubtedly due to the superior optics of the Fujinon 18mm prime lens compared to kit zooms, the X-Pro1’s X-Trans sensor is without doubt also playing a major role. I’ve never seen detail this sharp from a CMOS sensor that hasn’t been accompanied by obvious evidence of electronic processing. The X-Pro1 manages to achieve excellent edge sharpness and fine detail resolution while at the same time achieving a natural look that’s free from noise. That’s quite an achievement.

Check out the X-Pro1 RAW vs JPEG results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my X-Pro1 Noise results.

 
Fujifilm X-Pro1
 
Sony NEX-7
 
Canon EOS 7D
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Fujifilm X-Pro1
results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise

Fujifilm X-Pro1 JPEG vs RAW

 

To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the Fujifilm X-Pro1, I shot this scene in the camera’s RAW+JPEG mode.

The sensitivity was set to 200 ISO and the aperture to f5.6.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using the Silkypix-powered RAW File Converter EX application supplied with the camera.

  Fujifilm X-Pro1 results
1 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Quality
2 Fujifilm X-Pro1 RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Noise
5 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Sample images

With any new camera the wait for third party developers to support camera RAW files is something of an inevitability. Given the X-Pro1’s unconventional sensor architecture it might take even longer than usual. At the time of writing none of the main Raw processing apps – Adobe Camera RAW, Lightroom, Aperture, or Phase One had announced support for the X-Pro1 RAW files. So, for now at least, X-Pro1 owners who want to shoot RAW and do their own developing are limited to using the Silkypix-based RAW File Converter EX application included in the box.

The RAW File Converter EX UI won’t impress anyone used to working in Lightroom or other professional applications. The good news is the X-Pro1’s in-camera JPEG processing is very good and produces excellent results. As you can see from the crops below, the RAW file processed using the software’s default settings looks very similar to the camera JPEG. The third set of crops are from a file that I applied ‘Natural’ output sharpening to (the demosaic sharpening was left on the default settings for the RAW processed files) and boosted the contrast a little using the ‘A little strong contrast’ preset. I also applied chromatic aberration correction.

I think this is a slight improvement in sharpness and detail on the in-camera JPEG, though it does look a tiny bit noisier. At the very least it shows that in spite of the excellent quality of the X-Pro1’s in camera JPEG processing there’s potential for improvement.

Now let’s see how they compare at higher sensitivities in my X-Pro1 noise results.

 

Fujifilm X-Pro1 in-camera JPEG
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 RAW default processing
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 RAW tweaked processing
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Fujifilm X-Pro1 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Canon EOS 7D noise

 
  Fujifilm X-Pro1 results
1 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Quality
2 Fujifilm X-Pro1 RAW vs JPEG
3 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Noise
5 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Fujifilm X-Pro1, the Sony NEX-7 and the Canon EOS 7D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The X-Pro1 was fitted with the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 R, the NEX-7 with the 18-55 f3.5-5.6 OSS kit zoom and the EOS 7D with the EF-S 18-85 f3.5-5.6 IS USM.

Prime lenses for the Sony and Canon bodies were not available to us at matching focal lengths at the time of testing. I hope to retest in the near future with primes on each body.

The zoom lenses on the Sony and Canon cameras were set to an equivalent field of view to the 18mm prime on the X-Pro1 and all were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually.

The above shot was taken with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the Fujinon XF18mm f2 R lens. For these tests the camera was placed on a tripod and the X-Pro1’s Dynamic Range feature, which cannot be disabled, was left on the default 100 percent setting. Noise reduction was also left on the default (0) Standard position. In Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4, the X-Pro1 metered an exposure of 1 second at 100 ISO. for the sake of completeness, I’ve included the extended 100 ISO and 25600 ISO settings in these test, but the manual warns that using the 100 ISO setting may result in reduced dynamic range and the ‘normal’ base ISO setting on the X-Pro1 is 200 ISO.

The Sony NEX-7 metered an exposure of 1/8th of a second at 100 ISO. To produce an equivalent exposure to the X-Pro1 would have required an exposure compensation of 3EV, but 2EV was sufficient to produce a result similar to that of the X-Pro 1. Similarly the Canon EOS 7D required exposure compensation of 1.3EV.

The 100 ISO crop from the X-Pro1 looks a little more contrasty than the ‘base’ 200 ISO crop, but it’s hard to say if there’s less noise or more detail. Remember, the 100 ISO setting is part of the X-Pro1’s extended range and it’s 200 ISO that’s the ‘base’ sensitivity setting, i.e the one that’s intended for general purpose shooting in good light. There’s no noise to see in this crop and no unpleasant processing evidence either. As base ISO performance goes this is about as good as it gets.

So how does the X-trans CMOS sensor cope with increases in the ISO sensitivity level? Judging by the 400 and 800 ISO crops the answer is extremely well. With any sensor you’d expect to see an increase in noise and/or evidence of processing as the sensitivity increases, the interesting thing here is the degree – it’s very slight. So slight in fact that it’s hard to tell the difference – even pixel peeping these 100 percent crops – between adjacent settings. You have to skip from 200 to 800 ISO to notice any real change and it’s not until you get to 1600 ISO thet you can see real graininess without having to look very hard indeed.

At 3200 ISO there’s a lot of granularity, but it’s regular and natural looking, possibly this is one advantage of the X-Pro1’s X-Trans sensor’s irregular colour filter array. At 6400 ISO, there’s a lot of graininess, but you can still just about read the text on the memorial and the edges are still reasonably clean and straight. It’s not until the extended 25600 ISO sensitivity that much of the detail begins to be lost in a noisy cloud.

The X-Pro1 crops make for interesting comparison with the 24 megapixel sensor of the Sony NEX-7, itself something of a benchmark for excellent high ISO performance. At the lower ISO sensitivities there’s very little in it, and in fact the larger detail in the NEX-7 crops appears to come at little or no cost in terms of additional noise. From 800 ISO upwards though there’s an increasing clumpiness to the NEX-7 crops that’s absent from the X-Pro1. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of the NEX-7 images above 800 ISO is superb, but I think the X-Pro1 has a very definite advantage.

Despite the fact that the Canon 7D crops are slightly softer, they also look more textured than those from the X-Pro1, even at the lower ISO settings. The gap between the two widens as you progress up the ISO sensitivity range with the result that by 1600 ISO the X-Pro1 crop is still looking very clean, but the 7D is looking substantially noisier. Even a hardened sceptic would have to admit that on this evidence the X-Pro1’s X-trans sensor is a significantly better perfomer at high ISO sensitivities than the Canon 7D’s conventional 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor deployed acrosss several models.

Now head over to my X-Pro1 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Fujifilm X-Pro 1
 
Sony NEX-7
 
Canon EOS 7D
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
25600 ISO
16000 ISO
25600 ISO Not available

Fujifilm X-Pro1 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise

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