Fuji X10 EXR camera, suggestions for optimum performance

The Fujifilm Finepix X10 (FX10) camera has an EXR sensor. This provides a hardware method of expanding dynamic range which is not explained or even mentioned in the owner's manual.

This article is designed to help FX10 owners understand how their EXR system works and how to get best performance from the camera, using the EXR sensor's unique capabilities. The observations and suggesttions which follow are based on my own tests of an FX10 over the last two weeks, involving many hundreds of systematic test exposures.

Point and shoot photographers will manage very nicely with the following settings:

Set EXR on the Mode Dial and EXR Auto in the Shooting Menu.  Just point and shoot. The camera will make a multitude of calculations on the run and deliver a good result most of the time. JPG files only.

For better image quality and more control over the image capture process, expert and enthusiast photographers will want to use RAW capture. My comparison studies have shown that in the majority of cases a well processed RAW file delivers better Image Quality (IQ) than JPG, even using the tedious Silkypix.

Suggested Settings for RAW capture:  Note: These settings apply when RAW+JPG is set in the Setup Menu. If RAW only is set, a different range of options for Image Size and DR is evoked.

On the Mode Dial set P,A,S or M.  In the Shooting Menu, Set Auto ISO (limit 3200), Image Size M (=6MPx), Dynamic Range DR400%, Film Simulation Standard, AF Mode Area.  In the Setup Menu, Set Fn button to ISO, IS Mode 2 Shooting only,  RAW + JPG.

Now to explain why:  Everything from here assumes  RAW + JPG capture.

The internal workings of the FX10 using L (=12MPx) Image Size are fundamentally different from those which operate using M (=6MPx). The difference is much more than just  image size.

There are two separate and distinct systems for Dynamic Range expansion in the FX10.  The Owner's Manual fails to mention this but awareness of the difference is the key to understanding how the camera works.

The first system is DR expansion in software and is the same as that used on many digital cameras from many makers. Basically  it underexposes the scene to protect the highlights then applies a tone correction curve in camera to lift the mid and dark tones. On the FX10 it works in L Image Size. If you set DR400% the minimum ISO permissible is 400. The camera will force ISO 400 even if you set 100.

The second is DR expansion in hardware and is the unique function of the EXR sensor. This will not work using L image size, it requires M image size. ( 6MPx)  It operates at any ISO ( but not at slow shutter speeds)  The pixels on the sensor operate in adjacent pairs. One pixel gets the full exposure time, while the adjacent one gets a fraction of that time, controlled on chip.  Some very clever proprietary Fuji technology combines the two exposures into a single image with higher dynamic range than is possible at ISO 100 using the full 12 MPx. The same process also delivers lower noise at high ISO than is possible using the full 12MPx.

My comments on issues arising:

My tests show that 6MPx delivers resolution only marginally less than 12MPx. In fact in some situations 6MPx does better than 12. For instance if using L image size and DR100% produces blown highlights (and it often will) then highlight definition is actually improved by going to M size and DR400. Another example: On a bright sunny day if you set L image size and DR400, the camera will force ISO 400, and in consequence an aperture of f8 or f9 because the shutter runs out of fast speeds. The optimal lens aperture for the FX10 is about f4, so the higher ISO and smaller f stop both degrade resolution to the point you would have been better off using M image size in the first place with ISO 100, DR400 and f4.  In addition the FX10 lens is a bit soft in the corners wide open and the extent to which this reduces resolution is minimised by using M image size.

Auto ISO: The FX10 seems to set the optimum combination of ISO, shutter speed and aperture most of the time so Auto ISO works well for most situations.

I think that DR 200 is not worth bothering about.  DR 800, 1600 are only available in EXR Mode, DRange Priority, JPG.

The takeaway message: I found very few if any situations where the FX10 delivered better image quality at L image size than M image size. So I use and recommend the settings given above all the time in all situations. Doing so gives reliably good results and certainly simplifies using the camera.

Good luck with your own tests and do enjoy using the clever Fuji X10 camera.

Author's declaration: I am a private, amateur camera user. I have no sponsor and no connection with any maker or vendor of photographic equipment. I bought my Fuji X10 at normal retail price in Australia. I really like figuring out how stuff works and the FX10 was a nice challenge.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 26
DavidC40
By DavidC40 (6 months ago)

I have recently bought the Fuji x10 and I am new to photography. My camera is only taking JEPG's just now. Can someone tell me how I change the settings so that my camera will take JEPG and RAW images?

thanks

0 upvotes
greengo746
By greengo746 (Feb 14, 2013)

Very good info on the camera. I dont have FX10 but I have F500 (lasted only 2 weeks) and F600. What I am reading is about EXR technology and how it effect picture output.
This is the only camera that I didnt bother to do RAW. The jpg are already good enuf for print. I tried a few times to develop RAW but end up accepting the camera jpg with a bit of sharpening.
Its a nice PnS camera and thats it. If you want full control, then ur better of with a DSLR. This camera takes good picture with minimal setting. I set it to EXR and gave it to my wife, she shoots like a pro ;)
About the F500, it lasted for 2 weeks only. I took it to a wedding shot, the camera was shooting continously for 200 shot and then just died. I am very careful now not to make it my primary camera. Its a backup and a good light meter. Fit nicely in the pocket for a family weekend.

0 upvotes
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0 upvotes
Howard A. Lewis
By Howard A. Lewis (Dec 29, 2011)

This is an extremely helpful article. It motivated me to try a lot of shots at EXR AUTO and trust the camera and it is quite remarkable and capable. Experimenting, it is quite interesting to observe the x10 decide which ext priority to use. It - so far - works perfectly most all of the time. Results are great. One thing I have not yet tried is printing.

0 upvotes
Allan Ostling
By Allan Ostling (Dec 14, 2011)

Now that Lightroom has added support for X10 raw files I hope this informative thread will be updated, with a comparison of Lightroom-developed raw (or DNG) files, with jpegs shot in EXR mode.

I will be doing my own experiments, but I am not set up for printing so cannot render the most critical of judgments.

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Howard A. Lewis
By Howard A. Lewis (Dec 11, 2011)

Does setting image size m automatically mean that DR when set in menu will invoke the exr hardware as opposed to Dr software approach?

0 upvotes
axlotl
By axlotl (Dec 3, 2011)

Curiouser and curiouser. Thank you EagerBeaver and x100x for your observations. When I did my tests, I had the camera set to capture RAW+JPG. It did not occur to me that setting RAW (without JPG) would invoke a completely different set of available options for Image Size, DR and ISO, but that is what happens, as you have observed. In 50 years of using many different cameras, I have never before encountered anything like this.

1 upvote
Naveed Akhtar
By Naveed Akhtar (Dec 3, 2011)

However, when you setting DR, even on image size M, set it on AUTO. As high DR is good feature of latest cameras but not always. As otherwise in some cases, you would be pumping up the contrast in post processing.

I would also set AUTO ISO between 100-800 and not beyond. But thats just me.

0 upvotes
Naveed Akhtar
By Naveed Akhtar (Dec 3, 2011)

Totally aggree with you on FX10, at 30% higher price premium over oly and pany enthusiast compacts, it offer lot more.

Aggree about lower resolution and better quality on photos.

0 upvotes
EagerBeaver
By EagerBeaver (Dec 2, 2011)

I agree with x100x, setting RAW looks like it overides any Size setting and defaults to L (12 Mp).

As an experiment I set M size first, then switched to RAW (which incidentally then blanks out the Size setting function) and compared this with a similar image after setting L size then RAW. Both images were the same file size.

After developing both images to JPG in Silkypix using identical parameters I couldn't detect any differences between them either in terms of resolution, noise or highlight recovery or anything else.

Apart from this I found this article very helpful.

0 upvotes
Allan Ostling
By Allan Ostling (Dec 1, 2011)

axolotl,

Why set the DR to 400 instead of AUTO? Doing so forces DR=400 even for a low-contrast subject (which usually would be shot at DR=100).

1 upvote
x100x
By x100x (Nov 29, 2011)

Hello axolotl, how do you make the RAW file be of 6 MB? it just won't let me, it is greyed out as an option. (Size) I ask this as you have stated the following:

Suggested Settings for RAW capture:

On the Mode Dial set P,A,S or M. In the Shooting Menu, Set Auto ISO (limit 3200), Image Size M (=6MPx), Dynamic Range DR400%, Film Simulation Standard, AF Mode Area. In the Setup Menu, Set Fn button to ISO, IS Mode 2 Shooting only, RAW or RAW + JPG

0 upvotes
Naveed Akhtar
By Naveed Akhtar (Dec 3, 2011)

well all I had set the dial on A (Apperture priority), Size M fine (6 MPixel) and then while shooting just press the RAW button.
When you do so you will see a RAW icon on the top left corner of the LCD.

0 upvotes
nikojo
By nikojo (Nov 27, 2011)

Thanks axlotl.

Wanted clarification on some things if you can.

1. Does this all remain the same if you only shoot in JPG, or does this only apply to RAW.

2. One reason these are good settings is that the ISO is not locked at a baseline of 400 when in "M" versus "L" allowing more flexibility in aperture.

3. How does the camera know how to use the EXR double pixel functionality?? Is simply by going to "M" and having more pixels available do it??

Thanks again for the time putting this together.

0 upvotes
Luke_S
By Luke_S (Nov 26, 2011)

I've found your instructions just after I've figured out this all DR and resolution stuff by myself. And I have exactly the same observations as you. X10 seems to be a 6-mp camera with exceptionaly good DR and low light capabilities which, at a pinch, can turn into 12-mp camera with performance at least similar to the competition.

1 upvote
tinpusher
By tinpusher (Nov 21, 2011)

Thankyou
That's helpful and reinforces what's been written in the forum.

0 upvotes
TEBnewyork
By TEBnewyork (Nov 21, 2011)

Well written summary.
I have C1 set up exactly as you state above but I set the function button a little bit differently.

If you notice that whenever you press the menu button, you always default to ISO. So either the menu or function would do exactly the same thing. For the fn button I now have it set to face detection to easily turn it on and off and never have to dig into the menu for that setting.

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Nov 21, 2011)

Calling the camera FX10 is VERY bizarre.

0 upvotes
douglassalteri
By douglassalteri (Nov 20, 2011)

I have been using the x10 for a couple of weeks and decided to follow your instructions for EXR best performance. Uncannily I had set everything as you suggest except auto ISO ??? I've now set that too, so here goes to see how it looks. I used a Fuji S3 Pro many years ago and loved what the camera produced, lets hope this younger brother can do as well.

Dougie

many thanks for the tips.

0 upvotes
DDWD10
By DDWD10 (Nov 20, 2011)

This is very helpful information and clears up some of the DR confusion. I have my C1 set to DR400, 6 MP and ISO 100 for outdoor shots with maximum DR.

0 upvotes
sanhodo
By sanhodo (Nov 19, 2011)

Thanks for posting this useful information, axlotl. A day after I bought the X10 I returned to the camera shop and found a salesman who knew how to set up parameters that were important to me. I am now going to try your point and shoot settings because that's how I will use this camera; the use of macro and other parameters are quite straightforward. I agree the manual is poorly written, and it also has the disadvantage of being printed with a very small type size. I hope that Adobe will come up with a way to let us convert the raw files into DNG. Now we have to use the program provided by Fuji; it works but not as well as the Adobe version.

0 upvotes
Rsoto
By Rsoto (Nov 19, 2011)

Thank you! I'm waiting for my fx10 to arrive and your tips will be very useful. I hope you send a few more as you experiment further with the camera.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 26