f100fd review with some low light examples

Started Apr 20, 2008 | Discussions thread
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kensuguro
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f100fd review with some low light examples
Apr 20, 2008

I was looking for a compact to do low light, and fujifilm had always been on the radar.. f50 was strange, so I waited, and got the f100. I'm one of those "used to be a believer in SLR but couldn't bear the bulkiness" types, so consider my review as coming from discriminating eyes.

The image quality is amazing. This isn't to say it's amazing for a compact, but it's just amazing, period. For most ordinary shots, I would say it's not too far behind my nikon d70 in terms of noise and color processing. I have no use for 12mp photos, so I shoot all mine in 6MP. Saves more space.

I still haven't really experimented with the "high dynamic range" claim. I frankly don't know what it's all about.. is it the hex shaped placement of the CCD from their slr line? I'm not sure. But it seems to work. It definitely helps to get that creamy transition you seen in slr's, but also at a very subtle scale too. Check out how the florescent lights are blown in the photo below, but the areas immediately outside the lamps are fine. Although the photo is overall underexposed to compensate for the bright lights, nothing is clipped off on the low end (dark spots). That's very good dynamic range.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenandyumi/2427593933/

Image stabilization and face detection work together extremely well to create a shooting experience that is truely, "turn on, point, shoot, turn off". And the strange thing is, the results are excellent. Those purists who say face detection is for idiots, think twice. I used to think that, but after less than an hour with the camera, I realized this was revolutionary technology. No more focus locking, and no more pausing to make sure your hands don't jerk around Taking that one motion out of the shooting process really makes it faster. It also leaves you as a part of the scene, and doesn't make you a "photographer" which is great in social occasions. So, this isn't just techno stuff, it's got some wide implications on how cameras influence people.

One thing to note about video, is that the mic is pretty good. I hadn't really taken notice on any other cameras, but for this one, it's got a fairly accurate response. (I do lots of audio work) Hard to tell on the camera speakers I know, but checked it out through studio speakers, and the audio was great. Just thought I should point that out.

Also, I should add that the flash is extremely smart. It will add just enough flash to make the photo look natural, and never too much. The flash is more or less a subtle addition, to help lower chances of blurring. It's even okay to have flash on while in macro.. now that's amazing. In technical terms, the camera seems to expose to keep as much background as possible (ambiently lit room), and then compensate for the foreground with the flash, to narrow the dynamic range between the foreground and back ground. It's correct use of flash I know, but I've never seen it done so well on a compact.

Check out some low light shots:
ISO 400, f3.3, 1/104
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenandyumi/2427508909/

ISO 800, f3.3 1/104
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenandyumi/2428340896/

"The Amazing"
ISO 1600, f2.2 1/60
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenandyumi/2428348234/

Don't ask me why they're all food shots.. They're all from, you guessed it. Japan.

Conclusion:

I'm really glad Fuji is back on track with compacts that have very good sensors.. I mean, it's not like the f30 or 40 with the huge CCD, but still, it seems like they've got the concept in their heads, and steered a little back since f50. I am sure that this will be a fun camera to bring to any occasion (as opposed to bulky slr). I am also sure that I can squeeze out some artistic shots that I otherwise would have missed on the slr. (because I wouldn't have it on me)

My philosophy about photography has been that, a camera's job is to to be there, while I experience things. The camera shouldn't become the focus of attention, and should transparently record the emotions, ambiance, nuances. This camera undoubtedly does that. F100 isn't just a cool digital techno camera. It's a good camera.

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problems:

I think it's an anomaly with the CCD, but the left side has a slight burn in, which I'm going to get fixed. I can see that this problem has been named "pink band problem" I guess mine isn't an exception.

Also, I've read complaints elsewhere about the preview not being "true to the final result" depending on the setting. This is because for f100 shows you a temporary raw image for quicker preview, if you set it up for fast preview. (and then it processes it, and records the processed version) If not, it'll take longer, but it will show the fully processed image that is being recorded. So, it's just a matter of getting a preview pre-processing, or post-processing.. so it's no big deal. Big images take longer to process, that's all. I don't mind this at all, and have it on fast preview.

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