X-Trans Sensor-I'm weighing in

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
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jgdp1000
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X-Trans Sensor-I'm weighing in
11 months ago

I will apologize in advance for this post as I don't mean to be a contrarian on a fan website but I feel obligated to voice one more opinion as that's the purpose of the forum I guess.

From reading the thoroughness of some of the research here, it's evident to me that many of the posters here are much more informed than I am from a technical understanding (I do have an engineering degree focused on film and video imaging but much has changed since the late '70's so I'll limit my opinion to a gut or "feel" point of view.

After working with the X100S for a few months now and comparing it to the images that were output from the X100 I previously owned I'll go on record as saying that the camera has a very distinct signature that differs from that camera or a 5D2. If one is accustomed to the look of traditional or analogue photography as being the benchmark then this camera is somewhat off…well maybe way off. To complicate things, it's very dependent on subject matter.

The water color effect or smear effect is not imagined; it's very evident. I've gone through all the Raw converters..Iridient, Adobe, Capture 1. It's my opinion that it's unresolvable and must have to do with the inherent sensor design, pixel allocation and debayering method. There is a very signature look on out of focus highlights depending on background contrast, almost a halation effect, and is most obvious as many have noted in detailed greens.

What has motivated me to write this is that the effect has been particularly bothersome to me this morning in an image I was working on. It was taken with a high shutter speed but the leaves look as if they are out of focus or blowing. When the image is enlarged it's apparent that the leaves are in focus but there is a blur around the edges...it's an artifact that I wish wasn't there. I won't bore everyone by posting enlarged portions as so much has been done to illustrate that already.

I've made my living for the past 30 years in motion picture cinematography and we are going through the same developmental curve. I was one of the very early advocates for digital as the pluses greatly outnumbered the minuses. Different cameras have different artifacts baked in and the goal is to anticipate the interpretation and sometimes use it to one's advantage. The grail of course has been to match digital images with the photochemical legacy that the audience and the DP's are accustomed to. To narrow that gap we have had to adjust how we expose and move the camera and shoot and avoid the pitfalls until the camera design resolves them.

I understand engineering tradeoffs and the xTrans has a few. I guess it's marketed as a semi-pro camera and the designers decided that the image personality wouldn't be noticed by or offend the core buyer to the point of rejection. My problem is that I love the operational aspects of the camera and yet I can, depending on subject mater, easily discern it's shortcomings.

My summation to prospective buyers is that the camera, like it's predecessor, is a lovely piece of design, an ergonomic joy to work with and has a wonderful interface and "feel". It's a digital LeicaIII that is much lighter, fits in the pocket and has a wonderful viewfinder. It's also a bit of a let down in image, well not exactly quality, but maybe a new term such as image fidelity or credibility if one is expecting a non interpretive image. I don't hate the images…actually I like many of them... but there are baked in artifacts that I'll either have to learn to live with or will bias my decision to sell the camera and wait until the sensor is improved. I really wish it wasn't so as I don't want to go back to lugging around a 5D2 again for a great many reasons.

Anyway.. my 2 cents fwiw..

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Joe Murray
Directors Guild Of America-Director
Int'l Cinematographers Guild - Director of Photography
www.nativesonsfilms.com

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X100S
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