What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array

Started Sep 7, 2013 | Questions
ealvarez
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What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
Sep 7, 2013

Hi folks,

Aside from their technicality which I have read in wiki and other places, why one would choose one over the other?. And why people are excited over supposedly upcoming Fuji camera namely X-A1 which will utilize Bayer array sensor instead of x-trans. Isn't x-trans array that made Fuji IQ 'different' and perhaps now appealing than the rest?

Thanks

ED

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stuartgolden
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

"The Fujifilm X-Trans CMOS sensor used in the X-Pro1 is claimed to provide higher resolution than full-frame sensors, and also produce better colour reproduction.

Anti-aliasing filters are used on standard Bayer Array Sensors to reduce moiré effect when shooting regular patterns - however they are known to slightly reduce resolution. The "X-Trans" CMOS sensor uses an irregular pattern of pixels (similar to that found onSilver halide film) in order to reduce moiré without the need for an AA filter.

This same irregular pattern ensures that all horizontal and vertical lines of pixels contain at least one R, G and B pixel whereas Bayer array sensors do not have R and B in some lines resulting in false colour reproduction."

In practical terms - the removal of the AA filter (which is a filter, another thing between the light and a sensor) means you get "more photons" available to hit the sensor.

The X-Trans CMOS just means they removed the standard "pattern" which was subject to the moire effect (shooting screen windows at suspect angles or certain fabric shots) and allows the light photons to hit the sensor through fewer "filters."

Meaning you get more light available in your shots; and then the magic in front of that is amazing glass and behind all that in the sensor and software are just amazing Fuji colors.

Shoot with a standard CMOS sensor and then the X-Trans and you will see the differences.  Subtle but there.

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junyo
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

ealvarez wrote:

Hi folks,

Aside from their technicality which I have read in wiki and other places, why one would choose one over the other?. And why people are excited over supposedly upcoming Fuji camera namely X-A1 which will utilize Bayer array sensor instead of x-trans. Isn't x-trans array that made Fuji IQ 'different' and perhaps now appealing than the rest?

Thanks

ED

X-Trans CFA, being new, is not as well supported by RAW image processing apps, especially the mainstream ones (Lightroom, Capture One, Aperture). A sensor with a bog standard Bayer CFA has decades of optimized demosiacing algorithms available to it, so the files should be easier to process right out of the box.

It comes down to whether you believe Fuji as to the IQ upside of the XTrans CFA, or how much you like using your current image processing tools/workflow, or how much you pixel peep.

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junyo
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to stuartgolden, Sep 7, 2013

CFA and AA filter are not the same things. There are Bayer CFA cameras with no AA filter.

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DVT80111
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to junyo, Sep 7, 2013

junyo wrote:

X-Trans CFA, being new, is not as well supported by RAW image processing apps, especially the mainstream ones (Lightroom, Capture One, Aperture).

Not quite true. I got latest Adobe Camera Raw plugin and it works fine. TheSILKYPIX software comes with the camera work well too.  But the JPG out of camera is pretty good by itself. I have not seen much advantage with RAW files really.

The combination of the X-trans and software manipulation gives a little more detail in shadow. So in post, I don't need to boost up exposure too much. The X-trans is at least 1f stop better than the best Bayer out there. The difference is probably just due to the AA filter.

In bright light, the Fujifilm tends to blow out the highlight. All you need to do is to crank the compensator to minus 1-1.5 f-stop.

I did lot of research and picked the X-E1 over the NEX6. So far so good.

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Randy Benter
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

Most digital cameras use an OLPF (optical low pass filter) in front of the sensor to reduce moire effects caused by repeating patterns. While the OLPF does reduce moire, it is essentially just an optical blur filter, so it also reduces sharpness and details in the image.

In X-Trans cameras, Fuji chose to eliminate the OLPF and instead use a unique CFA (color filter array) to reduce moire. Theoretically, the removal of the OLPF will allow the image to retain more sharpness and details. However the special CFA requires more complex demosaicing algorithms with additional software filtering in order to produce an image that is free of artifacts.

I compared images taken with my 16MP Nikon D7000 and 16MP Fuji X-E1 using the same lens and found that both these cameras produce the same amount of sharpness and detail when processed for optimum results. One camera uses an OLPF and the other requires more demosaic filtering. The end result is essentially the same.

Many believe that X-Trans images produce less noise at high ISO than Bayer images. I can easily see how one could reach this conclusion if viewing the DPR comparison tool or other poorly implemented comparisons. I compared the high ISO noise of the D7000 and X-Pro1 and found them to be very similar. The X-Pro had perhaps a 1/3-stop advantage, but that is not enough to make a practical difference.

I believe my test results were different from DPR for two reasons. 1) I compared images with the same shutter speed and raw exposure level. This might mean comparing Fuji ISO 3200 to Nikon ISO 2000 for fair results. 2) I processed both images for optimum sharpness and noise reduction. This means using different settings in LR for each image. The default rendering of the X-Trans image will have less noise, but will also have less sharpness and details. The default rendering of the Nikon image will be the opposite. Once you process them both for optimum results you will get very similar images.

While I find the X-Trans output to be very similar to Bayer output, there is the occasional image where the X-Trans demosaicing algorithm will smear fine details. This has been discussed fervently for many months on this forum. The situation has improved greatly with the latest releases of Adobe and other processors (like CaptureOne). At one point the general rule was to use the OOC JPEGs for best results, now the consensus seems to favor raw for best results. Either way, most of the images I shoot (but, not all) do not have any problems. Only certain images will be affected, generally with foliage or hair or other fine detail that is just the right size to get smeared by the algorithm.

So even with the improvements, X-Trans processing has been a point of frustration for me. I have been using LR/ACR for years; I prefer Adobe tools and 3rd party compatibility, but I sometimes need to use other processors (C1) to get the printed results I want from X-Trans images. My workflow has become convoluted, but I love the feel and controls of my Fuji cameras. I do not want another brand of camera, but for me X-Trans does not provide enough benefit to be worth the processing issues. I will continue to use my current X100 and my X-Trans X-E1 while I await further processing improvements or an X-Pro 2 sans X-Trans. I will also continue to recommend Fuji cameras to others.

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Caerolle
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to junyo, Sep 7, 2013

Or perhaps how your taste runs. I use Lightroom, and have no issues with RAW processing at all, even comparing among traditional sensors (D7000, NEX-5R) for the same shot and conditions.

That said, I am not sure much of the hype is true. Even on much-higher-resolutions systems, +/- the filter does not seem to make an resolution difference (D800/D800E, not as directly comparable, but D7000/D7100), esp in the absence of high-end lens, and a lot of the 'amazing low light capability!', though not all, by far, was related to Fuji dramatically misstating their ISO settings.

That said, I love my X-E1, and the pics I get from it. But, I got it mostly for the controls and handling. If they changed to Bayer sensors, if I could get images I liked after processing, I could care less.

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Caerolle
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to Randy Benter, Sep 7, 2013

Dude, yes.  

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Kali108
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to junyo, Sep 7, 2013

junyo wrote:

ealvarez wrote:

Hi folks,

Aside from their technicality which I have read in wiki and other places, why one would choose one over the other?. And why people are excited over supposedly upcoming Fuji camera namely X-A1 which will utilize Bayer array sensor instead of x-trans. Isn't x-trans array that made Fuji IQ 'different' and perhaps now appealing than the rest?

Thanks

ED

X-Trans CFA, being new, is not as well supported by RAW image processing apps, especially the mainstream ones (Lightroom, Capture One, Aperture). A sensor with a bog standard Bayer CFA has decades of optimized demosiacing algorithms available to it, so the files should be easier to process right out of the box.

It comes down to whether you believe Fuji as to the IQ upside of the XTrans CFA, or how much you like using your current image processing tools/workflow, or how much you pixel peep.

If the current raw converter comparison happening at FR shows anything, it's that the X trans is now very well supported by raw converters. Iridient Developer and C1P7 being particularly good imo.

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ealvarez
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to Randy Benter, Sep 7, 2013

Thanks for your reply. Why do you think then Fuji had to develop this new x-trans if no great deal of benefit come out of it? Why not just stay with 'proven' Bayer array? You seems to have the most comprehensive information in your reply and I wonder if you could share your further thoughts about the future of x-trans. I mean Fuji must have had invested a lot of time and money into this X-trans system. Do you share the opinion of many people who think that X-trans is a purely marketing gimmick?

Ed

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hexxthalion
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

honestly, so far I haven't seen any advantages in the real world. there's a bit better performance at higher ISO than from comparable sensors but not much in it. it's still the same old stuff just different colour filter array and that's it. the only sensor which shows clear advantage (up to ISO 400/800) is Foveon.

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mdavidp
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to hexxthalion, Sep 7, 2013

To Hex,

Yes, you are correct!

Mike P

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Randy Benter
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

ealvarez wrote:

Thanks for your reply. Why do you think then Fuji had to develop this new x-trans if no great deal of benefit come out of it? Why not just stay with 'proven' Bayer array? You seems to have the most comprehensive information in your reply and I wonder if you could share your further thoughts about the future of x-trans. I mean Fuji must have had invested a lot of time and money into this X-trans system. Do you share the opinion of many people who think that X-trans is a purely marketing gimmick?

Ed

I would not call it a marketing gimmick. With X-Trans and also with past EXR sensors, I believe Fuji is continually trying to develop sensors that perform better. That is not an easy task as Bayer sensors and algorithms have been incrementally improved over many years. So far, I think they have come up with sensors that offer slight improvements in some areas while being slightly weaker in other areas. Sigma Foveon sensors are similar in this regard; they have awesome detail at low ISO, but poor Hi-ISO performance, large files that slow the camera operation and poor battery life.

All camera makers try to market features that set their products apart from the competition. And they all tend to make lofty claims about the effectiveness of those features. Look at the vendor web page for just about any camera and you will likely find a paragraph describing the improved low-light performance of that particular model.

As far as the future of X-Trans, I believe it will be just like the EXR sensors. Fuji will continue to use it and market it until they come up with their next unique sensor technology.

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flbrit
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to Randy Benter, Sep 7, 2013

Randy Benter wrote:

ealvarez wrote:

Thanks for your reply. Why do you think then Fuji had to develop this new x-trans if no great deal of benefit come out of it? Why not just stay with 'proven' Bayer array? You seems to have the most comprehensive information in your reply and I wonder if you could share your further thoughts about the future of x-trans. I mean Fuji must have had invested a lot of time and money into this X-trans system. Do you share the opinion of many people who think that X-trans is a purely marketing gimmick?

Ed

I would not call it a marketing gimmick. With X-Trans and also with past EXR sensors, I believe Fuji is continually trying to develop sensors that perform better. That is not an easy task as Bayer sensors and algorithms have been incrementally improved over many years. So far, I think they have come up with sensors that offer slight improvements in some areas while being slightly weaker in other areas. Sigma Foveon sensors are similar in this regard; they have awesome detail at low ISO, but poor Hi-ISO performance, large files that slow the camera operation and poor battery life.

All camera makers try to market features that set their products apart from the competition. And they all tend to make lofty claims about the effectiveness of those features. Look at the vendor web page for just about any camera and you will likely find a paragraph describing the improved low-light performance of that particular model.

As far as the future of X-Trans, I believe it will be just like the EXR sensors. Fuji will continue to use it and market it until they come up with their next unique sensor technology.

Quote

"As far as the future of X-Trans, I believe it will be just like the EXR sensors. Fuji will continue to use it and market it until they come up with their next unique sensor technology."

My main concern is not so much the sensor, rather the future of the X mount itsself. I have a nice X-E1, 14mm, 18-55mm and 55-200mm kit but will not at this time invest in more lenses until I'm more confident that the mount and future X mount cameras will continue for a while.

I am loving the output and weight saving.

I am very tempted by the Fujifilm f1.4's and the WA zooms but will resist at this moment.

I really believe the camera market is going through a major shake up bought on by the global economy and technology change which is IMO about to take a leap rather than an incremental advance. The shake out will be very interesting.

Brian

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dotborg
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to stuartgolden, Sep 7, 2013

stuartgolden wrote:

Shoot with a standard CMOS sensor and then the X-Trans and you will see the differences. Subtle but there.

I do and there is zero advantage.

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Chris Dodkin
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Simple
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

I get the same IQ from a APS-C 16MP X-Trans as I get from a FF 21MP Bayer

So I spend far less $$$, and carry less weight of equipment, to achieve the same result.

I directly compared my X-Pro1 with my Canon 5DII to reach this conclusion

That sums it up for me.

I also get better high ISO performance from the Fuji, and better dynamic range as well.

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xeriwthe
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to ealvarez, Sep 7, 2013

ealvarez wrote:

Hi folks,

Aside from their technicality which I have read in wiki and other places, why one would choose one over the other?. And why people are excited over supposedly upcoming Fuji camera namely X-A1 which will utilize Bayer array sensor instead of x-trans. Isn't x-trans array that made Fuji IQ 'different' and perhaps now appealing than the rest?

Thanks

ED

Well, pretty much every diligently performed analysis out there that I have seen, from a professional or very experienced user's perspective, indicates zero to maybe some small (1/3 stop) advantage in noise at high ISO. and generally there is less chroma resolution than bayer images, leading to some loss or desaturation of colors in small details

This holds true mainly for the RAW files, which is what many professional IQ junkies really care about.

When comparing JPG files from x-trans vs bayer cameras, I think the difference in noise control is more pronounced. The fuji JPGs have basically no chroma noise at any ISO, and luma detail is fairly exceptional for each ISO. Even when discounting the Fuji ISO inflation (about +2/3 to 1 stop), the retention of luma detail across the ISO range is pretty impressive.

So, IMO, the real advantage of x-trans seems to be Fuji's ability to produce a great JPG, something that would nearly rival the output of the best RAW-processed images of a few years ago, with all the post process plugin noise reduction and sharpening filters and junk. it's a pretty impressive feat, but nothing that ultimately surpasses the limits of the sensor hardware itself.

just getting closer to the limits of quality that a milliwatt device (hundreds of thousands of times less power consumption than your PC) can produce.

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BillyInya
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Re: Simple
In reply to Chris Dodkin, Sep 7, 2013

Chris Dodkin wrote:

I get the same IQ from a APS-C 16MP X-Trans as I get from a FF 21MP Bayer

So I spend far less $$$, and carry less weight of equipment, to achieve the same result.

I directly compared my X-Pro1 with my Canon 5DII to reach this conclusion

That sums it up for me.

I also get better high ISO performance from the Fuji, and better dynamic range as well.

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I think this from Chris perfectly sums up the answer to the question. And I totally agree.

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woodsfortysix
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to flbrit, Sep 7, 2013

I have the same X-E1 kit and completely agree.  I am very interested in the 10-24 X lens, but will wait until I sense of a longer term direction from Fuji.However, I really like my X-E1 and the results...having said that, I still use my Nikon DSLRs for sports / action photography.

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newellj
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Re: What is advantage and disadvantage between X-trans vs Bayer array
In reply to flbrit, Sep 7, 2013

Personally, I am convinced that celluloid film can never replace glass negatives. And even if it does, sheet film will ultimately prove completely superior to roll film, and larger negatives will dominate small formats. History will bear me out.

flbrit wrote:

Randy Benter wrote:

ealvarez wrote:

Thanks for your reply. Why do you think then Fuji had to develop this new x-trans if no great deal of benefit come out of it? Why not just stay with 'proven' Bayer array? You seems to have the most comprehensive information in your reply and I wonder if you could share your further thoughts about the future of x-trans. I mean Fuji must have had invested a lot of time and money into this X-trans system. Do you share the opinion of many people who think that X-trans is a purely marketing gimmick?

Ed

I would not call it a marketing gimmick. With X-Trans and also with past EXR sensors, I believe Fuji is continually trying to develop sensors that perform better. That is not an easy task as Bayer sensors and algorithms have been incrementally improved over many years. So far, I think they have come up with sensors that offer slight improvements in some areas while being slightly weaker in other areas. Sigma Foveon sensors are similar in this regard; they have awesome detail at low ISO, but poor Hi-ISO performance, large files that slow the camera operation and poor battery life.

All camera makers try to market features that set their products apart from the competition. And they all tend to make lofty claims about the effectiveness of those features. Look at the vendor web page for just about any camera and you will likely find a paragraph describing the improved low-light performance of that particular model.

As far as the future of X-Trans, I believe it will be just like the EXR sensors. Fuji will continue to use it and market it until they come up with their next unique sensor technology.

Quote

"As far as the future of X-Trans, I believe it will be just like the EXR sensors. Fuji will continue to use it and market it until they come up with their next unique sensor technology."

My main concern is not so much the sensor, rather the future of the X mount itsself. I have a nice X-E1, 14mm, 18-55mm and 55-200mm kit but will not at this time invest in more lenses until I'm more confident that the mount and future X mount cameras will continue for a while.

I am loving the output and weight saving.

I am very tempted by the Fujifilm f1.4's and the WA zooms but will resist at this moment.

I really believe the camera market is going through a major shake up bought on by the global economy and technology change which is IMO about to take a leap rather than an incremental advance. The shake out will be very interesting.

Brian

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