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Fujifilm developing modified sensor to fix X10 and X-S1 white orbs

By dpreview staff on Mar 12, 2012 at 20:00 GMT

Fujifilm has released a statement explaining the causes of the 'white disc' blooming issue that affects certain images shot with the X10 high-end compact. The statement says the company is developing a modified sensor in response to the problem, that can also affect the X-S1 premium superzoom. It encourages X10 and X-S1 owners experiencing 'the white disc phenomenon' to contact their local Fujifilm service center.


Press Release:

Statement Regarding the FUJIFILM X10 and X-S1 Digital Camera ‘Blooming’ Effect

The XS-1, which shares a sensor with the X10, is also affected.

March 12, 2012

The FUJIFILM X10 and X-S1 digital cameras were made available by Fujifilm late last year, and have been generally very well received by customers, who admire the excellent picture quality, manual zoom lens and viewfinder.

However, we did receive some inquiries concerning the so-called ‘white disc’ or ‘blooming’ occurrence, where exceptional highlights in the picture can appear as strongly delineated rounded shapes. This ‘blooming’ effect can occur with all digital cameras which use CMOS sensors, to varying degrees.  It can also occur with the X10 and X-S1 when shooting in certain conditions, e.g. cars with front lights shining in dark night scene. The X10 and X-S1 are fitted with a very advanced sensor, which gives excellent picture quality and low noise, but which does give a different ‘blooming’ effect from other cameras. 

Fujifilm has a long-standing history of delivering top quality products to the market. In response to our customers’ comments, we have worked hard to find an improvement to reduce the ‘blooming’ effect of the X10 and X-S1. Below are the actions we have undertaken.

  1. In February, we announced a firmware upgrade for the X10 (version 1.03) which does reduce the white disc occurrence specifically in EXR mode. It works by identifying scenes that are likely to get ‘white disc’ blooming.  When the camera recognizes such a scene, it automatically increases the ISO and optimizes DR (dynamic range).  As the ISO increases, the white discs are less evident. * New firmware for the X-S1 will be available from March 21, 2012.
  1. We will also develop a modified sensor, which will more universally resolve the ‘white disc’ blooming effect in all modes. We are working hard to make this new sensor available from late May 2012.

We encourage any customer with an X10 and X-S1 who has experienced the ‘white disc’ phenomenon to call their local authorized Fujifilm service centre.

Fujifilm is committed to delivering the highest quality products to the photographic community, and is happy to provide this improvement. 

Comments

Total comments: 289
123
robreed
By robreed (Mar 12, 2012)

I agree it's a pretty unsatisfying statement. One of the groups most interested in this issue is going to be current owners, and it is not clear what the company intends to do for this group.

For whatever it's worth, I can understand the argument that this is not a defect so much as it is a characteristic of the sensor - a particularly awful one perhaps. Commenters here seem to saying as much when suggesting that 'fixing' the problem might amount to little more than changing the sensor in ways that will affect the overall quality.

This is $600 (usd) camera. That's a lot of money to be sure, but relatively speaking much less than you would expect to pay for anything close to a perfect camera.

Someone said:

> Current sensor in right conditions does a brilliant job in 95% of the time...

That's about what I would be looking for at this price point.

Regardless, the communication from the company has been abysmal. That certainly has been defective.

1 upvote
wymjym
By wymjym (Mar 12, 2012)

Someone said:

> Current sensor in right conditions does a brilliant job in 95% of the time...

That's about what I would be looking for at this price point.

yes but the major difference for me is that in that other 5% area..the camera is totally unsuitable and within that 5% there is a 20% chance of an nice big fat ORB.
of course ymmv

wj

0 upvotes
Ithackermike
By Ithackermike (Mar 12, 2012)

One of us needs to set up a controlled studio shot in order to test the current sensor against the newer relacement sensor coming in May. If the new sensor has significant trade-offs then Fuji has put us all (including those of us that haven't experienced the ORBs)in an undesirable position. They have forever changed the resale environment for this camera.

I would love to see DPR commit to doing such a comparison through a full review of cameras with both sensors.

1 upvote
tonywong
By tonywong (Mar 12, 2012)

The comparison will come right after the review of the Canon 1D Mark III is finished and posted.

Just kidding. =D

0 upvotes
Ernest M Aquilio
By Ernest M Aquilio (Mar 12, 2012)

**Sigh** more waiting for a new sensor. I was really hoping for something more "definitive". Fuji is trying, but apparently not up to par for the general that are affected.

The LX5 is looking more definitive for me

0 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Mar 12, 2012)

I bought the X10 to replace my LX5 :-) I still have it...probably a good thing! I miss not having a OVF with the LX5 and the ISO performance on the Fuji is superior as well as color, jpg, skin tones and WB....I prefer the X10 by a long shot if it were not for the orbs in the sun!

0 upvotes
Ernest M Aquilio
By Ernest M Aquilio (Mar 12, 2012)

True. I do prefer OVF. I have not pulled the plug yet...I may wait until May (no pun lol)

0 upvotes
webrunner5
By webrunner5 (Mar 12, 2012)

Who is to say even the "NEW" sensor will work. A total mess.

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
PJInTheUSA
By PJInTheUSA (Mar 12, 2012)

Definitive - having its fixed and final form; providing a solution or final answer; satisfying all criteria:

Hardly I think. Many remaining questions.

0 upvotes
bashosfrog
By bashosfrog (Mar 12, 2012)

It reads to me like "If an X10 user has a problem with white discs and takes up that issue with our service centres, Fujifilm will fix/replace the camera. However, there are a whole lot of X10 users out there not bothered by white discs, so lets not create a stampede by issuing a total recall".

The release is succinct and reasonable, offering succour to the disc-afflicted but not too much.

I'm astride the fence. I haven't been bothered by white discs, but I'd like my X10 to be perfect in every way. On the other hand, if by "modified sensor" they mean a sensor that doesn't perform as well as the current one, I'm happy to have the possibility of white discs as a tradeoff for current levels of performance.

13 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Mar 12, 2012)

Exactly. I'm not impacted "a lot", but in those scenarios when I'm outside in bright light (that never happens, right?) and there happen to be reflections of ANY kind, it will happen for me consistently. But I love the other aspects and I don't want to lose those either. Right now, the only viable "all in one" alternative is the Canon G1X with its slooooooooow lens and slower AF than the X10. Yuck.

2 upvotes
dark goob
By dark goob (Mar 12, 2012)

Recalls are only issued when consumer safety is at risk. Otherwise, why replace every customer's sensor if only 1% of them care?

FujiFilm is doing the smart thing, what every company does. Apple did the same thing with MacBook Pro motherboards which had the defective NVIDIA chips.

2 upvotes
PAUL TILL
By PAUL TILL (Mar 12, 2012)

That's all well and good until you want to sell it.

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Mar 12, 2012)

You dont buy electronics and digital cameras to sell them. Even a perfectly working camera loses its value fast.

3 upvotes
Red Bicycle
By Red Bicycle (Mar 12, 2012)

Well done Fuji. I think this is a good result for us early X10 owners.

My X10 will be returned to the Australian service centre for the fix and I look forward to being able to shoot indoor architectual shots at clean ISO's without blooming.

2 upvotes
Webzilla
By Webzilla (Mar 12, 2012)

Despite all the whining about orbs that might apair in some situations, one should better focus on all the fantastic pictures this magnificent camera is able to produce in all other circumstances and which gives competition a hard nut to crack. Sell yours if you don't like it for the orbs, I'll keep mine for all the other benefits of this beauty.

4 upvotes
Jmmg
By Jmmg (Mar 13, 2012)

Thats why I hate hypocrite like you! What? so if Fuji offer you to exchange to a Brand new X10s or X11 for your old X10 for free even YOUR X10 are so perfect and you will say to them:" no thank you, I love my X10 so much , I refuse your free offer..." Go FXXX yourself and just shut the FXXX up, hypocrite.

0 upvotes
Webzilla
By Webzilla (Mar 13, 2012)

Thanks for your friendly reponse Jmmg. Misunderstanding is human. For sure I would like Fuji to fix this problem for ALL cameras, including my own X10. What I do wanted to react to was the stream of negativity around the camera as if it is worth nothing, as if it produces only orbs. These negative reactions are mostly given by people who do not even own this beautifull camera. Greetings from your hypocrite friend.

0 upvotes
PAUL TILL
By PAUL TILL (Mar 12, 2012)

FujiFilm: "We did receive some inquiries concerning the so-called ‘white disc’ or ‘blooming’ occurrence".

SOME, come on, pull the other one, if you had only received SOME inquiries you wouldn't be doing what you're doing now !

5 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Mar 12, 2012)

Yes, some. I'm guessing some means that about 50%+ percent of users have noticed the issue (about 90% on DPR have). Of that 50%, only about 1-2% have probably called Fuji and complained. I haven't, so I guess I don't count as "some". Hmm.

1 upvote
Argie
By Argie (Mar 12, 2012)

Unlike the two previous posters I believe the number of inquiries does fit the "some" description. dpreview forum members are the most vocal and vicious users. By my count, this unhappy group represents around 30 people, maybe as many as 50 (the real obsessed ones are 5 or 7). Assume all of them made an inquiry to Fuji.

If they sold 100,000 X10s (and I believe the number to be higher given the attention this camera got), you do the math.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
wymjym
By wymjym (Mar 12, 2012)

well I complained to the usa calif fuji service center and the rep told me that he had (in early Jan) 'spoken with several dozen people that were concerned....' and if I wanted to be heard by Fuji JP I would need to contact Fuji NJ and escalate the 'complaint' through their offices until they would confirm to me that they would in fact contact Fuji JP on my behalf. So...they (Fuji) created their own little firewall which requires quite a bit of jumping around and follow through if you want to penetrate it.

wj

0 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Mar 12, 2012)

Well, the DID make a statement. They did acknowledge an issue that "some" users have reported. It still irks me that they say this is something that ALL CMOS sensors may suffer from. That's a bunch of $@#%

I love my X10 for so many things and I'm still torn. I've seen the orbs mostly in daytime images and they are pretty bad. I try and avoid those situations. For a majority of my shooting (people), it's a non-issue.

However, I am still in my return period with Amazon. Given that Fuji didn't state they would REPLACE the sensor or camera for those impacted, I'm inclined to return and wipe my hands clean of it. I would ASSUME they would replace it, BUT by then I can't return. I'm thinking I'll probably return it and if I don't have another small camera by then, I may give the new sensor a try...as long as it doesn't impact the other GREAT qualities of the camera!!!! Argh.

4 upvotes
dkojevnikov
By dkojevnikov (Mar 12, 2012)

It looks to me that new sensor will be no earlier than this summer and current owners who are bothered by ORBs (not many as I understand from dpreview posts) will be able to get a fix via Fuji repair centres rather than stores and dealers (either sensor swap or different camera but they are probably still deciding what is more cost effective). Looks like I am getting a new Fuji camera this summer (I returned my defective one today).

0 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (Mar 12, 2012)

Glad to see they are admitting it is the sensor that needs replacing, rather than just promising another firmware update. I'd like to hear it confirmed that it is a free update for existing customers, though...

I guess the other question is if there is a trade-off here. Can they update the sensor to reduce the blooming and at the same time keep the 'advanced' performance of the sensor in other conditions.

0 upvotes
John Nevill
By John Nevill (Mar 12, 2012)

Unfortunately with this response, Fuji have now lost my custom (not that makes an iotas difference), I'll be ebaying the X10, cutting my losses and looking for something else. I also have a lot schedulled starting next month and I cant be dealing with this baloney - defintive solutiion - mine is!

6 upvotes
Frank C.
By Frank C. (Mar 12, 2012)

not very clear, are current owners going to have their sensors replaced under warranty... YES or NO? or is it only the revised firmware they'll be receiving?

1 upvote
TakePictures
By TakePictures (Mar 12, 2012)

Wonder whether the X10 with the modified sensor is going to be renamed into something like X10s, X10 Mark II, ... Guess not, but still people might want to be able to immediately recognize a refurbished X10.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
jkokich
By jkokich (Mar 12, 2012)

Any statement that doesn't begin with, "We knowingly sold a defective product and will give a refund to anyone who wants one." is a load of crap.

2 upvotes
cprevost
By cprevost (Mar 12, 2012)

Notice that they did NOT say that they would fix any faulty cameras. Only that they will make a new sensor. Way to tick off everyone. Some clarity would be nice here. "A new sensor will be available" tells us not much. Will they offer it to us for free, for a charge, or not at all? Could be that all new x10's come with the new sensor and the rest of us are hosed. Really poor showing Fuji.

4 upvotes
Pbvascon2
By Pbvascon2 (Mar 12, 2012)

At last Fujifilm admits what most users had already guessed: this is a hardware fault and software cannot solve it. The statement is a bit vague: is every X10 owner entitled to a sensor upgrade? Is is covered by warranty?
What about people who (like me) have returned it? I might buy an X10 again if the new sensor solves the problem but how can we sure to get the newer sensor?
Given the bad publicity, I think Fuji is going to come up with a slighty revised version to give customer some distinguishing feature i.e. an X10 "special edition".
But overall this is good news and I think people who returned the cameras did push Fuji to do the right thing (fix the sensor).

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (Mar 12, 2012)

We cannot assume everything else stays the same with the new sensor. There could be some negative consequences of removing the ORBS.

0 upvotes
Dennis
By Dennis (Mar 12, 2012)

Things will change and we will certainly miss the orbs. And imagine potential consequences; almost no traffic in DPReview FTF - only a few users flashing some harmless photos from time to time... ;-)

No, you are quite right. Current sensor in right conditions does a brilliant job in 95% of the time - the new one may be kind of okay 100% of the time. Could be good if DPReview could look into the root cause together with Fujifilm, and provide us with a story on the upgraded sensor.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 33 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Jim Evidon
By Jim Evidon (Mar 12, 2012)

As most of us assumed, they will make a new or modified sensor. They don't say that they will replace the ones already sold; only to contact Fujifilm or dealer. I'm sure they will solve the problem, but what will they do for the existing purchasers? Who knows? In the meantime, with trips already scheduled and a replacement walk around camera needed, I have purchased another brand. Too bad. The X 10 is otherwise a neat and very competent package.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
lol101
By lol101 (Mar 12, 2012)

OK, then let's call our Fuji tech. center and then what?

Do they mean that you have to register to some kind of replacement program or should I call just to say "hi!"?

1 upvote
delete
By delete (Mar 12, 2012)

"The X10 and X-S1 are fitted with a very advanced sensor, which gives excellent picture quality and low noise, but which does give a different ‘blooming’ effect from other cameras. "

Funny how they attempt desperately to give the problem a spin so it sounds more like a feature than a bug :)

9 upvotes
_sem_
By _sem_ (Mar 12, 2012)

I hope they fix it well. This is not the first sensor recall in history. The sensor of my old S60 failed after 4 yrs of service and yet was replaced at no charge due to the well-known flaw. Still has the typical CCD-ish vertical blooming thing ;)

0 upvotes
mattamorphosis
By mattamorphosis (Mar 12, 2012)

I think "more universally" means that the blooming fix will be applied to either most or all other modes of the camera rather than just the EXR mode. The statement says that the recent firmware update only affects EXR mode, not other modes

0 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (Mar 12, 2012)

The fix could only work in the PASM modes if AUTO ISO is chosen. Fix a fixed ISO there is no fix.

0 upvotes
mattamorphosis
By mattamorphosis (Mar 12, 2012)

Right, I'm talking about the sensor fix/replacement, not the iso changes in the recent firmware update.

0 upvotes
Ardexx
By Ardexx (Mar 12, 2012)

And what is the 'local service centre' going to say?
They will probably only stick their tongue out.
No promisses at all in this blabla statement!

Buying time, that is all that FujiFilm is doing.

4 upvotes
nzcarl70
By nzcarl70 (Mar 12, 2012)

Just checked with fuji NZ regarding an x10 with the "orb" issue. Was advised to not send the camera in and wait for another firmware update later on this week..so i guess its just watch this space

0 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Mar 12, 2012)

Interesting, there is no new firmware announced at all for the X10 in this press release...just a new one for the XS-1, even they are lost and clueless.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Mar 12, 2012)

My only question is, what should people do until late May (which sounds like a date that will slip)? I have yet to get a white orb so I'm not personally concerned, but if I was having this problem, this would be frustrating. At least they've made it clear that it's the sensor and developing and producing a new type of sensor cannot take place overnight.

0 upvotes
ljclark
By ljclark (Mar 12, 2012)

At this point, I certainly don't want them to rush the "fix". "Mayish" is fine for me.

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (Mar 12, 2012)

They didn't really explain why their "very advance sensor" creates that anomaly

5 upvotes
Dave Bennett
By Dave Bennett (Mar 12, 2012)

Think I will wait till the summer to get one now.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Mar 12, 2012)

that is why i don´t buy into their overprized mirrorless systems.

and you are not naiv enough to think they will replace old cameras?
if they are intend to do that they would say so in this statement.

the new sensor will be for new cameras.

old cameras will have a more or less working bugfix in firmware.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
glanglois
By glanglois (Mar 12, 2012)

"More universal" means ..... what? Is that like "more perfect" or "to infinity and beyond!" ?

I once spent an evening contemplating "50% less dark". That probably explains some of my other behavior .....

1 upvote
Model Mike
By Model Mike (Mar 12, 2012)

It means the fix will be at the hardware level, rather than just disguising the issue as occurred with the recent firmware update. It'll be interesting to see if the modified sensor finally deals with the issue without the need to shoot at high ISO. If it does I'll be interested in getting one.

0 upvotes
glanglois
By glanglois (Mar 13, 2012)

That was a fine reply, Mike.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Mar 12, 2012)

I think this means I should complete tweaking my free software that fixes orbs:

http://aggregate.org/DIT/DEORBIT/

It currently has some trouble identifying orbs, but I'm collecting training cases, and should have a fairly reliable version ready for full source code release soon.

5 upvotes
EssexAsh
By EssexAsh (Mar 12, 2012)

so your software is as buggy as their camera, oo sounds like a treat.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Mar 12, 2012)

I'm a professor doing this as a free research project. I'd be happy to make my research results production quality faster, but nobody is paying for this... hint, hint, nudge, nudge. ;)

11 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Mar 12, 2012)

Interesting software. However, I am not interested in adding anything new to my workflow software wise. I do EVERYTHING within Aperture 3 (or others may use Lightroom) with plugins (even then, I rarely use them). I'm just not a big PP fan, I STRIVE to get it right when I shoot the scene :-)

1 upvote
ecologer
By ecologer (Mar 12, 2012)

Many thanks, ProfHankD!
I am very grateful for your time and effort you have put in developing this tool. Maybe this tool is not perfect yet, but considering the time I would have to spend correcting every blown light source in every affected picture, this tool is already a big big step forward.

1 upvote
Rolo King
By Rolo King (Mar 13, 2012)

Fujifilm offers a fix that's coming soon and people complain. You provide a software fix for pictures already shot and people complain...

0 upvotes
EssexAsh
By EssexAsh (Mar 12, 2012)

Are they happy to provide this for free though, no mention of the F word that i can see.

And whats this "more universally resolve" so it wont fix all of them, just more?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
PJInTheUSA
By PJInTheUSA (Mar 12, 2012)

> Now there’s nothing left to hold DPR from publishing their X10 review

Well except waiting for the new sensor in May..

2 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (Mar 12, 2012)

DPR should publish now the X10 review. If this camera with the same model name is refreshed with a new sensor, the review itself would be. If a new model come out, will be another camera and not the same.

0 upvotes
michaelp42
By michaelp42 (Mar 12, 2012)

Meh, doing the very minimum possible.

1 upvote
evogt500
By evogt500 (Mar 12, 2012)

If fuji replaces all the sensors affected, i applaud them.

4 upvotes
edu T
By edu T (Mar 12, 2012)

Now there’s nothing left to hold DPR from publishing their X10 review.

1 upvote
Argie
By Argie (Mar 12, 2012)

Of course there is... the new sensor in May...

Jeezzz...

4 upvotes
TinyTempo
By TinyTempo (Mar 12, 2012)

This is very vague. Does this mean, that I can get a replacement for my X10 with that new sensor from Fuji? Basically a recall?

3 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Mar 12, 2012)

I wonder if the new sensor is as good as the old one.

1 upvote
Denton Taylor
By Denton Taylor (Mar 12, 2012)

I'll be calling Fuj AFTER May 2012 to get a new sensor! This is going to cost them a lot of money, but good to see them take care of business.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 289
123