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Fujifilm X-M1 Dynamic Range (JPEG)

Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from the camera's clipped white point down to black (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' (defined as 50% luminance) and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).

To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.

Note: this is our interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).

Cameras Compared

At its lowest, DR 100% setting, the X-M1 has a fairly high-contrast response, meaning that highlights clipping to white a little less smoothly than they would on some of its peers. The effect isn't overly dramatic - Canon takes a very similar approach. However, the camera's Dynamic Range modes make it easy to capture more highlight information, with a smoother transition to clipped.

Dynamic Range Modes

Moving beyond DR 100% - as we've demonstrated above - expands the range of captured highlight tones, then combined into the camera's JPEGs. At DR 200%, the camera is set to capture an extra stop of highlight dynamic range, with a risk of a fraction more shadow noise. At this point, the X-M1 offers a similar level of dynamic range to its peers.

Turn the camera up again to DR 400% and, with the added risk of low image contrast, the X-M1 is able to capture and convey a very high level of dynamic range from a single exposure. It's not something you're want to regularly use, but it's a handy feature to be able to access (especially if you're shooting JPEGs).

Dynamic range in the real world

The DR Correction feature on the X-M1 works differently than the highlight and shadow adjustments mentioned above. Without going into the gory details (which you can read about here, if you'd like), the X-M1 is able to increase the highlight range by one or two stops by raising the minimum sensitivity.

The base setting of DR100% is your only choice at the camera's native ISO of 200. Raising the DR to 200% will increase the minimum ISO to 400 in such a way that it can capture and extra stop of detail in the highlight. DR400% gives you two stops, with the minimum sensitivity set to 800. Shooting Raw images at ISO 800 / DR400% is handy, as you can reduce the dynamic range setting if your photos are looking a bit too low-contrast. You can't do the opposite, though - it's downward only.

Here's what adjusting the DR settings look like in the real world:

DR100%
DR200%
DR400%
ISO 800, 1/400 sec, f/6.4

The most obvious improvement that comes with increasing the DR setting (visible even at this greatly reduced scale) is the return of the blue sky, as well as a building on the left side. If you view the full size images, you'll notice that the hair on the woman in the striped shirt is much more detailed at DR400%.

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Comments

Total comments: 219
12
rsf3127

I don't get all the hype about these fuji cameras. The image samples look dull, mushy, without contrast and unsharp when compared to NEX and the 100D either in RAW or JPEG. The ergonomy is ok and the build quality is nice, but this does not compensate for the IQ problem.

6 upvotes
AndreaV

Well, I own a Fuji x-Pro1 and a Sony NEX-5... the quality of the Fuji is definitely superior (most of all at high ISO) and I would say is on par with at least some FF cameras (I compared with a friend's Nikon D600) and with my Canon 1D mark III. Have you ever tried to use one of these Fujis yourself?

14 upvotes
D1N0

That is probably why dpreview have scored the iq higher than any of the examples you have given. They must be utterly incompetent. Either that or you are.

10 upvotes
TrojMacReady

I think a lot people put large emphasis on high ISO.

But I agree that at low ISO it does come a bit short compared to most of its peers, due the X-Trans design. A bit softer RAW files (for which you can partially compensate), a bit mushy greens in general due to the different color filters and moiré problems with diagonal lines (see test charts). And even at high ISO, you should substract about half a stop from indicated ISO's compared to most of its peers for the camera being a bit too optimistic in this regard.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Sep 17, 2013)

Quite a few stories are suggesting that the most widespread tools (Adobe, etc.) don't process the RAW files nearly as well as they could. From what I read, Iridient seems to do the best job by far. If dpr is using Adobe, that could be a problem.

3 upvotes
Northgrove

Agreed, I strongly recommend professionals to look at the RAW import. There's quite a difference especially with this new X-Trans technology. Here's a DPReview user who has compared Lightroom 4.4 with Iridient 2.1.1 output, clearly showing the better clarity with Iridient: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51732276?image=3

3 upvotes
mas54

The IQ from my x100s is as good as it gets. Where have you seen prints from these cameras? I can make a 40x60 that is sharp all the way to the corners.
Contrast? That comes during processing.

1 upvote
AlpCns2

The "IQ problem" got the Gold Award. Odd, isn't it. Or maybe there is no real problem. Ah, choices, choices...

1 upvote
Kali108

The Fuji "hype" for me is...having the IQ of a Nikon D600 (I've now sold mine) in a small, light weight package. Allowing me to get images from subjects I would not get otherwise, due to the intimidation factor, etc of a larger DLSR / lens combo.
Also, now I have this IQ potential with me every single day. No way I would carry a D600 kit with me at all times. Fuji makes this a joy.

I understand why dpreview needs to use standardized tests, yet unfortunately, this results in veiling the IQ potential of the x trans sensor. Iridient Developer, C1P7 or the free supplied SilkyPix do not suffer from "mushy" greens and certainly not any lack of detail resolution.

Is the Fuji perfect? Of course not, nor is my D800 or Mamiya RZ67 ProII with a Leaf Aptus 33MP digital back.

My Fuji XP1 (with the incredible 14mm, 23mm soon, 35mm, 60mm lenses) is my favorite photographic tool. Period.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Asylum Photo

Like every other camera, there's pros and cons. One system might fit your needs, while another doesn't. Yet both systems could very well be high quality.

0 upvotes
thx1138

I'm not knocking the Fuji high ISO IQ, but it's clearly doing NR even on RAW. They have not overcome the laws of physics and have not discovered miracle low noise sensor and associated electronics.

0 upvotes
D1N0

It takes photo's as good as the x-pro1 so the gold award is deserved.

8 upvotes
Total comments: 219
12