The actual sensitivity of each indicated ISO is measured using the same shots as are used to measure ISO noise levels, we simply compare the exposure for each shot to the metered light level (using a calibrated Sekonic L-308), middle gray matched. We estimate the accuracy of these results to be +/- 1/6 EV (the margin of error given in the ISO specifications). We found that the measured ISO from the X10 matches the camera-stated ISO throughout the entire range.
Here, we're comparing the Fujifilm X10's noise performance with two smaller-sensored competitors, the Olympus XZ-1 and Nikon P7100 as well as the much larger-sensored Canon PowerShot G1 X, with all cameras at their default noise reduction settings.
The X10's Standard NR setting takes a relatively conservative approach to noise suppression. From ISO 100-1600 the noise patterns of the X10 are subjected to less smearing than its Olympus and Nikon competitors. This light-handed approach results in a slightly less-processed looking image. Image detail is well-preserved through ISO 800.
By ISO 1600, noise has noticeably obscured fine detail though coarser elements still remain generally pleasing, slightly ahead of what smaller-sensored cameras are capable of in these settings. As you'd expect, the most recent breed of large sensor compacts, like the Canon G1 X easily outpace the 10 through the entire ISO range, in terms of noise suppression and fine detail.
At ISO 3200, the X10 suffers a dramatic loss in quality as noise patterns overwhelm image detail. At this ISO you'd be best served using files or web-only viewing or small 4 x 6 inch prints. Higher ISOs give downsampled images with minimal retention of detail.
Looking at the graph it is clear that the X10 is applying relatively conservative noise suppression, trailing the performance of its smaller-sensored competition, not to mention the larger 1" plus sensors, which produce less measurable noise throughout the ISO range. Crucially though, as the samples clearly indicate, some of the competition achieve their noise reduction at the expense of image detail, which is hardly ideal. While the X10 may not deliver results in its 12MP mode that are head and shoulders above the competition, the EXR sensor is capable of 6MP output optimized to reduce noise, as you can see in our real world EXR comparison of this review.
Noise and Noise Reduction (JPEG)The X10 offers five levels of noise reduction ranging from Low to High. The default setting is NR Standard.
Between ISO 100 and 200, there is little to choose from among the various NR settings. Beginning at ISO 400 you can see that the default Standard setting displays noticeably less noise than the camera's weakest NR setting. As this gap widens through ISO 800-1600, its impressive to note that NR Standard does not give much quarter to NR Low in terms of detail preservation. Fujifilm has done a nice job of smoothing out noise without obliterating fine detail, which is precisely the behavior you'd want to see in a default NR option.
|In-camera JPEG 100% crop||ACR 6.7 100% crop|
|Fujifilm FinePix T550 Red Digital Camera||$159.99|
|Fuji Sanibel 2.0 Bike Boy Blue X-Large||$219.95|