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Compared to... FujiFilm S8100

Where small-sensor cameras tend to fall over is as the sensitivity increases. Trying to create an image with less light is a struggle and a smaller sensor will be exposed to fewer photons of light, per pixel, at the same exposure settings. The result tends to be more aberrant data (noise), that either looks distracting or has to be smoothed away, at the expense of detail.

So does the larger sensor in the S100FS (almost exactly twice the area of the one in the S8100), produce a visible difference?

Studio scene comparison (ISO 400)

  • Fujifilm FinePix S100FS: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 400, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation

  • FujiFilm FinePix S8100fd: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 400, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
     
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS
FujiFilm FinePix S8100
ISO 400, 1/200 sec, F5.6
ISO 400, 1/400 sec, F5
5,286 KB JPEG
3,895 KB JPEG

Even at this relatively moderate sensitivity setting, the S8100fd is struggling while the S100FS is gliding along comfortably. The S8100fd is plagued by noise and the destructive effects of noise reduction. It looks a lot like the S8100's image has been extensively smoothed and then sharpened.

The S100FS by contrast has lost a little of its bite since ISO 100, with slightly lowered contrast, but retains similar levels of detail. The odd artifacts, characteristic of Super CCD sensors, are visible around the paperclips but overall the performance is head and shoulders (and torso, for that matter), ahead of its small, conventionally-sensored cousin.

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