Fujifilm X10 'Orbs' Investigated. Does the Firmware Fix Work?
2 Fujifilm X10 'Orbs' Investigated. Does the Firmwar
Studio Scene: EXR 'DR' Mode
Something that we have noticed after extended use of the X10 is that the appearance of the white discs/orbs differs depending on the 'DR' dynamic range setting. In full-resolution 12MP mode the reason for this is obvious if you know how the camera works - increasing the DR setting from 100% to 200% and up to 400% increases the base ISO sensitivity from 100 to 200, to 400, and as we've already seen, increasing ISO sensitivity reduces the intensity of the white discs effect.
But what about EXR mode? In 'DR' EXR mode the X10's 'DR' dynamic range setting can be extended up to 1600% using a combination of exposure and tone curve adjustment, and EXR technology. These images were shot in identical conditions to the samples on the previous page, but ISO was set to automatic (400) and because exposure cannot be manually adjusted, exposure compensation was used to match the brightness.
As you can see, the white discs decrease in size as you go up the DR scale, but they retain their artificial-looking, hard-edged appearance. Again though, there is no noticeable improvement between firmware versions 1.02 and 1.03. We also tried shooting side-by-side comparisons in EXR 'SN' mode, which is designed to deliver lower noise at 6MP, but with identical results - no improvement with firmware 1.03.
One curious thing that we've noticed while working through this issue is that not all X10's display the dreaded 'white orbs' to the same extent. We've used two cameras from different production runs, and while both produce images that show the effect, one displays more severe 'orbing' than the other. We've used images from the better of the two cameras in the rest of this article, so you can judge for yourself the severity of the issue, but for the sake of completeness here's an example of the difference between the two models that we've used, at base ISO and full-resolution (12MP).
|Camera A||Camera B|
|Camera A||Camera B|
We would hope that Camera B, in the table above, (from an earlier production run) is the exception, and that more of the X10s on the market behave like Camera A in our example. Even if this is true though, the key point is that the 'white discs' effect is visible in images from both cameras that we have used, and in neither case does updating to firmware 1.03 make a difference. We have asked Fujifilm whether or not changes have been made to the X10's manufacture since production began and we will update this article with a response as soon as possible.
We're still working through our testing, but for now it seems clear that firmware version 1.03 does not appear to have a significant impact on the appearance of 'orbs' and certainly isn't the silver-bullet solution that a lot of users had hoped for.
We have been unable to observe a meaningful improvement in either studio or real world testing which strongly reinforces our suspicion that the problem is hardware-related, and cannot be solved by an adjustment to the camera's firmware. The issue is caused by uncontrolled sensor blooming, where signal spills out from photodiodes radially, onto their neighbors, which creates an artificial-looking white disc around blown-out point highlights. Blooming isn't unique to the X10, but this effect - the distinctive 'orbs' - is unlike anything we've seen before from a modern camera.
After drawing a blank in all of our image quality testing we had thought that perhaps the new firmware adjusted the camera's program line in Automatic ISO mode. As we've seen, the appearance of the white discs is less severe at higher ISO sensitivity settings, so perhaps the new firmware biases automatic ISO to use these high settings more frequently? We have seen reports that this is the case in EXR Auto mode and we will continue to work through the issue, but so far we have not been able to consistently demonstrate any clear bias towards higher ISOs with the new firmware.
So after all this, what have we learned? Here are our findings, summarized.
- 'Orbs' are real, but some cameras may be more prone than others due (presumably) to hardware variation.
- The appearance of the orbs changes as you increase ISO sensitivity, and they become softer.
- By increasing the DR '%' settings you can reduce the size of the orbs, but they remain unattractive unless you increase ISO sensitivity.
- In itself, firmware version 1.03 appears to have no noticeable intrinsic effect on the appearance or intensity of the orbs.
- However, some reports suggest that auto ISO performance in EXR Auto mode is tweaked in FW 1.03 to select higher ISO settings (where orbing is less noticeable). We cannot consistently demonstrate any high ISO bias in FW 1.03 compared to 1.02 (but we'll keep on looking).
UPDATE March 5th 2012: Following the publication of this article Fujifilm has promised us a 'definitive solution' to the so-called 'white orbs' problem, which will be announced on the 12th March. We will report full details when we have them.
We would like to thank Glazers Camera of Seattle for the loan of equipment used in this article.
Feb 13, 2015
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Mar 1, 2012
|scrum break away by al booth|
from Sport competition
|Parking Deck by Olaf R|
from Your City - Parking Garage
|Communication Tech by alberto_b|
|With & without by OBellini|
from Empty - Full
The winners of the 10th annual iPhone Photography Awards have been announced, and they're striking.
If you were disappointed by reports that the Sony a9 struggles with adapted Canon glass, you might be able to take some comfort from Metabones' latest update.
Blackmagic Design has dropped the prices of its Video Assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. Prices of the SD card-based recorders will be reduced in all markets, while supplies last.
Instagram has started testing a new feature called 'favorites' that enables users to share photos with only certain people. Only a small number of users have access to the feature at this time, though it may roll out to everyone in the future.
Lensbaby has announced the Velvet 85 F1.8 for interchangeable lens cameras. The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Fuji X and Micro 4/3 mounts.
It's the end of an era. Parent company Micron has announced that they are discontinuing the Lexar retail brand. This includes 'memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, and storage drives.'
Youthful trainspotter turned adult photographer, John Sanderson has traveled across the United States, documenting the country's railroads. But you won't find any trains in his pictures.
Sony's new CMOS sensor is backside-illuminated and offers an all-pixel global reset function which should drastically reduce rolling shutter effect when panning.
Shoulderpod has converted its offerings into a lego-like modular system by offering all individual parts of existing products separately, allowing users to build exactly the rig they need for a specific project or simply replace a damaged part.
Photographer Felix AAA has spent the past ten years touring the world with a variety of musicians, capturing behind the scenes shots and portraits. He talks about some of his favorite images on the FujiFilm Blog.
A roll of film discovered in an Argus C2 from an Oregon Goodwill turned out to contain some incredible images – and has been re-united with the original owner's family.
Nikon's 28mm F1.4E ED appears to roundly complete the company's updated lineup of fast, professional prime lenses. We've already seen some initial images from a Nikon ambassador, but we've worked through a gallery of our own, with a lens of our own over the past week. Take a look.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.