UPDATES July 1st:
- Testing X100S RAW with IRIDIENT DEVELOPER and ACR Part 1
- Testing X100S RAW with IRIDIENT DEVELOPER and ACR Part 2
- Some more thoughts on the conclusions based on readers feedbacks
- Further considerations on ACR and DPReview tests
Great time for photographers. Lot of possibilities, new (really capable cameras), 35mm chasing Medium Format, small cameras chasing 35 mm. As many of you may remember, I had always a particular interest in small cameras. Maybe because I first learnt how to use a camera with an old (and small) FED 4, maybe because, even if I’m not a street photographer, I like a camera always with me. And, along the last five years, the market has proposed interesting solutions. From the now venerable Panasonic LX3 (10Mpix 24-60 Leica lens) to the micro 4/3, to the new Fuji XPro up to the great Sony RX1 (at least in terms of output: I really don’t like the user interface). And, in between, the super SIGMA Foveon sensors of the DP Merrills, cameras capable of super detail rendering at the price of a sub-pair package in terms of speed and battery life.
When the Fuij X100 was first introduced I could not resist. It was a love at first sight kind of thing, perfect size, package and output quality. Yes, the camera had some drawback, partially solved by subsequent firmware releases, but the handling and output was great. I enjoyed it so much to bring it always with me, in all cases and travels. Over my latest journey to Florida I had only the X100 with me and really didn’t feel I needed anything more (was there in a really relaxed mood, for the opening of an exhibition in Miami).
Miami Beach - Fuji X100 - 1/500 f8 ISO200
So with the X100s updates, in terms of operational speed, autofocus, MANUAL focus, I decided to upgrade.
Now, you can read quite an enthusiastic feedback to this X100s if you browse the Internet. If you arrived to our website you probably already have already read the review by Zack Arias, David Hobby and Steve Huff. If not give a look to what they say (and, if you really have time) and then get back here. Zack and David are really enthusiastic about the camera, they call it the new Leica. Steve is a bit more conservative but the general consensus is: WOW. My personal notes do not want to repeat what you can find already online. I pretty much subscribe most of the positive feedback around. I’ll focus more in this short text on how the camera compares with the X100 in terms of OUTPUT, given the new sensor and the hype all around regarding how this sensor RAW files are interpreted by ACR.
When I first got my new X100S I was disappointed. The gorgeous BIG box (that contained two boxes, one “luxurious” for the camera and a second for all the bit & pieces) of the X100 is gone. Now there is a very simple small box… So the presentation is subpar, a bit IKEA style in the sense of reducing logistic cost, but also more environment oriented. The camera is VERY similar to it’s predecessor. They just bettered it. The battery and memory door, for instance, works much better in the X100s… The spring is different. The commands too… The overall feeling is improved. Fujifilm is for sure a company that listen to photographers. Autofocus speed, Manual focus now usable: all true. Frankly speaking I was not THAT disappointed with the X100 autofocus since I used a lot to stay in hyperfocal using the handy scale you can find here and the AFL/AEL botton in manual focus. But on the 100s: wow. It’s always spot on. No differences from the 5d mk II. And the manual focus with the split screen is really good to. It doesn’t feel anymore “fly-by-wire” looks like you’re really working on the lens itself. Well done, Fuji.
Let ‘s immediately move to the output. The very first attempt and comparison were done in the WORST environment for the RAW issues of the XTrans chips: foliage. I went to my backyard (the day before a major grass cut) and took different images. No tripod (it was also a bit windy so the leaves were dancing) and perfect situation: these are “action” cameras and, by no mean, I intend to replicate the care people @ DPReview or Loyd Chamber use when setting up targets and comparing stuff. I wanted to see the differences in terms of general “feeling”, in terms of details and in terms of tonal response. I shooted in the same conditions for both cameras, just setting the aperture (curious to see if the EV was different) and in RAW+Standard JPG (Fine quality).
Then I put the results in Lightroom 4.4 that supports Fuji RAWS and has bettered, already from the latest Release Candidate, the way XTrans RAWS are interpreted. My evaluation is done on a NEC Spectraview calibrated monitor, so maybe you don’t come to my same conclusion or may have a different perspective on the results or see something different on your monitor since your browser is not color corrected. To avoid all I’ve uploaded all RAW and JPG file so feel free to play with the images yourself.
First scene: f/8 – DOWNLOAD JPG&RAW
(all set to the default values for each camera – no camera profile loaded on the X100). The cropped area are reported in the image in red and green. On purpose I didn’t dowsize the X100s image to 12Mpixel. Didn’t wat to have potential other software artifacts in the images.
The sensors difference (I would say “signature”) is pretty clear, even in this small size by size view. The sky in the x100s is more cyan and there is a bigger amount of yellow in the grass. The rendering of the X100 is somehow softer, with the sky with a better tonal response. Of course one may work on the X100s tonal response to get something different, and I expect that the camera profile that sooner or later Adobe will publish will address those issues. Checking the files you’ll notice that the two cameras made different assumption on the color temperature. The AWB of the x100 decided for temp 5250/tint +12, while the X100S on 5100/tint +10. Just moving the temperature to the same X100 setting the sky gets better while the yellowish part of the image remains much more visible on the 100s.
Mid Center Crop (RED Area) – Despite of the bigger res the X100 is still ok. I don’t see particular artifacts on the RAW X100s image, also in other areas of the image so looks like ACR 7.4 is doing a good job here. The results from the X100s are, in my opinion, punchier, with a higher contrast, stronger blacks and less “gentle” color variation in the foliage.
Green area on the Left part of the image. Here the X100 has some chromatic aberration that is NOT visible on the X100s. So the pairing lens-sensor works better on the x100s. Even enabling the camera profile for the x100 the CA is still evident. Even if they’re not exactly the same crop the better resolving power of the S is quite evident, but it would need sharpening. Don’t consider this crop as interesting from the optical evaluation on the lens: it’s not a “brick wall test”, and the performance sof the lens @ f8 are really fine on both cameras in terms of details. The area is also out of focus.
For the Standard (provia) JPG maniacs here is the comparison of the JPG out-of-the-camera. WOW. Big difference. Not that much in the details, but more on the color. Look at the shadow of the tree. Really too much contrast in the x100s. I really prefer the X100 output more, even if I really don’t like to shoot JPG. Pixel-peepers pls download the files to play for other evaluations. To me the RAW are alway better and ACR did, in this image, a good job: it’s a matter of fine tuning and getting to know the new sensor for having out of the S very good results.
Second scene: f/2 – DOWNLOAD JPG&RAW
Even is still handheld I managed in this case to frame “better” the two images. I shoot @ 1/4000 that is not possible @f2 for these cameras. So discard the EXIF and consider f/2 1/1000. My comments on this scene: CA is really NOT present on the S, but it is, clearly visible on the x100. So maybe also the lens went trough some bettering process, or, as I already wrote above, the pair lens-sensor works better. Or…? Feel free to comment. For the olive tree leaves the RAW engine in the X100s could still be a bit bettered, I find the rendering of the X100 a bit better. Also in this case the AWB gave different results. Interesting, indeed. And, as already noted, more contrasty images on the X100s. The JPG, for those interested are also enclosed in the package. The X100s is a bit too fake (no sky so blue), the X100 a bit too washed out but more similar to the reality.
The bottom line
There is a different “signature” in the rendering of the two cameras. Easy consideration given Bayer vs XTrans. One may like more the X100 or the S look. It’s clear that the S wins in terms of speed and of pure “resolutions” even if the ACR engine has, in my opinion, still room for enhancements. The XTRANS is for sure a new beast to learn in terms of post processing. The differences in tonal response and look may create some “lovers” of a look over another. JPG output is for me better in the X100, in terms of color. I don’t like the punchy tones of the X100s, especially for landscapes.
The general feeling that I have is that now my every-day photo tools is REALLY capable, fast, accurate. Usability is very important and this is why I find the Fuji approach the most appealing for somebody coming from a long term photographic experience. The OVF was my first selling point on the X100 and this one is improved (all the overlay info are now visible better also in bright light). Sunday I had some time to make some casual shot. No adjustment in terms o sharpness, some tweaking with Silver Exef for the B&W. In general I found again in the latest photographs of this small article the AWB of the X100s too “cold”, hitting very often 5100 rather then the full “daylight” settings. Check out some additional comments under each photograph. For me, this is great value for money, with the X100 still being an excellent choice.
Added on May 15h – Just to be clear. The standard output of the X100S is generally punchier then the one of the X100. It needs more working on the RAW to obtain colors and results of first class. But overall the sensor has better detail and there is room for improvements using other RAW processors (see www.thevisualexperience.org/web/processing-x100s-raw-with…). A the end results are generally better then X100 at the price of more post processing.
x100s - Had to adjust the Color Balance
No adjustment, no further sharpening necessary on most of the X100s. The details is very good
Dynamic Range is superb. You can pull out a lot from the shadow
Added a Skylight filter. The Looks like the camera is very "blue" oriented...
Silver Efex on the RAW: the B&W capabilities of the X100s are really good
Had to tweak (desaturate) a bit the color of the sky. The original was too "punchy" for my taste.
Another B&W with Silver Efex
No PP, out of the camera.
The blue was too artificial. Had to desaturate here too.
Great lens as usual. You can shot against the sun with no flares and good contrast.
As above. Against the sun
The 3D look of the Fuji is maintained in this sensor.
Pulling the shadows 1.
Really pulling the shadows. The details of the rock are incredible. This sensors has an incredible dynamic range.