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Digital Cameras - Fuji MX1200 Test Images

(Original test posting: 10/29/99)

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)

Outdoor portrait: (610k) Wow! Excellent color, great resolution! This was the first image from this camera that we "put under the microscope" in preparing our analysis, and we were literally startled by what we saw: The color is exceptional, literally some of the best we've seen on this shot (October, 1999). Detail, tonal range, and shadow detail are excellent also. The default exposure (607k) was rather dark, and it took 3 steps of EV adjustment to a total exposure compensation of +0.9EV to arrive at the version we selected for our main shot (610k). We shot this test using both automatic and daylight white balance, saving only the daylight versions for presentation here. The difference was subtle, with the auto version just slightly cooler in hue. The table below shows a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.2 EV, all shot with the Daylight white balance setting.

Exposure Variations:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/415
Aperture: F1.1
(607k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/337
Aperture: F1.1
(608k)
+0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/274
Aperture: F1.1
(607k)
+0.9 EV
Shutter: 1/222
Aperture: F1.1
(610k)
+1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/168
Aperture: F1.1
(606k)


 
Closer portrait: (593k) As usual, this shot requires less exposure compensation than the test above, because the model's face fills more of the frame. We chose as our main shot (593k) the one with only +0.3 EV of exposure compensation. Again, excellent color and tone, but the MX-1200's performance in this shot is hurt a bit by its somewhat wide angle, fixed focus lens. We couldn't completely fill the frame with the model's head, due to the close-focus limitation of normal focus mode, and the wide-angle lens tended to distort her facial features as well. (This is true of any wide-angle lens. Portrait photographers usually use a longer focal length, to de-emphasize the subject's nose.) As before, we preferred the Daylight white balance setting for this shot. The table below shows a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.2 EV, all shot with the Daylight white balance setting.

Exposure Variations:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/388
Aperture: F1.1
(591k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/315
Aperture: F1.1
(593k)
+0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/256
Aperture: F1.1
(597k)
+0.9 EV
Shutter: 1/207
Aperture: F1.1
(599k)
+1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/168
Aperture: F1.1
(599k)


 
Indoor portrait, flash: (580k) Only one shot here, as there weren't really any variations to try. (Actually, we could have tried a shot with the slow-synchro mode enabled, but overlooked it in our testing frenzy.) The basic flash exposure worked very well though, with a nice tonal balance, and good color. The overall color is slightly "warm", probably a result of the strong incandescent lighting in this scene. The result (580k) is far from objectionable though, and also cleans up very well in Photoshop(tm) with an "auto levels" adjustment. Overall, a very good performance.

 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (594k) This shot is a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The MX-1200's auto white balance system wasn't strong enough to remove the color cast, producing rather yellowish results, as shown here (593k). The Incandescent white balance setting (594k) did fairly well though, leaving a little bit of the warmer coloring, but an overall pleasing shot, with good color. We did find though, that the camera require a lot of exposure compensation to produce good results here, as we went all the way to the maximum adjustment of +1.5EV to get our main shot. The table below shows a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.5 EV, all shot with the Daylight white balance setting.

Exposure compensation series:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/12
Aperture: F4.5
(585k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F4.5
(588k)
+0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F4.5
(584k)
+0.9 EV
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F4.5
(592k)
1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F4.5
(593k)
1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F4.5
(594k)


 
House shot: (719k) Always a tough test of camera resolution, the MX-1200 performed well here (719k), showing resolution about typical of other 1.3 megapixel cameras we've tested in the past. Corner sharpness suffers slightly relative to the center, but again is about typical of the results we've seen with other cameras in its resolution range: Better than some, not as good as others. Overall a fine performance. The table below contains samples of all the resolution/quality modes:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(718k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(362k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(165k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(168k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/51
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(94k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(47k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Sharpness 1
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(660k)
Sharpness 2
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(720k)
Sharpness 3
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(710k)


 
 
Far-Field shot: (705k) This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles, and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

Another tough resolution test, but a very sharp image (705k), well within the mainstream of 1.3 megapixel camera offerings, impressive given the MX-1200's low price. (The angle on this shot will be a bit different that that for other, zoom-lens-equipped cameras, since the wide-angle fixed focal length of the MX-1200 required that we move in closer to take the shot. The result is that the shot is taken from below, looking up at the house more than is the case with some cameras.) The table below contains samples of all the resolution/quality modes:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(705k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(342k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(157k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(166k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(91k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(45k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Sharpness 1
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(631k)
Sharpness 2
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(705k)
Sharpness 3
Shutter: 1/137
Aperture: F1.1
ISO Speed: 125
(701k)


 
Lens Zoom Range (new): We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following pair of shots, showing the field of view with respectively, the normal shooting mode, and with the "digital telephoto" option engaged. Note that both images here are shot in low-resolution mode, to ease download times. In normal shooting mode, the larger image size is also an option, but in digital telephoto mode, only the smaller file size is possible.

Normal
(172k)
Digital Tele, 2x
(169k)

"Musicians" poster: (671k) Another good performance from an inexpensive camera, with the MX-1200 showing good color and resolution. We chose the shots taken with the white balance set to Automatic as being the best here (671k) though it was a bit of a toss-up between those and the ones we shot using the Sunny setting. The auto white balance shots were a bit warm in hue, the sunny white balance ones a little cool. (See the white balance series in the table below to compare for yourself.) Overall, a good showing. The table below shows the results obtained with all resolution/image quality setting combinations:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(671k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(338k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(154k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(183k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(83k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(54k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Sharpness 1
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(633k)
Sharpness 2
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(687k)
Sharpness 3
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(711k)


Here are versions of this image shot in the small/high-quality mode, testing the three "daylight" white balance option:

White Balance Series:
Automatic
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(631k)
Sunny
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(705k)
Cloudy
Shutter: 1/42
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(701k)


 
Macro shot: (673k) We were initially confused by the "beta" documentation we received with the MX-1200, which gave the closest focusing distance in Macro mode as 2.5 inches. Try as we might, we couldn't get the camera to focus well that close, the best we were able to achieve being a little under 4 inches. Lo and behold, writer-gal Stephanie discovered elsewhere in the docs that the correct spec was actually 3.9 inches (10 cm). At that distance, the MX-1200's images are reasonably sharp, and the coverage area respectable, if not microscopic. The minimum subject area is 2.8 x 3.7 inches (71 x 95 mm), as shown here. (673k) The flash throttles down well for macro shooting, as shown here (658k), although glare from the silver dollar resulted in an overall underexposure. Finally, the Digital Telephoto option also works in Macro mode, with results as seen here. (162k) As always with digital telephoto options, the viewing area is reduced, but so is resolution.

 
"Davebox" test target: (289k) In this test, the automatic white balance option won out by just a hair: All white balance variations produced a somewhat yellowish cast, although color was otherwise good. Tonal range is very good, with detail being preserved quite deep into the shadows. The table below shows the results obtained with all resolution/image quality setting combinations:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(602k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(321k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(151k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(157k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(85k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(47k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Sharpness 1
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(633k)
Sharpness 2
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(687k)
Sharpness 3
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(711k)


We shot versions of this image in the small/highest-quality mode, to show the three "daylight" white balance options. The results are in the table below:

White Balance Series:
Automatic
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(157k)
Sunny
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(158k)
Cloudy
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(1561k)


 
 
Low-Light Tests 
Well, at some point, we expected to find an area where the MX-1200 didn't fare as well as cameras costing hundreds of dollars more, and the low light test turned out to be it. The combination of an ISO rating of 125, a maximum aperture of f/4.5, and a maximum exposure time of 1/4 second should mean that the camera would only be able to capture usable images down to a level of what we've been calling EV11, more properly 16 foot-candles, or 175 lux. In fact, our testing revealed that it did quite well down to a level of EV9 (4 foot-candles, 44 lux), and produced a picture we'd consider usable at EV8 (2 foot-candles, 22 lux). Better than it's specifications, but still not the camera to use for snapshots by moonlight. In order to get these low-light pictures though, we found it helpful to adjust the manual exposure compensation to +0.9EV. The table below shows the results we obtained at a range of illuminations, from 8 foot-candles (88 lux) down to 1 foot-candle (11 lux).

Range/Illumination: 
10 EV
8 fc
(595k)
9 EV
4 fc
(587k)
8 EV
2 fc
(567k)
7 EV
1 fc
(540k)


 
Flash Range Test (New)
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available.) Fuji specifies a maximum range for the on-board flash of 2.5 meters, or about 8 feet. We found that the flash was indeed brightest at that distance, but felt it could be considered usable to at least 10 feet. One thing we did notice in some of our shots was an artifact we've observed in other cameras in which the flash tube was mounted very close to the camera lens, as it is in the MX-1200. In some of our shots (such as this (M12FL09.HTM) one), you can see what look almost like water spots on a piece of furniture: Ghostly blobs floating in mid air. These are almost certainly images of dust particles very close to the camera, illuminated by the flash. The air in our studio is relatively clean, but in a dusty environment, flash shots with the MX-1200 could be problematic. (This problem doesn't seem to occur in cameras with greater separation between the flash tube and camera lens.)

The table below shows the results we obtained with the MX-1200's onboard flash, at distances ranging from 8 to 14 feet. (All shots were taken using the digital telephoto mode, to avoid including the messy details of our studio in the wide-angle field of view of the MX-1200's lens.)

Flash Range/Distance: 
8 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(153k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(147k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(146k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(142k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(139k)
13 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(138k)
14 ft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
(139k)


ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (586k) Although our other test images looked quite sharp, the MX-1200 showed resolution somewhat less than the best we've seen in other 1.3 megapixel cameras. We judged the "visual resolution" to be about 600 lines per picture height in both vertical and horizontal directions, although some aliasing was evident, particularly in the vertical direction, starting at frequencies as low as 420 lines per picture height. Good enough, as evidenced by our other, "real world" shots, but not the best we've seen. The table below shows the results obtained with all resolution/image quality setting combinations, other than the digital telephoto option, which is shown here (157k):

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(585k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(313k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(153k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(153k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/59
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(85k)
 


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Sharpness 1
Shutter: 1/68
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(633k)
Sharpness 2
Shutter: 1/73
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(687k)
Sharpness 3
Shutter: 1/68
Aperture: F4.5
ISO Speed: 125
(711k)

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: We found the optical viewfinder on the MX-1200 to be probably the most vexing aspect of the entire camera, although in fairness, it may not bother casual users as much as ourselves. (Accurate framing is much more of an issue with many of our shots than it ever would be for normal picture-taking.) Fuji specifies the optical viewfinder's accuracy as 80% frame coverage, but we actually ended up with a measured accuracy more like 87%, as shown here (157k). (We perhaps worked a little harder to see what was at the edges of the viewfinder frame than Fuji intended most folks to do, resulting in the higher accuracy figure.) Note that many digicams have viewfinder accuracies of 80% or even lower: What we found frustrating in the MX-1200's viewfinder was that there wasn't a clear, abrupt "edge" to it, the image instead sort of trailing off, with the result that we could see more or less of the subject depending on how we positioned our eye. We'd much prefer viewfinders with sharply defined edges, even if the coverage is somewhat less. By contrast, the LCD viewfinder was quite accurate, showing about 97% of the final image area, as seen here (154k).

We now routinely measure lens distortion as part of our camera testing. The MX-1200 actually did quite well in this respect, showing only modest barrel distortion of 0.6%, and very little chromatic aberration. (We estimated the latter at about a half-pixel, or 0.04%, based on the slight color fringes around objects at the edges of our resolution test target.)
 

 

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