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Digital Cameras - Fuji MX-2700 Zoom Test Images

(Original test posting: 6/8/99)

 

Outdoor portrait: (852k) The outdoor portrait shot captured by the MX-2700 shows excellent color and exceptional detail, and is remarkably free of compression or sensor artifacts. (Note in particular the very smooth edges on the highly-saturated blue and red flowers in the bouquet.) Our main shot (852k) here was taken with the exposure compensation set up only +0.3EV units. The high-key subject and light-colored background in this shot tend to fool most digicams into significantly under-exposing the image. A mere +0.3EV correction is less than what the majority of cameras require for this shot. The skin tone seems slightly ruddy, but given the rather variable (outdoor) lighting, it's hard to form a definite conclusion on this. In contrast the slightly-warm skin tone, the difficult blues of the flowers and the model's pants appear to have less red in them than is often the case. (These blue colors seem to cause problems for many digicams, which tend to render them rather purplish.) About the only fault we can find with this image is that the camera's sharpening algorithm has produced some contrast breaks in the lines of the model's face. Overall, an excellent performance!

For those interested in the MX-2700's detailed exposure-compensation behavior, we've included the images in the table below, with exposure compensation values ranging from 0 (the default) to +0.9 EV.

Exposure Variations:

Default
(856k)

+0.3 EV
(852k)

+0.6 EV
(860k)

+0.9 EV
(864k)

 

Closer portrait: (852k) Again, an excellent performance, but the wide-angle lens would probably not make this camera your first choice for up-close portraiture: The wide-angle view tends to distort facial features somewhat, giving a slightly chipmunk-like look. (The wider-angle lens is also why the model's face fills less of the frame on this shot than with some other cameras: We didn't want to get too close, needing to stay well within the lens' normal focusing range to insure sharpness.) Detail is very good, although the slight ruddiness we observed in the model's complexion is apparent here also, as well as the contrast breaks in the creases around her eyes. We did notice some loss of detail in the hair though (always a tough challenge, due to its low contrast), and a graininess in the finer strands.

Our main shot (852k) here was taken with an exposure compensation of +0.3EV. As before, here is a set of shots, taken with a range of exposure compensation settings, this time from 0 to +0.6EV.

 

Exposure Variations:

default
(864k)

+0.3 EV
(852k)

+0.6 EV
(880k)

 

Indoor portrait, flash: (852k) This is a very tricky shot for most digital cameras to handle well, thanks to the very different color balance of flash and household tungsten illumination. The relatively bright ambient lighting in this test tends to produce some odd colors in the final results, with bluish highlights from the flash, and very orange shadows from the room lighting. The MX-2700 was much better-balanced in this respect than most cameras we've tested, with the light from the flash and the room lighting blending together quite well. The main shot (852k) (taken with default exposure) has a bit of an orange cast overall, but it cleans up very nicely with a simple "auto levels" adjustment in Photoshop(tm), as shown here (588k). The MX-2700 also shares with other Fuji cameras the unique ability to adjust its flash output as well as the ambient exposure. This lets you do a much better job of balancing the flash intensity with available room light than is normally the case. This shot (864k) was taken with the flash intensity set down by -0.6EV, while the ambient exposure compensation was set up by +1.2EV. The result is a much better balance between the room light and that from the flash.
 

Indoor portrait, no flash: (856k) Again, a very tough color test, this time of the camera's ability to neutralize the very strong yellowish color cast of the household incandescent lighting this picture is taken under. The MX-2700 did moderately well here, with both the automatic (856k) and "incandescent" (856k) settings, although both left a fair bit of yellow in the image. The images it did produce though were quite well-balanced otherwise in their color information, and cleaned-up splendidly in Photoshop, as shown here (624k). These shots were taken with fairly significant amounts of exposure compensation dialed-in: +1.2EV in the case of the "auto" shot, and +0.9EV in the case of the "incandescent" one. For reference, here are shots taken with no exposure compensation, in both incandescent (856k) and automatic (856k) modes.  

House shot: (880k) Our standard House poster shows the excellent resolution and detail rendition the MX-2700 is capable of. Our main shot (880k) was taken at the large image size, with the image quality set to "fine", and the in-camera sharpening set to the second notch (the default). The result is a shot with really great detail and resolution, but a slightly yellowish cast overall that, again, is very easy to clean up in Photoshop. (See the main text of the review for further comment: This is a camera that would benefit tremendously (and very cheaply) from the use of the PhotoGenetics program we review elsewhere on this site!) The default sharpness setting works well here, although we also found we could add to the apparent detail a fair bit by careful application of unsharp masking in Photoshop. Higher levels of the in-camera sharpening control resulted in a tendency to produce the "zipper" artifact we've seen in other cameras, both from Fuji and other manufacturers. (A function of a particular sensor design?) This artifact is most noticeable in the louvers of the central gable of the house, and can be seen in the examples in the second table following, with the highest sharpness settings. Overall though, the resolution on this shot is everything you'd expect from a 2.3 megapixel camera!

As we frequently do for this shot, the table below holds links to photos snapped with all combinations of image size and quality provided by the MX-2700.

Size/Resolution Variations:

Large/Fine
(880k)

Large/Normal
(448k)

Large/Basic
(224k)

Small/Fine
(160k)

Small/Normal
(88k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

This table contains examples of varying amounts of the in-camera sharpening, ranging from 1 to 4 steps on the scale in the "setup" menu. All images were shot at the large image size, and the "fine" resolution setting.

Sharpness Variations:

1 Step
(836k)

2 Steps
(default)
(884k)

3 Steps
(896k)

4 Steps
(1092k)

Our main shots of this subject were all taken with the white balance set to "auto". We found the "daylight" setting produced virtually identical color balance. Here's a small/fine image (160k) taken with daylight balance for you to see for yourself.

 
 

Far-Field shot: (888k) 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.
Despite the seasonal variability, this shot is the strongest test of camera resolution of any we do. The MX-2700 did quite well, although the default sharpness setting showed much more tendency to produce the "zipper" artifact around high-contrast edges than we observed on the House poster test above. Color and tonal range were very good though, and resolution was very high as well. As an experiment, we took a shot captured with the in-camera sharpening set down all the way, and applied unsharp masking in Photoshop (0.7 pixel radius, 100%). The result (928k) shows excellent resolution and detail, while the "zipper effect" is much more subdued. Bottom line? The MX-2700 has excellent resolution, but we'd probably opt for using the lowest in-camera sharpening setting, and then process the files in an outside application for especially critical images.

Here's a full set of images, shot at all combinations of size and image quality:

Size/Resolution Variations:

Large/Fine
(888k)

Large/Normal
(456k)

Large/Basic
(224k)

Small/Fine
(160k)

Small/Normal
(88k)

Small/Basic
(44k)

And here's a series, showing the effect of varying the sharpness setting, while holding size and resolution at maximum.

Sharpness Variations:

1 Step
(840k)

2 Steps
(default)
(884k)

3 Steps
(908k)

4 Steps
(1104k)

Side note: Sharp-eyed viewers will observe that the perspective on this shot is different than that for many other cameras. This is because the wider-angle lens of the MX-2700 required us to get much closer, to maintain the same relative size of the house in the frame. Thus, you may not find the same sets of branches in the background for checking detail rendering as you will for other cameras we've tested.

 

"Musicians" poster: (892k) The 2.3 megapixel resolution of the MX-2700's CCD really showed in this image, producing excellent detail: Check the wings of the bird on the oriental model's shoulder, and the flowers in the blond girl's hair. Color was excellent, if just a trifle pinkish overall. No compression artifacts were apparent, but we did see a slight stairstep effect in the strings of the black model's instrument. All shots here were taken with the white balance set to "auto", and we again found little difference when using the "daylight" setting, as seen here in this Small/Fine (148k) image. As before, we've included samples below of all combinations of resolution/image quality, as well as a full set of images showing the effect of sharpness variations.

Size/Resolution Variations:

Large/Fine
(892k)

Large/Normal
(440k)

Large/Basic
(220k)

Small/Fine
(148k)

Small/Normal
(80k)

Small/Basic
(44k)

Sharpness Variations:

1 Step
(848k)

2 Steps
(default)
(892k)

3 Steps
(904k)

4 Steps
(1040k)

 
Macro shot: (916k) - The MX-2700 actually does pretty well in macro mode, despite its wide-angle lens. That's because it will focus down to only 3.5 inches (9cm). It's also helped by its very high resolution, which captures fine details beyond what lower-resolution cameras would find. The minimum capture area (without resorting to the "digital tele" option) is 4.38 x 2.92 inches (111 x 74mm). This close, the MX-2700's flash (888k) produces rather uneven illumination (no surprise, given the short distance), but nonetheless does an excellent job of throttling-back its output to avoid overexposure. The digital telephoto of the MX-2700 might find more use for macro shots, particularly those that will be going on the 'web, therefore needing smaller image sizes. (The digital tele works by just chopping-out the central portion of the image, and packaging it as a smaller size: The subject occupies more of the frame, but the frame itself is smaller: The subject size in pixels remains the same.) Here are macro samples shot with the 1.2x (696k) and 2.5x (156k) digital tele settings.  

"Davebox" test target: (840k) Good color and tone, although the image has the slight yellow tint that appears characteristic of the MX-2700, and that also cleans up so well & easily in Photoshop or PhotoGenetics. In our first shots of this target, it came out rather dark overall: It appears that the camera was exposing for the "catchlight" reflections in the pot lid, causing it to underexpose the rest of the subject. Perhaps as a result, the shadows were rather dark. (We'll try to reshoot this test asap.) Allowing for the slight color cast, the colors are very good and properly saturated, with the exception of the bright yellow swatch, which seems to be difficult for many cameras to handle, and which appears a little under-saturated here.

As before, the tables below show the full range of image size/quality settings, this time with the added variable of auto or daylight white balance.


Size/Resolution Variations, Auto WB:

Large/Fine
(840k)

Large/Normal
(432k)

Large/Basic
(224k)

Small/Fine
(144k)

Small/Normal
(80k)

Small/Basic
(48k)


Size/Resolution Variations, Daylight WB:

Large/Fine
(840k)

Large/Normal
(432k)

Large/Basic
(224k)

Small/Fine
(144k)

Small/Normal
(80k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

 
 

Low-Light Tests (NEW!)
After a number of requests for a more quantitative measure of cameras' low-light capabilities, we've instituted an official low-light test, using the Davebox target, a single flood, neutral-density gels, and an accurate light meter to test camera performance under a range of dim lighting. (If it sounds like a pain in the neck, that's because it is!)
As noted in the main review, the "official" specifications of the MX-2700 suggest a lower limit of roughly EV 10 for subject lighting. This more or less agrees with our own tests, although we felt that a usable image could be obtained as low as EV 9, although shadow detail is distinctly lacking that low. You can somewhat extend the low-light capability by boosting the exposure compensation, although in practice EV 9 is about the lower limit. (This is sufficient for fairly dimly-lit indoor shots, but probably not low enough for true night photography outdoors.) The table below has sample images shot at light levels ranging from EV 10 down to EV 7. All are at the default exposure setting, except the EV 8 shot is boosted +0.9 EV, and the EV 7 one +1.5 EV.

EV 10
(868k)

EV 9
(856k)

EV 8
(808k)

EV 7
(860k)

 
ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (844k) (Technoids only) The MX-2700 did very well on the resolution test, as befits a camera with a 2.3 megapixel sensor. Visual resolution is approximately 750 lines per picture height horizontally, and approaches 800 vertically. The "zipper" artifact we mentioned earlier appears again here, but only at vertical frequencies above 800 lines per picture height. (We unfortunately didn't think to shoot this target with a range of sharpness settings...) The digital telephoto function works about as you'd expect, it being just a cropped-out subset of the full-frame image. In the test shots below, we set the edges of the target active area exactly at the edges of the LCD viewfinder display. This produced a fairly accurate result for the 2.5x setting (148k),but resulted in us grabbing about 10% more target area in the case of the 1.2x option (636k). As before, the table below holds samples of all resolution/quality settings.
Size/resolution variations

Large/Fine
(844k)

Large/Normal
(436k)

Large/Basic
(232k)

Small/Fine
(144k)

Small/Normal
(80k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

 

Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: The MX-2700's viewfinders (optical and LCD) vary somewhat in their accuracy. The optical finder (148k) shows only 82% of the final image area, slightly less accurate than the 85% that seems to be a standard design goal of digicam designers. (Point & shoot viewfinders almost always show less area than the film or CCD is capturing, to help insure that users don't accidentally lose part of the image they're trying to shoot.) What's there is pretty well centered though, biased only slightly toward the top of the frame. - As a result, it's not too hard to learn to compensate for, particularly given the immediate feedback the LCD provides. The LCD viewfinder (148k) on the other hand is absolutely accurate, showing exactly 100% of the image area. (Well, that is, in the case of the full-resolution shooting mode: In digital telephoto mode, the LCD shows 90% of the final area at 1.2x (148k), and 95% at 2.5x (148k).) Flash uniformity is a bit weak, with the corners of the frame somewhat dark.

We recently began reporting on lens distortions, and are happy to say that the MX-2700's lens has very little! Unusual in a point & shoot's wide angle lens, the lens in the MX-2700 shows almost no barrel distortion, coming in at only 0.4%. Chromatic aberration is effectively nil. (A very good lens performance!)

 
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