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Digital Cameras - Fuji MX-600 Zoom Test Images

(Original test posting: 5/11/99)

Outdoor portrait: (640k) Good color and tone, although the very high-key subject fooled the MX-600's exposure meter, as it has with just about every digicam we've tested. Our main shot here (640k) was shot with the exposure compensation dialed-up by 0.9 EV units, although at that point we're starting to lose some of the strongest highlights. This shot (640k), taken at +0.6EV compensation holds the highlights nicely, but may appear dark on computers with higher monitor gamma. (It looks good on typical Mac screens, but will appear fairly dark on PC monitors.)
 

Closer portrait: (624k) Excellent detail & exposure. Very clean, with little noise, good detail in the hair, and almost no JPEG artifacts. Slight contrast breaks in the skin near the eyes, probably due to the in-camera sharpening algorithms. Overall excellent handling.  

Indoor portrait, flash: (620k) The MX-600Z performed very well in this test, and we really like the ability it gives you to adjust the flash output! While our main picture (620k) was shot with nominal exposure, this one, with the flash exposure set down by 0.6 EV units, and the ambient (non-flash) exposure boosted by the maximum provides a very subtle fill-light. The result is a very natural-looking picture, with much more subtle lighting than we're accustomed to seeing in digicam flash shots.
 

Indoor portrait, no flash: (624k) This shot is a tough test of cameras' white-balance circuitry. We frequently find that digicams do best on this particular shot using their "auto" white balance setting, as the "incandescent" settings are often more suited to professional lighting than household lamps. This wasn't at all the case with the MX-600Z though: The main shot (636k) here was taken with the "incandescent" white-balance setting, and the exposure compensation adjusted up four steps to +1.2EV. Even the default exposure setting (636k) in "incandescent" mode produced a good shot, albeit a somewhat dark one. There's a little remaing reddish cast to the image, but we found that it cleaned up remarkably well in Photoshop, using a simple "auto levels" adjustment. By contrast, the automatic white balance of the 'MX-600 produces a very yellowish shot, as seen here (284k), with the exposure compensation also set to +1.2EV.  

House shot: (680k) Our standard "House" poster shot is a great test of resolution and detail rendering. The MX-600Z did very well on this shot. Detail is quite good, very much in the running with other 1.3-1.5 megapixel cameras. Color is good, but slightly yellowish. (This shot was taken with the white balance set to "daylight," as the "auto" setting produced a somewhat pinkish hue in the image.) As has become our custom on this test, we've prepared a matrix of shots, showing the various combinations of image size and compression ratio the MX-600Z is capable of:

Size/Resolution Variations:

Large/Fine
(680k)

Large/Normal
(348k)

Large/Basic
(168k)

Small/Fine
(168k)

Small/Normal
(96k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

Sharpness Variations:

Large/Hard
(692k)

Large/Normal
(680k)

Large/Soft
(652k)

 
 

Far-Field shot: (692k) 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.
We've found that digicam lenses frequently perform differently when focused at infinity than when used at closer distances. Accordingly, we use this shot to test the "infinity" performance, even though the scene content will vary considerably with weather and particularly the seasons. We were surprised by just how well the MX-600Z did here, turning in a truly excellent performance (692k), as evidenced by the fine detail in the bricks of the house, and in the branches silhouetted against the sky. Contrary to many cameras we've tested, its lens seems to be even sharper at infinity than in closer shooting. We've created two matrices here, one showing the variation in the image as a result of different image sizes and compression settings, as in the "House" shot above. The second group shows the effect of different settings of the camera's "sharpness" setting, with samples taken at "Hard," "Normal," and "Soft." - It looks to us like the "Soft" setting actually just corresponds to no in-camera sharpening at all, while "Normal" applies a bit, and "Hard" quite a lot. We found "Normal" worked well most of the time, although you may want to use "Soft" and subsequent processing in Photoshop for critical images, and "Hard" for ones you'll be printing on a low-resolution inkjet or laser printer.

Size/Resolution Variations:

Large/Fine
(692k)

Large/Normal
(336k)

Large/Basic
(164k)

Small/Fine
(168k)

Small/Normal
(96k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

Sharpness Variations:

Large/Hard
(708k)

Large/Normal
(692k)

Large/Soft
(644k)

 

"Musicians" poster: (668k) Very good color, great sharpness - a very good performance on this image! The main shot here was taken with the color balance set to "Daylight," as the automatic white balance setting left a rather pinkish tone, as shown here (672k) With the "Sunny" setting though, the color is very good, indeed. Sharpness is also very good, as you'll see when comparing the MX-600Z shots with others in the Comparometer(tm) (see the link at the bottom of this page). Here again, we've shot a full set of resolution/compression combinations, this time with examples of both daylight and automatic white balance settings, listed in the table below.

Size/Resolution Variations, Daylight WB:

Large/Fine
(668k)

Large/Normal
(320k)

Large/Basic
(156k)

Small/Fine
(160k)

Small/Normal
(88k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

Size/Resolution Variations, Auto WB:

Large/Fine
(672k)

Large/Normal
(320k)

Large/Basic
(152k)

Small/Fine
(160k)

Small/Normal
(88k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

Sharpness Variations:

Large/Hard
(676k)

Large/Normal
(672k)

Large/Soft
(628k)

 
Macro shot: (704k) - The MX-600Z performed very respectably on this test, solidly in the middle range of cameras we've tested, in terms of magnification ratio, covering a minimum area of 2.9 x 3.6 inches (74 x 92 mm), and better than many on the basis of color rendition. (It handled the subtle green tint of the dollar bill very well, and did an excellent job on the gold in the brooch.) This shot (684k) shows the effect of the default flash setting, somewhat washing-out the detail in the coin. This was a case where the adjustable flash output came in quite handy: This shot (704k) shows the effect of the flash exposure being set down by -0.6 EV units. There's still strong glare from the coin, but the overall exposure is much better.  

"Davebox" test target: (640k) Again, the MX-600Z performed very well, showing good color balance and saturation, and good tonal range, with a surprising amount of shadow detail in the charcoal bricks. Here, we actually found almost no difference in color balance between the "auto" and "daylight" white-balance settings. The matrix below shows the effect of varying compression settings and image sizes, all show with the white balance set to "auto". The lower matrix shows the effect of the various settings for in-camera sharpening, all at the large image size.


Size/Resolution Variations, Auto WB:

Large/Fine
(640k)

Large/Normal
(312k)

Large/Basic
(148k)

Small/Fine
(156k)

Small/Normal
(84k)

Small/Basic
(48k)

Sharpness Variations:

Large/Hard
(632k)

Large/Normal
(640k)

Large/Soft
(596k)

 
 

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!)
Fuji's official ratings of the MX-600 for ISO equivalence, shutter speed, and lens aperture all suggest a minimum usable light level of about EV 10.5. This agreed fairly well with our own testing, in which we got usable images down to EV 10, and a marginal one at EV 9. (Even the EV10 shot required some work in Photoshop to get it to a level that most users would be satisfied with.) The table below has links to pictures shot at a range of light levels, and with both default and EV-boosted images.

 

EV 10
(640k)

EV 9
(656k)

EV 8
(600k)

EV 10,
+-0.9 exposure
(640k)

EV 9,
+-0.9 exposure
(648k)

EV 8,
+-0.9 exposure
(596k)

 

ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (635k) (Technoids only) Here again, the MX-600Z did very well indeed, with a visual resolution of roughly 600-650 line pairs per picture height in both vertical and horizontal directions. This is right at the top of the current crop of 1.3-1.5 megapixel digicams. (The MX-600 has a bit of an advantage over most megapixel-plus digicams, in that its sensor is a true 1.5 million pixel one, vs the more common 1.3 megapixels in most units competing at the same price point.) This show also reveals the slight barrel distortion of the MX-600's lens at the wide angle end of its range, a parameter we've only recently begun measuring. Barrel distortion here is 0.8%, a fairly good number for wide-angle zooms on digicams. At the telephoto end, distortion is almost unmeasurable, perhaps on the order of 0.1%. The tables below contain links to images shot at both the telephoto and wide-angle ends of the zoom's range, with the full range of image size & compression settings. Some examples are also included showing the effects of the various "sharpness" settings.
Telephoto

"Normal"
Sharpness

Large/Fine
(608k)

Large/Normal
(312k)

Large/Basic
(156k)

Small/Fine
(152k)

Small/Normal
(84k)

Small/Basic
(52k)

 

Wide-Angle

"Normal"
Sharpness

Large/Fine
(616k)

Large/Normal
(316k)

Large/Basic
(156k)

Small/Fine
(152k)

Small/Normal
(84k)

Small/Basic
(52k)

 

Sharpness Variations (All wide-angle)

Large/Hard
(632k)

Large/Normal
(616k)

Large/Soft
(620k)

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: While the MX-600Z's LCD viewfinder is fairly accurate, consistently showing 89% of the final image area at both telephoto (144k) and wide-angle (596k) focal lengths, its optical viewfinder does considerably less well, showing only 81% at the wide-angle setting (604k), and 77% at the telephoto end (144k). While the smaller area shown in the viewfinder reduces the chance of inadvertently chopping off the top of someone's head in a picture, it will also tend to leave you with rather loose compositions, not using the available resolution of the sensor to its best advantage. Still, looking back over our test evaluations, if this is the worst we can find to complain about in this camera, it isn't much! (Our viewfinder accuracy shot taken with the optical finder at the telephoto setting did show a rotation of about 1 degree. We'll re-shoot this image to confirm the issue, as it seems unlikely that a camera would show viewfinder rotation at one end of the zoom, and none at the other! Sorry too, for the over-large wide-angle files: They were inadvertently shot at the "fine" image-quality setting.) Flash uniformity is quite good at the wide-angle end, and excellent at the telephoto end of the lens' range.  

 

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