Fujifilm X100 Review
Fuji X100 Image Quality
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Very good color with excellent hue accuracy.
Skin tones. The Fuji X100 rendered natural looking Caucasian skin tones that were a touch on the pinkish side, because of the push in reds. Still, results were quite pleasing, with a healthy look. (Here, too, the X100's saturation and/or film mode adjustments may come into play for some users, letting them tweak the color on skin tones, if they find the default rendering a bit too saturated for their personal tastes.) Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Fuji X100 showed only a few small color shifts relative to the mathematically precise translation of colors in its subjects, and had excellent hue accuracy overall. Most noticeable were shifts in reds toward orange, orange toward yellow, cyan toward blue, as well as some smaller shifts in yellow and green. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) Average "delta-C" color error corrected for saturation was only 3.7, which is excellent, one of the better scores to date. Hue is "what color" the
Film Simulation Modes
The Fuji X100 offers a total of eight Film Simulation modes. They can be combined with tone and sharpness settings.
Mouse over the links above to see the effect of the Film Simulation presets on our Still Life target. Click on a link to load the full resolution image.
The Fuji X100 has a total of five saturation settings available ("Low", "Medium Low", "Mid", "Medium High" and "High"), which the manual calls "Color Density". That's not as many steps as most cameras, and as you can see the steps are pretty fine, making the effect fairly subtle. It had no effect on contrast, which is good.
|Saturation Adjustment Examples|
The table above shows results with several saturation settings including the default and both limits. Click on any thumbnail above to see the full-sized image.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance were quite warm while 2,600K was very cool, but very good results with the Manual setting. An average amount of positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Indoors, under typical incandescent lighting, color balance was quite warm using the Auto setting, with a fairly strong reddish cast. Results with the Incandescent white balance setting were also warm, with a strong yellow/orange cast, but Incandescent kept more of the mood of the lighting than the Auto setting. The Manual white balance setting was quite accurate and neutral, while the 2,600 Kelvin temperature setting produced a very cool image with a strong blue/green tint. The Fuji X100 required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +0.3 EV. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Very good color though slightly cool outdoors. Mixed exposure accuracy.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Fuji X100 produced bright but slightly cool color at default settings, though results looked quite natural. The Fuji X100 required no exposure compensation adjustment to produce bright facial tones on the mannequin, though there was some minor clipping of highlights. Most cameras require about +0.7 EV to produce a bright face in this shot, so the X100 did much better than average here. Skin tones appeared natural, with a healthy-looking pinkish cast. The Fuji X100 slightly overexposed our Far-field House shot at default exposure which led to clipped highlights in the white trim, eavetroughs, bricks as well as the blue channel in the sky, though shadow detail was quite good. Color was just a touch cool. See the Extremes: Sunlit section below to see how the X100's Highlight/Shadow Tone and D-Range settings help deal with harsh lighting like this.
High resolution, ~1,800 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, about the same from RAW.
|Strong detail to
~1,800 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
~1,800 lines vertical
|Strong detail to
~1,800 lines horizontal
Adobe Camera Raw
|Strong detail to
~1,800 lines vertical
Adobe Camera Raw
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,800 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 1,800 line per picture height n the vertical direction. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until around 2,600 lines in both directions. Adobe Camera Raw wasn't able to extract much more detail from this high-contrast target, though it extended complete extinction to about 2,900 lines. A lot of color moire interference patterns are visible in the ACR conversion, though the Fuji X100 seems to do a good job at suppressing color moire in its JPEGs. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Very good detail and sharpness overall, with minor edge-enhancement artifacts appearing around some high-contrast subjects. Mild noise suppression is visible in the shadows at base ISO.
Sharpness. The Fuji X100 captures sharp, detailed images, though some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the thicker branches and roof in the above left crop. Fine detail such as the smaller branches and twigs however show very little edge enhancement. Very good results here. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows low levels of luminance noise suppression, as the darker areas of the model's hair still show a pretty good amount of detail. Some individual strands do merge together when local contrast is low and as shadows deepen, but performance here is better than average. The Fuji X100 does a great job at keeping chrominance noise low as well. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Fuji X100 produces sharp JPEG images with very good detail at default settings. Let's see if we can extract more fine detail from RAW files without introducing additional sharpening artifacts:
In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above, and clicking on the link will load the full resolution image. Examples include (from left to right): an in-camera Fine JPEG, RAW file processed through Fuji's RAW File Converter EX software (which is based on SilkyPix) at default settings, another processed with RFC's in-application sharpening turned down to a minimum but with output sharpening applied using unsharp mask of 350% with radius 0.3 pixels, and finally, one processed in Adobe Camera Raw 6.4, and sharpened in Photoshop using unsharp mask of 250% with radius 0.3 pixels.
As you can see, the Fuji RFC version at default settings is somewhat softer than the in-camera JPEG. (Color rendering is also slightly different which is not usually the case for bundled software but not a surprise since it's based on third-party software based on SilkyPix.) Increasing the sharpness helped a bit, but the resulting image doesn't really show much any additional detail. In fact, it shows less fine detail in the pine needles and foliage than the in-camera JPEG. Adobe Camera Raw was able to extract slightly more fine detail than the in-camera JPEG, but it also shows a bit more noise at default noise reduction settings. Of course, you can always adjust the amount of noise reduction and decide for yourself what trade-off in detail you'd prefer when processing your own images. That's one of the advantages of shooting RAW. Bottom line, though, the Fuji X100's JPEG engine is doing a great job of holding onto most of the detail offered by its sensor.
ISO & Noise Performance
Strong detail up to ISO 1,600, with very good tradeoff between noise and detail.
Default High ISO Noise Reduction
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600||ISO 3,200|
|ISO 6,400||ISO 12,800|
The Fuji X100's images are fairly clean and very detailed up ISO 400. Fine detail remains strong at ISO 800, with only minor loss in detail due to noise reduction smudging becoming noticeable. Luminance noise "grain" is quite fine and tight, and there is very little sign of chrominance noise. At ISO 1,600, noise reduction efforts are little stronger as you'd expect, but fine detail is still very good. ISO 3,200 is similar, with increased noise and stronger blurring, but detail is still good. At ISO 6,400, there's a larger reduction in image quality compared to previous ISO steps, with more visible grain, blurring, noise reduction artifacts, and blotchy but subtle chroma noise in the shadows. ISO 12,800 is pretty soft with lots of luminance and chrominance noise, as well as a drop in saturation. Still, high ISO performance is excellent, especially for such a compact camera. We're pixel-peeping to the extreme here though, which isn't always representative of what you see in prints. As always, see the Print Quality section below for maximum recommended print sizes at each ISO.
Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Very high resolution with very good overall detail. High default contrast with some highlight clipping, but very good shadow detail. Good low-light performance.
|0 EV||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
As mention previously, the Fuji X100 performed well with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test; much better than average in terms of exposure. We preferred the default exposure overall, because exposures at higher exposure compensations were too bright with too many clipped highlights. While some highlights were blown in the model's shirt and flowers at 0 EV (default exposure), clipping was gradual in nature, making it less conspicuous than many cameras we have tested. Shadow detail is very good, with low levels of noise except in the very deepest shadows. The Fuji X100 performed quite well here, especially compared to cameras similar in size.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
The Fuji X100 does not offer any traditional contrast adjustment. Instead, it offers Shadow and Highlight Tone settings, which let you adjust contrast in highlights and shadows independently. There are five settings each: "Soft", "Medium Soft", "Standard" (default), "Medium Hard", and "Hard".
"Sunlit" Portrait Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison
Shadow and Highlight Tone. Above you can see the effects of three of the five settings for Highlight and Shadow Tone control on our high contrast "Sunlit" Portrait shot. Mouse over the links to load the associated thumbnail and histogram, and click on the links to visit the full resolution image. Note how the Highlight settings affect only the brighter portions of the image, while the Shadow settings impact the darker areas. Both settings can be used simultaneously
|Far-field House Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison|
Above, you can see the effect of the same Highlight and Shadow Tone settings on our Far-field House shot.
"Sunlit" Portrait D-Range Comparison
Shadow Noise (levels boosted)
D-Range is Fuji's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. D-Range designed to preserve hot highlights, by exposing for highlights and then boosting mid-tones and shadows. There are three levels: DR100 100% (default), DR200 200%, DR400 400%, as well as an automatic mode. Mouse over the links above to load the corresponding thumbnail image, histogram, highlight and shadow crop. Click on the links to get to the full resolution images.
As you can see the images above, the Fuji X100's D-Range feature was very effective at retaining clipped highlights in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot. As they say, though, there's no free lunch: if you look closely at the full resolution images or the crops, you'll see that highlight retention comes at a cost of some increased noise in the shadows. This is because the camera raises minimum ISO to 400 and 800 for DR 200% and 400% respectively. Still, even with the DR 400% setting (ISO 800), noise from the Fuji X100's sensor is low enough that it shouldn't be an issue for most applications. (Note that the shadow crops above have had levels adjusted in Photoshop significantly to reveal the increase in shadow noise.)
Above, you can see how the various D-Range settings affect our Far-field House shot, at default exposure (0 EV).
The Fuji X100 does not offer a face detection AF or AE mode which is a little odd for a camera that uses only contrast-detection AF, though we don't know if the camera employs either in Auto modes.
A key parameter in a digital camera is its Dynamic Range, the range of brightness that can be faithfully recorded. At the upper end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is dictated by the point at which the RGB data "saturates" at values of 255, 255, 255. At the lower end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is determined by the point at which there ceases to be any useful difference between adjacent tonal steps. Note the use of the qualifier "useful" in there: While it's tempting to evaluate dynamic range as the maximum number of tonal steps that can be discerned at all, that measure of dynamic range has very little relevance to real-world photography. What we care about as photographers is how much detail we can pull out of the shadows before image noise becomes too objectionable. This, of course, is a very subjective matter, and will vary with the application and even the subject matter in question. (Noise will be much more visible in subjects with large areas of flat tints and subtle shading than it would in subjects with strong, highly contrasting surface texture.)
What makes most sense then, is to specify useful dynamic range in terms of the point at which image noise reaches some agreed-upon threshold. To this end, Imatest computes a number of different dynamic range measurements, based on a variety of image noise thresholds. The noise thresholds are specified in terms of f-stops of equivalent luminance variation in the final image file, and dynamic range is computed for noise thresholds of 1.0 (low image quality), 0.5 (medium image quality), 0.25 (medium-high image quality) and 0.1 (high image quality). For most photographers and most applications, the noise thresholds of 0.5 and 0.25 f-stops are probably the most relevant to the production of acceptable-quality finished images, but many noise-sensitive shooters will insist on the 0.1 f-stop limit for their most critical work.
JPEG. The graph at right (click for a larger version) was generated using Imatest's dynamic range analysis for a Fuji X100 in-camera JPEG file with a nominally-exposed density step target (Stouffer 4110). At default settings and normal base ISO (200), the graph shows 10.1 f-stops of total dynamic range, with 6.64 f-stops of dynamic range at the High Quality level. Total dynamic range score is very good, close to the best APS-C models we've tested, however the High Quality score of 6.64 is below average for a modern APS-C sensor. The lower High Quality score is in part due to the X100's base ISO of 200 and its light touch when it comes luminance noise reduction at default settings, as higher noise levels tends to reduce scores at higher quality levels.
RAW. The graph at right is from the same Stouffer 4110 stepchart image captured as a RAW (.RAF) file, processed with Adobe Camera Raw using the Auto setting. The Fuji X100 RAW file scored a full stop more in total dynamic range (11.1 vs 10.1 f-stops) and the score at the highest quality level increased quite dramatically by over 2.5 f-stops from 6.64 to 9.29 f-stop. Very good results here; better than most compact system cameras, though somewhat shy of the best APS-C models. It's worth noting here is that ACR's default noise reduction settings reduced overall noise quite a bit (see the plot in the lower left-hand corner) relative to the levels in the in-camera JPEG, which would tend to boost the dynamic range numbers for the High Quality threshold. Also, the extreme highlight recovery being performed by ACR here would likely produce color errors in strong highlights of natural subjects.
Low Light. The Fuji X100 was able to capture bright images at the lowest light level with the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100), but like many cameras, the X100's auto exposure (metering) did not work well at all at lower light levels, requiring the use of manual exposure. Color balance looked quite good with the Auto white balance setting, just a touch cool. Noise is quite low up to ISO 1,600, and at higher ISOs noise grain is pretty fine so detail remains good, though chroma noise gets a little blotchy at the highest ISO. Some horizontal banding is visible at higher ISOs and darker light levels, but we did not notice any issues with uncorrected hot pixels. We also noticed a bit of flare around bright reflections and light sources in our low-light (and flash) shots.
The camera's contrast-detect autofocus system was only able to focus on the subject down to just below the 1/4 foot-candle light level unassisted, despite having a relatively fast lens. That's not as good as most SLRs with a similar lens. The Fuji X100 was however able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist enabled. Keep in mind that the longer shutter speeds here demand the use of a tripod to prevent any blurring from camera movement. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) The Fuji X100 uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability is less than that of some SLRs with phase-detect systems. That said, though, the larger, more sensitive pixels of the X100's sensor do better under dim lighting than do the tiny pixels of most point & shoots, (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
ISO 400/800 shots look great printed at 20 x 30 inches, no problems, with very little noticeable noise or image degradation.
ISO 1,600 shots look great at 16 x 20 inches, except for a small amount of noise apparent in some shadowy areas of our test target.
ISO 3,200 shots look a little rough at 13 x 19, and detail begins to soften more in low contrast areas, particularly reds. They look better, though, printed at 11 x 14.
ISO 6,400 images show most elements looking good at 8 x 10 inches, not bad for this ISO.
ISO 12,800 shots are a bit noisy at 5 x 7, but make for a good 4 x 6.
Overall, it's a very impressive performance from the Fujifilm X100! Image quality holds together remarkably well across a wide range of ISO settings. Even ISO 12,800 shots make a good 4 x 6 inch print.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm FinePix X100 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm FinePix X100 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.