Fuji X30 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
About average saturation levels, with good hue accuracy.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Click for a larger image.

Saturation. Overall, saturations levels are about average from the Fuji X30 using default settings, at about 8.6% oversaturated. The X30 pushes dark reds a moderate amount, but most other colors are just slightly exaggerated, while yellow and aqua are somewhat muted. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Fuji X30 did well, producing natural-looking Caucasian skin tones that looked realistic and healthy. 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 X30 shifts cyan toward blue by a moderate amount, but other shifts in colors are fairly small. (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.) The X30's handling of yellow is a weakness though: Yellows are significantly undersaturated, and shifted slightly toward green. But with a mean "delta-C" color error of 4.7 after correction for saturation, overall hue accuracy is actually pretty good. Hue is "what color" the color is.

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance were too warm, but manual was pretty accurate. No exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
0 EV
Incandescent White Balance
0 EV
Manual White Balance
0 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was warm and reddish with the Auto white balance setting, while results with the Incandescent setting were a bit warmer with more yellow. The Manual setting was quite accurate, perhaps just slightly on the cool side. The Fuji X30 required no exposure compensation while most cameras require about +0.3 EV for this scene, so the X30 performed better than average in terms of exposure here. (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.)

See thumbnails of all test images

Resolution
~2,100 to ~2,200 lines of strong detail.

In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,200 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,100 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,200 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,100 lines vertical

In-camera JPEGs of our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns to about 2,200 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 2,100 lines per picture height in the vertical direction. Some may argue for more, but lines began to merge at those resolutions. Complete extinction of the pattern occurred at about 2,500 lines. Adobe Camera Raw produced similar results though complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the limit of our chart horizontally, and at about 2,900 lines vertically. ACR also seemed to do a bit better at suppressing luminance moiré than the camera, but there was no color moiré from either. 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.

See thumbnails of all test images

Sharpness & Detail
Slightly soft images with visible sharpening artifacts. Moderate noise reduction at base ISO.

High-contrast elements
show moderate
sharpening haloes.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The X30 produces slightly soft looking images despite some obvious sharpening halos around high contrast transitions, as can be seen around the lines and text in the crop above left. Still, pretty good results for its class. 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 good detail for the class of camera, with moderate levels noise suppression in the darkest areas of the mannequins's hair, and almost no chroma noise. A few individual strands are smudged together in areas of low contrast at base ISO, but performance here is actually quite good considering the size of the sensor. 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 X30 slightly soft but very clean images at base ISO. Let's see how an Adobe Camera Raw conversion compares.

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.7 using default noise reduction with strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (in this case 300% USM with a radius of 0.6 pixels and a threshold of 0).

As you can see, ACR was able to produce a bit more detail that isn't present in the JPEG from the camera, though the X30's JPEG rendering is pretty good. The biggest improvement is in the fabric crop, where ACR was able to produce finer detail with better contrast. But as is usually the case, more noise can be seen in the RAW conversion particularly in flat areas as shown in the bottle shoulder crop, thanks to the fairly aggressive sharpening required to produce crisp images. Bottom line: the Fuji's JPEG engine does an excellent job at rendering what the X30's X-Trans II sensor can capture, but in some areas, ACR actually does a bit better.

Contrast and Dynamic Range Settings
The Fuji X30 does not offer a 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."

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 Far-field shot. Mouse over the links to load the associated thumbnail, 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, giving more flexibility than a standard contrast adjustment.

D-Range Comparison (ISO 400)

D-Range is Fuji's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. D-Range is designed to hold onto hot highlights while preserving shadows. The camera does this by essentially underexposing to reduce highlight clipping, then boosting mid-tones and shadows to compensate, similar to other manufacturers' single-shot dynamic range optimization systems.

There are three levels of D-Range available: DR100 100% (default), DR200 200% and DR400 400%, as well as an Auto mode which selects between 100% and 200% based on the scene. Mouse over the links above to load the corresponding thumbnail image. Click on the links to get to the full resolution images.

As you can see the images above, the Fuji X30's D-Range feature was effective at retaining clipped highlights without crushing shadows in our Far-field shot, though higher values can increase the appearance of noise.

ISO & Noise Performance
Good high ISO performance for its class.

Default High ISO Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12,800

ISO 100 and 200 produce similar results, with detailed though slightly soft images containing low levels of fine-grained luma noise and almost no chroma noise. ISO 400 shows a very minor drop in image quality as noise reduction ramps, but fine detail is still quite good. ISO 800 shows a larger drop in image quality with stronger blurring though luma noise is still fairly fine-grained and chroma noise continues to be well-controlled. ISO 1600 is of course softer thanks to higher noise and stronger noise reduction, though some fine detail is still left. At ISO 3200, image quality takes a larger hit with higher noise, both luma and chroma. Image quality drops off very quickly from here, with ISO 6400 and 12,800 quite noisy with strong luma noise and very ugly purple and yellow chroma blotching.

Overall, though, high ISO performance is better than average for a compact. We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
No NR
ISO
100

1s, f2.0

15s, f2.0

15s, f2.0
ISO
3200

1/30s, f2.0

0.5s, f2.0

0.5s, f2.0
ISO
12800

1/125s, f2.0

1/8s, f2.0

1/8s, f2.0

Low Light. The Fuji X30 did well in our low light tests. The X30's slowest shutter speed of 30 seconds and fast lens allowed it to capture bright images at the lowest light level we test at (1/16 foot-candle), even at ISO 100. ISO 3200 is fairly noisy as expected, but images are still usable. The top ISO of 12,800 on the other hand is very noisy and soft due to aggressive noise reduction.

Auto white balance did a very good job here, producing fairly neutral, just slightly cool color balance at all ISOs and light levels we tested.

We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels, banding (pattern noise) or heat blooming.

The Fuji X30's autofocus system performed well in our low light test thanks to its fast lens, able to focus down to just below the 1/8 foot-candle level which is very good for its class. And the X30 was able to focus in complete darkness with its built-in focus assist lamp enabled, but real-world performance will of course depend on subject distance and contrast.

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.) Thanks to their somewhat larger sensors, enthusiast cameras like the Fuji X30 tend to do better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. (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.)

Output Quality

Print Quality
High-quality prints up to 16 x 20 inches at ISO 100-200; Good 11 x 14 inch prints at ISO 800; and acceptable 4 x 6 inch prints are possible up to ISO 3200/6400.

ISO 100 prints look great up to 16 x 20 inches with lots of detail and great colors. Past this size, you're really pushing the limits of the 12MP 2/3-inch sensor with larger print sizes. That said, while you can see visible pixelation with 20 x 30 inch prints, they'd be fine for wall display at this ISO.

ISO 200 images are also quite nice up to 16 x 20 inches. Upon close inspection, there is a slight drop in very fine detail, but not by nearly a significant enough amount to drop the maximum print size.

ISO 400 prints again show a progressive, minor drop in fine detail, but noise is still not an issue at this ISO, and as such prints as large as 13 x 19 inches are perfectly usable. Overall detail is great and colors are pleasing.

ISO 800 images display noticeable softening at sizes larger than 11 x 14 inches. At this size, and better yet, at 8 x 10 inches, details are still sharp. Colors overall, also, are still nice and vibrant.

ISO 1600 prints begin to display a more noticeable drop in resolution and detail due to noise and noise reduction, and anything larger than 5 x 7 inches is difficult to consider acceptable. An 8 x 10 inch print would be usable, however, for less critical applications.

ISO 3200 images really top-out at 4 x 6 inches. Noise is definitely making the images soft and lack detail, and colors at this point are beginning to look drab and less vibrant. As before, a print size larger -- 5 x 7 inches in this case -- would be doable for less critical purposes, however.

ISO 6400 prints just squeak by with an acceptable 4 x 6 inch print, though it's really on the cusp of being too soft and lacking in detail. We'd recommend, if possible, using a lower ISO for printing.

ISO 12,800 images are very noisy, soft and have very drab, dingy colors. This ISO level, on a sensor of this size, is really best avoided for printmaking.

The updated Fujifilm X30 packs an updated exterior design, but maintains the same imaging pipeline and lens as its predecessor, the X20. As such, the relatively large 12MP 2/3-inch-type sensor does quite well in print department at lower ISOs. At base ISO and up to ISO 200, the X30 manages great 16 x 20 inch prints, but you can really push the sensor at base ISO for a 20 x 30 wall display print. At ISO 800, detail has dropped a bit, but noise is nevertheless under control, which allows for nice 11 x 14 inch prints. At high ISOs, however, the X30 begins to struggle, with ISO 3200 really being the maximum sensitivity we're comfortable with in terms of printing, though an ISO 6400 image can just manage a decent 4 x 6 inch print as well. Any larger print sizes at this point or a higher ISO level should really be avoided for prints.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell 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 routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm X30 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm X30 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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