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Fuji X100: Crazy Dynamic Range

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Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/600 sec, f/11, ISO 200

One of the things that frustrates me most about compact cameras is that their dynamic range is so limited compared to DSLRs. Not so with the Fuji X100. It  sports a larger, APS-C sized sensor for dynamic range no small-sensor compact or even m4/3 camera can touch. In addition, when you set the camera to auto-dynamic range and let the it control your ISO, the X100 works some serious magic, expertly juggling highlights and shadows in extreme lighting conditions with surprisingly natural results.

This weekend I threw some tough, contrasty scenes at the X100 to see what it could do. The image above is a good example. There’s some really hard sunlight hitting the side of the building, and the side facing away from the sun was in shadow. Notice, however, that there’s detail all over the frame, from the brightest portions of the sun-facing windows to the insides of those dark balconies. I think a couple of the windows at the top of the building are clipped, but it still looks very natural.


Fuji X100 – 23mm,1/680 sec, f/2, ISO 800

I purposefully looked for hard light next to dark shadows this weekend. I know for sure that my EPL2 would  have clipped highlights like crazy in the image above, but again, detail everywhere with the X100.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Even though light from the ground is illuminating the underside of this palm, the leaves were still much darker than the sky. Great balance here straight from the camera.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/900 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400

The pavement here is really hot in contrast to the dark tones on the train, yet there’s still detail on both areas of the frame.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/450 sec, f/11, ISO 800

How’s this for contrasty? If you look really close, you can see that the hard shadow on the right of the frame is not clipped, there’s some detail from the blue window frame in there. Wow.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/2,200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

This one was taken in mid-day sunlight. You might notice the seemly odd ISO choice of 800, however. The camera is automatically underexposing to protect the highlights  (sky and and sidewalk) and using the high ISO setting to bring out shadow detail. It works extremely well. Nikon and Canon DSLRs do something similar with their Active D-Lighting and Highlight Tone Priority systems, respectively.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, Program AE, 1/640 sec, f/9, ISO 400


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/800 sec, f/8, ISO 800


Fuji X100 – 23mm,  1/1,800 sec, f/8, ISO 800


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/1,100 sec, f/11, ISO 800


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/640 sec, f/2, ISO 400

You know, I don’t typically seek out contrasts in tone like this. Doing so was a fun exercise.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/500 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm,  1/450 sec, f/6.4, ISO 400


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/480 sec, f/4, ISO 400 -1EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/400 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -1/3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 400

Just some random portraits from the weekend. Skin tones look absolutely dead on with the X100, even using Auto White Balance.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/70 sec, f/8, ISO 200


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/450 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Still tweaking the camera’s image settings to get the JPEGs looking the way I want them. I think I’m almost there.

More random shooting from the weekend:


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/170 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/110 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/950 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 -1.3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/600 sec, f/2, ISO 200


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/320 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV

That’s it! Just another quick note: I’ve heard lots of bad things about the camera’s firmware and menu interface. To be sure, it does seem quirky at times, but I can’t say I’m all that bothered by it. Somehow I just have a blast with the camera every time I pick it up. I do get the sense that this is not a camera for everyone, however. I think its really a matter of knowing thyself before you buy.

One thing kinda bugs me though:

The camera has film simulation modes. Provia is supposed to be a standard mode, Astia is supposed to reproduce softer tones with less contrast and saturation. Strange thing is, pictures I take in Astia are definitely more contrasty and saturated than images taken in Provia. What gives? Did a switcheroo happen when the firmware was written? Is Provia supposed to be Astia and Astia Provia? Wierd.

Written by Jonathan

June 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm