X-Pro 1 and Auto Focus Test.

The lads at Fuji Rumours have just posted this YouTube clip. For those who are considering upgrading to the X-Pro 1 level of camera, this video should be of interest and concern to you.

I wont beat about the bush. The X-Pro 1 is an overpriced camera and one that really isn’t as good as its makers say. I don’t need to own one to know this, rather its easy to find photography forums where there are a multitude of complaints regarding this camera. There’s also a lot of happy users out there as well, which just goes to show not all of us are concerned about the pitfalls of the X-Pro 1 or its hefty price-tag.

However after viewing this video, which I will admit is not particularly scientific, as a potential buyer it would be enough to scare me off. Watch the speed of the AF and remember this is using the new and improved firmware designed to speed up the focus, and also watch the file write times. The reviewers also remarks on this. In point of fact when I shoot my HS20 in L 16:9 mode and fire off shots like this my write speed is very similar and its one of my pet hates regarding the HS20 (even with a class 10 card). The X-Pro 1 looks to have a somewhat bigger write buffer than the HS20 as you would expect, but when compared to the Olympus its woeful. In fact this little demo has gone a long way to convincing me to buy an Olympus, and when I consider than in the days of 35mm film SLR’s, Olympus was one of the kings of camera makers with their OM series SLR’s, you can see the heritage in this new camera of theirs.

Dont Drop Your Camera or…

You Get This..

I posted the following in the Dpreview Forums as well, but it is worth a mention here. While you camera may feel quite robust and you do tend to bump them around abit in general shooting conditions. Dropping them off a bench onto a hard floor just doesnt go well with the delicate equipment housed in side the camera case. This had all but rendered my HS20 useless, however I am slowly putting together a working environment that still makes the camera a handy tool. I will update this as I get to grips with how to use the camera, now I have isolated at least one issue with it.

” For several months now I have been battling gremlins in my HS20. The gremlins arrived shortly after I knocked the camera off my desk and onto a hard wood floor. Since then I have been battling hit or miss focus, most noticeably at longer focal lengths and hadn’t been able to pin down what was wrong … until I got this.

 


The bird ( a swallow) is sitting under a fluorescent light so light isnt an issue other than adjusting Ev to suit. The bird is approximately 15-20 feet ( 5 to 6 metres) from my position and I am bracing the camera. I took approximately twenty shots, all of which looked like this. The camera was telling me that focus had locked and in both the EVF and the LCD the image looked well focused.
All that remained was a little more pressure on the shutter button and hey presto shot done.
 I’ve seen more of this, mostly it shows up at longer focal lengths which isn’t a surprise as this is where you would expect I.S. to really kick in, and as far as I can tell that’s where the problem lies. I think the fall has damaged the I.S. system and I now have an intermittent Image Stabilisation fault. Unfortunately this isn’t a warranty issue so it wont be fixed.

 I have being running some experiments with I.S turned off, and trying different shooting options to still use the camera.
To test one set of settings I enlisted the services of my ever so patient model Abbey.
With image stabilisation off and ISO at 400 I snapped off a series of shots, one of which, (the bottom image) I’m now using as a wallpaper on my desktop 🙂 “
*Wide angle


> *Std Macro


Digital Photography School

There’s a good many tutorials and “schools of photography” to be found on the internet. One  that I have seen getting quite a bit of press lately is the Digital Photography School. As I’m always interested in new things photographic, I signed up to their regular emails advising new series of tips and tricks. One that was featured in the latest emails was how to photograph fire. Well worth the look as its something I have had difficulty in getting really good images of.

 

EXR ..Debunking the Mystery .. Pt 2

The EXR sensor… HR & P modes.

If you had a peek at the Fuji website you will know that the sensor in EXR cameras does some cool stuff to help make your photos better.

HR (High Resolution) , DR (Wide Dynamic Range) & SN (High Sensitivity & Low Noise). I will use the short form of the modes for this discussion.

HR mode is fairly self explanatory, as it is simply the full 16Mps being used to take the image. The intent here is to supply as much resolution to the image that the sensor is capable of. The following images are all shot with DR100% + ISO 100% + Flash set to +1EV. White balance is set to tungsten as we are under lights, focus point is the wording on the top of my s5700. I shot one image in P mode and one in EXR HR mode @  16 Mp for maximum resolution.

16Mp P Mode
16Mp EXR HR

For these exercises I will, where appropriate use P mode for comparison. By extension these results should apply to the other PASM modes as well. As always I would encourage users of the HS20 & HS30 to experiment for themselves.

I will take a moment here to discuss “P” mode. A lot of users use P mode or A mode, partly because they are used to doing so from previous cameras they have used. Others like these modes because the thinking is that the EXR performance will be gained by switching to an 8mp image size, and thus reap the gains of better dynamic range performance. Personally I’m at a loss as to why people think this.

To any logical way of thinking it would seem counter productive to build a camera with special EXR functionality, advertise this technology as the prime mode for shooting to gain the advantages of the new EXR technology, and yet apply the same technology to the PASM modes. I cant see any reason as to why you would do this.

It would seem to me at least that the camera when set in PASM modes should function like any other 16 Mp camera that doesn’t have built in EXR. Essentially two cameras in one. As DR 100 to 400% is available in PASM and EXR modes, surely then there is something else at play here.

It would seem so.  The two crops below show a portion of an image cropped at 100%, one shot in P mode and one shot in HR mode. This is why some camera owners “pixel peep” and why its useful to do so. Its at the 100% level where you find out just how well your camera is performing. Exif data is maintained in the shots but here how the camera was set. Note identical settings for both P mode & HR mode.

  • ISO 100
  • Image size 4:3 Large
  • Image quality – Fine
  • Dynamic Range DR100%
  • Film Sim = Velvia (V)
  • Color – High
  • Tone = Std
  • Sharpness – Hard
  • Noise reduction = Low
  • Image stabilisation = shooting only
  • White balance = Auto
  • Metering = Average
  • Ev = 0.33+

Click the two images above to see a full sized image. Hover the mouse over the image to see which mode it is.

At first glance it would seem that there isn’t a lot of difference if any. On further examination there are some noticeable differences, which are by no means easy to see. The most prominent clue comes when examining the lettering in each image. There is more refinement in the edge of the lettering in the HR image. Its not a huge difference, but does show that the image is showing a small benefit from the EXR processor. Both images would be near identical after post processing. On balance I think its safe to say that with these settings both modes would provide good images.

Another thing that comes from this test is clear evidence that in good light at 100 ISO there is very little if any noise evident in either mode, so the sensor is reasonably quiet at ISO100, and negates numerous claims I’ve heard to the effect that using the full 16Mp resolution of the HS20 was only ever going to give poor  and noisy images. This is clearly a fallacy and one I have long known to be so.

And just in case anyone thinks that this is only true of base ISO here some shots  showing both before and after at ISO 800 @ 16Mp. Click the thumbnails for a larger image.

So what do we make of this cursory test?

While not exhaustive it does serve to show that there is a small gain in the HR images. As I shot these with sharpness set to hard, I wasnt expecting a great deal of difference. Had they been shot with sharpness set to low there would be room for a larger amount of differential between the two modes.

Un processed pmode
Processed P mode
Unprocessed HR mode
Processed HR mode.