It took 2 months to DxO Labs to figure out how the sensor of the Fuji X10 was behaving, they told me. But they finally did break the code and went through the 2/3″ CMOS sensor secrets of this serious amateur camera, the Finepix X10. They have benchmarked the sensor and this gives us a nice opportunity to review it. You know that this sensor will also be embedded in the 26x high-end bridge camera, a new member of the Fujifilm X-series, the Finepix X-S1, so the X10 sensor review will give us an idea of what to expect from the X-S1 as well. To get more technical specs about the camera, here is the FinePix X10 announcement.
Fujifilm X10 vs F600EXR
A rather bigger than usual sensor (2/3″ on the X10) vs a tiny little CMOS but EXR sensor (1/2.3″), here is an unfair game. If we know who the winner will be, it is interesting to measure how better the X10 is in comparison to the F660EXR sensor. Well actually, don’t expect the X10 to be so much more sensible than a good 1/2.3″ sensor based compact camera. Yet, the difference is about 2/3 Ev in favor of the X10. This simply means that a shot taken at ISO 1600 with the X10 is as clean as a photo from the Fuji F660EXR at ISO 1000. Dynamic range and color depth are not significantly different on both cameras, both featuring the same CMOs technology. Dynamic range has nothing to do with sensor size, DxO told me.
Fujifilm FinePix X10 vs Canon Powershot S100 vs Olympus XZ-1
Holidays, New Year, CES 2012 in Vegas…. I am now late publishing my reviews… I have the Canon S100 review almost ready to go online, so stay tuned (I have some great HDR images of an old rusty car I want to share with you). DxOmark score, the overall notation of both sensors is even : 50 points. Again, both CMOS sensors offer the same level of dynamic range and of color depth. But, with a significantly larger sensor, the X10 (2/3″) gets an ISO 245 in low light score, when the Canon S100 (1/1.7″ CMOS sensor) is 2/3EV behind with ISO 153. Actually, the DIGIC 5 processor of the Canon Powershot S100 tends to fill the gap with a powerful noise reduction algorithm, but the X10 sensor is much cleaner by nature. What will make a difference is the fast lens that has built Olympus on the X10 a 4x (28-112mm) f/2.0-2.8, superfast in wide-angle and still pretty comfy at telephoto longest focal length. The Canon S100 is as fast at 24mm, but at 120mm its maximum aperture is only f/5.9…. you have to count on the IS or put the camera on a tripod for low light shots at 120mm. Well, this aperture difference in favor of the X10 is paid on the weight and form factor : the X10 is much bigger and heavier than the Canon S100 which is designed to suite in everybody’s pocket, the kind of camera you can always have with you so that you never miss a photo opportunity. You’ll do the maths yourself.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is left way behind with an other 1/3 stop weaker low light ISO than the S100 and 1.5 EV less than the X10. It has a pretty large sensor, but is CCD based and this old design (the camera is Two years old now) doesn’t help the dynamic range nor the color depth… and Full HD movies are not in his range, it can only record 720p video sequences. We are still waiting for a serious upgrade of the LX5 and can’t wait till the CP+ show in Japan next month. I am sure we’ll have a LX6 or LX7 over there.
I have added the Olympus XZ-1 to the comparison: ISO 117 low light ISO score only, 2 points less dynamic range and color depth, the grades speak for themselves. Olympus XZ-1 overall DxOMark Score is 34 when Fujifilm X10 and Canon S100 score is 50…
Visit dxomark.com for full results.
Bellow is the graph of the signal to noise ratio of all three contestants. Wisely, in spite of a healthier sensor, Fujifilm did not boost the FinePix X10 too high : its maximum ISO setting is ISO 1600 when the others offer ambitious ISO 6400 modes. Actually, the X10 has an ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 mode, but in 6 and 3 megapixels for better results.
Here is a dynamic range comparison chart. I like the extra room given by the ISO 50 setting of the Canon S100. I wish Fujifilm had thought of that on the X10 to get an additional EV of exposure width.
Fujifilm Finepix X10 vs Nikon 1 V1
To be fair, I did not compare the X10 sensor with the exquisite APS-C sensor of the Sony NEX-5N and grabbed the smallest size mirrorless camera sensor (apart from the 1/2.3″ sensor of the tiny little Pentax Q, you know the keyring digital camera !). The X10 does pretty well with 1/2 EV lower S/N ratio than the bigger CX sensor of the Nikon V1. Going for the Fuji X10, you will only loose the equivalent of 1/3 EV to get the same image quality as the Nikon V1. But the Nikon V1 CMOS sensor offers 1 bit extra dynamixc range. I like that, I never have enough when shooting RAW. This leads to a DxOMark Score of 54, that is 4 points better than the X10. Slightly better, but not overwhelming.
The Fujifilm X10 has a little trick when it comes to dynamic range. See the difference of both shots bellow from our review, one in normal mode and the other one in Dynamic Range priority EXR mode. You can really see the difference. EXR is not only a marketing word at Fujifilm’s, it really is a technology.
To read more on the Fujifilm X10 and compare it with hundreds of digital cameras sensors, compact cameras, DSLR and mirrorless cameras, you can visit dxomark.com.