Sunday, September 19, 2010

F300EXR – Review Part 2 – Quick Test of White Balance in Difficult Light

For those who remember, the F80 failed miserably in difficult light with custom white balance. At high ISO it has bags of nasty chroma noise. So I am dying to try the F300 in that light at that setting. A few shots only, just to see if that issue might have improved. I will start with 3 images that were shot at 800 ISO in lighting that was adjusted down to about 1/10s at 1600 ISO … that’s very low light. Cropped to 1.6mp to really show details and with white balance adjusted, I also ensured that the camera was facing the subject *and* the light … in other words the subject was back lit.

Yes, this test is extremely unfair. But it answers the question “what can I expect for detail when shooting in a dark bar under crappy colored lighting?” The answer is … not much unless you have the F70, and then just a bit …

So … without further ado …

Note: For the challenged who insist that these are too small … as with every single one of my blog posts … *click through* to see the larger versions.

F300EXR 800 ISO cropped to 1.6mp and then downsized to 800px.

DSCF0083_f300[1]

F70EXR

DSCF4789_f70[1]

F80EXR

DSCF4844_f80[1]

My analysis: These are 800 ISO, which is the last ISO at which you can retain any fine details in light this bad. And then only with the F70. The F80 remains terrible with too much chroma noise from the over saturated jpeg engine. The F300 looks like the F70 for chroma noise but it retains no more detail than the F80. Some of the bigger details are more visible though because of better chroma noise, so the F300 is definitely morep leasant to look at than F80 images.

Which again raises the specter of the utterly BRILLIANT camera that Fuji would have had had they just put the 10/5mp EXR sensor in the F300 and then offered an extended mode for 12/6 by internally upsizing. That way, they could mention 12mp on the marketing brochures and they would have far better low light performance than they do with the F80 or the F300. For small details, anyway.

Now let’s look at some fairly large 100% crops that illustrate the differences a bit more clearly.

tough_light_1[1]

Two things stand out:

  1. The detailed engravings between letters on the “Bank of Jamaica” band near the top are clearly visible on the F70 800ISO crop only. Missing from all others. The extra 2mp really make their presence known here. And interestingly, the details all over the bill are clearly superior on the F70 image at the top of this article. The other two have less obvious details all over.
  2. The F300 jpeg engine went back to the appropriate saturation of the F70 jpeg engine. The high saturation experiment of the F80 is over. Fuji should have fixed that in a firmware update for the F80.

Second crop …

tough_light_2[1]

One thing stands out: The F70 800 iso crop is outstanding. It retains great 3D visual impact with the lettering. The F300 is surprisingly good, almost equalling the F70 here for both 3D impact and grain in the wooden handle. I suggest that this is Fuji and their selective NR again … it kicks in less intensely when the light is good and this part of the image is certainly much lighter than the first crop area.

So … the F300 is superior to the F80 for chroma noise and for detail handling in brighter areas. This suggests that Fuji have toned down the NR in brighter areas and that they have returned to the saturation settings of the F70 after wrecking the F80 jpeg engine. Very good.

But in this horrid light, the lower pixel density of the F70 makes a huge difference with small details. No contest whatsoever …

1 comment:

Lili said...

interesting indeed, confirms what I am liking more and more about the F70 and now the F300.
BTW I DO know how to click through to larger sizes, LOL.
If the F300 less slippery to hold than the F70? It rather looks a bit more secure....