Saturday, March 12, 2011

HS20 ISO Ladder – Will the high ISO be a great leap forward?

Again, from that Polish site, we have some images shot of some sort of carving. Not ideal for an ISO ladder in my opinion, but the noise should come through at least …

At 100 ISO, the cam looks quite clean, as it should.


Here is the ISO ladder:

My Analysis

At 200 ISO, some softening is apparent at 100%, but at web sizes you can’t see that yet. Especially when I process it with PKSharpener.

At 400, we see a little more softening and hints of chroma noise starting to appear. Remember that these are all shot in high resolution mode, which is not the mode in which I would shoot an ISO ladder. But that’s what we have so far. Still, at web sizes, the image remains pretty much the same so far.

At 800 ISO, there is a lot of grain and the chroma noise is unmistakable. However, the chroma noise is also of the kind that is fairly easy to handle in ACR – subtle yellow blotching. The really peculiar thing is that the image has suddenly stopped getting soft and looks sharp again. I wonder if the fellows on the site changed settings or if Fuji has decided to add some sharpening at 800 and above to combat the loss of acuity from grain.

At 1600, the influence of chroma noise in the form of yellow blotching is unmistakable. But when I load it into ACR and use chroma noise reduction with some luminance noise reduction and a bit of sharpening, the result is pretty nice.

At 3200 ISO, things are getting pretty soft and noisy. The blue channel has not gone nuts though, and this is a good thing. The yellow blotching, though, is pretty obvious by now. Even more so for those of you with proper color vision :-)

Again, ACR can help. But we are now in territory where NR destroys so much detail that this is only for emergencies. Memories at a party, that kind of thing.

Now, 6400 ISO is a bit comical on a sensor this size, but the fact is that this is not as bad as one might expect. Very noisy of course, but there is definitely a bit of detail left. These are shot at half resolution by the way. But probably not binned. And ACR NR can again improve on this a bit.

12800 is truly comical, but Fuji allows it so here we are. The image is shot at small size, and it is truly abysmal. No real detail, tons of noise. And for the first time we see specs of blue channel blotching.

I tried ACR and it made a dent, but I was not all that excited with the result so I took a different tack. Here, I use Topaz Denoise 5 on the original. It’s not great, but it’s cleaner. Might be tolerable at web sizes.

This sensor looks pretty good. I suspect that it will match the S100fs once properly tested against that camera. That might make this Fuji’s best bridge camera ever. But of course, we’ll have to wait for someone to really test them against each other.

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