Sunday, April 3, 2011

F550EXR – ISO Ladder in good light – Review Part 8

So the rubber finally meets the road. So far Fuji’s newest long zoom compact is doing pretty darned well in my tests. Lens looks good, video looks good, white balance appears to be the best of the whole series of EXR cams, shot to shot times are pretty good (and way better than the HS10) and I have posted anecdotal evidence that the high ISO is pretty nice.

But today the rubber meets the road. The high ISO ladder in good light. By good light I mean fairly bright: ISO 100, f/4.3, 1/6s. That’s about 3 stops faster than a typical living room in the evening lit by incandescent lamps, at least in my experience.

I shot all cameras this way:

  • tripod with self-timer release
  • zoomed to the same focal length – 9mm (49.09mm equivalence) on the F550
  • manual mode at f/4.3 on the F550 (aperture determined by zoom)
  • shutter to get 0ev reading
  • DR400
  • Provia
  • center AF

I did no processing on any of the jpegs except to normalize all jpegs to 8mp, or 3264px across.

So here is the ladder … you must click on it to load it into its own tab. From there you will probably have to click on it again to get it to go full size. It’s huge

So what to my wondering eyes did appear?

  • Outright winner in jpeg to 400 ISO
  • Tied with the F70 at 800 – F550 has much better edge integrity which really shows up on the wool, F70 gives a false appearance of detail with extra high-frequency noise
  • Excellent edge integrity and saturation right out to 3200 ISO, much better than all others
  • F70 might have a slight lead in the white hair for fine details, but there is so much noise that it is difficult to see the extra detail
  • In RAW, at least one full stop is gained at 3200 ISO with plenty of detail that had been smeared away in jpeg
  • One big surprise is that the RAW HR (16mp) image at 3200 ISO appears to be better than the binned image once normalized to 8mp. Holy cow!

All in all, I think that this is the best all round performance in the long zoom category in jpeg … once RAW enters the fray it’s all over.

I am expecting to receive an F200 in the coming weeks for comparative testing against the F550 … I expect to see a real battle here as we have new and obviously excellent technology against older technology with the laws of physics on its side. Can’t wait.

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