Sunday, April 3, 2011

F550EXR – Versus F70EXR – Review Part 9

Paul from the Fuji Talk Forum stole my ISO ladder from part 8 and manipulated it until he thinks it says something other than what I saw in my analysis. Well, that made me realize that sometimes the appropriate conclusion is only reached when you spell every single thing out for people, so I decided to make things a little more clear.

The question on the table is whether the F550EXR has better image quality than the F70EXR in jpeg. The F70EXR has the same sized sensor but much lower resolution – 37.5% less resolution in fact. This might give it an advantage, although there is plenty of evidence that higher resolution is not always a handicap. It really depends on other factors and in this case we have brand new technology in the new sensor – the newer CMOS sensor versus the older CCD sensor.

Paul suggested that I handicapped the F70 by upsizing it instead of downsizing the F550. He further suggested that all that noise in the F70’s images does in fact come with more detail. And he ignored completely the edge integrity issue that I consider to be extremely important to an overall look … something that the F10 and F11 brought to the table in the first place.

So how to make this comparison?

Well, I already have the images. And I really don’t care about any ISO except the highest one he showed … the rest will follow more or less the same pattern anyway. So what I did was to take four crops from each image and juxtapose them after performing two operations on the F550EXR to equalize things and create an actual apples to apples comparison:

  • the F550 image was downsized to match the F70 image in dimensions
  • the F550 had a small amount of unsharp mask applied to equalize sharpness

Things change rather dramatically with this method. I had thought that the conclusion was fairly obvious from what was said in part 8, but here the conclusion is inescapable.

Now remember to click through to see the full sized version. You may also need to click again in your browser to expand it.

What you will see here is that the advantages of the F550EXR over the F70EXR are several and obvious:

  • better edge integrity is very obvious (paper in crop 1, watch face in crop 2, lettering in crop 3
  • better saturation in all crops
  • less noise in all crops despite added sharpening
  • much better 3-dimensionality (wool in crop 1,  numbers on watch face in crop 2, cap in crop 4

Seriously … there is no contest. The F550’s images will look better enlarged or shrunk. We have a new long zoom champion of image quality. And considering the vast number of other improvements over the F70 (it does not even have an orientation sensor) this contest is now completely over.

The F550 didn’t even need RAW to defeat the F70 …

Next up … the F200EXR and I can’t wait.

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