Wednesday, November 30, 2011

X10 – White ORB Disease – Much ado about something!

Wow … this week has seen the X10 go from “can do no wrong” to “WTF?”

The original title for the issue is White Disc Syndrome and you will see a lot of references to WDS in the forums. But I somehow prefer the word ORB as it looks truly like it was superimposed on the images from outer space …

Note: The word ORB has caught on since I wrote this and started using it in the forums. I have since written an article claiming that I coined it. You read it here first.

Here is a small screen shot crop that shows what it looks like at 100 ISO. The original was shot by George Fellows (user name on Fuji Talk Forum, and probably his real name.) I claim fair use of the copyright for illustrative purposes.


So what is wrong with this image? Well, what you see are three lamps that throw a rather lovely star pattern (usually associated with high quality lenses,) but with an ugly, hard-edged white circle stamped on top. They are clearly larger than the actual point sources of the light (specular highlights) and they are surrounded by a black line for emphasis (this no doubt a halo from the jpeg engine -- since proven to be related to the blend algorithms in the higher DR settings.) The RAW files contain them too, so this is not a jpeg bug. It is either a design flaw on the sensor itself, or it is a low level firmware issue.

These are in-focus lights, so this is not “bokeh gone bad” … there is truly no explanation yet. Fuji will have to weigh in on the matter because it has the potential to randomly ruin important shots like birthday celebrations (candles on the cake), memorable fireworks displays, churches visited while traveling, and night shots while walking along a new city street. These are common scenarios for travelers.

So Fuji … please investigate and publish a response as soon as possible. The X10 has magnificent specifications and the image quality when ORBS are not present is stellar (in the right hands.) The reputation of a great camera is on the line …