Friday, December 30, 2011

Fuji X10 – Review Part 9 – Low Light ISO Ladder – Really poor quality light …

So what qualifies as really poor quality light? Try compact fluorescent bulbs at about 10 feet, giving exposures in the range of f/5.6 at 1/25s at 6400 ISO … dark bar territory.

This test is shot from tripod with the cameras at the same distance and all shooting somewhere around 75mm effective focal length (EFL.) Timer release of course. The exposures were set based on the camera’s own meter and I am happy to say that the metering between the two Fujis was much better this time than for the outdoor shots. Although that does still seem perplexing in retrospect.

The D7000 managed shutter speeds about twice as fast as the Fujis, something I have noted in the past. So there is advantage number one … or perhaps it is more accurate to speak of the Fuji disadvantage that it meters for more light, which is a real problem. The X100 is simply terrible in this respect.

I shot my usual target at 100 through 3200 ISO and I converted in ACR. I tried sticking to the defaults in ACR as much as possible but here are things I tweaked:

  • I adjusted white balance to the white letter I on the book on which the target sat, it is not visible in the crops
  • I applied capture sharpening for each image individually to the point where it looked sharp, but not “crispy”
  • I applied small amounts of NR starting around 800 ISO in order to kill the rather large grain the Fujis show
  • I warmed shadow color a touch starting at 400 ISO for the F550EXR, as it started turning blue really early
  • I added about +15 red saturation to the F550EXR right from 10 ISO as the tiny sensor gets overwhelmed by blue light when the white balance is corrected
  • I upsized the X10 to match the other two cameras

So please note that this is the kind of thing you will see when you take your camera into the house or bar and just without flash. These cameras do very well if you don’t correct the colors, but this is a torture test, so I am correcting them here …

Warning: This is a huge file … you should click through, but give it a moment as you are sucking in 2.4MB of data …


  • The D7000 handles this easily
  • The D7000 has oversaturated reds, a known Nikon issue
  • The Fujis have unpleasant sized grain, but it is controlled
  • The X10 retains detail quite well to 400, but by 800 ISO, fine details are smoothing over
  • The F550 is not really competing and yet it does not suck
  • By 800 ISO, the reds are suffering in the X10
  • By 3200 ISO, the black background has gone blue on the X10 and really blue on the F550, despite the shadow warming still being applied

So the obvious lesson here is that the X10 can shoot at these extreme ISOs in this light, but you won’t want to play with the white balance much.