Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fuji X10 – Review Part 14 – RAW file sharpness … is M size sharper than L size?

There is a flood of data on the X10 around the net these days … most of the reviews are puff pieces, regurgitating the typical “what a great range finder like camera” pabulum without bothering to explore issues with the camera. The forums are filled with the usual zealots … both for and against. And this camera has brought out lots of speculation about all sorts of properties and issues with the X10.

One set of assertions – that the L sized RAW images come out fuzzy and mushy compared with the M sized equivalent RAW – continues ad nauseum without any proof. In other words, it comes up in every thread where we get anywhere near the subject of RAW, yet never comes with examples. I even remember reading that the JPEG would be sharper than the RAW files … that it was almost impossible to get as good an image from the RAW. Same person.

This all sounds like total bollocks to me … so I went into my archives and looked over the JPEG and RAW file test images. For the DR tests, I shot from tripod at 1600 ISO in M size and L size. This is the perfect comparison vehicle, since there should be a huge advantage to the M sized files that were shot in RAW+JPEG.

First, I compared the JPEG out of camera with the processed RAW file of the same image.

I don’t know about you, but I see more detail in the RAW image.
Next, I compared the RAW M size against the RAW L size, both original and downsized to match.
Note: When comparing sharpness of images that were shot at different sizes, you must normalize to one of the sizes. Else, you are being completely  misled.

Obviously, you have to click the image and expand it in your browser to see the comparison. I think the L-sized image down-sized is clearly superior in sharpness.

Update: After reviewing these images again, the edges and surfaces on the M size look more real ... what I call "dimensionality" ... and thus I would not shoot L size, even to down size it. Even on this larger sensor, the edges just never look clean the way they do on M sized images. And the surfaces don;t look all that nice either, probably because of smaller level edge destruction.

YMMV of course.