This lens seems pretty similar to the lens on the F200EXR where is concerns macro, but let’s test that, yes?
We’ll pit the XQ1 against the obvious rivals … the F200EXR, which was the first pocketable EXR camera with a sensor larger than 1/2”, and the F770EXR, which is the first of the modern series of 500mm pocketable long zooms on the 1/2” EXR sensor. In my opinion, the 1/2” sensor is the cream of the EXR crop for raw shooters.
So let the games begin … the XQ1 opens with a pretty decent performance. At its closest distance, it manages 47mm across, or approximately 1:5.3 magnification.
The F200EXR is up next, managing a disappointing 62.66mm, or 1:7.8 magnification. That’s pretty poor, good for flowers at best.
The JPEG engine in the F770EXR did not impress all that much, but the magnification is very good … a whopping 42mm, or 1/6.4 magnification at the sensor. The XQ1 is actually the winner where magnification is concerned, and it puts 12mp on the subject at DR400 where the F770 only puts 8mp at DR400 on the subject. One could, of course, shoot at 16mp DR100 and in the right light that would provide a digital form of magnification that is quite a bit higher than the XQ1.
But let’s just say that the XQ1 is right there with the F770 for general macro shooting.
Here they are all cropped with the same field of view in Lightroom and then exported at 1000px. The ratio remains and you can see that all three look very nice, so shooting insects is viable with all three.
I didn’t pay much attention to white balance here, although I did set them all as custom white balance as the primary lighting came from a halogen bulb close up. I would normally add warmth to the F770 image, but that was not the point of this exercise.
Let’s see what full zoom macro looks like … You will see that the worm turns a bit as the XQ1 gives up too much focal length to compete.
For the raw, I gave it a bit more contrast and sharpness.
That’s really very nice. The crispness is quite remarkable for 800 ISO.
Next up is the F200EXR and it again chose 3200 ISO, so I had mercy on it and processed the JPEG (since there is no raw to process.)
That’s actually quite nice. The bird has a nice feel of dimensionality to it and the detail is clean. All that light really helps, but I must say that I am very pleased with this image. I tweaked the exposure a tad to bring it in line with the others, and it was forced to deal with a lot of grain and weird mosquito artifacts, and of course with quite a lot of yellow blotches, some of which remain in the shadows. But the end result is quite acceptable. This makes a slightly better flower cam than the XQ1 just because of the extra focal length.
And then there was that 500mm lens … the F770EXR was a bit more difficult to shoot since I could not brace my arms on the bed on which I have the kit set up. So I had to hang the arms in the air at 500mm and 1/40s … if you have doubts about its ability to stabilize the lens you should ponder that this was almost 4 stops of extra stabilization. That’s good enough for me …
So here is the JPEG …
This is really nice and the magnification is so strong that the nose is not in focus when the eye is in focus. Wow.
Next, the raw file … and there is more blue channel poison than I like, but it is predictable. Remember that the sensor has tiny photosites – 16M on a 1/2” sensor. So what happens here is that the shadows get pretty starved for photons (not kidding.) And when we correct the white balance from the astoundingly warm halogen bulb at 2200 degrees, we push the blue channel so hard that it begins to dominate. And that looks like …
Now, that’s not horrific, but I prefer to get the shadows back to black. And so I desaturate the blue channel in this case.
And that’s an excellent image. This does not happen in light that is not so out of whack, so don’t get too frightened by it. I don’t see this much in real life. But if you do run across it, you can use the JPEG, which is pretty good on the camera, or you can desaturate the blur channel a bit (many ways to do that … curves, saturation panel in CS or LR, and so on.)
These three are all great cameras. I like the XQ1 and F770EXR better than the F200EXR for general purpose shooting. The F200EXR has no raw and its JPEG engine is weak when compared with the others. The XQ1 is especially strong since you can tune it to your heart’s content.
For macro, the XQ1 wins close in with the F770EXR breathing down its neck, but the long lens wipes the floor with the XQ1 when you want to shoot flowers, or skittish animals or insects. Much better magnification and working distance.
So … for macro, you can use it, but you might be happier with one of the F series if you plan on prancing around in the gardens as I do :-)