Fuji EXR Corner – what you always wanted to know about EXR...

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
...but never dared to ask. Here's your chance! ;)

Even though the new X20 has an X-Trans sensor, EXR sensor cameras are still quite popular. Fuji's X series includes three models featuring an EXR sensor: the X10, the XF1 and the X-S1 superzoom bridge camera. However, there are also plenty of other EXR camera models (like the brand-new HS50EXR), and the concept applies to these cameras, as well. If you know one, you basically know all of them. But getting to know one can be tricky, as the user manual doesn't reveal much about EXR's essence—or how it actually works and what that really means for you as a practical shooter.

I've always had a soft spot for EXR technology. It's innovative. It's far from perfect (yep, it has issues—ask me, if you don't know which ones). It can be complicated (or look more complicated than it actually is). A few weeks ago, I even had dinner with the guy who invented it.

Do you know your EXR? How it works? When and how to use it? Why there are three different RAW formats in every EXR camera? Where and how to process the RAWs? If not, here's your opportunity to ask and fill the blanks.
 

Penfan2010

All-Pro
Location
NJ, USA
Real Name
Ed
Thanks, Rico, I am glad you started this thread. I keep checking Fujirumors to see if you have already started the EXR discussion on your Xpert Corner. My question: is there a basic combination of settings you would recommend for all-around photography with the EXR activated? I have been using Aperture priority, Medium res to activate EXR, Auto DR and Auto ISO set to 3200. Also, I have my Custom 2 setting emulating the JPEG settings for raw shooters that you recommended in your X-Pro1 book. I know the X-10s sensor works differently from the Pro1's but thought I'd try it anyway( although no chance to process my RAW files over the last week or so because I haven't gotten around to fixing my laptop). Also, now that you have the X20, how do you decide to shoot with the 10 vs the 20, is it down to EXR vs. X-trans rendering? Thanks in advance.

Ed
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Ed, I can't really talk about the X20 or X-Trans in this EXR thread (you can always start another thread here, though), so let me stick to the EXR parts of your questions. :)

Basic setting: set size M. That's how you enable EXR (DR or SN, for Dynamic Range expansion and Suppressing Noise). Shooting FINE+RAW (works in PASM modes, among others) is always a great idea (for those who wonder why, I wrote a full article about that aspect over at X-Pert Corner), so stick to it.

Custom RAW shooter settings for non-EXR cameras are not really recommended for EXR DR (or conventional ISO DR for that matter), becuause the live histogram will only show DR100% (even though you may actually be shooting in DR400% or DR200%). You simply can't precisely ETTR (expose to the right) with the cameras DR expansion turned on. With DR on, the right edge of the real (DR adjusted) histogram is shifted right into invisible space, sitting 1 or 2 EV to the right of the edge of the actual live histogram you are seeing in the viewfinder or LCD.

With EXR DR enabled, you have to trust the camera to capture highlight detail that is literally off the charts in the live histogram. With a little experience, you will intuitively learn what the camera can do in critical DR situations. An alternative trick for such situations could be this: You manually set the camera to, say, DR400% and use the histogram to ETTR as usual (= like in DR100%). At this point you know that you still have about 2 EV of extra highlight headroom left, so you could adjust exposure up to an additional +2 EV (using the exp. comp. dial) without risking to blow highlights.

Be aware that the live histogram isn't perfect, though, it relies on the live view image, and it's no RGB histogram, just luminance. It's always possible (and likely) that individual color channels (like blue in a blue sky) will blow long before all 3 channels (and with it the live histogram) show clipping. So if I know that the bright part of my image which I'm trying to preserve is a blue sky (usually a gradient), I will allow much less than +2 EV of compensation.
 

crimbo

Rookie
Love the X10 and love raw DR400,M,ISO 100 .... But which raw converter to easily take advantage of all this DR?

Chris.......
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
The only commercial one I know that offers full support for all three modes is Lightroom/ACR. Silkypix 5 and Capture One don't really make the cut.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
SN RAW, DR RAW and HR RAW.
The first one is roughly half the size, due to 6 MP pixel binning before writing the RAW file. SN RAW is also the easiest to process for external RAW converters. HR RAW is more demanding with regards to delivering clean, sharp high-res images, and DR RAW is mostly not fully supported, leading to disappointing results.
 

crimbo

Rookie
With the X10, is it possible to force the flavour of raw file?
Have tried to find a way to do so with jpg+raw but I don't think I am in control.... But maybe I am and don't realize it

Chris.......
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
In size M, the format is forced according to the EXR mode that the camera is using. And that depends on your DR and also ISO settings. In size L you always get the HR RAWs.
 

nibble

New Member
Rico, thank you very much for going ahead with your EXR x-pert corner entry! I was afraid you wouldn't finally write it with the arrival of the X20!

I know what EXR modes do, but I'm still not sure how to force the EXR mode I want in PSAM modes on the X10 (always use fine+raw if that matters, love in camera conversion as your suggestion). Am I right with the following assumptions?

- If I want EXR HR -> set L size, DR 100%

- If I want EXR DR -> set M size, DR 400%

- If I want EXR SN -> not possible in PSAM modes? or is it always activated just by setting M size and DR 100%?

Thank you!
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Yep, L size always means HR.

M size means EXR DR or EXR SN, depending on the chosen DR setting.
DR100% = EXR SN, DR200%/400% = EXR DR, at least up to certain ISO levels, when the camera will always use EXR SN, combining it with "standard" ISO DR as required. The ISO threshold levels for mandatory EXR SN use are ISO 400 for DR200% and ISO 800 for DR400% (and ISO 200 for DR100%). Below ISO 200 (and with DR100%), the camera will downscale an EXR HR RAW to an M size JPEG instead of using EXR SN.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
C1 also doesn't work with EXR DR, it simply takes the higher exposed part of the image and loses the lower exposed part. At least that's how it was when I tested it the last time.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Simply load an EXR DR400% test image into the converter of your choice and see what it does. Lightroom recognizes both exposures and blends them together, just like the camera's engine. Silkypix appears to only or mostly use the lower exposed image. Overall, Lightroom/ACR delivers the best results with EXR.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
EXR sensor technology is only useful in small sensors, so it's a technology for P&S and bridge cameras. It's a method to mitigate the most pressing weaknesses of small sensors: lack of dynamic range and strong noise at higher ISOs. Sadly, the technology leads to lower resolution specs, and that is bad from a marketing standpoint, because users are looking for cameras with lots of megapixels. The more, the merrier.

This is why EXR is dying a slow death. It will remain in small sensor cameras below the X series lineup, at least for now. But it's too exotic for enthusiast camera users, because these users often want external RAW support, and there's really only Adobe and maybe Iridient who actually fully support the EXR DR sensor mode. Even the official Silkypix is cheating.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
The way I use these cameras, I am very happy with EXR. From a pure quality standpoint, X-Trans can deliver better IQ, at least when you shoot RAW.
 

RT Panther

All-Pro
EXR sensor technology is only useful in small sensors, so it's a technology for P&S and bridge cameras. It's a method to mitigate the most pressing weaknesses of small sensors: lack of dynamic range and strong noise at higher ISOs. Sadly, the technology leads to lower resolution specs, and that is bad from a marketing standpoint, because users are looking for cameras with lots of megapixels. The more, the merrier.

This is why EXR is dying a slow death. It will remain in small sensor cameras below the X series lineup, at least for now. But it's too exotic for enthusiast camera users, because these users often want external RAW support, and there's really only Adobe and maybe Iridient who actually fully support the EXR DR sensor mode. Even the official Silkypix is cheating.

With respect, I'm going to have to disagree here.
Just because EXR is only used in small sensors doesn't mean that it has to only be used in small sensors.

For example, I can use EXR capabilities to produce a halfway decent *ISO 1600* image with my diminutive XF1.
Imagine what an *ISO 258000* image would look like if current EXR technology was implemented on a full frame sensor?

Yes you say the image produced "low resolution" specs but here I default to my original statement of how Bayer based sensors have had years of development a much $$ spent on development than EXR.

So again, give EXR the same amount of development time and $$ as Bayer has enjoyed to make a better comparison.

Yes EXR is fighting an uphill battle because in comparison to Bayer, EXR is resource and time constrained.

X-Trans technology IMHO is facing the same battle that EXR faces - it needs resource $$ and time. We all remember when there was no RAW processor outside of Silkypix that support X-Trans files.

I'd debate that Fuji simply can't afford to develop EXR & X-Trans at the same pace & time. So X-Trans will face the same type of single source/company development challenges that Foveon has faced - but with arguably Fuji having more development $$ and capability than Sigma.
 

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