Fuji X10 to X20 - Is it worth upgrading? A PERSONAL view...

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pniev

Guest
For now I won't repost the images I've put up on the "X20 Images..."thread, but I'll be back with some for this thread as I become more familiar with the camera.
Thanks! I am looking forward to learning more about your findings. I will also check some of my jpegs and compare them with the RAW.

I noticed the "not so good news" thread, posted a reply but decided to delete it. I am still puzzled though.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Well after using the X20 over the last three days, since I got it, I feel I'm ready to weight in on the question, "Is is worth upgrading?" My short answer is, "if you're a raw shooter, yes."

The answer for jpegs shooters is not so simple. The information in the viewfinder is great to have, even if I never missed it in the X10, but the jpeg engine in the X20 produces smeared images that lack detail even with NR set to -2.

The images below tell the story.
First the results from Lightroom:


now the ooc jpeg:


another example from Lightroom and Topaz B&W Effects:


Now the ooc jpeg:


Would I recommend the camera? Definitely. It's fun to shoot with, just as the X10 is, the new viewfinder is very nice to work with, and the image quality from raw files is outstanding. But it really does not do jpeg to my liking.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2011
That pretty much reflects the findings I posted in my column about 4 weeks ago: X20 vs. X10 | Fuji Rumors

I think Fuji would benefit from upgrading the X20 JPEG engine to reflect the processing results of Lightroom: less strong NR for shadow parts, and a more grainy NR handling instead of the current blotching.
 

speedandstyle

Regular
Mar 10, 2013
Thanks Lawrence! These are the first pictures I have seen that really show the smear effect well. The tile floor is especially telling. Hopefully Fuji will fix this issue with a firmware update. I want one but for me I would use it in JPEG mode almost exclusively{If I want RAW I will use m4/3 or my Nikon}. I will wait and see if they fix this issue and keep my eye out for a price drop{I never pay full price for camera gear}.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2011
For exclusive JPEG shooting (including using the internal RAW converter, of course), I'd prefer the X10 with its great JPEG engine and hardware DR expansion.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2011
I didn't take this demo pic, it's from a RAW some German user posted in a German forum in order to challenge other users to extract as much detail out of it as possible.

Here's what I came up with using "RAW converter number 1":



This is "RAW converter number 2":



Direct comparison:



Click on images for 100% views.

As you can see, it's possible to extract plenty of detail from this tiny sensor (as long as you use external RAW converters and know how to use them). Any claims that the X20 (or its sensor) don't perform are easy to disprove. However, in order to get top performance, you have to know what you are doing when shooting and processing images. This camera won't deliver stunning detail if you use it as a P&S in full Auto mode.

Personally, I like my X20, but I consider it a small X-Pro1, not a successor to the X10. Don't let the similar exterior fool you. So I shoot it like my X-Pro1, just more carefully, because it's always more demanding to shoot with a small sensor than with a large one. Small is unforgiving, small is great for becoming a better photographer, small will quickly take you to the limits of the camera, and that's where things get interesting.

It's no coincidence that my X20 vs. X10 article illustrates a practical example of pushing the X20 over its limits. I knew exactly what to look for when I got the camera (in preparation, I looked at a few early adopter images from Japan on Flickr and downloaded the RAWs), so those were literally the first images I shot. I'm no camera salesman, I don't plug new cameras like certain bloggers do, I simply put my finger right into the wound. Because to find its limits, I have to push the camera beyond them.

It's quite interesting and unusual that the X20 offers rather limited shadow headroom, but plenty of highlight headroom when you process RAWs in Lightroom. This means that in many situations, you can benefit by exposing more richly than you gut feeling would tell you is appropriate. That takes courage (and practice), and of course you need to know how salvage the highlights in Lightroom/ACR.
 
P

pniev

Guest
Lawrence A.;8413 Would I recommend the camera? Definitely. It's fun to shoot with said:
Thanks, lawrence. That is the type of shots and info that is helpful! The difference between jpeg en raw is amazing (i quickly switched to raw because the postprocessing is an easy and quick process). It is also interesting that NR-2 does not help. Which sharpness, highlight, and shadows settings did you use? Which DR? I was planning to do a bunch of shots with x10 and x20 to learn more.

Thanks again,

Peter
 
P

pniev

Guest
That pretty much reflects the findings I posted in my column about 4 weeks
Since I did not recall this, I reread and still cannot find that part. You specifically talk about DR200 and DR400 when you talk about detail in shadows. No word about smearing and alike. Did I miss anything?

Not sure if it's important since you said that the x20 needs different handling (i like phrase xpro1 with a small sensor!). Btw: impressive results with the raw conversion!

Thanks for your posts.

Peter
 

nippa

Top Veteran
Aug 7, 2010
Cheshire UK
Dennis
Thanks! I am looking forward to learning more about your findings. I will also check some of my jpegs and compare them with the RAW.

I noticed the "not so good news" thread, posted a reply but decided to delete it. I am still puzzled though.
I'm not certain that sticking to RAW improves things much.
I keep looking at the Horse Hair and Fir Trees in Flysurfer's converted examples.
Maybe I expect too much - certainly more than some - but I've no axe to grind and have really enjoyed the X10.

There's also much to enjoy about the X20 and if you're never going to enlarge above A4 size it will do just fine.
 

Phoenix

All-Pro
Dec 28, 2011
Melbourne, Australia
Phoenix Gonzales
Folks, without sounding like a nanny, I would like to remind everyone that we're here because we share a common passion and though this may at times make our emotions take over, we are all adults here and we should keep our emotions in check. May I remind people to watch their language and show respect to others even if their views and opinions are contrary to their own. Thanks
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2011
Since I did not recall this, I reread and still cannot find that part. You specifically talk about DR200 and DR400 when you talk about detail in shadows. No word about smearing and alike. Did I miss anything?

Not sure if it's important since you said that the x20 needs different handling (i like phrase xpro1 with a small sensor!). Btw: impressive results with the raw conversion!

Thanks for your posts.

Peter
Sure:

What does this practically mean? It means that you should not shoot your new X20 exactly like you shoot an X10. Instead, apply DR expansion more carefully! You often will not need it, anyway, and if you do, DR200% will mostly be sufficient. If you decide to use DR expansion, make sure that the main subject (the part of the scene that’ shows plenty of detail and is in-focus) isn’t dark and in the shadows.
In order to extract the best quality from an X20, I recommend shooting RAW using DR100% and exposing to the right (ETTR) with the help of the camera’s live histogram, then process the RAW externally with Lightroom, Silkypix or another RAW converter of your choosing. If you want to use JPEGs from the camera (or the camera’s internal RAW converter) instead, I recommend shooting (or processing) with a noise reduction setting of -1 or even -2, depending on your actual scene.
I personally prefer the grainy and more detailed look of Lightroom (with minimal NR) over the look offered by the camera’s JPEG engine.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Some people don't seem to be able to get what they want even out of the raw files. That's fine. I get as much and more, and can easily print my raw conversions bigger than A4, retaining fine detail. What's good for the goose ain't necessarily good for the gander.

The X20 is perfectly capable of producing finely detailed large images from its raw files, but it is not going to happen if one insists on smoothing out all noise. That's what the jpeg engine is doing with disastrous results -- in my oh so very humble opinion.
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2011
That's what the jpeg engine is doing with disastrous results -- in my oh so very humble opinion.
Mine, too. I wonder whether this is a look that's popular in Asia these days? Because Silkypix 5 is smoothing high-ISO RAWs per default in a similar way (version 5 adapts its default NR settings to the shots ISO settings), while LR's default is "lumi NR off", no matter what ISO. This is quite extreme, almost like a clash of cultures.
 

Lightmancer

Super Moderator
Aug 13, 2011
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
This is worrying reading thinking ahead. Once I buy into a system I tend to skip a generation in order to avod paying for incremental change, so I am not in the market again until the X30/X200/XE2 - I am hoping that this isn't an indicator of performance going forward...

Sent from another Galaxy
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Mine, too. I wonder whether this is a look that's popular in Asia these days? Because Silkypix 5 is smoothing high-ISO RAWs per default in a similar way (version 5 adapts its default NR settings to the shots ISO settings), while LR's default is "lumi NR off", no matter what ISO. This is quite extreme, almost like a clash of cultures.
I hope it's not a "popular in Asia" phenomenon. I cannot afford a digital Leica. And of course the E-M5 jpegs are fine.
 

jwr

Rookie
Mar 30, 2013
Texas
Mine, too. I wonder whether this is a look that's popular in Asia these days?
My completely uninformed guess would be a "rush to market" compromise as opposed to this being a popular look anywhere. In their hurry to get the internal settings balanced perhaps the give and take of the ship date required suboptimal settings in one area in order to improve some other setting, while realizing that they can tune after shipping and push a new firmware update.

I've only seen smearing on a few images now while shooting JPEG but I starting shooting F+RAW (as recommended by flysurfer) and grabbed the LR 4.4 RC just to compare JPEG vs RAW output.

I've been a Lightroom user since 2008 but switched to Aperture a few years ago (while keeping my Lightroom current). During the entire time I had the X10 I shot JPEG and did quick adjustments in Aperture. Everything I shot was loaded into Aperture--whether I touched it or not.

Because I was already using Aperture to pull my images off the card and manage them it wasn't a major change to switch back to LR and use it the same way. There's really no extra work to do the RAW conversion in LR unless it's an image I would have been tweaking in Aperture anyway.

Even with the X10 I never used a JPEG straight out of the camera. Anything I shared got at least a quick touch-up in Aperture so this switch to RAW/LR is really pretty painless and will become more so when i get a few presets configured.

The only downside I can see is that I can't hold as many images on a card shooting JPEG and RAW together but even a little 16 GB class 10 ($20) will hold almost 700 Fine + RAW images. I don't really see that as being a problem.

I still have no regrets selling my X10 and getting the X20. The hardest decision for me had nothing to do with the X10. It was X20 vs a used X100 or saving a bit longer for an X100S. For now I continue to be a happy guy although some of my Canon equipment may find its way onto eBay to fund an X100S.
 
P

pniev

Guest
I've been offline for a few days :) but used the time productively to do some additional shooting. One outside on a grey day and one in (very) low light at an exposition of the Tutankamun (hopefully that's the right way to write in English) treasures. Shots were up to ISO3200. Jpeg settings were: DR100, A-priority (5.6), and everything else set at 0 values (including NR). However, I did use the Astia mode.

While I can basically confirm what has been said here already by Lawrence and Rico (so no need to repeat) I must say that, while there is no question that raw files enabled me to create better results than the jpeg engine, I did not notice the kind of smearing I have seen in other photos. The NR is indeed noticeable in photos but not to the extent that it leads to watercolor effects. I wonder if that had to do with the film simulation mode. Perhaps Rico has an answer. There is also no question that the EXR sensor indeed does a great job in higher DR conditions, but I am happy with what I see so far. And....I hardly dare to say it, but I am surprised by the results of the SR+ mode.

Raw processing was very easy with LR4.4.


For those interested: if you send me a message, I will send a link to a set of (ooc) jpegs and raw files for your own evaluation and post-processing.
 

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