Dynamic Range

12bit Fuji XTrans_

Camera: Fuji X-Pro1
Exposure: 1/420
Aperture: f/14
Focal Length: 200mm (300mm full frame equivalent)
ISO: 800

Going for a walk the other morning provided this exercise in dynamic range and a demonstration for how well balanced the Fuji sensors seem to be.  This was an abandoned tennis ball in the middle of a weathered parking lot with specular highlights where the sun was shining and detail in the shadows, particularly in the tennis ball.  Download the full resolution image here to see more detail and pay attention to the sharpness and amount of information in the shadows.  Every time I do an exercise like this with the Fuji, I am surprised at how good an imaging sensor it happens to be, fully outcompeting in many ways the much more expensive Canon 1DX camera and sensor.

The other thing to remember is that this image came from the Fuji X-Pro1 with the first XTrans CMOS sensor running at 12-bits.  The XTrans II sensor in the X-E2 and the X-T1 is, like the Canon 1DX sensor, a 14 bit sensor that should provide even more dynamic range than the original XTrans sensor.  I have looked at some analysis of thermal noise, intrinsic sensor noise, well capacity of pixels and dynamic range in the Canon 1DX camera sensor which is impressive indeed.  What I’ve not been able to find is the equivalent measurements for the Fuji sensors, but I’ve found the dynamic range of the 12-bit XTrans sensor in the X-Pro1 to be more pleasing and apparently wider than that in the 14-bit 1DX.  How that works is not clear to me yet and may reflect better post-processing at image capture in the Fuji than in the Canon.

Regardless, I have an X-T1 in hand and am looking forward to peeping at those images and exploring how the dynamic range compares to the original 12-bit sensor in the X-Pro1.


16 Replies to “Dynamic Range”

  1. I’m working with both the D800 and the X-Pro1. Same story, 14bit vs 12bit. I can proof there is really a subtle difference, in reality the D800 has really 2 stops of dynamic extra and shows more detail in highlights (f.i. parts in the sun) and shadows AT THE SAME TIME (f.i. typical dark/sunny picture of a street). With the pictures originating from the Fuji, I notice that or highlights or shadows are right under the same extreme conditions, but not both. I think ‘the pleasing’ part comes more from the overall internal propriety camera settings, than really due to differences in dynamics. I’m not a Canon photographer but if I have to chose… the D800 delivers really stunning pictures, better thabnthe X-Pro1 and I don’t share the same ‘wow’ feeling many have about the X-trans sensor. It’s not bad, but not the best in class either due to the many artifacts and sensitivity to moiré that spoil the final result in some cases.

  2. That’s interesting. I hadn’t read that the X-transII moved up from 12-14 bit. I thought it was just the phase-detect autofocus that was different. Do let us know what you find. At some point I’m sure I’ll be looking for a way to rationalize upgrading the X-M1 :).



  3. What did you find in the end? I have just exchanged my xe2 for n xpro1 and am delighted with the results. I find there be a radical difference in the look of the files, the xpro being far more pleasing and natural.

    1. Ah, I should do a followup post on this. Thanks for the reminder. Yes, the X-T1 sensor (also in the X-E2) seems to have more information in the “wings” of the histograms as it were. More information and easier to pull details out of the highlights and shadows.

      1. I find that the XE2 sensor gives a more muddy result and while it may have more information but it deals with it in an inferior way, giving choppy tonalities and unnatural skin tones

  4. Hi Don,
    Both, but mainly raw. I find the xtransII sensor to be very contrasty and digital losing a lot of the subtlety of the original xtrans sensor. I find the Xtrans II files much more difficult to work with. It’s as if once a certain point of grey is reached the file collapses into deep shadow. This has repercussions on skin tone too, as the beautiful gradation of tones found in the xpro sensor is missing. The problem is bad, but even worse in the JPEGs. I’m not the only one who sees this. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, trading a new xe2 for an xpro1. …and I notice a big difference!

      1. Well, maybe it’s in the eye of the beholder ;-). Though keep an eye open for the differences when comparing them. Best of luck and thanks for your time!

  5. Since using the X-T1 I keep noticing (special with subjects that are kind of far) more muddy results, that I never noticed with the X-E1.
    Altough everybody kept telling that the X-T1 gives better results, colorwise and detail wise; it gives me an unpleasant feeling I am fooled by the Fuji guys. Now I see I am not the only one noticing. Likely the new sensor’s only benefit is that it allows faster AF. I keep wondering if I sould get the xpro1 and sell the x-t1.

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