DxOmark: Fuji X100 sensor outperforms the best m43 sensors

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How does the Fuji sensor perform against the best m43 sensors? According to DxOmark (Click here) the Fuji can deliver better results in all measured aspects (Color depth, Dynamic range and ISO performance).  A bit surprising to see that the older Panasonic GH1 is the best m43 camera here. Anyway, you have also to take into consideration other aspects of the camera. DxOmark measures the RAW performance of the sensor (not the .jpg results). And if you need decent video quality nothing beats the GH cameras. The main “advantage” of the X100 is the hybrid viewfinder and (if you like it too) the classic design and button layout. But it’s also an expensive fixed lens camera only. Price on eBay (Click here) is crazy high. Preorders with a bit more “affordable” prices are available at J&R (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Amazon UK (Click here) and Digitalrev (Click here).

Let’s cross the finger that Fuji will join m43. We need other sensor makers to put some pressure on Panasonic!


P.S.: If you are located in US than you definitely should take a look on those GH1 deals:
1) Panasonic GH1 with 14mm lens for $699 at Amazon (Click here). The lens alone costs $364. and if you would buy it separately with the GH1 it would cost you a total of $764. With that deal you save $64!
2) Panasonic GH1 with 20mm lens for $699 at Amazon (Click here). The lens alone costs $399. You save $99!
3) Panasonic GH1 with 45-200mm lens for $649 at Amazon (Click here). The lens alone costs $349. You save $100!
4) Panasonic GH1 with 14-45mm lens for $649 at Amazon (Click here). The lens alone costs $359. You save $90!
5) Panasonic GH1 with 14-42mm lens for $499 at Amazon (Click here). The lens alone costs $199. You save $100!

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  • ecle

    Hm…they have not tested ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. Why that?

  • leendert

    The X100 is very ugly! 😉
    The X100 outperforms the Canon 7D sensor too!

    No rumours about the Pen E-P3?

  • Tom

    how is this a surprise??

  • I doubt that Fuji will join M4/3. They have clearly struck out on their own. If..and I think that is a big “if”….they do make an interchangeable lens camera….it will be with this sensor in the existing format of APS-C. Why would they do anything else? They almost have a winner here…with a little refinement and some lenses…but I will still be using my M4/3 body and lenses for years before they could have a camera with a “decent” selection of lenses. Years.
    I think I have a better chance of “someone” producing a new M4/3 body with a serious sensor improvement in the next year or two. If that happens the differences in image quality between the Fuji and Panny will be negligible.

    • You have just said exactly what I have thought!
      In several years maybe there will be wise to switch to another system. But nowadays and I believe for many years to come MFT has no competitor. Instead of waiting for better system, we should take now great photos.
      I see great improvement of GH2 output over G1’s. In 3-5 years I expect even more increase of image quality. The differences between MFT and APS sensors will shift to specific not-so-often used areas of photography (very very high ISO, incredible DR and so on… sometimes useful but barely seen in 80% of photos) 🙂

  • Peter F.

    Not surprising at all. I may not understand DxO’s process, but the X100 has bigger pixels, followed by the GH1 (12 mp spread over a 4/3 sensor), followed by GH2 (16mp spread over a 4/3 sensor). The bigger each pixel is, the better the results… On the other hand if they were measuring resolution then the number of pixels would come into play, I would imagine.

  • Who cares? They are different products for different markets.
    BTW, an old LandRover Defender is much better in off-roading than a brand new Audi A5.

  • I have both a GH1 and GH2, and the GH2 produces visibly better results under the same conditions and using the same lenses.

    This makes me skeptical of how well the DxOmark results predict actual picture-taking performance. I’m sure they mean SOMETHING, but it’s difficult to say what.

    I suppose they provide people with something to cite when saying, “MY camera is better than YOUR camera, which is all that a lot of people want…

    • Hey Ranger 9…IYO….How does the high ISO performance AND speed-of-focus compare between the GH1 and the GH2?????

    • On the nose: DxO is just a number. As for me, I don’t care if your camera is better than my camera (it almost certainly is), I just take pictures.

    • Not to mention that I have GH2 and there is huge improvement over G1’s output! And it happened after only 18 months of my G1 purchase in 2009. I’m selling it with guarantee still pending. If the improvement ratio will be kept we can sleep peacefully because the future of MFT is bright. :D:D:D

  • GS1

    they have not tested ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, because the highest mesured ISO is ISO 1000 !!!

  • YeahYeah

    I really can’t understand DXO’s methodology… Really what the hell does it means? How can they measure RAW perfomance?

    • Ganec

      Click to other pages (SNR is noise, DR dynamic range, …) and you can see the graphs. If you don’t know what it means, point the mouse above red-green bar and you can see efect of the measured value.

      It is interesting .. not only final values, they are only at lowest ISO value.

  • Not surprising at all…

  • Peter F.

    LOL… I am sure DxO does an excellent job measuring whatever it is measuring *LOL*.

  • Brod1er

    Good posts. These are all good cameras and the performance differences are minor compared with photographic technique/ conditions/ functionality requirements. Can’t help thinking that some Fuji owners will quickly tire of being stuck in a 35mm focal length world. Compared to the Fuji, the GH cameras are about as cool as Mr Bean, but they do handle well – the small four way buttons on the back being the only exception.

  • Boooo!

    The sensor in the X100 is made by Sony. It’s utterly irrelevant if Fuji joins m4/3, because they would be using Panacrapic sensors as well.

    • Zaph

      Fuji says that the sensor is made by Fuji.

      • Boooo!

        Any links?

        • Irfan

          No, Fuji doesn’t say the sensor is made by Fuji. All they said was that the sensor is tweaked for the lens. It’s a Sony’s 12 MP CMOS sensor

          • Boooo!

            That’s exactly why I asked him for links 😉

  • CRB

    Who ever doubt that?

  • RickeyG

    What did you expect – It cost twice as much – You need compare equipt in same price range to be relevant….

  • RW

    That’s good for Fuji. The X100 is limited in many ways – i.e. no interchangeable lenses, quirky interface decisions, difficult filter options, and slower than best-of-class autofocus speed – and it is good to see that IQ is not another limiting factor.

    For the niche market that the X100 is aimed squarely at, (the Leica-lite market), great image quality (as measured by the DX0 scores) is huge. Bravo to Fuji for putting their research dollars where they really count.

    If I was in the market for another digital rangefinder, the X100 would be a real contender. I suppose that its illegal to say that here, though…

  • Robbie

    This is no surprise at all.
    Like what omox has stated, m43 will be, for some time, a leader in a smaller interchangeable lens EVIL system.
    Fuji just can’t possibly do this alone, in dishing out sufficient new lenses.

  • brudy

    Having Fuji use a m43 sensor would be a step down in IQ. Why would they do that?

  • Gianluca

    @Zaph…the sensor from X100 is from Sony….like Boooo! said.

    • Gianluca

      …is the same of D90…;))

  • MP Burke

    The results for the X100 are nearly identical to those measured on the Nikon D90 in 2008 and similar to those for the Pentax Kr. They seem to be about what one should expect for a 12MP APS-C sensor.

  • So..maybe Panasonic should start buying Sony sensors????? LOL!

    • Inge-M.

      Yah, and third year old sensor also 😉

  • The_Eel

    I don’t understand. DXOMark ISO sesitivity chart shows maximum measured ISO of 1000. Can this be true or it’s some kind of mistake ?

  • nathan

    And also the best APS Canon sensor, and all nikon expect for D7000.

    http://dxomark.com/index.php/en/Camera-Sensor/Compare/Compare-sensors/(appareil1)/695|0/(appareil2)/619|0/(appareil3)/439|0/(onglet)/0/(brand)/Fujifilm/(brand2)/Canon/(brand3)/Nikon

  • mahler

    The X100 may have better image quality, but with all its limitations and ergonomic quibbles (someone needs to read the remarks on Luminous Landscape), it isn’t worth the price. The hybrid view finder has important drawbacks and does not seem mature enough, to be praised as the model for future view finders. Currently, I would be rather careful to testify the VF as the main advantage of the X100. The report on LL made my doubts about this camera concept even stronger.

    That larger sensors outperform smaller ones is a known fact since many years and no m4/3 sensor of the same generation can break that rule. That is the price m4/3 user have to pay and are often willing to pay of miniaturization.

    Currently, it is hard to imagine that if the X100 successor will have interchangeable lenses, that it will gain the breadth of m4/3 (14-600mm focal range) any time soon.

    • RW

      mahler says: “Currently, it is hard to imagine that if the X100 successor will have interchangeable lenses, that it will gain the breadth of m4/3 (14-600mm focal range) any time soon.”

      Its not at all clear to me that competing directly by introducing a large line of lenses is Fuji’s game plan.

      There is no technological reason why they shouldn’t introduce a limited set of prime lenses though. Leica rangefinders use bright lines in their OVF to support a small set of focal lengths. No reason whatsoever that Fuji couldn’t do that – particularly if they choose to limit their lens offerings to a small set of primes – say 28, 50, 90, 135. That decision would be completely in line with the market they are aiming the X100 at. I don’t think they plan to challenge m43’s range of zooms at all (much like Leica doesn’t bother to challenge Nikon and Canon).

      Add the option to switch to EVF into the mix for those times when bright lines won’t cut it (i.e. macro or long range) – and you have a winner concept.

      It just ain’t necessarily so that they are going after the same market as m43. Nothing in the X100 suggests that to me. Looks to me like their real target market is the people that would like a Leica but can’t pony up the dinero.

      • sacundim

        Interchangeable lenses means significantly larger camera, larger lenses, and the lenses will not be as good as the fixed one. They would also need to switch to a focal plane shutter, and say bye bye to that nice built-in neutral density filter.

    • > The report on LL made my doubts about this camera concept even stronger.

      Worst part of it is, as loyal Fuji users have already commented elsewhere, Fuji isn’t famous for fixing the problems in future firmwares. They might address the lockups – but overall performance is likely to remain as it is now.

      From the same source comes the information that overall Fuji cameras were never speed daemons and overall are known for their sluggishness. Sadly, X100 follows the pattern.

      On top of that comes my biggest gripe: relatively long minimum focusing distance. Though ~40cm (with EVF) is norm for primes of the class, but I hoped for something better. (~80cm(!) with OVF!! WTF! Compare: 1.7/20mm – ~20cm.) Dedicated macro mode doesn’t cut, as it requires manual activation. (And there is only one Fn button and there is already bunch of things one might want to set it to: e.g. ISO, ND filter, metering – none have a dedicated button and require otherwise menu digging.)

  • Bob Todrick

    Got rid of my E-P1 for the X100.
    Better image quality in every respect.
    Sorry…instead of “why didn’t Fuji go 4/3rds”
    why not “hope Panasonic/Olympus go APS-C”

    • Bob Todrick

      Mahler, you’ll notice that the author of the Luminous piece, after siting the X100’s faults (find me a camera that doesn’t have some)…BOUGHT ONE.
      Man you guys are as bad as the Leica forum when I used ‘M’ film cameras…to wit: “oh, it may be great but it isn’t a Leica (insert 4/3rds).

      • ZZPhoto

        Better image quality in every respect _except_ in all focal lengths beside 35mm 🙂

        • Vlad

          That’s not a fault, you know. 🙂

    • admin

      Sooner or later they will create a larger sensor “Macro” Four Thirds system….

      • RW

        Let’s hope not. The last thing that m43 wants is to see the main players start focusing on another format. A lot of people are already smarting over the switch form a 43 focus to m43.

        Fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

      • Sooner – might be.

        But later? With progress, technology tends to get smaller.

        Otherwise, with Nikon poised to announce a new system with crop factor 2.5, I very much doubt that “Super Four Thirds” would ever see the daylight.

        Though, I’d love to be proven wrong here, since I think Oly needs some long-term camera system, camera system with staying power, and some kick in the Oly’s butt to stick with the system and not roam around the market looking for the next short-term niche. Let’s hope new management has some better plan for Oly Imaging.

    • calxn

      I doubt Olympus will last long enough in photography to make another switch. Olympus pretty much made an “all in” bet with m43. Their photo division is hurting bad. It’s up in the air for Panasonic. They have the money, but it sure would be embarrassing to fail at two formats and then come back to the old APS-C format that Canikon made into the industry standard. In many ways, Sony, Samsung, Leica, Fuji all gave in and followed the standard that Canikon made solid. Kodak created APS-C, but it was Canikon that made it solid in digital. Pana and Oly do not have that kind of clout.

  • It’s numbers. Nothing more, nothing less.

    When I bought my first DSLR, an Olympus E-520 back in the day, numbers would have told me otherwise. Yet, as of today I can claim that an image I took with my E-520 has been judged by a professional jury in a commercial contest and has been ranked second place over thousands of submissions, most probably taken with a Canon or Nikon DSLR.

    Check this out:

    http://www.cbrephotographer.com/blog/

    That image has been taken at ISO 400 and curve adjusted within Aperture based on the RAW file. No other modification, no Photoshop etc.

    To make the final point: I am interested in reviews and ratings but not down to the degree that DxOmark does. That’s plain pointless.

    • Jules

      Exactly my thoughts.

      Buying x100 for its non-obtrusive form factor, understanding the compromises, the advantages and the limitations of the view finder, etc: great.

      Buying x100 simply because you like it : fine.
      And if you end up putting it to good use : great

      Buying it the x100 based on its DxOmark sensor performance: quit Internet and subscribe to a photo school..

      Great shots. Much to your honor, it is hard to judge which one is best. I also like a lot 5:00, 1:00 and 3rd place.

  • John

    Personally I don’t care if they produce a camera for m43, make a dang sensor for Olympus. That is the only way I will stay with 43 is if someone else starts making sensors. Panasonic really is pushing their own & leaving Olypmus kinda getting the leftovers. It is their right, but Oly is kinda currently got one arm tied, & I personally don’t see them being able 2 really bounce back ahead under the current arrangement.

    • Jules

      Unless you print often as large as you can and/or consistently push your current EP to the limit while shooting in extreme conditions, odds are on that your current camera with its dated sensor is good enough already.

      I personally want to upgrade to GH2, I still am satisfied with my G1 when *using it* …a bit less when reading too much on the net and thinking too much about it.

      • Neonart

        I regularly print 17×22 12mp Olympus files and they look outstanding. Everyone is blown away by the fact the files are only 12mp. And noise and all the junk people obsess about basically is unnoticeable in print.
        As it’s been said before, stop measuring your camera on the internet and start shooting some flippin photos.

  • Frank

    Good for the x100. I have fd lenses that are 20 years old and work fine. In a few years m4/3 sensors will be as good at iso1600 as they are at iso100 now. So why quibble so much over supposedely too small m4/3 sensors when in itself there is no problem whatsoever for 9 out of 10 m4/3 owners.

  • DxOMark may have the reputation, but as a measure for image quality I simply cannot regard it as serious in any way.

    One of the reasons (and there are more) for my judgement is the reason why the GH1 sensor scores better than the GH2 sensor: BECAUSE DXOMARK SIMPLY IGNORES ANY ADVANTAGE IN MEGAPIXEL RESOLUTION ABOVE 8 MP.

    Another reason is that their method to measure ISO sensitivity is grossly wrong.

    • spam

      There are several ways to measure Iso, Dxo use one. You might use another, but that doesn’t make you right and Dxo wrong. As long as Dxo measure the same way for all sensors they’ll get results that are comparable.

      Dxo measure RAW/sensor performance and not IQ, but RAW performance is a pretty good indication of the potential of the image files. Dxo results also seem to match pretty well with the IQ ratings of other test sites like dpreview for most cameras.

      Anyway, I agree that pixel count is significant for total IQ and the GH2 sensor certainly is an improvement compared to the GH1 one so the Dxo (like most other test) are certainly not perfect.

      • It’s true that, according to ISO specs, there are several ways to measure sensitivity. It is also true that DxO applies something that closely resembles one of those methods. But, from how I understand the ISO specs, that method can only be applied to developed JPEGs, not to RAW data. Which is one of the reasons it makes DxO’s measurements wrong.

        The measurements themselves may be interesting as they are, but they shouldn’t be called “ISO”.

        The more so because there’s a CIPA industry standard all manufactureres adhere to which applies a specific ISO definition which is not the one DxO refers to.

        Especially where DxO measerments seem to prove a manufacturer is “cheating” where he is not at all, since the ISO you really get in practice is exactly what you set the camera to, no matter how much DxO tries to tell you it was by 1 EV or more off.

    • Ahem

      “BECAUSE DXOMARK SIMPLY IGNORES ANY ADVANTAGE IN MEGAPIXEL RESOLUTION ABOVE 8 MP.”

      That’s incorrect. If you go to the tabs and choose “print” in the upper left corner of the graph (on by default), DxOMark normalizes the data to 8 MP. That does NOT mean that they throw away the extra MPs. What they are doing is leveling the playing field for all modern cameras regardless of how many MP they have, so you can compare 12 MP E-PL1 with a 60 MP MFDB if you want.

      It’s all in their documentation, read it before shouting your ignorance to the world.

      As mentioned by spam, you are also wrong on your assessment of their ISO sensitivity measurements. It’s not “wrong,” it’s just a different methodology than you’re using – both can be valid, and DxO’s certainly is. It’s thoroughly documented, also.

      • Yeah, you can compare the 12 MP E-PL1 with a 60 MP MFDB – and the resulting figures will simply not account for the fact that the latter has five times the pixel resolution of the former, or will it? An that’s what they claim to be the definitive sensor performance benchmark.

        Regarding ISO, see my answer to spam.

  • Irfan

    Fuji is using Sony 12 MP sensor in x100

  • If I want some raw number, I go here – http://www.sensorgen.info/ – but they do not have X100’s sensor info yet.

    Otherwise to me, a sample gallery + hands-ons trump the sensor stats any day.

  • ZZPhoto

    So? What’s the point? That doesn’t tell us anything new, it just restates the obvious, that camera with bigger sensor has bigger muscle. That’s yesterday’s news.

    But if you are at it do also comparison of X100 against NEX5, APSC to APSC. They are practically identical.

  • scott

    Wow really good to know the performance of a camera that is not even available to buy anywhere!

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