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Fuji X100S High ISO Review

UPDATE: Please see the wedding I photographed completely on the Fuji X100S!

In preparation for a wedding I will be shooting 100% of with the new X100S in less than a week, and knowing I would be pushing the camera in low light situations, I wanted to get more familiar with the files at high ISOs on the X100S. All these photos were shot on the Fuji X100S at ISO 25,600 and are all (except for the last merged image) SOOC jpeg files. As an aside, I have to say that I am quite impressed with the usability of these files. Many folks are debating whether to go with/or stay with their original X100 or go up to the X100S. I will say that if you tend to shoot in low light, this may be reason alone to make the jump up. Anyone who is experienced with the X100 will tell you that if shooting at an even lesser ISO of 12,800 or even sometimes 6400, the images would be pretty grainy and worst of all, suffer from pretty bad banding. There is vast improvement in these files.

Now that is all beside the main point of this post. The main point is to talk about the internal noise reduction (NR) settings within the X100S. As I pointed out in my Pros and Cons of the X100S post, I noticed that while shooting around Denver with the X100S the standard NR (O) at ISO 3200 and 6400 ( I had yet to really look at 12,800 or 25,600 yet) looked a little too heavy-handed for my tastes. There seemed to be more smearing or masking of the fine details than my eye prefers (others may feel differently). So that’s what this is about– a look at different levels of NR on these ISO 25,600 images. I’ve posted a +2 NR, 0 NR, and -2 NR as the main images. I then posted a copy of the -2 NR file, which I took into Lightroom and did my own additional sharpening and noise reduction– the file in which I’m most pleased with, in fact. With that file, I wanted to see what I could end up with if I took the file with the most detail (yet noisiest) and see how well I could sharpen it up more and keep it clean enough for my liking and so that is the 4th image down. And then I posted those final two images at 100% crops and merged together to see side-by-side.

It may be a little hard to tell right away, but if you look carefully, you should be able to see less detail in the upper photos, particularly less fine detail in the scratches in the water bottle, and the “Canon” text on the camera on the left, as well as less detail in the body of the X100 on the right– as well as just an overall plasticy look that I’m not a big fan of. I am no longer a pixel peeper (woohoo!) and I find you can really get a better sense of the image from a more standard view– thus me showing the images in this way. But, I wanted to show the difference I was able to make with my own sharpening/noise reduction and I think it’s helpful to see that at a 100% view.

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ISO 25,600 NR plus 2

X100S High ISO

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ISO 25,600 NR at 0

X100S ISO 25000

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ISO 25,600 NR minus 2

Fuji X100S Sample

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ISO 25,600 NR minus 2, with additional NR/sharpening in Lightroom

X100S Noise Reduction

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100% crop and comparison between ISO 25,600 NR minus 2 SOOC and with my additional NR/sharpening in Lightroom. The most obvious improvement can be seen in the “O” in “Lipton.” The right side appears sharper, yet with little-to-no increase in noise.

X100S Noise

Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts or share and discuss in other regions of the interwebs. And definitely do check back soon to see my full report with images from the X100S wedding coming up!

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10 Responses

  1. Costanza

    clean up your desk my dude, no drinks next to gear lol! but yeah, thanks for your tests – its appreciated! I have x100 and will upgrade in a month or two.

    March 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

  2. Thanks for these comparisons. I do look forward very much to the wedding shots. I’m fascinated with the idea of being able to do anything with a single 35mm equivalent lens. You’ve got big balls shooting a wedding without a portrait lens. Kudos to you!

    It’s one reason i sold my D800 and a bunch of primes in favour of the X100 I now have. But I am wanting to hear more about the AF improvements in the new X100s. I shoot street and documentary and have missed too many shots because of the crap AF. The low-light performance of the X100 is good enough for me, though.

    BTW, I use Noise Ninja for my NR- it still gives the most pleasing result I’ve found, and I have Nikon NX2, LR, Capture One and DXO Optics Pro. I usually remove all in-camera NR (except for long-exposure NR) then decide whether or not to add it later.

    March 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

  3. This has really made me want to upgrade, had a try of one the other day and loved the auto-focus speed, this is definitely gonna make me change, thanks for the images,

    good stuff!

    March 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

  4. Manuel

    Yeh, very nice. But I dunno if x100s has the same ISO “Standard” of the XE1. If so, the 25600 is really sort of 12800.

    March 6, 2013 at 5:43 am

  5. Andy McCraw

    I’ve taken part in the wonderful world of photography for a number of years (60+) and am still absolutely amazed at the possibility of shooting at 12800/25600.

    It’s too bad that they couldn’t have boosted Kodachrome a tad higher than 25!

    March 6, 2013 at 8:00 am

  6. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for posting that. I will definitely return again to see what’s new and inform my acquaintenances about this.

    April 19, 2013 at 3:10 am

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    April 22, 2013 at 7:12 am

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    April 28, 2013 at 4:44 am

  9. Dave

    Brian

    The problem of heavy NR even at -2 appears to be directly related to facial recognition in the x100s. It seems that if the camera recognizes a face, it will go out of its way to apply the NR.

    I really wish there was a NR Off option because otherwise the JPGs look great.

    Currently, to minimize this effect, I set my ISO to a max of 800. So far it seems to calm the NR down.

    February 16, 2014 at 10:24 am

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    June 27, 2014 at 1:03 am

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