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Thread: Looking for high ISO performance

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Looking for high ISO performance

    Have been using digital Leica M since the M8 came out . Really enjoy street shooting with M sized equipment . The limiting factor has always been ..higher ISO performance . I shoot color otherwise I would get a MONO and be done with it .

    Every camera I have tried seems to have excellent quality up to ISO 400 and good quality at ISO800. Shooting at dawn or dusk requires decent DR and color is important . Generally I find at ISO 1600 I am fighting the trade off between resolution and noise . DR is crushed ,color saturation is fading and its hard to get a “clean looking” image . My hit ratio drops considerably as I have no margin for error either in focus or exposure .

    In FF nikon DSLR no such problem ..as I can use 3200 like ISO 800 in my Leica . Only using this as a point of reference .

    Interested in what others are finding or accepting as a trade off in smaller form cameras .

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Roger--

    Thanks for starting this thread. I don't have advice for you, as I'm struggling with the same dilemma, having been using Leica for years, M8s since 2006, and the M9 since it came out. I am almost exclusively a B&W shooter, but can't justify the cost of the Monochrom, and am trying to find an option with similar or possibly smaller form factor, and iso that's good to 3200 or more. Considered the Fuji XP1, but while noise control seems to be spectacular, folks seem to feel focusing is lackluster precisely in the conditions I most would want to use the high iso.

    Love your work in Paris...wonderful place to shoot in autumn.

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    The OMD isn't at all bad at High ISO

    This with kit lens indoors at ISO 6400 1/15 sec



    Outdoor ISO 3200 cropped - shot through double glazing!

    David Anderson

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    I share your views. Have an M8 that I find barely useable in color at ISO 640. My D700 is of course wonderful at high ISO, and also has extremely clean low ISO files. The OM-D has quite a bit of luminance noise, even at low ISO, but retains detail well, and has surprisingly low color noise. It seems the best compromise so far, weight/size/performance-wise.

    I have made some test prints at 45x30cm/40x30cm comparing the three cameras at lowest ISO, and as I suspected the OM-D noise doesn't show at that print size.

    I have made some shots with OM-D at higher ISO (1600-3200) that I find quite useable in color, but also some at 1600 that I find too noisy. Depends a bit on the lighting and I haven't really explored the OM-D at high ISO well enough yet. But I find myself trying to stay at base ISO as far as possible, unlike with the D700 that I shoot with confidence up til 1600 no matter the situation.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    The tough thing about high ISO for street is that we are talking about shooting in low light typically at dusk . This is quite different than shooting in daylight at higher ISO s because I am testing the DR and Color as well as the noise . In daylight you see some loss of resolution and micro contrast but it may not significantly affect the image .

    So if you need high ISo to shoot telephoto or action ....the results maybe be excellent .

    In the evening you have typically one EV in the shadows to pull back otherwise you get mush . You better not miss the exposure .

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Roger, See above, indoor with one low wattage energy saving light bulb at ISO 6400. Not a great lens either, but there is considerable detail. Probably a lot better than the M8 at ISO 800 if I recall mine well enough. I rarely used colour from the M8 above ISO 640. I don't hesitate to use ISO 6400 on the OMD (or the XP1).
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Another indoor ISO 6400 SOOC JPG (1/8 second F6.3)
    (More detail in raw)

    David Anderson

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    David--that looks great. Is that handheld? I hadn't considered the addition of anti-shake, and for 1/8 that shot is very usable. The file quality looks like it would convert to B&W for me with pretty good tonal range, and considering the ISO, shadow detail is not too noisy.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Thanks Dave . Try the same shot on a tripod at base ISO and I think you will see the differences . This stuff is clearly subjective but this example looks like an M9 shot at about 1600 (and properly exposed).

    Not saying the IQ isn t adequate just that its a grade or two lower than base ISO . On the street its really hard to nail the exposure in the evening ..if you under expose that image by 1 EV ..you will lose the IQ . Try pulling back any of the shadows and you will see what I am speaking about .

    Again the term “good” has to be taken in context and its easy to have different POV s on IQ.

    Thanks for posting the example .

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Yes, all hand held Norm! These were just snapshots taken the first day I got the camera, so nothing special, but hopefully show the potential of the camera.
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Roger, of course the base ISO will be better! On a tripod will be better, a FF camera will better etc. But an M8 in the same conditions hand held won't be I fear.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    I think I understand where the OP is coming from. Ideally we would want all the goodness FF has to offer and look for the smaller sensor camera to provide the same. However, this simply isn't possible. However, what I do like is the OMD. No it isn't an equivalent, maybe not even close, as far as DR, details getting crushed as you move up the ISO.

    Subjectively speaking, I can work with the OMD files, though still not the same as FF sensor files. I doubt small sensors will ever get there. Closest thing will be APS-C sensors size ,Fuji might have answer, but then there are other things to consider outside of ISO as there always is. Hope this helps.
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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    You canna break the laws of physics! - But the OMD gets close.

    Its all a compromise. Ideally what you are looking for is an M10 with a modern high ISO performing sensor. Perhaps wait for that.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    I think that only full frame, either Nikon or the new Canon 1D-X will meet your expectations. But now your looking at some real weight and size (and cost).

    I probably have a lower "acceptable" bar, while I desire minimal noise, I try to find images with significant impact which will outweigh the distraction of noise. But I generally shoot people and it reads as if you shoot landscape type stuff.

    Here's my two cents with the OM-D:

    #1 dusk @ 3200


    #2 dusk @ 3200


    #3 night @ 1600


    #4 night @ 1600


    #5 totally black (no ambiant light except the sword) @ 1600


    #6 night @ 1600


    Gary

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    Roger, of course the base ISO will be better! On a tripod will be better, a FF camera will better etc. But an M8 in the same conditions hand held won't be I fear.
    Dave

    I think we lost the point of the thread. I use the M9 as a standard of performance ..not saying its good/great/bad ..just that many of us know what the results look like (its about 1EV better than the M8) . The question presented in “is there something out there that is materially better ..while retaining a small form”.

    IMHO the M9 loses it luster between 640 and 800 ..after that the images are decidedly lower in IQ . Again that just a point of reference .

    When I am shooting I am not thinking ..thats great image quality for 1600 or 3200 ...its either excellent or its not usable . The question is when does it stop being excellent and thats always subjective .

    Roger

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Its also the difference between CCD and CMOS and I think both the Fuji X00 an d XPro1 have best in class high ISO performance . A nikon D7000 has pretty good ISO 1600 if you can be careful with exposure .

    The OMD has tons of high quality features so its worth asking .



    Quote Originally Posted by pophoto View Post
    I think I understand where the OP is coming from. Ideally we would want all the goodness FF has to offer and look for the smaller sensor camera to provide the same. However, this simply isn't possible. However, what I do like is the OMD. No it isn't an equivalent, maybe not even close, as far as DR, details getting crushed as you move up the ISO.

    Subjectively speaking, I can work with the OMD files, though still not the same as FF sensor files. I doubt small sensors will ever get there. Closest thing will be APS-C sensors size ,Fuji might have answer, but then there are other things to consider outside of ISO as there always is. Hope this helps.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Gary

    Nice examples . I shoot primarily street and always people . But I also try to make the light work for me . In the evening as the light drops off you reach a point where ISO 800 just isn t going to cut it even with f1.4 lenses and careful technique . At 1600 its probably enough but at 3200 its pretty easy . The M9 tends to die around 800 which is quite frustrating .

    I have a D4 and D800E so I have used both at 3200 with excellent results ..not much different from an M9 at 800. But as you noted the DSLR size is an issue .

    Your examples make my point about what to look for. When the image contrast is within the DR they are very nice ...when they are not they tend to lose tone separation . Color at 3200 looks like color at 3200. Has nothing to do with a critique of the photographs which all have nice moments .

    You are correct in that I am not yet satisfied with the ISO of anything at 1600 and above except the FF DSLR and the Fuji APS C .

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Hi Roger, Sorry, you are right of course, its all down to what you use the camera for, what you consider good enough, what size of prints if any you print and so on.

    Just from my very short experience of the OMD I would say that it is better than my previous M8, and A900 for low light performance. The IBIS is excellent, better than other IS systems I have used. I would say the X-Pro 1 which I also have is slightly better at high ISO perhaps by a stop, but that is to be expected given the relative sizes of the sensors.

    Its all down to what you are prepared to carry (and pay for) in the end. Suffice to say I sold the A900 as I was not using it enough to justify it and the super Zeiss lenses.

    I now have the Ricoh GXR for the M lenses when I want to manual focus and get good definition with no AA filter, the Fuji X-Pro 1 when I want great, fast, AF lenses and small DOF and a nice OVF, and the Olympus OMD for the zooms, telephoto, and wonderful IS, not to mention very respectable low light performance in a small package. Its never been a better time to be into photography (and gear).
    David Anderson

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Roger, could you post some shots from the D4 and D800 @ 3200 to demonstrate what exactly you are looking for?

    -Marc

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    Member GaryAyala's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Gary

    Nice examples . I shoot primarily street and always people . But I also try to make the light work for me . In the evening as the light drops off you reach a point where ISO 800 just isn t going to cut it even with f1.4 lenses and careful technique . At 1600 its probably enough but at 3200 its pretty easy . The M9 tends to die around 800 which is quite frustrating .

    I have a D4 and D800E so I have used both at 3200 with excellent results ..not much different from an M9 at 800. But as you noted the DSLR size is an issue .

    Your examples make my point about what to look for. When the image contrast is within the DR they are very nice ...when they are not they tend to lose tone separation . Color at 3200 looks like color at 3200. Has nothing to do with a critique of the photographs which all have nice moments .

    You are correct in that I am not yet satisfied with the ISO of anything at 1600 and above except the FF DSLR and the Fuji APS C .
    If you're shooting street in low light, don't think you can beat the Fuji, for size and IQ.

    The only long-shot contender would be the OM-D with its wonderful IBIS, Fuji 3200 could equal OM-D 800 or 400, what subject blur you'd get may just be a big plus on the impact side of the equation. But then again, OM-D 800 or 400 could be better than Fuji 3200 and there's the rub.

    G

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Gary, It would be great if the Fuji had IBIS. They are bringing out a zoom with OIS, though F2.8-4. Of course if your subject is moving IBIS won't help as much as higher ISO. I need to do more tests, but I don't see such a huge difference in noise between the Fuji and the OMD. The detail in the Fuji is slightly less due to the poor raw conversions available. I see more actual detail from the 12M GXR than the 16M Fuji on landscapes with a 35mm lens.

    Anyway, sorry, we are getting way off subject again.
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member RichA's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Have been using digital Leica M since the M8

    Interested in what others are finding or accepting as a trade off in smaller form cameras .
    The M8 was a flawed joke of a camera. No IR filtration and a noisy sensor. No wonder it sells for $0.20/dollar of what it originally cost. Only the lenses hold their value. When Nikon releases a relatively compact, mirrorless FF, that'll be the end of Leica except for those holding a lot of legacy lenses.

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    If your used to the M8 M9 then the Fuji Xpro 1 is the way to go. I shot with both of these and unlike the poster above found them both excellent. I have both the Fuji and OMD and while both are good at high iso the Fuji is really excellent up to 3200 and very good at 6400.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Thanks for all the input . I will work on some examples from the D800E/D4 but they are beyond my expectations for a small form camera .

    One follow up point that comes up all the time . You don t have to print big to see the loss in DR and color saturation . In some situations you will not be able to tell the difference because the scene does not include a broad DR or a need for color depth ...but in others its important to the IQ . Noise degrades the ability to resolve fine detail and in some photographs thats critical ..in others does t matter . Expectations vary considerably by individual and the intended output . So one photographers great at 3200 might not make the cut ....nothing wrong with that just makes it hard to share experiences .

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Have been using digital Leica M since the M8 came out . Really enjoy street shooting with M sized equipment . The limiting factor has always been ..higher ISO performance . I shoot color otherwise I would get a MONO and be done with it .

    HI Roger
    Clearly the M9 isn't the high ISO demon we would all like . . . but then the sensor and tech are basically the same as that of the M8 from 2006 - so it's hardly surprising.

    On the other hand, we all know that a new M has been suggested for Photokina, and it'd be pretty surprising if good high ISO wasn't pretty high on their agenda.

    I actually think the OMD does a grand job - but it's clearly not going to be as good at high ISO as a full frame camera.

    I don't know any more than you, but it seems very likely that your perfect camera is just around the corner.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Roger
    Imaging Resource is a good place for you to look. When they do camera reviews they always make prints. Then they go ISO by ISO and say what size print would be their limit and how good it is. That info is very useful. Scroll all the way down the page:

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Camera - Review







    .
    Last edited by Terry; 7th July 2012 at 16:42.
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Jono

    I sure hope so as I am all set if I can get an M thats 1 1/2 EV better than the M9

    I expect you might know before I do ..




    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Roger
    Clearly the M9 isn't the high ISO demon we would all like . . . but then the sensor and tech are basically the same as that of the M8 from 2006 - so it's hardly surprising.

    On the other hand, we all know that a new M has been suggested for Photokina, and it'd be pretty surprising if good high ISO wasn't pretty high on their agenda.

    I actually think the OMD does a grand job - but it's clearly not going to be as good at high ISO as a full frame camera.

    I don't know any more than you, but it seems very likely that your perfect camera is just around the corner.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Thanks Terry ...generally I try to read all the tests but the OMD skipped by me (must have been buried in the debate over the Nikon D800) . Then I saw a nice post about street shooting with the OMD over on Steve Huff s site and I became interested .





    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Roger
    Imaging Resource is a good place for you to look. When they do cera reviews they always make prints. Then they go ISO by ISO and say what size print would be their limit and how good it is. That info is very useful. Scroll all the way down the page:

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Camera - Review







    .

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Camera - Review


    This test is a must read and superb educational source . The explanation of high ISO performance is exactly what I have been looking for . The examples show that the performance depends on whether your scene can accept the gradual loss of IQ . The colors in the wheel turn to mush at 1600 yet the labels still hold fine detail so its easy to see why looking at different photographs we might draw different conclusions .

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Much, much easier for me, I suspect than Roger, as my needs are for B&W, and even the M9 is usable for my purposes to 1250, with careful exposure. The form factor is really important to me, though. While I once carried 2 Pentax 6x7 bodies and three lenses as a "kit" when I traveled, my intervertebral discs will no longer tolerate the burden. M-size, Fuji or Nikon D800 ISO would be terrific. Oh, yes, and looking at an aerial image, rather than a ground glass or LCD--of course at m43 prices...

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Thanks, Roger, for the link. Quite a revelation, after using the Ms for so long. It would be interesting to see how my 75 Summicron looks on the Olympus.

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Roger
    Imaging Resource is a good place for you to look. When they do camera reviews they always make prints. Then they go ISO by ISO and say what size print would be their limit and how good it is. That info is very useful. Scroll all the way down the page:

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Camera - Review







    .
    Terry you should have the credit for this link . Imaging resource tests are exactly what I have been looking for . This tester has forgotten more than I ever hope to understand .

    I would encourage anyone that has the time to first ..dig in on the cameras you own . I went thru the M9 and while I could quibble about some details he has it essentially correct . You have to go deep in test but there is a section on available light considerations . In the section on ISO he hits all the points and tells you where to look in the test images . There are many subtle observations that you might never see until you have 000 s of images . He even speaks to the desire to shoot for 9-12 months to learn the camera .

    The only issue I have with his tests of the M9 is that he may not have achieved optimum focus ..testing with a flat subject is subject to material loss of IQ due to small missed focus . This often isn t relevant for the type of photography done with an M . So I skip the resolution question and look primarily at the color,tone separation etc . I do my best to use the M at base ISO until I can t and avoid going over 400 .

    It is easy to see why photographers are impressed by the OMD and Fuji XPro1 both seem to have a step up in IQ from other APS C or smaller sensors. However..if you can handle the weight and size look at the Nikon s even the D7000 which is a reasonable size DSLR.

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Camera - Review


    This test is a must read and superb educational source . The explanation of high ISO performance is exactly what I have been looking for . The examples show that the performance depends on whether your scene can accept the gradual loss of IQ . The colors in the wheel turn to mush at 1600 yet the labels still hold fine detail so its easy to see why looking at different photographs we might draw different conclusions .
    My earlier thoughts that the X-Pro 1 is about 1 stop better than the OM-D appear to be confirmed by those tests. :thumb up:

    It also appears to confirm that the FF Sony A900 is worse than either at high ISO. Just shows how sensor technology has improved over the last few years.

    The M10 should be rather nice.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Coming from the DMC-GH1 I had originally thought that the OMD E-M5 was super-awesome. However after recently acquiring the DMC-GH2 I'm not so sure it's that much different. Maybe a little but I doubt it's actually noticeable. The OMD is still the better camera for stills with it's weather-proofing, awesome in-body stabilization, fast continuous drive, and that nifty optional portrait battery grip. Here's a test I did today of the DMC-GH2's ISO. These are all from the RAW images brought in through ACR's default settings - which is basically just color noise removal. This is the 50% version and you click on the image to get the 100% version.





    The Fuji X-Pro 1 is much better at high ISO settings but it achieves this in some very strange ways. The results remind me of some kind of cellular posterization process. It looks awesome scaled but at 100% it looks like someone ran the Photoshop Oil Paint plugin on it. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - it is what it is... I'm just pointing out what I see.

    EDIT: Also I wouldn't say it was one stop better. It's about 8 or 10 stops better. But at the same time I dunno if "better" is the right word. It's not like any other sensor noise I've ever seen. Maybe I should say it's 10 stops different.
    Last edited by Tesselator; 9th July 2012 at 01:59.

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    I have been searching for that 10 stop better camera for a while now.

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    Well, if you don't mind in-camera JPegs the Fuji is it.

    Hey, you don't think I'm exaggerating do you?

    If I am it's not by much!

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    You are not far off. Without active cooling, just propaganda alone adds a few stops.

    With all said and done, nothing comes close to the experience of some system cameras.

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    Re: Looking for high ISO performance

    I'd say that was close to ten stops better if not even more than ten stops.

    ISO Samples From Your Camera - FM Forums

    Fuji X-Pro1 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Oly OM-D E-M5 - Low Light Test - YouTube (must be viewed in 1080 HD)

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