ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800) – JPEG
Here is the full image, showing which area of the image I cropped below:
Both are very clean, but the boosted ISO 100 looks much more overexposed when compared to ISO 200 for some reason. I would avoid using ISO 100 on the X-M1 for this reason.
JPEG output on ISO levels 400 and 800 looks as clean as ISO 200.
High ISO Performance (ISO 1600-6400) – JPEG
High ISO performance is a very important measure of sensor quality for low-light photography. Here is how the Fuji X-M1 performs at high ISO levels between ISO 1600 and 6400:
Again, going from ISO 800 to ISO 1600 practically does not add any noise to the image, even in the shadows. ISO 3200, on the other hand, adds a little bit of noise and here we can see the effect of noise reduction applied by the camera on JPEG images – clarity is slightly reduced as a result.
At ISO 6400 some details get washed away and we are starting to see some artifacts here and there. Still, the performance at ISO 6400 is excellent. Whatever Fuji does with its JPEG processing is very impressive.
High ISO Performance “Boost” (ISO 12800-25600) – JPEG
Fuji X-M1 has two extra ISO “boost” levels – ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 for extreme situations. Take a look at these:
Boosting ISO to 12800 results in more noise and much more aggressive noise reduction by the camera. Noise is apparent in the shadows (although noise reduction makes it look a little “muddy”) and more artifacts are visible throughout the image. Still, ISO 12800 is very usable in my opinion, especially when down-sampled. ISO 25600, on the other hand, looks too muddy and washed for my taste.
ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800) – RAW
Some technical information:
- White Balance: As Shot
- EXIF information is preserved in the images
- Focusing was performed through Live-View Contrast Detect
- Long exposure NR: Off
- High ISO NR: Off
- Image Format: RAW
- Imported images into Lightroom 4 and normalized to 16.3 MP resolution
- All images shot in JPEG
- Lightroom export: sRGB JPEG Quality 80
There is a slight difference in noise between ISO 200 and 400 in the shadows, but both look very clean overall.
ISO 800 clearly adds more noise to the image (especially in the shadows), as can be seen from the sample crop above.
High ISO Performance (ISO 1600-6400) – RAW
Here is how the Fuji X-M1 performs at high ISO levels between ISO 1600 and 6400 in RAW:
As we increase ISO, the amount of noise also increases – ISO 1600 only marginally increases noise over ISO 800. ISO 3200, on the other hand, adds more noticeable noise that looks significantly worse in comparison to ISO 1600 – shadow details are getting lost as a result.
At ISO 6400 the amount of noise doubles throughout the image and much more shadow details are lost. Interestingly, the JPEG version of ISO 3200 and 6400 shots looks much cleaner in comparison. Also, ISO 12800 in JPEG looks better than ISO 6400 in RAW (due to noise reduction applied on JPEGs), except there is a significant amount of detail loss in the shadows.
ISO Performance Summary
The Fuji X-Trans sensor is capable of excellent image quality at ISO levels all the way to ISO 12800. To date, I have not seen a camera that can render such beautiful, noise-free JPEG images – I am simply amazed by how good the JPEG output of the Fuji X-M1 is. Fuji definitely knows how to apply noise reduction on JPEG images. However, the same cannot be said about its RAW files – as you can see from the above crops, the RAW output looks quite disappointing in comparison, with plenty of visible noise at higher ISO levels.
Now let’s take a look at how the Fuji X-M1 compares to the Nikon D800, Canon 5D Mark III and Olympus OM-D E-M5. Click the next page of this review.
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