Please note that the camera comparisons are only based on image quality, based on RAW files. Also, note that all images are down-sampled to the size of the Fuji X-Pro1 sensor.
Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D Mark III ISO Comparison at low ISOs
Let’s see how the Fuji X-Pro1 compares to the new Canon 5D Mark III. Below you will find image samples normalized to 12 MP by down-sampling. Take a look at the below crops at 200, 400 and 800 (Left: Fuji X-Pro1, Right: Canon 5D Mark III):
As expected, ISO 200 on both cameras looks very clean. However, if you look close enough you will see that the Fuji X-Pro1 RAW image looks cleaner in comparison – and that’s with a down-sampled Canon 5D Mark III image. Considering that the Fuji X-Pro1 is an APS-C sensor (more than twice smaller in size than full-frame), normally there should be a similar amount of noise at low ISOs, especially in the shadows. This difference we are seeing either has to do with Fuji’s new color filter array, or Fuji is “cooking” the RAW files (meaning it is applying some noise reduction on RAW level). Note that both RAW files had exactly the same Lightroom settings – no additional sharpening or noise reduction was applied to the image (all default settings).
A similar thing happens at ISO 400 – the Fuji RAW looks a tad cleaner overall.
And we see it again at ISO 800. The Canon 5D Mark III crop has very fine grain in the shadows, while the Fuji X-Pro1 crop has a smoother feel to it.
Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D Mark III High ISO Comparison
ISO 1600 still looks better on the Fuji X-Pro1.
At ISO 3200 both look somewhat comparable, but the look of the grain is very different. The Fuji X-Pro1 has bigger and smoother grain, while the Canon 5D Mark III has finer and more detailed grain.
Some strange things are starting to happen to the Fuji X-Pro1 at ISO 6400 – the grain pattern looks rather erratic, which at this point I am pretty sure is happening due to noise reduction. Noise levels on both cameras are very comparable…
Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D Mark III Summary
It is hard to understand whether Fuji is applying some kind of noise reduction to its RAW files at all ISO levels, or perhaps the new color filter array is the reason why the RAW files look less grainy. Despite the fact that I down-sampled the Canon 5D Mark III images from 22.3 MP to 16.3 MP and there is a significant difference in sensor size between the two cameras, the Fuji X-Pro1 seems to be producing very impressive images at both JPEG and RAW level. Overall, I find the Fuji X-Pro1 to be superior at low ISOs and about the same above ISO 3200.
Fuji X-Pro1 vs Nikon D800 ISO Comparison at low ISOs
The Nikon D800 has a much higher resolution 36.3 MP sensor, so heavy down-sampling was applied to the Nikon D800 image. As a result, the Nikon D800 image looks very crisp and practically noise-free compared to the Fuji X-Pro1 at ISO 200. Still, the RAW image from the Fuji X-Pro1 looks a tad cleaner.
ISO 400 looks very similar to ISO 200.
At ISO 800 we see a little finer grain on the D800, but both are still very comparable in terms of noise, even in the shadows.
Fuji X-Pro1 vs Nikon D800 High ISO Comparison
At ISO 1600 we see a similar thing as with the 5D Mark III – the Fuji X-Pro1 crops looks a little more “washed”, with very little noise throughout the image.
At ISO 3200 the Fuji X-Pro1 starts to lose plenty of data as can be seen from the shadows. The Nikon D800 retains a lot more detail overall and the grain looks more natural.
And finally, increasing ISO to 6400 again results in larger and smoother grain on the Fuji X-Pro1, while the Nikon D800 is still retaining a lot of shadow details with a finer grain. The down-sampling process is clearly advantageous for the D800 in this case.
Fuji X-Pro1 vs Nikon D800 Summary
Comparing RAW files between the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Nikon D800 yields very similar results as with the Canon 5D Mark III. Despite having a sensor more than twice smaller in size, the RAW output from the Fuji X-Pro1 looks very clean in comparison to the D800. I prefer the look of the images from the Fuji X-Pro1 at lower ISO levels below ISO 1600, but not above. At higher ISO levels, I find the Nikon D800 images to be better because they have finer and more natural-looking grain. I am not sure if this kind of output is the result of noise reduction applied to RAW files by Fuji, or if it is the magic of the new color filter array. Whatever it is, it looks great for a small sensor! It is no secret that many RAW files from cameras are “cooked” nowadays – take a look at the Nikon 1 V1, for example. Nikon clearly applies noise reduction at higher ISO levels. As long as manufacturers can do this without losing image detail, who cares if RAW files are treated? The Fuji X-Pro1 engineers clearly developed a great algorithm that can do magic to the RAW files and we can see it from the above comparison. If Fuji released a full-frame sensor with the same noise characteristics as the sensor on the Fuji X-Pro1, it would be a serious challenge for both Nikon and Canon DSLRs in my opinion.
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