Chapter Six: The Road to Ultimate Image Quality
1The quest for unrivalled “photo expression”.
- In the development of the X100, FUJIFILM aimed at achieving superior image representation that satisfies the uncompromising demands of professionals. Those demands can be broadly divided into two categories: high “shoot and show” image quality that enables photographers to use captured JPEG images just as they are with virtually no post-shot editing, and superior RAW image format quality that provides photographers with image data that they can process and tune to meet their creative vision. In order to achieve this superior level of image representation, it was necessary for FUJIFILM to not only engineer the ultimate image capture but also apply technology to deliver image quality that we have refined over the decades as a leader in imaging. The X100 embodies the challenge of fusing the demands of the professional photographer with our technological expertise to provide a higher level of image quality.
2X100 image structure characteristics – the product of a lens with excellent image depiction and a superb image pickup system.
- X100 is equipped with a lens that delivers exceptional depiction performance and adopts a large APS-C-size sensor (CMOS Sensor). The integration of a lens specially designed for the X100 and a sensor that is customized to extract maximum performance from this lens proved to be a tremendous advantage in designing image representation and quality. This made it possible to design image quality that is optimised for sensitivity and other parameters, as illustrated in the following example.
- For low-sensitivity shooting, FUJIFILM designed high-resolution image quality that fully exploits the characteristics of the high-MTF, low-aberration lens. In image processing, processing is kept low to preserve essential image data, while the high frequency component is supplemented to maintain the image detail, resulting in enhancement of image definition.
- For shooting at ISO 400/800, which is frequently used for snap photography, the design of image quality preserves the high definition of low-sensitivity shooting, while minimising noise generated at this sensitivity to maintain a balance between resolution and noise reduction.
- When shooting at higher sensitivities, noise – which can be broadly divided into brightness-related noise and colour noise – becomes a problem. Because brightness-related noise can affect the graininess of the photo, leaving as little noise as possible is desirable, but excessive removal can result in an unnatural “solid fill” look. In order to restore the detail, there are cases when it may be necessary to exploit brightness-related noise. On the other hand, colour noise is something that is actually not present in the captured scene, and its presence creates a sense of wrongness.
In the X100 image design, we have sought to thoroughly eliminate colour noise while maintaining colour reproduction quality. In order to achieve this, a cycle of colour noise removal processing in addition to the cycle of processing for low-sensitivity images is performed. The result is high-sensitivity image quality comparable to photos taken at low to medium sensitivities.
3Enhancement of “Film Simulation Modes” lets users select a desired aesthetic quality just as if they were choosing among legendary FUJIFILM colour film brands.
- In designing the image quality for the X100, colour creation fundamentally targeted the colour quality of S5 Pro’s standard mode, also known as the Fujichrome PROVIA colour. In order to realise Fujichrome PROVIA’s defining quality and ability to faithfully reproduce the colours of the subject, repeated and exhaustive simulations and analyses were conducted.
- If measured quantitatively, is it enough to simply faithfully reproduce the colours of the photo subject? The answer is no. Actually there is another factor called “memory colour” – sometimes referred to as “imagined colour” - which can influence how a person perceives and evaluates a photo. Examples of this can be found when you look up and see the blueness of the sky or the lush green of the leaves of a tree.
Using charts, we conducted repeated testing to further refine colour fidelity as far as possible using quantitative evaluation methods, and then fine tuned the colour with sensory evaluation of actual print output and output displayed on monitors under diverse conditions. Fujifilm’s uncompromising commitment to image quality is evident here too, in the stubborn and detailed attention paid to the design of X100 colour.
- PROVIA Mode is designed for high-fidelity colour reproduction ideal for a wide range of scenes from landscapes and portraits to snaps. Faithfully reproducing skin tones as well as the “memory colour” quality of blue skies and the green of trees, PROVIA provides the user with the most neutral colour reproduction of the 3 modes.
- Velvia Mode targets a quality of vivid colour reproduction that is best suited for a wide scope of nature photography from landscapes to flowers. In order to emphasise the vivid reproduction of skies, leaves and similar scene elements, Velvia has the highest degree of saturation of blues and greens among the 3 modes, and the harder shadow tonality results in the reproduction of well-defined vibrancy of colour. However, careful attention was paid to avoid oversaturation resulting from the high degree of colour saturation, and the result is a mode that can be used with confidence.
- ASTIA Mode aims at delivering superb colour reproduction for both landscapes and portraits. Among the 3 modes, ASTIA has the lowest colour saturation when it comes to human skin tones, reds and yellows, and delivers a softer finish for skin highlight tonality. However, greens and blues have a higher degree of saturation than PROVIA; therefore, in order to achieve a better overall image balance, shadows have also been made harder than PROVIA. As a result, the expression of human subjects is softer while the colour and brightness of the peripheral scene is more vivid.
- There is also a Film Simulation Bracketing Mode in the X100 that lets the user press the shutter once and capture the scene with three different simulation modes: PROVIA, Velvia, ASTIA and monochrome mode with filter effects. For photographers who would like to change the colour quality after shooting a scene in RAW format, the RAW CONVERSION function enables the application of a selected Film Simulation Mode after shooting.
- The colour-related know-how that FUJIFILM has accumulated in over 75 years of photo film development also drives the development of every digital camera that bears our name. This “Singular Colour” of FUJIFILM that has been refined and defined by countless hours of development and decades of commitment to photos is now crystallised in the X100.