We’ve tested the performance of the shutters of the most interesting CSC cameras, the Fujifilm X-T1, Fujifilm X-E2, Olympus O-MD E-M1, and Olympus O-MD E-M10.
Comparing two cameras in a just and balanced is already hard, but doing this with four cameras with interchangeable lenses, different mount and lenses is truly a challenge.
We’ve done this before with medium format cameras, and now we’ve focused on four high-end CSC cameras, two of them presented earlier this week, the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Olympus O-MD E-M10.
The data we’ve got from this comparison is truly interesting, both separately (Fujifilm X-T1 vs. Fujifilm X-E2 or Olympus O-MD E-M1 vs. Olympus O-MD E-M10) or considering any possible combination.
Before anything else, we will describe the modus operandi and context of our tests, as well as some important things to know:
– To avoid interference in the original exposure, we haven’t recalibrated any of the cameras via software; this tells us more about the same WB adjustment for both of them, which is also worth comparing.
– Considering the latter, we understand the tests are valid only in the context and specific conditions of each picture, as altering these would give different results, something that even affects the resulting noise in the pictures. Let’s remember the color balance (WB) in our digital cameras is managed internally thanks to three RGB channels, and these receive more or less luminous intensity near the base, among many other variables.
– As usual, the test offer worthy challenges for the cameras, like variation in colors designed to accurately test their performance, various textures and controlled lighting settings
– We measured the performance of each camera based on the JPG pictures in the highest quality setting (FINE), distributed in two comparative charts: RR OFF (noise reduction systems deactivated) and RR ON (noise reduction activated).
– This time we didn’t measure the performance in RAW, since two of the cameras in this comparison still can’t process them, the Fujifilm X-T1 and Olympus O-MD E-M10. We can use some free software and not the original Adobe one to test this, but that would offer dramatically different results.
– We’ve considered the results using every available ISO value of both systems starting from ISO 200 (the lowest of the four cameras) to ISO 25600 (including forced values).
– Sharpness and brightness levels are in the standard settings.
Now that we’re done explaining how we’ll do it, we’ll show the results of our comparison, divided in two sections, like we said: RR OFF and RR ON, to make it easier to read.
Test Signal/Noise Fujifilm X-T1 vs Fujifilm X-E2 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M10, JPG FINE RR OFF, click to access
Test Signal / Noise Fujifilm X-T1 vs Fujifilm X-E2 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M10, RR ON FINE JPG, click to access
Without going into details about each individual camera, we feel necessary to let you know a few details we’ve find out thanks to these tests.
– About the Fujifilm, we detected serious performance issues from the very start, even if we took the test pictures with the utmost care. That’s why we’ve concluded these two cameras. The Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujifilm X-E2 don’t have the same sensor, at least not at this level.
Under the same circumstances in regards to lenses, the coverage varies wildly, and this isn’t a problem located in the camera, which can be easily corrected by tilting or micrometric rotation.
Whether this difference is thanks to the kinds of photocells, its distribution or merely an even smaller detail, remains unknown to us, but what we do know is that under the same conditions, compensating the relative sensor centering of the body of the camera, they offer different coverages.
To perform an accurate comparison, side by side, we’ve decided to slightly modify the distance, until achieving practically the same in both cameras – see patches and scales- so we can more accurately evaluate both, having the difference in sizes in consideration – or another unforeseen reasons- when reviewing both models.
– In regards to the Olympus cameras, the Olympus O-MD E-M1 and Olympus E-M10, the quality and coverage –once considering the centering of the sensor- is almost identical, which makes us wonder what the difference between the two actually is.
The lack of a low pass filter in the flagship of the company, the O-MD E-M1, it’s just a small detail if compared to the O-MD E-M10, since it’s only noticeable in very few circumstances, increasing the picture size to 200 or 300 %.
It seems the true differences can be found in the processors, since one of the main features of the E-M10, is its sensor (the same as the E-M5) and its processor (the same as the E-M1).
This well-known processor, famous among “pure photography” apologists who don’t seem to realize most cameras have more digital components than mechanical components nowadays, is one of the key aspects of photography nowadays, just as important or even more than the sensor or the lens, which are part of the photography trinity (lens + sensor + processor).
RR OFF / ON
– After comparing the four models, we can say – without analyzing the RAW performance- the quality of the sensor/processor duo of the models with sensors smaller than the standard (24x36mm) is very high. An excellent performance that really shows when using high ISOs, something that would’ve been considered impossible with an APS-C, Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds.
– The limits are actually established by the companies and not the models, considering the differences in sensors and sizes. Both of the Fujifilm cameras offer excellent image quality up to 3200 ISO, and with an ISO of 6400, they offer good results with a bit of noise. Forced values, beyond 6400 ISO, are only useful when the information of the picture is more important than its quality, which is greatly affected.
– The same can be said about Olympus duo if we lower the levels to 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO. Above 6400 ISO, the resulting pictures are distorted beyond recognition.
– We found no evidence of high differences between the latitude and sharpness of both cameras; we used the best lenses we could get to limit the results as much as we could. Beyond 1600 ISO, Fujifilm cameras with their low pass filters and X-TRANS CMOS processors, offer greater level of detail.
– In regards to pictures with noise control systems activated, we have to say there’s little reason to activate them, as the results aren’t dramatically different. The loss of information and detail is so big, even in moderate sensitivities, that we don’t understand how blurring the noise in the picture can help.
Let’s not play dumb though, we all know that since RAW architecture, mistakenly known as "crude and unprocessed”, measures to reduce noise have been taken, so the RR OFF adjustments should be described as "very low or moderate noise reduction", since it is inherent to digital image processing with no real ability to deactivation it.
– The four cameras offer the increasingly popular JPG FINE mode, capable of creating pictures with high levels of contrast.
The Fujifilm camera is the guiltiest in this regard, since the JPG FINE of the first X series cameras, X100, X-Pro1 and X-E1, offered one of the most complete and powerful post-processing systems, producing JPG pictures of excellent quality. This may be because of the complains of certain users about the inability to obtain RAF files of equal quality as the direct JPG files of their cameras when the developers “understood” the strange architecture of the X-TRANS processor, this became unnecessary, though Fujifilm has decided to play this new game of high contrast JPG pictures.
As a final note, it’s important to note that we’ve only compared the performance of the sensor or these CSC cameras, and only this feature. More detailed test can serve for this purpose, instead of just saying “this camera is better because…”