X-A1 superior image quality to X-M1 (and X-E1 and X-PRO1)?

Discussion in 'Fuji X-Mount Cameras' started by entropic remnants, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    If you haven't been to fujirumors lately, this might challenge your perceptions:

    http://www.fujirumors.com/x-a1-high...mage-quality-and-excellent-noise-performance/

    Follow the links to the reviews, samples and comparisons. Here's what I see:

    • Fuji X-A1 is sharper than the X-M1
    • Fuji X-A1 has better high ISO performance than the X-M1
    So somebody would buy X-Trans why? This is what I feared: Fujifilm has just completely demolished their X-Trans branding in one fell swoop. When the cheaper model shows higher image quaity -- what does that do to the folks who bought into your system because your other stuff was better?

    I'm not confused -- I expected this with the announcement of the X-A1. I think this will be a huge controversy and sour some folks a bit.
     
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  2. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    I'll respond to my own post, lol: I'd bet big money that it's why Fuji is rushing out the next generation of X-Trans cameras -- so they can demonstrate they still are better and fight this story that even Fuji has proved X-Trans isn't better than Bayer.

    Fuji has some dancing to do.
     
  3. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Sorry, but the "conclusions" that were presented in this thread are without merit. Unless you compare RAW files that were taken with identical exposure settings, all you can compare are JPEG (default) settings. It's no secret that the A1 engine applies more sharpening, more NR and more contrast per default, this is even stated in a Fuji presentation outlining IQ differences between these 2 cameras that I happen to have seen. So wow, big surprise that SOOC JPEGs from the A1 look sharper, less noisy and more contrasty! That's exactly what Fuji claims, so I guess their claim is correct.

    Of course, such findings are mostly irrelevant, because if the default settings do not please you, you can simply change the JPEG settings to get different results. RAWs processed from the A1 that match the detail of the M1 are noisier, so you have to apply some NR in the process to equal this out. Not a big deal, and as I already said, for all practical uses, the differences between both cameras are pretty much insignificant, except for the price difference, of course. That's why I called the A1 my favorite X-Mount body, it's the great value that makes the difference. Forget about the pixel peeping, and please don't come to any pre-magutre conclusions if you don't know exactly what you are doing. Camera comparisons on pixel peeping level is a tough job. I should know, because this is what I am currently doing. ;)

    Driving a Porsche at 55 mph and a Beetle at 70 mph doesn't mean the Beetle is the faster car. It is simply set to go faster. Neither will Volkswagen/Porsche have some "dancing to do". It is all about the settings, and if you set the cruise control of the Bettle to 70 and the cruise control of the Porsche to 55, well, guess what happens? Yep, exactly. In any case, presenting such mundane "results" as earth-shattering revelations is pretty weird.

    The only interesting part is this: How fast can each car go under indentical conditions, with perfectly skilled drivers at the wheel? What is each car's (or each camera's) limit? This is where things could get interesting, but as I already said, the differences between the A1 and M1 are mostly marginal for many real-world applications. This should not come as a surprise, because if the differences were that large, how could Sony, Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic etc. have sold any Bayer cameras in the past 18 months? I mean, really, if Bayer was such visibly inferior technology, everybody with a sane mind would have bought a camera with X-Trans!
     
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  4. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    Well said and quite reasonable -- but I don't think a lot of people are going to be reasonable.

    My contention has been that if the X-A1 is as good as -- or worst case BETTER than -- the X-M1 that it's not good for Fuji's rep and it's going to leave a lot of people wondering why they bought what they did. Not that Fuji should have crippled the X-A1 -- that would be foolish. But to release it so close to the X-M1, for $200 less, and without a dimes worth of difference in IQ (or -- and we'll see if it's true -- better performance in some way) than the X-Trans X-M1... I just think this has a certain cognitive dissonance. It's not going to be a "feel good" thing for folks.

    And like it or not: that's an important thing, how people feel about your products and you as a company. So far it's pretty much been all roses for Fuji -- but this has a different smell to me.

     
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  5. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    526
    Feb 1, 2013
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Well, I'll say this much: It hasn't been all roses for Fuji up to now. The "white orb" issue involving the X10 was a huge problem for the company. And I think Fuji handled it perfectly. First, they put out a global release stating that the problem was real and that they were aware of it and working on a solution. Then, they put out a firmware update that improved the problem slightly but didn't cure it. Then, they told all X10 owners that they could send in their X10 for a complete sensor replacement at no cost. Most people received new cameras. I'm sure this cost Fuji a staggering amount of money. But they came out looking like champs. Most X10 owners came away with a properly working camera and the feeling that Fuji actually cared about them.

    I'm not sure this episode can be considered the same kind of problem. But it might be embarrassing at the very least. Still, if the next generation of X-Trans cameras beats the X-A1, then we can all chalk it up to the newest cameras generally being best. If not, then Fuji has another kind of problem on its hands. I'm making no predictions.
     
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  6. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Well, it's really great that I'm not paid by Fuji, so I don't have to defend their marketing decisions or anything else they are doing or not doing. All I have to do is test their products in a reasonable and competent fashion, make-up my mind and present the results in a way that is considered useful/helpful by those reading it.

    Since you have probably read my First Looks at the X-A1 and the X-M1, you already know that I consider both cameras to be almost identical, except for the better value proposition of the A1. That's why I am buying my dad a A1 kit for "X"-mas. I am sure that many others will do the same.

    X-Trans has its advantages, but it also has its drawbacks. Like car makers, Fuji is always talking about the advntages, just like Porsche will tell you how much fun it is to drive their cars, how fast they are, how quickly they accelerate, how safe they are etc. They won't tell you that your kids and luggage will not fit, that the ride is rather uncomfortable, that you will probably get stuck off-road and that you may have problems with those wide tires when it's really wet or snowing (and that you would be so much faster at your destination witha AWD SUV).

    It really is the same with X-Trans vs. Bayer, both concepts have their pros and cons, and it basically depends on what you want do do with it and how good a driver or what kind of driver, err... photographer you are. Just like a sports car isn't per se better than a SUV, no X-Trans camera is per se better than a Bayer camera and vice versa. Car buyers seem to have no trouble understanding this and making a rational buying decision, but as you point out, people seem become instantly stupid when it comes to camera equipment. However, it's really not that different, it's simply different technologies that may be more or less suitable for one driver (buyer) and one application or the other.

    Just like MILCs aren't full replacements for DSLRs (and vice versa), neither Bayer nor X-Trans are per se superior technologies. You have to understand the differences and use the technologies accordingly. That said, the differences aren't fundmental, it's not like Foveon, it's just a different CFA. It is basically like deciding whether you want to buy the AWD or 2WD version of the very same car model. We all know such decisions: AWD helps off-road, but it is more expensive, heavier and burns more fuel. So it depends on your priorities. If you live in the mountains, the AWD may be a smart decision, if you only drive within the city limits of Miami, the 2WD will probably be the smarter move. It really is the same with M1 vs. A1, Fuji is offering different options of the same model, each targeting a different core audience. That's why the JPEG engines behave differently at their default settings, it's all about anticipating the needs of the "typical" customer of each camera model. That doesn't mean one camera is better than the other. It simply means that they are different, but it also means that I found that the technical differences are minor enough (compared to the price difference) to conclude that the A1 is the better deal. But this is only my informed opinion.
     
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  7. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    This a great example of the "flawed" thinking that dominates the photography forum universe. Just like AWD doesn't "beat" 2WD per se, X-Trans cameras do not "beat" Bayer cameras per se, and vise versa. You have to look at your priorities. Believe it or not, there is a bokeh difference between X-Trans and Bayer, but nobody talks about it, even though everybody seems to love talking about bokeh.

    But even that difference does not mean that everybody will prefer one look and dislike the other. When I compared the Touit 32 to the Fuji 35, most people preferred the softer Fuji bokeh, but some liked the more vivid Zeiss bokeh better. Some people like the smooth X-Trans details, other prefer the more rugged and grainy Bayer rendering, and yes, even false detail can look good as long as it doesn't look out of place. Liking one look better than another isn't a science, it can't be measured, that's why I refuse to do any lab tests and diagrams. It simply doesn't have much impact on real-world shots that aren't always taken from a tripod on days w/o any wind. Reality is different, and as soon as you shoot handheld and introduce minor camera shake, the detail rendering of Bayer vs. X-Trans becomes purely academic, because no matter which sensor you use, the shot with the least shake will be the crispest. :)
     
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  8. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    That's all fine, Rico (see I can get it right, lol) -- but do you think the general public will be so well informed and reasonable as yourself? Not everyone is at your level as a photographer and artist. I just think this is going to muddy the waters for Fuji in an undesirable way. I don't even KNOW which one is "better" which is why my original title has a question mark at the end -- but I think that very question IS going to be asked.
     
  9. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    526
    Feb 1, 2013
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Rico, I have no problem with X-Trans sensors - even the current generation. But I think John is talking about the echo chamber of the Internet once a few "reviewers" decide the X-A1's Bayer sensor is better in lab tests. Anyone with any real photo experience realizes the fallacy of the 100 percent view. But it doesn't seem to sink in with hundreds of thousand of camera buyers who measure the "best" in thousandths of an inch.
     
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  10. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Who is this general public? Clearly, they don't read photo forums, otherwise they would go crazy in an instant. So sure, they read the marketing and get the speech from a sales person, which they believe or not, and then they either buy the cheaper or the more expensive option. That's why those options exist in the first place, there simply is a huge market out there that does not want to spend the kind of money that Fuji charges for an X-M1 or X-E1/2. So there have to be options or those people will buy Sony, Olympus, Panasonic or the usual DSLR kit with a really bad plastic lens.

    So the A1, as it is, is Fuji's smartest move in a long time, if you ask me. The M1, as it is, not so much, I would have added an electronic lebel and panorama mode, more film simulations, more customization, Adobe RGB, Kelvin white balance and a few more custom presets, all for the same price of the current M1. That would appeal to the more "enthusiastic" crowd.
     
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  11. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    I don't think the A1 will fare better in lab tests, all those other Nikon and Sony and Canon and Ricoh cameras didn't fare better, either, all with pretty much the same sensor. It's not like Fuji just invented the Bayer camera, all the competition is Bayer, anyway, including many Fuji cameras like the XF1, X100, X10 etc.

    But really, why does everybody care about Fuji's marketing strategy and how much of each camera they sell? It's not like our bonuses depend on it, and I guess only a select few are invested in Fuji stock. ;). And yet, the forums are filled with armchair managers discussing sales, marketing and product development strategies. ;)

    Personally, I do have to care a bit, because I need to decide whether or not to write a book on a specific camera. The book will only sell well if the camera sells reasonably well, so I do look at sales forcasts and product planning. As of now, I am quite pleased with what I see in the pipeline till the end of the current fiscal year, that's why have already lined-up my next book.
     
  12. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    And maybe you've nailed it to some extent: what distinguishes the X-M1 from the A1 if it's only "X-Trans" and most people won't see that difference?

    I think we care about these camera companies because they all keep making stupid mistakes and hurting sales and perceptions overall. I'm a bit fan of Thom Hogan's analysis of "stupid camera maker tricks" (my words) and it seems like Fuji is falling into the same trap.

    That trap is: too many models too quickly without sufficient thought put into what distinguishes them. This generates confusion and doubt.

    Whether the A1 is the "smartest move" Fuji has made is as unknown as whether the X-M1 actually has $200 more value -- it will be defined in long term marketplace reaction.

    One more thing: I'm a manufacturer. Although the product I work with is steel, it's the same for any manufacturer: product development and marketing eats resources. Minimizing excess development costs while maximizing sales is a smart strategy but frankly most camera makers seem to flounder. They often vomit forth products in an unfocused way. Add to all this the cost of new tooling for different parts, allocating space and resources to manufacture adequate quantities IN ADDITION to what you already supply -- it's a recipe for major fiscal growing pains.

    For many of us Fuji's "focus" on somewhat higher end offerings was a comforting scene. It seemed somebody was actually making real quality cameras with some forethought for the photographer and not just for the sake of the mass market. And it was something different that MADE a difference.

    Fuji may still be doing that: but their rapid plunge into poorly thought out low end models doesn't comfort. I expect to like the X-M1, but there will be many X-M1 adopters grumbling about the X-A1, mark my words. And that grumbling, along with the Bayer/X-Trans debate that continues, may not be good for Fuji.

    That's my argument and I'm sticking with it, lol.
     
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  13. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Since the A1/M1 are more powerful, faster, smaller, lighter etc. than the E1 and Pro1, I have no idea how those cameras are poorly thought out. Could they offer more? Sure, but that would put them into the enthusiast league, which is E2 territory. Btw, there will probably be firmware updates for the A1/M1 (there are plans to add some features), but as long as there's no official announcement, I stick to my "I believe it when I see it" credo. :) Remember, I knew about the planned X100 update as early as back in April, and look how that turned out, postponed twice already.

    Since Fujirumors have already comfirmed 18OCT for the E2/Q1 announcement (their sources seem to get better), one might assume that I am already testing prototypes/PP models of these cameras for my respective First Look articles. I am known to take my dear time for these articles, I am definitely not one of those "experts" who go to a trade show, play for 5-10 minutes with a new camera at the booth, then publish their First Look video or article. It's ridiculous, and I refuse to play this game. ;) So trust me, when I say that I think the M1/A1 are good cameras, I have my reasons, and you can read all about them in my articles. Ironically, I was very sceptical at first, so the little cameras had to convince me in order to overcome my negative pre-conceptions. Go figure!
     
  14. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    Fair enough. I don't have any of your books but from what I saw in the samples online I like them, and I like your approach here -- although I think you are a little less critical in certain areas than I'd like obviously, lol.

    But that being said, I did order an X-M1 and expect to love it. If I thought Fuji were screwed up overall, I wouldn't buy these cameras and so forth. But I do believe they have squandered a bit of resources on some shaky moves overall. If you're right and they make X-M1 owners feel like they got a good deal (and I already do, again, I'm not the people I'm worried about, ha ha) great. But otherwise I still say the X-A1 will leave many X-M1 owners feeling short changed.

    When you include the lens in the deal, how much is that worth? Subtract that from the price of both camera "kits" and that $200 difference for the X-M1 and X-A1 REALLY sounds like a lot of money difference. People will be thinking about these things.

    I hope you're right and Fuji sail through this untarnished: but at my age a certain cynicism comes naturally as you see the same dumb things repeated over and over and over... lol
     
  15. bhupinder2002

    bhupinder2002 FujiXspot Regular

    101
    Mar 30, 2013
    Interesting development
     
  16. bhupinder2002

    bhupinder2002 FujiXspot Regular

    101
    Mar 30, 2013
    John I think an other most important aspect is the timing of the release. Fuji released a low end body XM1 only few months ago and now here they go again. They could have released it with next generation XTRAN sensor cameras .I know more megapixels are not what everybody needs but with 24 mp Bayer sensor bodies around , a 24 megapixel next generation Bayer sensor will need enough gap to justify the price difference and IQ difference .
    Cheers
     
  17. bhupinder2002

    bhupinder2002 FujiXspot Regular

    101
    Mar 30, 2013
    Perfect Rico .. I love and use this car and camera analogy .
     
  18. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    Well, we'll see how it all plays out. A local camera shop will only stock so many Fuji's because, as the owner says, Fuji gets "15 minutes of fame". Huge demand for a short time, then people stop asking for them. Maybe that's why Fuji keeps trying to make "news",lol.
     
  19. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    It's not like Fuji has sold large numbers of Pro1s and E1s globally, especially the Pro1 was quite certainly a bit of a disappointment compared to the successful X100. They plan to sell a much larger number of A1/M1s, so we will have to see how this is going to play out.

    Luckily, not all markets are as hopeless as the U.S. market when it comes to MILCs, Germany and the U.K. are doing rather well. In any case, superior image quality is so much more about the photographer's capabilities than it is about using either an A1 or M1. I have a feeling that quite many users in photo forums may have lost their perspective when they engange in endless pixel peeping discussions about RAW converters, demosaicing, detail recovery and the likes. It's a bit like amateur golfers discussing what new high-tech clubs to buy to win the Masters. ;)
     
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  20. bhupinder2002

    bhupinder2002 FujiXspot Regular

    101
    Mar 30, 2013
    I agree Rico
    These two cameras give people a glimpse what Fuji offers. Buying body is one thing but then some of them will surely get more interested and buy extra lenses as well . I am totally with u that photographers' s capability are more important but still it's ridiculous that some people still fight over details on walls and leaves after 5000% maginication on computer monitors .
    Cheers
     
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