What is EXR?

If like me you're new to EXR technology, it might be worth taking a look at Fuji's own promotional video which explains some of the good intentions.  Turn off the sound though - it gets very irritating!

Or for a quick one page explanation, the recent X10 preview by DP Review gives a great overview:

I'm not going to explain further here - I can't do it better than the experts and would probably only cause confusion!  The choice of EXR processing for the X10 caused quite a lot of controversy on the photography forums when first confirmed (see the section on downsides below).  But now the camera has been launched, the early indications would appear to suggest that Fuji have addressed some of the earlier concerns, and that the image quality of this camera really does place it amongst the best of the compacts you can buy.

The anticipated upsides

The CMOS sensor and EXR processor in the X10 means processing should be speedy, and the camera should offer excellent dynamic range when used in the 6MP "DR" mode. In addition, the 2/3" sensor - slightly larger than the norm even for premium compacts - coupled with a relatively modest pixel count by modern standards should help with noise control.

Fuji also claim excellent noise performance in the 6MP "SN" mode, although it would appear from earlier EXR cameras that the jury may be out on whether there is much of an advantage compared to downsizing full resolution pictures. Something that I hope to investigate in coming weeks.

Some possible downsides?

Some previous EXR cameras have occasionally shown odd artefacts instead of fine detail when used at full resolution - a side-effect of the sensor's color filter array.  However, given the X10 is positioned as a premium product, many will want to be convinced that it is capable of delivering excellent results in its full 12MP mode, rather than essentially needing to be treated as a 6MP camera.  Again, something that I'll be keen to test - although judging by posts from others on the web, previous EXR issues that arose in areas such as foliage appear to have been successfully addressed in the X10. And I've certainly not found any evidence of the EXR artefacts in my early images so far

Finally, the position is probably described as confused - at best - when finding out if and how to access EXR capabilities if you wish to shoot the camera in RAW rather than JPEG.  The reality is that you can use some EXR capabilities in RAW, but not when the camera is in its EXR mode - confusing or what!  Watch this space and I'll explain more....

Keep reading - what follows might be helpful!

In the following pages of this section, I hope to find out whether the upsides are delivered in reality - and if so explain the settings to use in order to help you get the benefit.  I'll also be looking at whether some of the earlier downsides of the previous generation of EXR cameras are no longer of relevance in this latest model.  Finally, I'll take a look at EXR RAW images - with separate pages on this blog to consider whether RAW is worth the effort with this camera.