UPDATED: Launched at the end of 2011 the Fuji X10 combines retro rangefinder looks with advanced digital camera technology to deliver a fantastic advanced compact. However, with the enthusiast compact segment welcoming so many new models over the past 12 months, is the X10 still able to compete? Find out in the What Digital Camera Fuji X10 review...
compact camera that’s likely to appeal to enthusiast photographers looking for
something that’s small enough to be carried at all times, while still being
able to deliver the flexibility and user experience of a DSLR. In addition, the
X10 also makes some concessions towards more casual users by offering a range
of fully automatic exposure options, including Fuji’s proprietary EXR shooting
At the time of its launch towards the end
of 2011, the X10’s 2/3in EXR CMOS sensor was touted as one of the largest yet
fitted to an advanced compact. In the 12 months that have elapsed since the X10
was launched, however, a handful of new advanced compacts have come to market that
use larger sensors. The first of these is the Sony RX100, which sports a 1in
sensor. The Canon G1X, meanwhile, is built around a 18.7 x 14mm sensor that is
only fractionally smaller than a standard APS-C chip as used in most
That’s not to do down the X10’s excellent
2/3in sensor, however, as it’s still larger than what’s found inside many of
its much newer advanced compact rivals including the Olympus XZ-2, Nikon P7700,
Canon S110 and Samsung EX2F – all of which use a 1/1.7in sensor that is
fractionally smaller than the X10’s. The Lumix LX7, meanwhile, uses a smaller
still 1/1.6in chip.
Fujifilm X10 review – Features
Of course, while the physical size of a
sensor is recognised as having an important bearing on low-light performance, depth of field possibilities and overall image quality, it isn’t by any
means the sole criteria by which cameras should be judged. One of the bigger selling points of the X10 is that is benefits from Fujifilm’s proprietary EXR technology. In practical terms this enables the camera to adapt for high ISO capture by combining neighbouring pixels to increase the light gathering capabilities of the sensor and deliver a cleaner 6MP image with less image noise.
The EXR sensor can also be set to improve the dynamic range of the shot, again by splitting the pixel array in half, with one half capturing hightlight detail, while the other half records shadow detail. This information is then combined to produce a 6MP image with a broader dynamic range than is possible with a standard shot. The standard ISO range runs from 100-3200, but shooting in JPEG only and at a reduced resolution of 6MP, an ISO of 6400, while at 3MP, ISO 12,800 is possible.
Instead of a fixed focal length lens, the X10 features a 4x optical zoom, ranging from 28-112mm, with a variable maximum aperture of f/2-2.8. It offers the same focal range as the Olympus XZ-1, but due to the XZ-1’s variable maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.5, the X10 is a touch slower. The Canon G12 offers a bit more reach, but only offers a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the wide end.
The X10 also offers a new Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) system to reduce the risk of camera shake.
As well as the 2.8in screen with a resolution of 460K dots, there’s also a built-in optical viewfinder. It’s not as groundbreaking as the hybrid viewfinder found on the X100, but displays the len’s zoom and delivers 85% coverage. There’s no shooting information overlaid over the display.
There’s a 49-point selectable contrast-detect AF system with the option to opt for multi-area, tracking and face-detection. There’s a choice of single, continuous and manual focus modes. For close-up photography, there’s a Macro and Super Macro mode too.
The X10 also offers a host of drive modes. As well as single and self-timer (2sec and 10sec settings), there’s the choice of continuous shooting speeds up to 7fps at full resolution (5fps if you’re shooting in Raw), while 10fps is possible at a reduced resolution of 6MP. There’s also the choice to shoot bracketed ISO, Exposure, Dynamic Range and Film Simulation modes too.
Hidden in the top plate is a little pop up flash, and thanks to the design of the leaf shutter, the flash can be synchronized at any shutter speed you wish – even up to 1/4000sec. The flash itself though doesn’t kick out that much power and is only really suitable for close-range fill-in photography. There is a standard hotshoe though, so a dedicated Fujifilm flashgun can be attached if you need more power.
The X10 can shoot HD movie clips at 1080p and at a rate of 30fps. Footage is recorded using the H.264 codec and output as MOV files straight from camera.
Fujifilm X10 review – Design
Looks-wise the X10 follows a rangefinder-style, retro design that’s similar to the X100, and as such, it’s a great looking piece of kit. Proportionally, it’s quite a bit smaller than the X100, with a footprint similar to that of a Canon G12.
Both the bottom and top plates of the X10 are constructed from magnesium, while the rest of the body is finished off in a durable synthetic leather. With the mode dial, zoom ring and exposure compensation dial all milled from solid metal, the X10 feels a like a real premium product in the hand.
There’s a subtle handgrip, while on the rear you’ll find a smooth rubberised thumb rest. The X100 had a traditional aperture ring round the lens, but this is not the case with the X10. Instead, there’s a manual zoom ring that also functions as the on/off switch – twist it round from the Off position to 28mm to spark the camera into life.
The rest of the X10’s front is pretty sparse: there’s an AF mode switch, viewfinder window, and AF-assist illuminator. Up on the top of the camera are mode and exposure compensations dials, the shutter release (with a screw thread for a traditional cable release), a programmable function button, built-in flash and hotshoe. The rear of the camera is cleanly laid-out – there’s a main-command dial, sub-command scroll wheel and a small selection of other button-based controls that allow quick access to a range of settings.
Fujifilm X10 review – Performance
When you twist the X10’s lens from the Off position towards the focal range of the lens, there’s only a minimal delay before the camera is ready to shoot with.
Optical viewfinders on most compacts tend to be very tunnel-like, small and dull, leaving you questioning their inclusion in the first place. However the X10’s viewfinder deserves its place. It’s bright, clear and displays seamlessly with the lens’ zoom. It’s great for general shooting, but with the 85% coverage offered and minor parallax due to the distance of the viewfinder to the lens, the rear LCD screen may be the way to go when more precise composition is required.
The 2.8in screen may appear to be smaller than some 3in displays, but because the 4:3 ratio matches that of the sensor, the feed fills the frame without any black bars either side. It sits flush to the body, so can’t be angled outwards like some of its rivals such as the Canon G12 or Nikon P7100, but the lack of vari-angle screen wasn’t really an issue during the test.
We found the Fuji X10’s AF system to be very responsive. In single-area AF, focus was fast and precise, and it’s also pretty quick to toggle through the 49 AF points that cover all but the parameter of the frame using the rear scroll wheel. The AF tracking is also reliable so long as the subject doesn’t move too erratically.
With the aperture ring and shutter speed dial that was seen on the X100 absent on the X10, the latter camera’s settings are controlled via the main command dial next to the thumb rest or via the rear scroll wheel. It’s not quite the same tactile, engaging experience as using the controls on the X100, but they still do a solid job. However, the X10 does feature an exposure compensation dial similar to the X100. There’s a bit more friction on the one found on the X10 to avoid it getting inadvertently knocked when on the move.
Where the shutter speed dial on the X100 would is the X10’s mode dial. Along with M, A, S, P modes there’s also a dedicated EXR mode – you can let the camera make the call on which EXR mode to select, or you can select whether you want priority to be given to detail, image noise or dynamic range. There’s an Advanced mode within which you can select a Sweep Panorama mode, Pro Focus (background softening) or Pro Low-light (clarity of poorly lit subjects is boosted). There’re also a couple of custom settings, video activation and scene modes should you wish.
There’s no specific ISO button, but the Function button on the top plate can be set to do this (along with a selection of other settings), while there’s also quick access to WB, Drive, Macro and AF point selection. There’s also a dedicated Raw button to quickly select or deselect if needed.
Once you’ve set the X10 up how you want, there’ll only be a few times you’ll need to explore the main menu, which is clear and concise. Otherwise, all the controls you’ll need are easily accessible and logically laid out, making the X10 very quick and easy to use.
Fujifilm X10 review – Image quality
Tone and Exposure
The X10 employs a 256-zone metering system, with the choice of either Multi segment, Centre-weighted or spot metering modes.
The multi-segment metering coped well, delivering well-exposed shots under a range of lighting conditions, though there’ll be times when you want to ride the easily-accessed exposure compensation dial to really pin-down the exposure.
Even without opting to use D-Range priority in the X10’s EXR mode, the results displayed a wide tonal range. If you opt for the JPEG-only EXR mode, you’ll notice an improvement in shadow and highlight detail, though that’s not to say you can’t get a better result with a converted Raw file.
White Balance and Colour
The X10’s Auto White Balance delivered pleasing neutral results, but on top of that there’s a host of White Balance presets: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light and Underwater. For even more control, there’re Custom and Colour temperature options.
There are a collection of Film Simulation modes that mimic the characteristics of Fujifilm’s pro stock – expect to find Provia, Astia and Velvia modes, along with a couple of mono modes and a sepia setting too.
Sharpness and Detail
As mentioned previously, the 2/3in sensor is larger than that found among the competition. Performance is very good for a senor of this size – at low ISOs, detail is very impressive. A4 prints aren’t a problem, while A3 reproductions are a realistic option.
The 28-112mm lens is sharp throughout the range – vignetting is kept well under control, while there’s only a very minor hint of barrel distortion at 28mm.
The X10 offers a standard ISO range from 100-3200 at 12MP, but can be pushed further to ISO 6400 at 6MP, and 12,800 at 3MP if required.
From ISO 100-800 both JPEG and Raw files deliver very good results. Above that, and as you’d expect, the quality of the image begins to deteriorate. The JPEG files have a bit too much image noise reduction applied, resulting in images that lack detail and look a touch waxy. The Raw files hold up better – image noise is present, but with some post-capture Raw conversion, this can be improved to deliver very useable results.
The X10 comes bundled with Raw file Converter EX powered by Silkypix. This Raw converter software is very comprehensive, allowing plenty of control over your Raw files, giving you the opportunity to get the best from your shots.
As you’d expect compared to an unprocessed Raw file, the JPEG equivalents have had some processing applied to them – colours are more saturated, with sharpening and image noise reduction applied.
As yet, Adobe Camera Raw doesn’t support the X10, though we expect this to be corrected with an update soon.
Value & Verdict
Fujifilm X10 review – Value
The X10 launched to market in November 2011 with a price tage of around £499. This put the X10 firmly in the premium end of the advanced compact camera market. At this price the X10 not only found itself competing against other enthusiast-grade compacts but a large number of compact system cameras and even entry-level DSLRs.
Twelve months on and the situation has changed quite considerably. Shop around online and you can easily pick up a brand new X10 from rerputable sellers for around £330 – a saving of £170 on it’s initial launch price. At this price the X10 is undoubtedly very good value indeed.
Fujifilm X10 review – Verdict
Just like the X100 before it, the X10 is another lovely premium compact camera from Fujifilm.
The understated, classic design looks the part, while the build-quality can’t be faulted. The controls fall to the hand with ease and the inclusion of a useable optical viewfinder makes it a pleasure to shoot with.
Image quality, considering this is a compact camera, is also very good – plenty of detail and (as long as you opt to shoot in Raw at higher ISOs) this pocket beauty is the perfect companion to have with you all the time.
If you’re looking for a premium, enthusiast-focused compact then the Fujifllm X10 has to be the pick of the bunch. It’s a class act.