Fuji FinePix X10Rating:
Fuji created quite a stir when it released its FinePix X100 in March. The combination of a retro-styled metal body, APS-C sized sensor, fixed 23mm f/2 lens and a unique hybrid viewfinder caused plenty of interest among enthusiast and professional photographers alike.
Fuji’s FinePix X10 sits below the X100 in the range, sporting similar retro styling, but sacrificing the large APS-C sensor and fixed lens in favour of a 2/3inch EXR CMOS sensor and a 4x zoom lens providing an angle of view equivalent to a 28-112mm lens on a 35mm camera. An impressively bright maximum aperture of f/2-2.8 has been achieved and the zoom is operated manually, carrying on the retro theme.
A positive point to glean from this specification is that the price is much more modest. It is much more reasonably priced than its bigger brother, so it will be interesting to see how it fares when it comes to image quality.
Fuji’s EXR CMOS technology uses a different pixel arrangement to conventional image sensors. This enables the camera to either take pictures at the full 12MP resolution, or to combine neighbouring pixels to increase image quality in low light conditions.
Another trick this unique sensor can pull off is to enable neighbouring pixels to take images at two different ISO sensitivities simultaneously, enabling images with much greater dynamic range to be captured, without having to take multiple frames.
An EXR Auto mode automatically recognises which EXR configuration should give the best results under the conditions, or each mode can be selected manually.
Other features include 1080p video recording and continuous shooting at frame rates up to 7fps, which should be perfect for capturing action. Enthusiasts will be glad to find that the Fuji FinePix X10 can also record images in Fuji’s RAF raw format, providing extra scope for editing images afterwards.
Build quality and handling
The chunky black metal body of the Fuji FinePix X10 is reassuringly well put together and the retro styling doesn’t stop at the way the camera looks. A smart leatherette finish has been applied around the middle, providing a firm and comfortable grip over the camera body.
Controls are laid out in a mixture of retro and contemporary ways. Exposure modes and compensation are selected using chunky metal dials on top of the camera, with the shutter release placed in between. A threaded socket for attaching a cable release is inset into the shutter release, which is a feature rarely seen on modern cameras.
The rear has the controls you might expect to find on a typical digital compact camera, with four buttons along the side of the 460,000 dot 2.8-inch LCD screen and a directional/navigation control to the other side.
Two control dials for altering exposure provide direct access to any adjustments you may wish to apply. The thumb wheel placed near the top plate is very easy to operate, but the bezel-style ring placed around the buttons on the rear can be a little fiddly to use by comparison.
Images can be composed either on the LCD screen or in the optical viewfinder. The screen is bright, clear and has an excellent ant-reflective coating applied, which helps when using the camera in bright conditions.
The Fuji FinePix X10‘s viewfinder is also very bright and clear, plus unusually for a digital compact camera, it provides a decent sized view and is quite comfortable to use with glasses. Unfortunately there are no markings in the viewfinder to signify where the focus point may be, even when it is fixed to the centre, so confirming sharp focus through the viewfinder is a matter of guesswork.
Still, it is quite useful when shooting in bright conditions at moderate apertures, where much of the scene will be in focus.
Located next to the viewfinder is a switch to activate the built-in flash unit, which sits flush inside the top plate of the camera. The flash is very small, but is still useful for occasional fill in.
For situations where more demands are made of the flash, a standard hotshoe is provided. This enables Fuji’s EF-42 and EF-20 TTL flashguns to be mounted and as it is a standard hotshoe, a wide range of accessories can be used, including wireless triggering systems or studio lights with an adaptor.
Flash can be synced at any shutter speed, right the way up to 1/4000sec, which may be of particular interest to those who use flash in bright conditions for creative effect.
In use, the Fuji FinePix X10 feels very responsive. Autofocus is quick and accurate under most conditions, although it can sometimes struggle to lock onto subjects in low light conditions. Once the camera is focused, there is little noticeable shutter lag.
Menus are clear and easy to navigate too. The quick response and handling of the camera can be attributed to the dual-CPU EXR processor, which has two separate processing cores, just like you may find in many modern computers.
Even when shooting raw images, there is very little waiting around for the camera to catch up, especially when a suitable high-speed SD card is used.
Images produced by the Fuji FinePix X10 are rich and detailed at most ISO sensitivities. Significant levels of noise don’t start to show until ISO 800, and even then any speckling is only visible on close inspection. ISO 1600 produces perfectly printable results too.
Although some fine detail is lost to noise reduction, prints up to A4 should still be perfectly acceptable. Even at higher ISO sensitivities, noise levels are admirably well-controlled, even though more and more fine detail is sacrificed.
Above ISO 3200, the camera reduces image resolution in an attempt to retain image quality. ISO 6400 is still acceptable for small prints and sharing on the web, but ISO 12800 may be a step too far, with most fine detail being smudged beyond recognition by the camera’s noise reduction system and images having a general snowy appearance.
Using the available EXR modes can improve image quality, depending on the scene. Using the low-light EXR mode tends enable acceptable quality images to be taken at sensitivities a stop higher than without, up to ISO 3200 and the Dynamic Range mode does an excellent job of retaining extra detail in highlight and shadow areas, although it isn’t quite as effective in very bright conditions.
As is typical for a Fuji camera, colours are vibrant on the Fuji FinePix X10 using default settings. Film simulation modes to recreate the look of Fuji’s Velvia, Astia and Provia films are provided and cover most shooting scenarios, with Provia being the default setting.
The Velvia mode produces vivid colours best suited to scenic shots, and the Astia mode produces subtle tones well and is best suited to portraiture. Auto white balance does an excellent job in natural lighting, and a fair job under artificial lights indoors, leaving a slight colour cast in the image.
Multi-segment metering produces accurate exposures under a wide range of conditions and isn’t easily fooled by large areas of light or dark in the image. Centre-weighted and spot metering modes are also provided and the direct access to exposure compensation and manual exposure adjustments makes these modes a pleasure to use.
Image quality and resolution
Our results from the lab have been compared against the Fujifilm X100, Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100, all top of the range compact cameras from their respective manufacturers.
Our analysis shows that all four cameras produce good results, but the X10′s raw files (after conversion to TIFF) are on par for signal to noise ratio with the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100. When it comes to dynamic range, however, the raw file (after conversion to TIFF) results show that the Fujifilm X10 is capable of capturing a greater tonal range than both the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100.
Raw images (after conversion to TIFF) from the Fujifilm X10 have a better signal to noise ratio than the Canon PowerShot G12. Meanwhile, the Nikon Coolpix P7100 just beats the Fujifilm X10 from a sensitivity of ISO 800 upwards, but the difference in scores is exceptionally small.
The benefit of the Fuji X100′s APS-C sized sensor comes to bear here as its raw files produce a cleaner signal than the other cameras.
- Left – A standard ISO hotshoe allows external flash accessories to be attached to the Fuji FinePix X10, which can expand creative possibilities – See full-res image
- Right – Detail levels are excellent and images are sharp straight from the camera – See full-res image
- The EXR low light mode improves high ISO quality for shooting in dark conditions – See full-res image
- Left – The built-in flash is weak, but still useful for fill-in at close quarters – See full-res image
- Right – Whereas the vivid setting aims to reproduce Fuji Velvia slide film, with its highly saturated colours – See full-res image
- Left – A Super-Macro mode allows focusing as close as 1cm from the front element of the lens – See full-res image
- Right – In-lens image stabilisation helps to reduce image blurring due to unwanted camera movement – See full-res image
Sensitivity and noise
Just as it did with the FinePix X100, Fuji has managed to make a camera with the Fuji FinePix X10 that not only looks the part, but delivers on image quality and handling too.
The well-constructed metal body is robust, easy to use and looks very smart too. Image quality is as good as any high-end compact camera can deliver at the moment, especially if the EXR modes are used to their strengths.
Premium build and retro design compliment the excellent handling and image quality offered by the Fuji X10 perfectly.
There is very little to dislike about the Fuji X10. If the bezel on the rear was a bit more substantial and the viewfinder had marking for a central focusing point, these would be welcome improvements.
Here’s some more articles you might like:
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- Nikon Coolpix S9100 12MP Compact Camera Expert Review
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- Best cameras for photographing gigs
- Optical viewfinder
- Bright, clear screen
- Good ISO performance for a compact
- Premium build quality
- Fiddly bezel on the rear
- Weak built in flash
- No marking in the viewfinder
Enthusiasts and even beginners who are in the market for a high-quality compact camera shouldn’t be disappointed by what the Fuji FinePix X10 has to offer.
Although it is priced a little high when compared to cameras like the Canon Powershot G12 or Nikon P7100, it look, feel and handles like a premium product, and is priced accordingly.