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Fuji X10 Camera Review

Fuji X10 Camera Review  



November 2011
(updated August, 2012)

(Update  - The Edison NJ repair center sent me a brand new X10 with a newly designed sensor. I did a full test of the camera and I am happy to report the blooming effect which created the white dots (orbs), is no longer an issue. I have not noticed any difference in image quality between the old and new sensor so I have not made any changes to my original review).

The Fujifilm X10 was announced in September 2011 and shipped early November in the US. This is an enthusiast compact camera. It features an F2.0-2.8 28-112mm equivalent, image stabilizing lens and a 12MP 2/3" CMOS sensor. It has a retro style look, similar to the previously released Fuji FinePix X100. The X10 also features an optical viewfinder, a pop-up flash, and a dedicated TTL flash compatible hot shoe. The body base and top control panel are made from magnesium alloy (full specifications follow the end of this review).

I bought the Fuji X10 to replace my Nikon D50 DSLR as my carry around camera. I wanted a camera that was small. Not necessarily pocketable, but one that I could carry in a small case attached to my belt. The camera I was looking for needed to have external controls for easy operation, a high quality lens, an optical viewfinder, and a flash. The camera also needed to produce low noise images relative to it's sensor size. After reading lots of reviews and forum discussions online and trying out a few cameras in person the X10 seemed to be my best choice.

I considered the Canon S95 and newly released S100 but neither have a viewfinder. I also took a look at the Panasonic LX5 and the Olympus XZ-1, but again both lack a viewfinder. I know several cameras, including some mirrorless systems, have add on viewfinders which usually attach to the hotshoe. But I really wanted a dedicated viewfinder which didn't add size to the camera. I considered the mirrorless cameras but I really didn't want to invest in another system at this time. Plus, most of the mirrorless cameras don't have viewfinders. I did take a long look at the Sony NEX-5N. Since it has an APS-C CMOS sensor I was considering the trade off between the lack of a viewfinder and the superior image quality produced by the larger sensor. But the mirrorless Sony lenses are just too big.

I also considered the new Nikon 1 System. Again, I'd rather not invest in a new system, but I was thinking about buying the camera and just the 30-110mm lens. But the Nikon J1 doesn't have a viewfinder. However, the Nikon V1 does. Unfortunately, the V1 doesn't have a flash. Nikon does offer an external flash for an extra $150, but then I'd be building a system, which I don't want to do. Plus, the Nikon V1 with the 30-110mm lens costs $899, which is a little more than I wanted to spend. I also considered a few other cameras like the Nikon Coolpix P7100 and the Canon Powershot G12, but there was nothing out there that really excited me. Then the Fuji X10 came along. I love the retro look and it has all the features I'm looking for, so I decided to give it a test run. The X10 is definitely smaller than the camera it's replacing, my Nikon D50 with the AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G lens. I know image quality from the D50 is superior, but it's a trade off with the size difference. Below you can see the size difference of the two cameras side by side.

 

Fuji X10 Camera size comparison

The build of the Fuji X10 is solid. It's comfortable to hold. I have small hands though. Someone with larger hands may think differently. I found it easy to access the external controls. The mode dial is really stiff and requires some force to turn it, as does the exposure compensation dial. The mode dial has eleven different positions, P,S,A,M, Auto, Movie, C1 & C2 (custom), SP (scene mode), EXR (optimizes settings to reduce noise, increase dynamic range, or improve clarity), and Adv (Advanced, which has three sub modes, Motion Panorama, Pro Focus, and Pro Low-Light). There's also a Function button on top which is set to control ISO by default. Back panel buttons include Playback, AE, AF, WB, AEL/AFL, and two command dials. On the front of the camera is a focus mode selector (AF-S, AF-C, or MF). The Function menus are fairly straight forward and easy to navigate. The viewfinder is sharp thanks to the diopter adjustment control which is located just to the left of it. The viewfinder coverage is 85% and displays no information. Overall the handling of the X10 feels like a mini DSLR.

I found the lens on the Fuji X10 to be exceptional. It's sharp all over. There is a little barrel distortion on the wide end, but it's barely noticable unless you shoot straight lines. Using the lens indoors shouldn't be a problem thanks to the F2.0-2.8 aperture. The autofocus is suprisingly fast. Using the Fuji X10 for sports or action shots would be pushing it a bit, but for casual shooting it's more than quick enough. Noise levels are excellent considering the small sensor size. Using the default Standard Noise Reduction setting I found the noise level from ISO 800 to be completely acceptable. At ISO 1600 the noise was more visible, but still very good. It would only be a problem when making large prints. At ISO 3200 the noise is much more visible. But even at this level images for the web look very good. Here's a shot taken at ISO 1600. Click on the photo to see the image at 50%.

 

Fuji X10 ISO 1600

 

The default colors the Fuji X10 produces are fantastic. For the most part I didn't change any of the default settings. JPEGs straight out of the camera look great. I found the auto white balance to be very good. The X10 usually nailed it. Metering is also very good. One nice feature of the X10 is EXR Mode which is designed to optimize the camera settings based on your subject. With EXR Mode you have four choice, Auto, Resolution Priority, High ISO & Low Noise, and D-Range Priority. In D-Range Priority Mode DR is increased at the expense of less resolution as you can only shoot 6mp images. In Scene Mode you have a choice of sixteen different scenes. I personally don't care for them but they are there if you want them. Another similar feature which is accessed from the menu is Film Simulation where you can choose eight different types of film effects, ie Velvia and Sepia. I prefer to make such adjustments in post processing, but I will admit that B&W and Sepia didn't look bad. The X10 also has an Advanced Mode which "combines "point-and-shoot" simplicity with sophisticated photographic techniques", as per the owner's manual. There are three Advanced Modes, Panorama, Pro Focus, where the camera takes up to three photos and softens the background, and Pro Low-Light, where the camera takes four shots and combines them into one to reduce noise and blur under low light conditions. I found that Panorama works fairly well, Pro Focus doesn't look so good, and Pro Low-Light is just ok.

THe Fuji X10 also has a Macro and Super Macro mode which lets you get extra close to your subject. Both work very well. Manual Focus on this camera stinks. It's awkward to use and hard to get perfect. The HD video is good. I'm not very big on video so for me it's more than adequate. For someone looking for top quality video this isn't your camera. The pop-up flash is what you would expect on a camera this size. It's not great , but does the job. For those that need more you have the option of using the hotshoe. I tried a Nikon SB-400 with the X10 but it didn't fire. I also tried my Nikon SB-800. The SB-800 did fire but didn't meter properly. I had to adjust the settings on the flash for every shot which was a real pain. You won't get much shallow depth of field with this camera and the bokeh isn't great, but that's to be expected with a sensor this size. The photo below is an example of the DOF at 112mm and f/2.8.

 

Fuji X10 Depth of Field

 

The Fuji X10 comes with a thin neckstrap. For a camera this size I prefer a wrist strap. I'm using the Op/Tech Cam Strap-QD. You can read my brief review of it here. I was a bit surprised that Fuji didn't include some type of screen protector with the camera. I decided to splurge a little and bought the Giottos AEGIS Professional Glass Optic Screen Protector - 12 Layer for 2.7" LCD from B&H Photo. It's very thin and when applied looks like part of the camera. It's much better than the plastic film protectors like the ones you put on a cell phone. I also wanted a case that I could carry on my belt. I couldn't find any small camera cases that were thick enough. I also looked at phone, GPS and two-way radio cases, but couldn't find anything that was small enough to carry and large enough to hold the X10. I finally found a camera lens case that wasn't too big which could hold the camera. The Mountainsmith LC1 Lens Case, Extra Small, also available from B&H Photo, is just what I was looking for. The X10 fits in it on an angle and doesn't move around. It has a belt strap and a neck strap as well. It also has a pouch in the cover which can hold extra batteries. When worn on my belt it does stick out a bit, but it's light enough that I don't even notice it. The life of the NP-50 battery that comes with the camera isn't the best. It's rated for only 270 shots. But third party batteries can be bought cheap on eBay. Below is a photo of the X10 in the lens case.

Fuji X10 Case

Overall the Fuji X10 is a great little camera. It produces outstanding quality photos. It's more than a point and shoot, but less than a DSLR. It's definitely an enthusiast's camera that offers lots of control. It also features plenty of scene modes and effects for those that want the camera to do most of the work. It won't fit into a pants or shirt pocket. You'll need a jacket or small case if you want to carry it everywhere.

 

Update (Aug. 31, 2012) -I'm leaving the info about the white dot syndrome (orbs) in the review for reference. Fuji's new sensor fixed the problem.

Update (Feb. 09, 2012) - Fujifilm has released firmware version 1.03 in an effort to correct the white dot syndrome, along with several other corrections/improvements. I have a separate page dedicated to the upgrade with comments and images here.

 Update (Dec. 7) - Fujifilm has released a statement concerning the white dot syndrome. They claim the X10 is basically working as it should and the phenomena is caused by sensor blooming. Furthermore, such blooming is not uncommon with other digital cameras. That may be so, but I don't think I've ever seen it so extreme. A firmware update is in the works to lessen the effects (not remove it). I guess I was wrong about my theory that it was a software problem. For now I'll keep my original update on the site. Fuji's statement...

'Fujifilm engineers have examined a number of sample shots and have concluded that the camera is working within prescribed tolerances. The blooming issue is something not uncommon to many types of digital camera. It is possible to reduce the effects of blooming either by increasing the ISO or widening the dynamic range on the camera. However, after receiving a number of comments from users, we can understand their concern and plan a firmware upgrade to lessen the effects of blooming. We will announce in due course when the upgrade will be available.'

Update (Dec. 2) -  There's been a lot of discussion on the internet forums about white dots (blobs, spots, orbs), appearing in images that have highly reflective surfaces and or blown highlights. Known as WDS (white dot syndrome) or WBS (white blob syndrome), this phenomena has been causing concern for Fuji X10 owners. Yes it does exist. I'm not sure what's causing it. Through my testing I couldn't get consistent results as to when they appeared. It does seem that the problem occurs more at lower ISOs. At ISO 400 and above I rarely saw any of the dots. Below is an example (100% crop) of a white dot on the front grill of an SUV (click on the image to see a resized version of the entire SUV).

Fuji X10 White Dot

You'll notice there is motion blur in the image. That was intentional on my part in trying to determine the cause of the white dots. You'll also notice there is no blurring of the dot. This leads me to believe that the dot is caused by a software algorithm and is not a product of the lens or the sensor. My reason being that since there is no blurring of the dot it developed after the light passed through the lens and after the light was recorded by the sensor. Then again, I don't know a lot about this stuff so I may be totally wrong. If it is a software issue hopefully Fujifilm can correct it with a firmware update. I can understand why some people are turned off by this. I've seen some ugly looking photos with white dots all over them. Personally, I'm not going to worry about it too much. Is it a problem, yes. Should Fuji have released a camera that has such an issue, especially at it's current price point, probably not. But since I'm aware of the problem I just need to be a little more careful about what I shoot and how I shoot it. The bottom line is the Fuji X10 still produces exceptional photographs.

 

 

Specifications:

Model Name FUJIFILM X10
Number of effective pixels*1 12.0 million pixels
Image sensor 2/3-inch EXR CMOS with primary color filter
Storage media
  • Internal memory (approx. 26 MB)
  • SD / SDHC / SDXC(UHS-I) memory card*2
File format
still image
JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3)*3, RAW (RAF format), RAW + JPEG
(Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)
movie
H.264 (MOV) with Stereo sound
Number of recorded pixels L : (4:3) 4000 x 3000 / (3:2) 4000 x 2664 / (16:9) 4000 x 2248 / (1:1) 2992 x 2992
M : (4:3) 2816 x 2112 / (3:2) 2816 x 1864 / (16:9) 2816 x 1584 / (1:1) 2112 x 2112
S : (4:3) 2048 x 1536 / (3:2) 2048 x 1360 / (16:9) 1920 x 1080 / (1:1) 1536 x 1536

<Motion Panorama>
360° Vertical 11520 x 1624 Horizontal 11520 x 1080
180° Vertical 5760 x 1624 Horizontal 5760 x 1080
120° Vertical 3840 x 1624 Horizontal 3840 x 1080
Lens
name
Fujinon 4 x optical zoom lens
focal length
f=7.1 - 28.4 mm, equivalent to 28 - 112 mm on a 35 mm camera
full-aperture
F2.0 (Wide) - F2.8 (Telephoto)
constitution
9 groups 11 lenses (3 aspherical glass molded lenses included)
Digital zoom Intelligent digital zoom approx. 2x (up to 8 x when combined with optical zoom)
Aperture F2.0-F11(Wide)
F2.8-F11(Telephoto) 1/3EV step (controlled 7-blade aperture diaphragm)
Focus distance
(from lens surface)
Normal
Wide : Approx. 50 cm / 1.6 ft. to infinity
Telephoto : Approx. 80 cm / 2.6 ft. to infinity
Macro
Wide : Approx. 10 cm - 3.0 m / 0.3 ft. - 9.8 ft.
Telephoto : Approx. 50 cm - 3.0 m / 1.6 ft. - 9.8 ft.
Super Macro
Approx. 1.0 cm - 1.0 m / 0.4 in. - 3.3 ft
Sensitivity Auto / Equivalent to ISO 100 / 200 / 250 / 320 / 400 / 500 / 640 / 800 / 1000 / 1250 / 1600 / 2000 / 2500 / 3200 / 4000* / 5000* / 6400* / 12800* (Standard Output Sensitivity)
  • * ISO4000 / 5000 / 6400 : M mode or lower, ISO12800 : S mode
Exposure control TTL 256-zones metering, Multi / Spot / Average
Exposure mode Programmed AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual
Shooting modes
SP
Natural Light, Natural Light & Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Underwater
MODE DIAL
EXR, AUTO, P, S, A, M, C1, C2, Movie, SP, Adv.
Image stabilizer Lens shift type
Face detection Yes
Exporsure compensation -2.0EV - +2.0EV 1/3EV step
Shutter speed (Auto mode) 1/4 sec. to 1/4000* sec., (All other modes) 30 sec. to 1/4000* sec.
* 1/4000 sec. at small aperture, 1/1000 sec. at full aperture
Continuous shooting
TOP
Super High : approx. 10 fps (Size M, S)
High : approx. 7 fps (Size L, M, S)
Middle : approx. 5 fps (Size L, M, S)
Low : approx. 3 fps (Size L, M, S)
*SD memory card with a class 4 write speed (4 MB/sec.) or better is recommended.
*The frame rate varies depending on the shooting conditions or numbers of frames in continuous shooting.
others
Best Frame capture :
Super High : approx. 10 fps 8 / 16 frames (Size M, S)
High : approx. 7 fps 8 frames (Size L, M, S) / 16 frames (Size M, S)
Middle : approx. 5 fps 8 frames (Size L, M, S) / 16 frames (Size M, S)
Low : approx. 3 fps 8 frames (Size L, M, S) / 16 frames (Size M, S)
Auto bracketing AE Bracketing : ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV
Film Simulation Bracketing : PROVIA / STANDARD, Velvia / VIVID, ASTIA / SOFT
Dynamic Range Bracketing : 100%, 200%, 400%
ISO Sensitivity Bracketing : ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV
Focus
mode
Single AF / Continuous AF (EXR AUTO, Movie),
Manual AF (One-push AF mode included)
type
TTL contrast AF, AF assist illuminator available
AF frame selection
Multi, Area, Tracking
White balance Automatic scene recognition
Preset : Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom, Color temperature selection
Self-timer 10 sec. / 2 sec. delay
Flash Auto flash (super intelligent flash)
Effective range : (ISO AUTO (800))
Wide : Approx. 30 cm - 7.0 m / 0.9 ft. - 22.9 ft.
Telephoto : Approx. 50 cm - 5.0 m / 1.6 ft. - 16.4 ft.
Flash modes Red-eye removal OFF : Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro.
Red-eye removal ON : Red-eye Reduction Auto, Red-eye Reduction & Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Red-eye Reduction & Slow Synchro.
Hot shoe Yes
Viewfinder Optical zoom viewfinder
Approx. 85% coverage
Diopter adjustment : -3.5 - +1.5 m-1(dpt)
LCD monitor 2.8-inch, approx. 460,000 dots, TFT color LCD monitor, approx. 100% coverage
Movie recording 1920 x 1080 pixels / 1280 x 720 pixels / 640 x 480 pixels (30 frames / sec.) with stereo sound
Optical zoom (manual) can be used.
Photography functions EXR mode (EXR Auto / Resolution priority / High ISO & Low noise priority / Dynamic range priority), Face recognition, Face Detection, Auto red-eye removal, Film simulation, Framing guideline, Frame No. memory, Histogram display, Best frame capture, Advanced mode (Motion panorama360, Pro focus, Pro low light), High Speed Movie (70 / 120 / 200 frames/sec.), Electronic level, One-touch RAW, Advanced Anti Blur, Color Space
Playback functions Face Detection, Auto red-eye removal, Multi-frame playback (with micro thumbnail), Protect, Crop, Resize, Slide show, Image rotate, Voice memo, Histogram display, Exposure warning, Photobook assist, Image search, Favorites, Mark for upload, Panorama, Erase selected frames, RAW conversing
Other functions PictBridge, Exif Print, 35 Languages, Time difference, Silent mode
Terminal
Video output
NTSC / PAL selectable with Monaural sound
Digital interface
USB 2.0 High-Speed
HDMI output
HDMI Mini connector
Power supply NP-50 Li-ion battery (included)
CP-50 with AC power adapter AC-5VX (sold separately)
Dimensions 117.0(W) x 69.6(H) x 56.8(D) mm / 4.6(W) x 2.7(H) x 2.2(D) in.
Weight Approx. 350 g / 12.3 oz. (including battery and memory card)
Approx. 330 g / 11.6 oz. (excluding battery and memory card)
Operating Temperature 0°C - 40°C
Operating Humidity 10% - 80% (no condensation)
Guide to the number of available frames for battery operation approx. 270 frames (LCD : ON, AUTO mode) CIPA standard
approx. 640 frames (LCD : OFF, AUTO mode)*
  • * For expanding available number of frames, following menu must be set
    LCD display : OFF (Only optical view finder must be used)
    Shooting mode : AUTO , Flash : OFF,
    IS mode must be set except for the mode including “MOTION (detection)”.
    IMAGE DISP. mode : OFF
Accessories included Li-ion battery NP-50
Battery charger BC-45W
Shoulder strap
Lens cap
USB cable
CD-ROM
Owner's manual
Optional accessories Li-ion battery NP-50
Battery charger BC-45W
A / V cable AV-C1
Lens hood LH-X10
Leather case LC-X10
Shoe Mount Flash EF-42 / EF-20
AC power adapter AC-5VX
DC coupler CP-50

  • *1 Number of effective pixels: The number of pixels on the image sensor which receive input light through the optical lens, and which are effectively reflected in the final output data of the still image.
  • *2 Please see the Fujifilm website to check memory card compatibility.
  • *3 Exif 2.3 is a digital camera file format that contains a variety of shooting information for optimal printing.


For additional info visit Fuji's product page.




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