Review Fujifilm X10 > new stylish camera

Fujifilm X10 review
Fujifilm X10 has a fixed lens and uses a 2/3in sensor – marginally bigger than the Canon S100's but much smaller than the sensors in most CSCs. The camera itself is fairly bulky, though, and much closer in size to a CSC than the S100. Is this the worst of both worlds?

Our scepticism disappeared once we had the X10 in our hands. This is a seriously beautiful camera. Its leather-effect texture over a magnesium alloy body and variety of buttons and dials give it an air of retro style that seems to be a natural by-product of its superbly thought-out ergonomics.

Optical viewfinders are rare on compact cameras, and the few examples tend to give an extremely small view. This one is much better, being a little bigger than the viewfinders on consumer SLRs. It zooms in tandem with the lens, and although the view is blurred towards the edges, it still shows much more detail than the 2.8in LCD screen. It's disappointing that the screen isn't articulated, especially as it looks like it might be with its slightly raised profile, but it's bright and reasonably sharp.

There's a pop-up flash and a hotshoe for an external flashgun. There are only two flashguns designed specifically for Fujifilm cameras, but we were able to use our generic flashgun on manual exposure settings. For some reason our wireless trigger system wouldn't work, though. There are similar reports on web forums of problems with PocketWizard triggers.

All those dials and single-function buttons make it quick to adjust settings. There's a mode dial, plus another for exposure compensation that falls neatly under the thumb. A command dial sits just below, and the navigation pad doubles as a wheel. This wheel and the command dial control the shutter speed and aperture in manual exposure mode, but they duplicate each other's function in priority modes. It's surprising there's no direct access to ISO speed, but a Fn button beside the shutter release can be assigned to this role. Various other buttons are labelled for quick access to all the key controls, from drive mode to focus point, so there's rarely any need to visit the menu. Our only gripe is that some options can't be selected at the same time, such as super-macro and flash, or continuous mode and dynamic range boost, and it's not obvious why options are sometimes greyed out or buttons don't respond.

The 4x zoom function is controlled via the lens ring, which also acts as a power switch, powering up when the lens is extended and down when it's retracted. It's a smart idea but it's slightly diminished by a three-second wait before shooting can commence. When we pressed the shutter button too early, the camera did nothing rather than shooting as soon as it was ready. Another performance-related issue is one we've seen many times before on Fujifilm cameras: while it's possible to take photos in quick succession – a shade under one second in this case – it's not possible to adjust settings while data is being saved to the memory card.

On the upside, data is saved pretty quickly. After taking a photo, controls started responding again after two seconds for JPEGs and three seconds for raw. Continuous JPEG shooting is at 6fps, slowing to a still-respectable 2fps after seven frames. In 6-megapixel mode (see below), it ran at 7fps for 18 shots before slowing to 3.8fps. This is much faster than the Canon S100, but there's no option to shoot in continuous mode with updating autofocus between shots. Even in single drive mode with the switch on the front of the camera set to AF-C (autofocus continuous), focus updated while composing shots but locked once the shutter button was half pressed.

The 1080p videos were clean and sharp, and displayed remarkably little noise in low light. There appears to be no anti-aliasing filter applied, though, so details looked pixelated, especially on diagonal lines. The stereo soundtrack was crisp and clear, and the autofocus motor didn't impact on it too heavily. However, there were rhythmic bursts of electrical interference on the soundtrack. Switching from a Panasonic UHS-1 to a Sandisk Extreme III SDHC card solved the problem.

Our image quality tests gave much less cause for concern. The lens performed exceptionally well, with impeccably sharp details and no hint of chromatic aberrations right into the corners of frames. Automatic exposures were expertly judged, and when help was needed, the exposure compensation dial made adjustments easy.

Photos taken in bright light at ISO 100 were smooth, sharp and natural-looking, in a way that we normally only see from CSCs and SLRs. We achieved similar results indoors by using a flashgun and bouncing light off the ceiling. It performed exceptionally well indoors using ambient light too, narrowly surpassing the Canon S100 to produce the lowest noise we've ever seen from a sensor of this size. Meanwhile, the wide-aperture lens, at f/2 for wide angle and f/2.8 at the telephoto end, gives a 1 2/3-stop advantage over CSCs' kit lenses, so it's not unreasonable to compare CSCs' output at ISO 6400 with the X10 at ISO 2000. On that basis, it surpassed most CSCs for noise, with only the Sony NEX range for company. CSC users can swap their kit zoom lenses for wide-aperture primes, but that pushes up their prices and in most cases you lose the optical stabilisation. It's swings and roundabouts, then, but the bottom line is that, if £400 is your budget, the X10 is up there with the very best CSCs for image quality.

Noise was even lower when the camera is switched to 6-megapixel output, and the innovative pixel array of the EXR sensor makes this much more effective than lowering the resolution on other cameras. There's also a 6-megapixel mode that expands the dynamic range, rescuing clipped highlights without the usual compromises in noise levels. We've long been fans of Fujifilm's EXR sensors, and the technology is working as well as ever here. There are various reports online of odd disc-shaped blobs around clipped highlights on the X10, but we had to work hard to reveal this problem in our tests. In normal use it was never an issue.

Some CSCs offer the best of both worlds, with superb hands-on controls, interchangeable lenses and SLR-level image quality, but the Panasonic GX1 is the most affordable example and it costs £700. Compared to CSCs at around £400 – the Sony NEX-C3, Nikon J1, Panasonic GF3 and Olympus E-PM1 – the X10 is in the same league for image quality and performance, and beats them all for ergonomics and manual control. The only areas where it can't compete is for video capture and its inability to swap lenses. Then again, having a single lens that's both wide-aperture and has a zoom function is something no CSC lens can match.

It was a bold move to launch a fixed-lens, small-sensor camera that's as bulky and expensive as many CSCs, but Fujifilm has pulled it off with aplomb.

Source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/digital-cameras/1290616/fujifilm-x10

Title Post: Review Fujifilm X10 > new stylish camera
Rating: 100% based on 99998 ratings. 5 user reviews.
Author: hadhie s

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