A Viewfinder Darkly

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FujiFilm FinePix X10 Digital Camera Review

January 25 2012

by Philip Northeast

FujiFilm have added another classically styled compact digital camera with an optical viewfinder to their range, the FinePix X10.

The X10 looks like a classic rangefinder camera, something of a theme for FujiFilm compact cameras.  FujiFilm offer a number of compact cameras offering functional variations on the theme covering different needs of photographers in a compact quality camera.

The construction reinforces the classic look with traditional metal upper and lower decks of die-cast magnesium alloy, complemented by milled aluminium dials and lens zoom ring.

FUJIFILM X10

FUJIFILM X10 is compact and stylish

The X10 is aimed at versatility, yet still retaining compactness, at the expense of image quality when compared to the X100 with its larger sensor.  However, the 8.8 x 6.6 mm sensor in the X10 is bigger at than most other compact digital cameras and this shows on the DxOMark tests.

This compromise in sensor size harks back to the origins of rangefinder cameras. Then they chose a smaller film format to produce a compact camera at the expense of image quality. As with digital sensors, the march of technology improved film quality to the point where 35 mm film became acceptable for professional use, particularly by photojournalists.

The resolution of the new 12 megapixel EXR-CMOS FujiFilm sensor is more than enough for most uses and is comparable with high end DSLRs.

The X10‘s versatility comes from its zoom lens with a range equivalent to 28 – 112 mm on a 35 mm camera, while the X100 has a fixed wide angle lens with equivalent to a 30 mm lens.

The X10 is cheaper at around $US599 compared to $US1199 for the X100 from the same retailer.  The X10 is a little more expensive than the Canon S100 at $US430, but the FujiFilm camera does have a viewfinder.

Sensor Performance

The little FujiFilm camera’s true quality is not apparent in the overall DxOMark scores but looking at the detail results reveals its performance advantage.

DxOMark sensor scores summary

DxOMark sensor scores summa for, X10, Canon S100 and Nikon P7100

The low overall scores are due to DxOMark awarding points for performance in the wider ISO range, so the X10 fails to score in the high ISO area. In the ISO range for normal photography it leads in the key indicators of noise, dynamic range and colour sensitivity.

 

DxoMark noise comparison

DxoMark noise comparison for X10, Canon S100 and Nikon P7100

 

DxOMark Dynamic Range

DxOMark Dynamic Range comparison for X10, Canon S100 and Nikon P7100

 

DxOMark Colour

DxOMark Colour Sensitivity comparison for  X10, Canon S100 and Nikon P7100

ISO Range 

The ISO of the X10 is not as simple as the claimed range. DxOMark tested the standard sensitivity range and found it went from around 100 to a top of 1600.  The ISO measured at the 3200 ISO setting was the same as the ISO sensitivity at the 1600 setting.

The higher settings are only available in some modes of the X10  for image sizes Medium or Small, for full size images restricted ISO range 100 -1600. This is why in the  DxOMark tests ISO range is shown from 100 to 1600.

Power Switch

The only way to turn the camera on is using the zoom ring on the lens. Even if the camera auto powers off,  half depressing the shutter has no effect. Photographers must turn the zoom to the off position, and then turn camera on again.

Exposure Modes

As well as the normal range of exposure modes from fully automatic through to full manual the FujiFilm X10 has two custom modes where combinations of camera settings such as shutter speed and aperture are stored and recalled.

Movie Mode and Auto Focus

Focusing and exposure can change during movie making, great for scenes where the subject moves.   The Auto Focus assist light can be turned off during movie making to stop unwanted light in the scene, although this will affect AF performance in low light, so it is a compromise.

Viewfinder

The FujiFilm FinePix X10 has a real optical viewfinder in the camera body. One of the benefits is photographers can use the best camera holding techniques to minimise blurry images caused by camera shake. This lessens the reliance on using high ISO settings in low light to allow shutter speeds fast enough to compensate for camera shake caused by not holding the camera steady.

Flash

The fujiFilm X10 comes with a pop-up flash,  but there is also a standard hot shoe for an external unit if required.

FUJIFILM_X10

FUJIFILM X10 with pop-up flash

Shutter Lag

This is the annoying delay in Point & shoot digital cameras  between pressing the shutter and  the camera  taking the photo.  Often the subject has moved and the magic moment is missed.

According to Panasonic the X10 has a super speedy shutter-release time lag of approx. 0.01 seconds, so the X10 can capture even the most fleeting of photo opportunities.

 

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