Advanced Compacts Comparison, Fuji X10 and Canon G12
FUJI X10 vs CANON G12
Comparison of image quality, performance and ergonomics
I recently purchased a Fuji X10 (FX10) camera and have spent
the last two weeks intensively testing it and directly comparing it to the
Canon G12 (CG12) which I already owned.
I am an amateur photographer with no sponsor and no
affiliation with any maker or vendor of photographic equipment. My testing is
conducted "in the field" not "in the lab". Most of this comparison is about results achieved with still image, RAW capture, single shot operation. I did however, check out how each camera
performs in automatic, point and shoot mode. I did not test video operation.
1. Camera category and target user group.
Both cameras are of the advanced compact type targeted at an
expert/ enthusiast or even professional user group. However both have enough
fully automatic options to make them attractive to point and shoot camera
users. Each fulfils it's design brief very well although there are significant
internal and external differences between them. The CG12 is the latest in a
long and successful line of Canon Powershot G cams and as such serves well
enough as a defacto standard against which other advanced compacts might be evaluated.
2. Features and specifications.
You can read all the details elsewhere. I will mention just
a few things. The FX10 has a slightly larger box volume (LxWxH) because the
lens protrudes from the body, so it requires a slightly larger and/or different
shaped carry bag. The CG12 has a swing out monitor which can be useful at
times. The FX10 uses manual zooming which operates very smoothly. The CG12 has
power zoom which is easier to operate without shifting hand grip but is jerky
in action. The FX10 lens is one stop wider across it's zoom range than that of
the CG12, allowing the FX10 to select ISO settings one stop lower if desired.
3. Image quality.
Files from the CG12 were processed in ACR. At the time of
writing I had to use Silkypix RAW converter for the FX10 as it was not yet
supported by ACR. It is possible that some of the findings below could alter
when the FX10 files are reprocessed in ACR. I processed each file to "best
photo" outcome based on my own evaluation of the image.
Resolution: At all comparable focal lengths, apertures
and ISO settings the CG12 delivers slightly more image detail. The CG12 can
pull fine details out of a scene which the FX10 just can't see. This is so with
the FX10 set to L (12MPx) or M (6MPx) image size.
Noise: Evaluation of this was somewhat complex due to the FX10 having two different ways of
processing images in camera, standard (12MPx) and EXR (6MPx). Overall the FX10
delivers less noise than the CG12 at comparable ISO settings but the CG12
images are sharper and their noise looks like film grain which prints quite
well. Differences between the two cameras were most apparent at high ISO
settings. Individual taste will decide which is preferred.
Dynamic Range: For the tests I set the FX10 to M image size (6Mpx) and DR400%, RAW. The CG12 was set to RAW capture (10Mpx). Evaluating DR was quite difficult due to
substantial differences in the way the two cameras respond to scenes with high
subject brightness range (SBR) and the way each processes the captured images.
When presented with a scene having high SBR, the CG12 favours mid tones and
will allow highlights to blow out. The FX10 will, in the exact same situation,
characteristically use an exposure 1 or 1.3 stops less, thereby protecting the
highlights and allowing shadows to block up. I matched exposures by applying negative
exposure compensation to the CG12 and checked the histogram to ensure highlight
levels were contained. I then processed each image in the appropriate RAW
converter for "best photo" appearance, Having done that, I found there is very
little difference between the two cameras in achievable DR. The main difference
is that maximum DR is gained more easily and automatically with the FX10. The
CG12 requires more attention to the histogram, negative exposure compensation
and more work in the RAW converter.
Color: The FX10 allows Adobe RGB color space, the CG12 does not. Presumably it uses sRGB but the published specifications do not nominate a color space. RAW capture allows colors to be adjusted post capture
so I did not spend much time on this subject.
There is little to choose between them. Both feature fast,
accurate autofocus with a very low rate of failures or misses. Both have a
focus assist lamp for low light and generally focus without problems in low
Exposures in each camera are generally accurate with the exception
of the CG12 blown highlights when confronted by high SBR, as described above. When
using P Mode and Auto ISO I found the FX10's "Firing Solution" in
other words the chosen combination of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed to be a better match for the scene more often than the CG12.
Shot to shot times are brisk. I never felt either camera
delayed my next shot. Both have inbuilt
flash which works well. Be aware however that when the flash is set to operate
each camera may over ride some existing exposure settings.
Handling: The CG12 has a larger and more comfortable
finger grip, larger and better positioned thumb rest and more comfortable hand
grip position. The CG12 has it's main control dial located top front which is ergonomically
preferred, because the index finger has better touch and position sensitivity than
the thumb and it is otherwise sitting idle while, say, the Aperture is being
adjusted. ( however the one on the CG12 would be more accessible were it to be located
about 8 mm higher) The main control dial of the FX10 is located exactly where my thumb wants to find a big fat thumb rest. The actual thumb rest is a vestigial little thing pushed off to the
extreme right edge of the camera making for an awkward and uncomfortable hold. The FX10 is reported by users to benefit from fitting a Thumbs Up or HorusBennu thumb grip to provide a more natural and
secure place for the thumb, just above the control dial. Changing active AF
position on the FX10 requires four complete changes of grip, two with each
hand. This is the result of two design decisions, first the thumb and index
finger of the left hand need to be on the zoom ring to operate it, second the
same hand is needed to operate the buttons on the left side of the monitor, and
obviously that hand cannot be in two places at the same time. Those buttons need to be on the right side of the monitor so the left hand can stay on the lens. The same operation on the CG12 only
needs two shifts, not complete changes, of grip, both with the right hand while
the left hand holds the camera securely throughout. This difference might not
sound like much to read about, but in practice changing active AF position on
the CG12 is quick and easy, so I do it readily, but on the FX10 the process is
slow and awkward, so I avoid it.
Viewing: Each provides a similar viewing experience.
Each has an optical viewfinder which provides no information
and is not a joy to use. The FX10 one is a bit larger and brighter so would
rate slightly better, but they both have a reduced field of view and parallax
The FX10 has a nicer monitor than the CG12. It is smoother,
less contrasty, shows better highlight detail, has more color saturation and a
warmer color balance. Both monitors are adjustable for brightness but nothing else.
Potential buyers beware: do not attempt to compare image quality between
these two cameras using the monitors. Review pix look better on the FX10. You
need to get images out of the cameras to properly compare them.
Both offer many options for information overlays but both place all that information right on
the image preview, not beneath it which would be preferable. Reading the
information overlays in bright sun is pretty much impossible with either
camera. This is less of a problem with the FX10 which needs less attention to
the histogram in sunny conditions. Both have an electronic level indicator. That
on the CG12 is easier to see and use.
Setup. This refers to settings you want to make well before a photo session, mainly
involving menu selections. Both cameras have a reasonably concise menu system
which is easy to use. The only complaint I have is that the CG12 requires 16
button presses to format a memory card. This is partly because the CG12 menu
system does not remember your last used setting.
Prepare. This refers to settings you want to make in the minutes before starting to make
photos. These include Main Mode Dial settings (PASM), Drive Mode, Flash
settings, AF/MF, AF area (discussed above) RAW/JPG, DR settings, OIS, WB, ISO,
Metering Mode. Each of these on both cameras, except the AF area on the FX10,
can be adjusted quickly and easily either in a menu or via a direct button. On
both cameras you can see at a glance which shooting mode is set, and how much
exposure compensation is being applied. On the CG12 you can also see the ISO set.
Capture. These are adjustments you want to make while in the process of image capture. They
include Start AF, use MF, activate exposure metering, view histogram, check
ISO, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, change these if
required, check subject, make exposure.
Both cameras do these things effectively. Manual Focus is worth a
mention. In neither case is there much point in trying to assess MF on screen,
the depth of field is too great. However both cameras do have have an analogue
bar type readout of manually set distance in meters (or feet, if you insist)
which could be handy for grab shots or landscapes using a pre set focus
distance. That on the FX10 also indicates depth of field at the current
aperture, a nice touch.
Overall I rate the operation of both these cameras as better
than most compacts, in fact better than several compact system cameras and
DSLR's I have used.
6. Foibles and frustrations.
I will mention just the FX10 Owner's Manual. The FX10 is the latest in a line of Fujifilm cameras which use the Fuji EXR sensor. This has unique and special pixel pairing capabilities which are not to be found in any other type of camera but are not described or even mentioned in the owner's Manual. The
Manual describes at great length how to enter a range of settings ( press this,
press that....etc) but gives remarkably little clue as to why you would want to choose one setting in preference to another or how the various modes and settings operate to optimise results in
For the point and shoot camera user the FX10 has clear
advantages. If you set EXR on the Mode Dial and EXR Auto in the Shooting Menu,
the FX10 will turn out well exposed JPG images in a wide variety of conditions while making very few demands on the photographer.
For the expert/enthusiast/pro/semipro who wants to shoot RAW
and knows how to extract the most from a camera, the decision is a bit more
difficult. The CG12 offers better handling and a better human
machine interface (HMI) to use a bit of ergonomics jargon. In
conditions not requiring extremes of ISO setting or DR capability, the CG12 also
delivers slightly higher image quality.
So, you pays your money and makes your choice. You can't
really go wrong with either of these cameras.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.