Roundup: Enthusiast Zoom Compact Cameras
12MP | 28-112mm (4x) Zoom | $499 (US) £320 (UK) €450 (EU)
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The Fujifilm X10 is the company's first attempt at an enthusiast compact camera and a remarkably impressive one at that. Its styling sits about half way between a Canon G series and Fujifilm's elegantly retro X100 and X-mount mirrorless cameras, and offers all the direct control that its classic looks imply. It shares many of its features and much of its technology with the newer, smaller XF1 but features a longer and brighter lens, more direct control and an optical viewfinder.
- 12.0MP 2/3" CMOS EXR sensor (offering 6MP output with higher dynamic range or lower noise)
- ISO 100-3200 (up to 12800, at reduced resolution, JPEG only)
- 28-112mm (equivalent), F2.0-2.8 optically stabilized zoom lens
- Clickable rear thumb dial, four-way dial and exposure compensation dial
- 1080p30 video with stereo microphones
- 3.0" LCD screen with 460k dots
- 270 shot battery life (CIPA)
- Optical Viewfinder
- Hot shoe for external flash units
The X10 is an impressive addition to this class of cameras - combining a large sensor, bright lens, direct control and optical viewfinder to take the fight directly to the popular Canon G series. Indeed it's hard to see Canon's G15 without thinking of it as a response to the X10. Early problems with the sensor were resolved in a way that does Fujifilm credit, leaving a solid and likeable camera. Battery life is also towards the bottom of this group, despite the work required to move the lens being passed to the photographer.
The X10's focus speed is competitive in this class, though even in good light it doesn't stand out as exceptionally fast, and both speed and accuracy begin to fall as the light levels do. It's one of the few cameras in this group to have a focus mode switch and a button dedicated to selecting the active focus point, though, making it quick and enjoyable to use.
However the EXR system, while clever, has an impact both in image quality and camera complexity (there are two distinct methods of extending dynamic range, with no clear distinction made between them), which can't help but count against an otherwise excellent camera.
Performance and Image Quality
The X10's full-resolution images simply can't compete with the detail that most of its rivals are able to capture - a side-effect of its EXR design - and it's a disadvantage that carries-over into Raw as well as JPEG mode. Which is a shame because, beyond this, the camera performs well - its lens performs well with good corner sharpness throughout its range and its color rendition is very pleasant. It's also worth making clear that, in 6MP mode, the X10 does a good job of offering slightly cleaner low-light images or single-exposure captures with wide dynamic range - something even expensive compacts can struggle with.
Video is another weakness for the X10 (just as it is for the G15), offering little in the way of manual control over exposure and none at all over focus. Video quality is also a little disappointing compared to the best of the X10's competition. It's clear that Fujifilm's priority with the X10 was to make a camera for photographers, not videographers.
The X10 won our Silver Award thanks to its impressive feature set, bright lens and good build quality but a few imperfections kept it from getting our top award. The image quality is good, with a well-performing lens helping the X10 do well in a wide range of circumstances. The EXR modes add flexibility, giving the X10 an edge in low light or high-contrast conditions. However the downside of the EXR system is lower resolution compared to its peers. Despite this, the X10 is an enjoyable and capable camera.
Studio and Real-World Samples (links open in new tab)
|Studio Comparison Tool||Fujifilm X10 Samples (49 images)|
What we like: Classy styling and build. Bright lens. Excellent stills feature set.
What we don't like: Sub-par resolution in 12MP mode. EXR files awkward for 3rd-party Raw converters. Disappointing video mode.