Getting the best out of the Fujifilm X10

Getting the best out of the Fujifilm X10

The Fujifilm X10 is a very capable small professional camera, equipped with an equally capable lens and the overall build quality is excellent.

Once understood, the controls and menus reveal a very clever and well thought through layout. The varying robustness of the different controls also begins to make more sense – particularly the premium quality materials and build of the mode and ev dials.

This article attempts to spread my understanding of how the camera works in principle, starting with the thinking behind my approach and concludes with a chart of the how the different modes can be quickly used to suit different photographic situations. 


A new paradigm in professional cameras

A traditional bigger sensor is better paradigm

In the past digital cameras have perhaps fallen roughly into sensor size related image quality categories; small sensors followed by m43, then asp-c, next full frame and moving up to the high end medium format. A bigger sensor is better paradigm.

 An alternate paradigm, specialized small sensor cameras for any given task.

An alternate paradigm would be to use a different specialized small sensor camera for any given task, rather than one single do it all large sensor camera to achieve higher image quality.  

 One camera, with a configurable small sensor instead of many small specialized cameras.

The small sensor Fujifilm x10 professional camera takes this alternate paradigm and refines it, bringing a new dimension to professional cameras in that one is able to quickly configure the sensor itself to suit any particular shot.


The X10 Mode Chart 

The following chart started as my attempt to graphically understand how this works, many members of the Fujifilm forum generously helped improve the chart and hopefully it will now help many others.

 
Click on the chart, it will open in a new window. Maximize the chart size in the new window if needed, by clicking on the chart again. Use the “Save as” function in your browser to save the chart for printing.

Purpose of the X10 Mode Chart

The chart can be seen as a user addendum to the Fujifilm X10 owners manual, giving an overview of the way to quickly configure the sensor and inbuilt 4 processors to suit the demands of any given photographic situation – quickly achieving image quality far beyond that normally possible with a small sensor camera, indeed rivalling and sometimes surpassing the capability of much larger sensor cameras.

The blue line and boxes represent my personal workflow, starting out by setting the camera to M resolution and using the mode dial to quickly jump from one mode to another depending on the needs at the time.

Likely others will develop their own workflow, perhaps using the chart as an initial guide to the benefits, controls and restrictions of any mode. Some have even put a copy of the chart on their mobile phone as a quick X10 mode reference.


X10 image examples using the mode chart

Here are a few of my X10 post processed examples using the information on the chart, please don’t ask for original unprocessed files as I don’t do that stuff. All frames shot handheld in jpeg Provia.

 

Medium resolution (M), aperture priority (psAm), iso100, dr400

Good for capturing the detailed diffuse light not just the direct reflected light – resulting in a distinct glow. This is an architectural example; portraits are the usual beneficiary of this mode due to the wonderful skin tones available - simular effect to that seen using the Fujifilm s3pro and s5pro cameras with good glass and light.

 

Medium resolution (M), aperture priority (psAm), iso100, dr400

All the light in this example is reflected light from the glass buildings across the street. This mode, same as that used in the above example, captures the interplay of the shadows from the diffuse light sources, again a wonderful attribute to have when doing portraits.  

 

Medium resolution (M), aperture priority (psAm), iso400, dr400

Increasing the sensitivity to iso400 in this mode still sees the colour, tone and clarity holding well. Skin tones remaining faithful with shadow noise acceptable.

 

Medium resolution (M), EXR SN

 For low light shots this is one of two modes available, enabling an excellent signal to noise ratio with only one shot. In this example, the colour and tone remains true in the dim light of the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

 

Medium resolution (M), Advanced Pro Low Light

For low light shots this is the second of the two modes available, the camera takes 4 frames in quick succession, then quickly aligns and combines them with good result. If the eye can clearly see the detail in low light, this mode will likely capture the final scene pleasingly with good colour.

 

Medium resolution (M), EXR DR

When dynamic range is likely the priority, this mode quickly shifts the camera into full dynamic range priority with great result, the resulting frames have great depth when post processing.

 

Medium resolution (M), EXR DR

This example again shows the good dynamic range available by quickly changing to the EXR DR mode, picking up the ceiling lighting in the bus as well as the street detail. Notice too, the frame retains very good contrast, not the flat look often associated with high dynamic range images.

 

High resolution (H), EXR HR

This mode had been somewhat of an enigma for me, though after trying it the resulting frames show tremendous detail while keeping many of the benefits of the lower Medium resolution modes. Indeed it is possible to post process for a fairly acceptable result at 100% crop – ideal for large prints.

This mode allows very quick access to the main benefits of Large (L) resolution should the situation suit.


Further articles

For anyone wishing to write articles about the x10, the two areas most likely helpful being:

Shooting the X10 in Aperture Prioity

A quick guide to shooting in aperture priority, including how to use the flashing highlights, exposure graph and ev dial features to achieve the lightest possible image without blown highlights.

The camera layout assumes an understanding of at least this for maximum professional and or enthusiast control. This help would easily transfer when using any professional camera.

Making the most of the included X10 RAW to Jpeg engine.

Inbuilt into the x10 is a very powerful processing engine using 4 processors, it is capable of user conversion of raw to jpeg in camera, while leaving the original raw file intact.  


Created 11th January 2012. Edition 1. Graphics in the table are lifted from the Fujifilm X10 user manual, should Fujifilm be uncomfortable with this the graphics will be removed. CAUTION: Any information above, drawn and or written, inferred and or otherwise, is to be used at entirely your own risk.


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.

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Comments

Total comments: 41
MtEvans
By MtEvans (5 days ago)

Great Information...
My pea sized brain is positively mezmerized by what this little nugget can do.

I really like the enhanced flow chart--it's a much better blend of right and left brain thinking as I too--describe everything after twisting the lens to be a 'set up process'. Additionally, I'm not ashamed to say that the phrase "Where the hell do I start?" came out of my mouth more than once.

Perhaps it's just me...and I want to clairify something first--Fuji, thanks for a printed manual. May the photo gods grant you the greatest of pics!....now, with that having been said: just who the hell writes these manuals?

You seem to drone on about how to insert the battery, delete pics, and other pedestrian tasks but seem to approach the more complex features as if they were shoe laces. I susspect it is because the composition of the manual is more of an editing process--cutting and pasting from the tech specs etc.

I'd love more video examples...but alas.

0 upvotes
lacro
By lacro (Apr 12, 2013)

It would be great if somebody could do the same with the new X20.

0 upvotes
lacro
By lacro (Apr 12, 2013)

All links seem broken as of today.

0 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Apr 14, 2013)

The links should be fully functional now, thanks for your patience. :-D

1 upvote
lacro
By lacro (Apr 14, 2013)

Thank you very much, Max.

0 upvotes
diaconga
By diaconga (Feb 28, 2013)

Excellent article. For a new user of X10, it is outstanding useful !

1 upvote
max metz
By max metz (Apr 2, 2013)

Thanks diaconga, I think its fair to say that if you can handle the complexity of the x10 any camera thereafter will be an easy ask. The lens is wonderful, the build outstanding, the sensor and processors adept - for the price its a winner.

0 upvotes
Sir Corey of Deane
By Sir Corey of Deane (Jan 27, 2013)

Max, as a digital baby I find your write-up absolutely invaluable especially as I intend starting out with a Fuji !

1 upvote
max metz
By max metz (Apr 2, 2013)

Thanks very much Sir Corey, I hope you enjoy your camera as much as I do mine. Photography can be a real adventure of rediscovering the world around us and that alone can make it a wonderful past time. :-D

0 upvotes
jedwad
By jedwad (Jan 25, 2013)

try macro in digital zoom. gets good results without getting too close and blocking out the light.

1 upvote
max metz
By max metz (Apr 2, 2013)

Thanks for the heads up jedwad, I'll give this a try. :-D

0 upvotes
gunnerisac
By gunnerisac (Dec 4, 2012)

Nice review and very helpful.

2 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Dec 6, 2012)

Thanks very much gunnerisac. :-D

0 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Sep 13, 2012)

Sorry for my tardy response Frankie, I have just got my x10 back after the sensor change, been doing other stuff while it was away.

Sounds like you have the little x10 workflow completely sussed, as for m resolution this is in my view as good as the camera gets particularly at ISO 100 dr400 - the images lift off the screen by having captured the clarity that is inherent in low noise wide dynamic range. Best regards. :-)

1 upvote
Frankie Lumi
By Frankie Lumi (May 22, 2012)

Max -

This is terrific. I also figured what you mean with 'exit to default'. I too have DR set 400, I mean who doesn't want that better range in the highlights. I order to be faster, I kept the selection in the Menu on Dynamic Range so that by one click on Menu I can change if needed while all other settings for P-S-A-M-EXR are in place. This workflow makes it easy to fly blind when shooting and since RAW, AE, AF, WB, Fn, EV are all accessible without Menu access, it's a charm. This is real smartly done by Fujifilm.

I prefer the A default with 100 ASA on spot-metering instead of EXR SN. EXR SN works but I got natural lights as the scene actually looked like--in the dark on 100 ASA.

Great to set C1 and C2 for something else on purpose: C1 is my concert stage set-up now and C2 my Alex Majoli points and shoots set-up. Auto, P, Scenes, and EXR-Auto for my gf. :)

P.S. Can you explain why working in M instead of L? Better image quality? Or just screen vs. print output reasoning?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Small Smile
By Small Smile (Jan 23, 2012)

Hi Max,

possible combination ISO (100) & DR (400%) in first & second one shots?

[Medium resolution (M), aperture priority (psAm), iso100, dr400]

Thanks

Luigi

1 upvote
max metz
By max metz (Jan 27, 2012)

That's exactly right Luigi, in that mode the x10 captures the subtle ambient light in great detail and clarity which more than compensates for the low Mega pixels.

0 upvotes
pedroboe100
By pedroboe100 (Jan 22, 2012)

Thank you Max. Has.anyone reached a conclusion on using "auto DR" mode? Sorry if I missed it on your chart.

1 upvote
max metz
By max metz (Jan 27, 2012)

Always setting the ISO manually, I don't know the effect of auto ISO on the chart.

0 upvotes
Luego
By Luego (Jan 22, 2012)

Hi Max,

Many users of the X10 are appreciating your chart, me included.
However, may I suggest an addition or addendum to cover the limitations the user encounters that are not covered by the Operation Manual?

It could be in form of a table or chart or a combination of the two.

See Post under Max Help!

Happy images

Luego

1 upvote
max metz
By max metz (Jan 27, 2012)

I have seen the excellent information in your post, this chart is jammed packed so perhaps another addendum for the manual could be produced to include your information - even as a simple table.

0 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Jan 21, 2012)

Allan, I always set the P,S,A,M iso manually using the Fn button, usually aiming for the lowest iso possible starting at iso100 – the lower the iso the more glow from the increased dynamic range. My default Dynamic Range is 400. :D

0 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Jan 21, 2012)

Luego, I’ll repeat the answer here in case it helps someone else.

In the Advanced Pro Low Light mode the user is choosing the EV with the ev compensation dial – almost everything stems from that.

For this bus port frame, another quasi control in this mode is the amount in focus; focusing around the frame to achieve the greatest range in focus, locking that with a half shutter press then reframe and shoot. The camera system is very clever, always aiming to achieve your intent. :D

0 upvotes
Luego
By Luego (Jan 21, 2012)

Max, thanks for your inside.

Perhaps I should apply EV comp more often. My fear in these situations, since I'm shooting JPEG is the higher noise level introduced using - EV to underexpose shadows (I do not use any PP whatsoever).

However, sometimes we have to compromise between higher noise/quasi control or no control over exposure and lower noise. The re-framing is also a good point, especially since under Pro Low-Light we never know what DOF we end up with in the final image.

Happy images

Luego

1 upvote
Luego
By Luego (Jan 21, 2012)

Hi Max,

I have a question regarding your exposure settings for the Pro Low-Light "bus stop" image.

Take a look at the comments in your galley under image.

Thanks mate

Happy images

Luego

0 upvotes
Allan Ostling
By Allan Ostling (Jan 21, 2012)

Max,

Thanks, I did not understand that "Set the P, S, A, M default" referred to setting the Resolution to L, M, or S. This is clear, now that you have mentioned it.

When I am in (A)perture priority I would like to shoot RAW only, since I have no need of a JPEG after importing to Lightroom. But setting Resolution to M is available only for RAW + JPEG, so my understanding is that this is the best setting, one which couples the RAW output to some of the magic of the EXR processor.

As a starting point for my own settings, I would like to know your settings for the P,S,A,M modes, particularly ISO and Dynamic Range.

0 upvotes
max metz
By max metz (Jan 20, 2012)

Allan, choosing the resolution first sets the default resolution for P,S,A,M; accordingly when existing back to P,S,A,M from any EXR or Advanced mode you return to that same resolution originally selected. :-)

0 upvotes
Allan Ostling
By Allan Ostling (Jan 18, 2012)

I don't fully understand the chart. I am hung up on the meaning of the first directive: "Set the P,A,S,M default." Of these, I usually shoot in the aperture (A) mode, but what is it that I am being asked to set?

What does it mean in the EXR modes, where it says "returns to P,A,S,M default on exit." What does "on exit" mean, a turning of the mode dial back to one of the P,A,S,M modes?

0 upvotes
projectdirector
By projectdirector (Jan 17, 2012)

Great work Max. I agree with previous poster, someone out there can develop an app for iPhone or android.
Cheers

1 upvote
robenroute
By robenroute (Jan 16, 2012)

Hi Max, thanks for your article/chart. Funny this, I was writing this post to ask you to explain a few things, but when I tried to write down what I was reading in the chart, I (think I) figured it out. Just wondering what the white graphics in the chart mean; are they settings that are not advised, because of lesser picture quality?

Thanks again & regards,

Rob

PS figured the last bit out as well: those white/grey modes are just not available...

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
shutterbobby
By shutterbobby (Jan 16, 2012)

Good info there Max, as I said earlier it good to put on my smartphone,wondering if you could do some kind of Fuji app for the EXR tech... think that could be really cool
Cheers Rob

1 upvote
solsang
By solsang (Jan 16, 2012)

Thanks a lot, really useful examples of basic use, i like the full exposed buildings showing detail without any blown out areas, plus the attention on where full size is appropriate, which i have been in doubt about

I look forward to how it will work with my polarized and nd grad filters, also using the panorama mode, which i still need to see whether is comparable to a standard autopano pro stich

1 upvote
charita
By charita (Jan 14, 2012)

Thanks Max. This type of article should help us newbies find our way through the convoluted digital maze. Your examples are well chosen and your text lucid. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
Cheers.
Charles.

1 upvote
Will Hickman
By Will Hickman (Jan 13, 2012)

Very useful Max! Appreciate the effort and sharing! Well done!

Best,

Will

1 upvote
windmillgolfer
By windmillgolfer (Jan 13, 2012)

Good article Max. I hope Fuji and/or DPR recognise and reward your generous contribution. Stuart

1 upvote
Lloydy
By Lloydy (Jan 13, 2012)

Excellent. Whilst I don't have the X10 (yet), I certainly appreciate the effort you have put into this.

Cheers, Dave.

1 upvote
SLLO
By SLLO (Jan 12, 2012)

very useful. thanks you!

1 upvote
2cv
By 2cv (Jan 12, 2012)

Thanks!

1 upvote
William Marx
By William Marx (Jan 11, 2012)

Outstanding informaton. Thanks so much for your hard work.

1 upvote
John WFH
By John WFH (Jan 11, 2012)

Thanks again, loving all your positive help.

1 upvote
jcmarfilph
By jcmarfilph (Jan 11, 2012)

Excellent. Thanks for sharing!

1 upvote
Total comments: 41