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.