X10: Keeper or alternatives?

Started Dec 15, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Timur Born
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X10: Keeper or alternatives?
Dec 15, 2011

This is a two parts post, because of the 6000 chars limit of the forum.

Hello everyone!

I've been trying the Fuji X10 (and this forum) for close to two weeks. Now it's time to decide whether to keep the X10 or if there are any viable alternatives. Anyone with enough experience on different cameras please feel invited to provide advice.

Consider that this will be my only camera (apart from an iPhone cam) and that pictures will only be used on tabled, 17" laptop, 30" (2560 x 1600) desktop, ca. 66" projector (1920x1080 from couch) and DIN A4 photo books.

After my first week I already wrote a detailed experience report in the review section ( http://www.dpreview.com/articles/8437601494/x10-experience-report ), but here is a list of pros and cons in order of personal importance.

Pros

  • Main feature: Fast stabilized lens and good enough high ISO performance for its weight-class, allowing me to stop kids in action (aka short exposure times). In high ISOs it retains enough details while keeping chroma noise down (I prefer film like grain to colored patches). Fast enough auto-focus for its weight-class.

  • Small enough to put in my jacket pockets or my wife's handbag and thus can go along with us easy enough. I've been pondering to get a DSLR for at least 2 years and never did it, knowing that it never could be a "everywhere" cam.

  • Skin tones and flash exposure looks a lot better than all those "classic" flash-skinned pictures we all know from typical P&S.

  • Offers a flash hot-shoe for attaching a stronger flash that can be bounced to the ceiling/wall for even better stopping down of kid action in mixed (aka too low or too ugly) light.

  • Handles well enough in my hands. I understood the cam and menu without looking into the manual (deliberately), but did read lots on this forum and reviews. EXR Auto mode makes a lot of better decisions about scenery and settings than my wife ever cares to learn about (aka "Press button, get nice shot").

  • Fuji manufacturer warranty support covers the full 2 years that German/European dealer warranty would cover. They offer free   pick-up service and a free hotline. Turnaround times are estimated to be around 10 days by hotline support.

  • Allows plenty enough manual/advanced options to get a grip on photography beyond simple P&S. It's a good learning tool for experimenting with techniques and how everything interacts with each other. It will teach me whether I'm happy with an advanced P&S and everyday photography, or whether I want more once I got into it.

  • Offers a viewfinder for those few situations where the screen is not usable, like in bright light or dark show/concert halls where you don't want to disturb the rest of the audience.

Cons

  • Might still be too slow (focus?) or noisy (need for high ISOs) to shoot playing kids. Area AF has both some speed and reliability problems at towards the tele end. I already got better pics than with any P&S I ever used before, though.

  • Excessive blooming ("white orbs") of specular highlight requites use of high (noisier) ISOs or underexposure to compensate. Auto EXR mode also is prone to this (chooses too low ISO to protect against orbs), so these may turn up on photos more often than we like.

  • Mechanical ON switch via barrel already got stuck shortly after unboxing. There was a hard mechanical barrier at the point where the camera usually turns on (LED on, aperture opens) that usually should only be a resistance point. I fixed it by turning the camera/lens into difference directions (up, down, upside-down) while turning the barrel, which turned the full stop blockade into a normal resistive point. Warranty will cover it within the next 2 years, after that I'm might literally be stuck, but Fuji support already offered to pick up (!) in the cam for analysis.

  • Maximum humidity of only 80% allowed. This means that you will get foggy (aka condensed water) pictures from your kids' swimming lessons while all the plastic cams will happily shoot away (Canons S100 allows 90%, Nikon V1 below 85%). According to Fuji support condensed water can cause corrosion of the electric board. No normal P&S user is running around with a humidity meter, but just getting into a room full of people dancing can easily pass the 80% mark. So need to watch out to keep the X10 warm before shooting.

  • Viewfinder eye-piece is far too small, a bigger square bezel would have been better. There is just a very small angle at which you can look into it properly. If you try to compensate by putting your eye as close as possible your own eye-lashes get into the way and you might block one nostril from breathing. There could at least have been a center-cross and framing to get a better feeling for horizontal plane and parallax. 85% sure is too small, but I see the VF as a bonus, not a main feature.

  • Firmware/Software shows some quirks sometimes (no rules found), like settings being carried over to Custom modes sometimes that should not be, or AF button doing nothing in a mode where it should (and where the menu allows to change AF type). I also saw the camera hang at its "Storing" screen after doing a drive series (likely because the SD card was close to full), only removing the battery helped.

Fujifilm X10 Nikon 1 V1
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