The Fujifilm X10 is reasonably responsive camera in the majority of its operations. Menu navigation and image review is brisk, and the X10's external buttons offer a firm, positive response; the one exception to this being the RAW button. For reasons we can't understand, the RAW button requires a slight bit more pressure to call up its assigned function. We've experienced this on all X10 samples to which we've had access and can't fathom why this button response should be different than the others.
Overall, the X10's focussing speed is on par with that of its peers like the Olympus XZ-1 and Nikon P7100, and noticeably quicker than that of the rather sluggish Canon G1 X. When shooting low-contrast subjects though, even in relatively bright light, focus hunting is a fairly common occurrence.
Unexpectedly, perhaps the most persistent annoyance in day to day use of the X10 is simply waking the camera from sleep. By default, this requires you to press and hold the shutter button for a second or two. Those used to waking their camera with a quick press may be left scratching their heads initially when they get no response from the X10. To be fair, you can wake the camera with a quick half-press of the shutter if you enable Quick Start mode, which also reduces the time from power off to on. The downside though - and probably the reason it's disabled by default - is that enabling Quick Start reduces the X10's already unimpressive battery life.
Continuous Shooting and Buffering
The X10 lists a maximum frame rate of 10 fps, but to reach that speed the camera can only output 6MP JPEG files (if you're in 12MP mode the output size will switch automatically when 10fps shooting is enabled, and reverts to 12MP when you move out of the high-speed mode). The frame rate is selected in the drive menu. The camera can also be set to shoot at 7 fps, 5 fps and 3fps maximums. With Raw capture enabled, you are limited to the 5 fps and 3 fps options. Despite its reasonably fast capture modes, the X10 is unsuitable for shooting sports or action though, largely due to its lack of a true (predictive) focus tracking AF system, but also because of its live view behaviour in continuous shooting modes (more information follows below).
The timings below were generated with the camera set to SH ('super high') mode for JPEG output and M (medium) mode (the fastest available) for the remaining file formats.
JPEG Fine (6MP)
|Frame rate||9 fps||5 fps||5 fps|
|Buffer at max fps||16||6||6|
|Buffer full rate||3.3 fps||1 fps||0.9 fps|
|Frames total||200 max||200 max||200 max|
|Write complete||6 seconds||6 seconds||6 seconds|
All timings performed using a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card (90MB/s)
As you can see, the X10 has a fairly limited buffer when shooting Raw, and you're locked out of any operational controls for the six seconds it takes the camera to finish writing to the card, which is perhaps the biggest penalty to be paid for shooting in continuous drive mode.
In addition, and not unusually for cameras of this type, the X10 is incapable of maintaining a live view feed in its continuous shooting modes. On the screen you see a sequence of still frames in real time after they've been captured and while they're being buffered which means that if you want to follow a fast-moving subject while panning the camera, you'll need to use the optical viewfinder. This is not a bad alternative, as you've got a nice bright view of the scene, but it does mean you lose access to any focus confirmation and exposure information.
Autofocus speed / accuracy
While the X10's AF system focusing speed is roughly on par with compact camera competitors like the Panasonic LX5, it lags behind the performance of the best contrast-detect systems we've seen, like those in the current crop of Micro Four Thirds cameras, for instance. Let's be clear though, anyone moving up from a point and shoot compact camera will be impressed with the amount of keepers they get with the X10.
One thing that helps immeasurably in low light is the X10's bright AF illuminator. In dark interiors it provides sufficient coverage across the range of the camera's 49 user selectable AF points. The other advantage of course, is a bright F2-2.8 lens.
We've also had success using the camera's face detection feature. When enabled, it locks focus on what it recognizes as a human face. The benefit here is that the AF system gets a head start before you press the shutter button, enabling you to more easily catch spontaneous moments, like the one shown below, which could easily be lost by a longer AF acquisition time. Fujifilm introduced face detection technology to the market a few years ago and it's still a strength.
Where the camera falters - resulting in focus hunt - is with locking focus on low-contrast non-textured subjects. While this is not unexpected, the X10 does seem to struggle in these situations a bit more than we'd like.
|The X10's face detection system works very well and can detect and focus on a face even when our energetic subject is squinting. With face detection enabled, the camera also attempts to adjust exposure biased towards the detected subject.|
When the camera's contrast-detect AF indicates it has acquired focus, it means it. In browsing through hundreds of images shot with the X10 we've struggled to find many instances where focus was off due to anything other than post-focus subject movement or slow shutter speeds.
The X10 comes with the decidedly small capacity NP-50 battery, one that Fujifilm uses in a number of their much less expensive EXR compact models. It's got a capacity of only 940mAh which, according to Fujifilm, is good for approximately 270 shots (CIPA standard). When out and about for a day of even casual shooting, 270 images is not an awful lot. In our daily use of the camera, it was common to return back to the office with a nearly-depleted battery. A fully-charged spare would be highly recommended to accompany the X10 on photographic jaunts.