Image Quality Tests
Fast F2-2.8 Zoom Lens
The X10's 28-112mm (equivalent) zoom lens is reasonably versatile and impressively fast, maintaining a respectably wide maximum aperture even at its maximum telephoto setting. This has real benefits when it comes to low light photography, where it will save you needing to reach for the camera's high ISO settings, or flash, as often as you might in comparable cameras with slower lenses.
It also means that you get more control over depth of field than you might expect from other compact cameras, although even with the X10's relatively large (for a compact) sensor and fast lens it isn't possible to achieve the same sort of background blur that you can on a DSLR at equivalent aperture/FL settings. To demonstrate this, we shot the same scene twice, with the X10 and again on the full-frame Nikon D4. The X10's lens was set to 85mm (equivalent) and we mounted an AF-D Nikkor 85mm F1.8 on the D4. Both cameras were set to an aperture of F/2.8. Our subject was 1.5 meters away from the cameras, and 3 meters away from the leaves in the background.
|Fujifilm X10, ~ 85mm (equiv) F2.8||Nikon D4, 85mm, F2.8|
As you can see, compared to the shot from the full-frame Nikon D4, the X10 delivers a much deeper zone of focus, making it impossible to isolate the subject in the same way (F2.8 on the X10 is actually equivalent, in depth-of-field terms, to F11 on the D4). Naturally though, we could have separated the subject from the background a little more by closing the camera-subject distance and/or zooming in slightly.
Compared to DSLR kit zoom
|Fujifilm X10, ~ 90mm (equiv) F2.8||Canon EOS 650D, ~ 90mm (equiv) F5.6|
While F2.8 on the X10's lens is clearly not equivalent to F2.8 on a full-frame camera in depth-of-field terms, when set to an equivalent focal length equivalent and maximum aperture the X10 can deliver a very similar background blur to an APS-C DSLR with kit zoom. Here, we're comparing the X10 at around 90mm (equivalent) at F2.8 with the Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i at the long end of its 18-55mm kit zoom, 'wide open' at F5.6. The background blur in our shots, taken from the same position, is practically identical.
The X10 has an in-lens image stabilization system that is accessed via the 'Set' menu. There are two main modes; Continuous and 'Shooting Only'. When set to the former, the IS system is active during live view. With the less power-hungry 'Shooting Only' mode engaged, the IS system is activated only by a full or half-press of the shutter button. With both modes there is a further option to have the camera automatically increase shutter speed when it detects motion in the scene.
As you can see in the images above, the X10's IS system is very effective in allowing you to use slow shutter speeds and still come away with acceptable images. With a reasonable amount of attention to good shooting techniques, we consistently found that we could shoot as much as three stops below the 1/effective focal length guideline. We don't really see the point of using the Continuous IS mode for either stills or video, particularly since it taxes the X10's already short battery life.
Distortion and CA correction
Distortion Correction is automatically applied to X10 images and cannot be switched off. Raw conversion software that fully supports the X10 - at present only ACR and a version of SilkyPix bundled with the camera - will honor the camera's 'instructions' and apply distortion correction in the conversion process. To see what distortion in an image actually looks like at the point of capture we converted the image below using the DCRaw conversion engine which gives us the captured pixels without any corrections applied.
The sample below was shot at the 28mm (equiv.) wide angle end of the lens. As you can see, there is considerable distortion at this focal length. The X10's in-camera correction does a respectable job of minimizing the effect, though if you look closely, you'll notice there is still a bit of barrel distortion evident. This is fairly minimal, however, and we can't stress enough that shooting a brick wall at a 28mm equivalent focal length is not how X10 users will be spending their shooting time. In reviewing hundreds of real world images shot with the X10, we have no complaints about lens distortion. And the image corners remain impressively sharp. We could easily imagine an overly aggressive lens correction introducing much more prominent re-sampling artifacts.
|In-camera JPEG with correction applied||DCRaw conversion - no correction applied|
The X10's fast zoom lens, combined with built-in software correction is very impressive with regard to chromatic aberration (CA) performance. In many hours spent shooting with the X10 in bright high-contrast environments, we had to look closely to find even the smallest occurrences of CA, even when shooting at the widest focal length. And those examples that we did find were not overly objectionable.
|100% crop In-camera JPEG||100% crop DCRaw conversion upsampled to 12MP* - no correction applied|
As you can see in the 100% crops above, cyan - along with very slight remnants of magenta - fringing is visible in the camera-processed JPEG. The same image processed through the DCRaw engine shows uncorrected output with noticeably more CA evident. The amount of CA shown in the processed JPEG is quite reasonable given the large contrast difference between the sky and foliage. Frankly, we'd have expected to see an even more pronounced appearances of CA. And the image sample above is one of only a tiny handful where we could see any CA at all.
*Because the DCRaw engine lacks official support for the X10, it outputs only 6MP files from a 12MP capture.
Overall image quality
The X10 continues the Fuji X-series tradition of producing very good-looking JPEGs with pleasing white balance and generally well-judged exposures in a range of settings. In high contrast scenes or tricky lighting conditions, the exposure compensation dial enables quick and easy between-shot adjustments. We also like the extensive color, contrast, sharpening and noise reduction options, not to mention the film simulation modes. These adjustments can also be available post-capture, thanks to the X10's in-camera Raw conversion ability. At 100%, the X10's full-resolution 12MP doesn't look quite as nice as equivalent resolution output from competitive cameras when viewed critically, but for practical photographic purposes, the image quality is very high.
This is important becayse Fujifilm's unique EXR sensor produces Raw files that are not handled particularly well either by the bundled Silkypix software or by any third party raw conversion platforms that we've tried. Simply put, you're going to get great quality results, with much less hassle, by converting Raw files in-camera.
While the X10's 28-112mm (equiv.) focal length may be standard on high-end compact cameras, a fast F2.0-2.8 lens most certainly is not. Having access to wide apertures throughout its zoom range, along with a very good IS system - and of course a large 2/3" sensor - means you can shoot without flash in low light conditions such as restaurant interiors and come away with pleasing images. Noise levels are very well controlled through ISO 800 and don't actually become distracting until ISOs greater than 1600. While image quality and resolution may not be on par with even larger-sensor models like the Canon PowerShot G1 X or Nikon 1 J1, the Fujifilm X10 consistently delivers pleasing output and will be a significant step forward for users moving up from a point and shoot camera.