Fujifilm has said it will attempt to address the problem of X10 images showing 'white discs' with a firmware update in response to customer concerns. The company statement comes in response to our enquiries about the problem, and confirms the phenomenon is caused by sensor 'blooming.' It claims the camera is working within prescribed tolerances and that the problem is not uncommon in other cameras but says that it plans updated firmware to 'lessen the effects' of the blooming. We have prepared a quick test of the issue (which we will cover in greater depth in the full review), showing the effects of Fujifilm's suggested ways of mitigating the issue.

Update: We have published a report on the effect of firmware v.1.03 on the orbs issue (Feb 25th 2012)  

Company statement:

'Fujifilm engineers have examined a number of sample shots and have concluded that the camera is working within prescribed tolerances. The blooming issue is something not uncommon to many types of digital camera. It is possible to reduce the effects of blooming either by increasing the ISO or widening the dynamic range on the camera.

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However, after receiving a number of comments from users, we can understand their concern and plan a firmware upgrade to lessen the effects of blooming. We will announce in due course when the upgrade will be available.'

White Disc blooming tests:

Here we compare the rendering of specular highlights between the FujiFilm X10 (left) and the Olympus XZ-1, which has a slightly smaller sensor based on CCD technology. All the images below are 100% crops, shot at equivalent focal lengths, using the same shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

Fujifilm X10, 12MP, ISO 100, DR 100% Olympus XZ-1, 10MP, ISO 100

ISO Test

In accordance with Fujifilms suggestion, we shot the scene at different ISO settings.

ISO 100, DR 100%, 12MP ISO 200, DR 100%, 12MP
ISO 400, DR 100%, 12MP ISO 800, DR 100%, 12MP

No significant further improvement was seen above ISO 800.

DR Test

We also shot the scene using the camera's EXR DR mode, which under-exposes half its pixels and then combines these with the fully-exposed neighboring pixels to produce a 6MP image with greater highlight retention.

ISO 100, DR 100%, 6MP ISO 100, DR 200%, 6MP
ISO 100, DR 400%, 6MP

We will investigate the problem (and how prevalent it is in real-world photographs) in more depth in our full review. We will also test any updated firmware that becomes available.