Shooting Experience (con't)

By Dan Bracaglia

Using the X-T10 in the field

Processed using Adobe Camera Raw. ISO 200, F5, 1/450 sec with exposure compensation of -0.3. Shot using the Fujifilm 16mm F1.5 R WR lens.

The X100T is made in Japan, while the X-T10 is made in Thailand. All assumptions aside, I found the build quality of the X-T10 to be more robust. The camera has an incredibly dense and solid feel to it (without being heavy). And I've always personally found the buttons on the X100-series to feel cheap and mushy, which is not the case with the X-T10.

The X-T10 offers a total of 7 customizable buttons, including each of the four directional control keys on back. I set the dedicated function button, located on the back in the lower right corner, to control my ISO. And then I set one of each of the four direction keys to control film simulation, photometry, flash compensation, and AF mode. I left the video record button on the top of the camera set to start video capture by default, but it too can be set to something else.

Perhaps my favorite new feature on the X-T10 is the ability to press both the front and rear control dials inward, effectively giving each a secondary set of functions. I set the X-T10's front dial to control my AF point when pressed. Doing so and turning the dial changes the size of the AF point or the shape of the point cluster if your focus area is set to Zone. It also allows the back direction keys to control which AF point(s) are selected. The back control dial's secondary function can not be customized. It is permanently set to zoom in the frame when pressed inward, which is quite helpful when manually focusing the camera.

This is another example of a JPEG pulled from camera. ISO 5000, F2.8, 1/100 sec with exposure compensation of +1.0. Shot using the Fujifilm 27mm F2.8 lens.

Another feature I like on the X-T10 is that when the shutter dial is set to the "T" position, it lets users instead use a control dial to set any shutter speed. In older Fujifilm cameras, like the X100T, "T" mode only lets users set long exposures ranging from 2.5 - 30 secs. While I appreciate the physical shutter speed dial on top, not having to rely on it makes changing settings much easier, because you never have to take your eye away from the viewfinder.

After spending some time customizing the X-T10 to my personal taste, and getting acquainted with it, I toted it around to a variety of fairly grueling daylight adventures. These included multiple kayak trips (stored in a dry bag when I wasn't shooting), a helicopter ride and on several hikes. In all these situations, I found the X-T10 functioned as reliably and intuitively as an X-T1. However, as I've also found with the X-T1, low light AF acquisition with the X-T10 can be poor, especially if your trying to shoot a low contrast subject. But more on that below.

Autofocus

The X-T10 has a total 77 contrast detect and 15 phase detect points. The phase detect points are located in the center portion of the frame. Users can pick from three different focus area settings including Single Point, Zone and Wide/Tracking. When shooting in Single Point, the X-T10 offers five different AF point sizes, and 49 different points throughout the frame to pick from. The central-most 9 points are the phase detect points. When shooting using Zone, users can pick from a 9 point square cluster, a rectangular-shaped 5x3 AF point cluster, and a 5x5 point square cluster. All of these clusters can be positioned anywhere in the frame. Shooting Wide/Tracking using all the AF points in the frame.

I spent the majority of my time shooting with the X-T1- set to AF-S, using either a single point in the center of the frame, or a cluster of points. While I varied the size of the cluster, I always kept it set to the center of the frame, to utilize the phase detect points. I like to shoot by first acquiring focus on my subject, holding that focus, and moving the camera to re-frame the image. I had no problem using the X-T10 to shoot this way.

The X-T10 can be 'shot from the hip,' with some success. Face Detect works moderately well with the camera set to AF-S, Wide/Tracking. Note: this image was cropped in a bit. My girlfriend's arm was in the frame, the result of me trying to shoot without looking through the EVF or at the LCD. ISO 400, 1/500 sec, F5.6, shot with the 16mm F1.4 R WR lens affixed.

I did notice when shooting in AF-S, regardless of lens used or focus area picked, the X-T10 always focuses past infinity before acquiring focus. Despite this, AF acquisition is still quite fast, at least in good light. The camera uses the latest Fujifilm AF firmware, which is supposed to improve precision when trying to acquire focus of low contrast scenes. From my field testing so far, I have not seen any real noticeable improvement in this department, compared to other Fujifilm cameras.

When using AF-C to photograph a subject moving toward or away from the camera, the X-T10 is very good at depth tracking, as long as your subject is in the center of the frame, where the phase detect points are. If your subject falls outside of that center area, the X-T10 has a very difficult time accurately focusing. By the way, all of my field testing was done with both AF-S and AF-C set to focus priority (as opposed to release priority).

I had some success using face detection when shooting in AF-S, but poor results when shooting in
AF-C. In general, it took the X-T10 up to one second to lock on to a face in AF-S, and up to three seconds or more to find a face using AF-C. I really enjoy shooting street photography from the hip, and cameras that offer good face detection mean that you can shoot without having to worry too much about focus; presumably the nearest face to the camera will be sharp. When using the X-T10, I had the most success using face detection with the camera focus area set to the new Wide/Tracking option (in AF-S). Still, it did not give me as good a hit rate as other cameras I've used, especially those from Sony, like the a6000 or even the RX100 IV.

For this image, I first focused on the subject, using a single point in the center of the frame and AF-S. Then, while holding the AF-L button, I re-framed the image (only slightly in this case). This was also the way I achieved focus for the vast majority of the photographs I shot with the X-T10. This image was converted using Adobe Camera Raw. ISO 200, F4 1/500 sec, shot with the Fujifilm 16mm F1.4 R WR lens affixed.

Some Frustrations

In my limiting testing of the X-T10's subject tracking capabilities across the frame using AF-C, I found the camera to be quite laggy, and frankly not work well enough to be useful in real world situations. To be fair, this is the first time Fujifilm has included any sort of subject tracking capabilities in any of its cameras. And according to their engineers, it works best when the camera is held perfectly still. Which is not all that realistic, as most subjects you'd want to track across the frame, you wouldn't be shooting from a fixed point. Furthermore, when the camera is set to Wide/Tracking, it only uses contrast detect AF. Though the same engineers have assured me that they are working on using phase detect AF for tracking as well.

Another issue is the eye-sensor that automatically switches between the EVF and LCD has a tendency to get fooled often, especially if you have the screen flipped out. This is a problem I've encountered in just about every camera with a tilting LCD I've ever used. Still, it's quite irksome. And of course, having shot with the X-T1 quite a but, the 0.66x magnification of the X-T10's EVF leaves me wanting more. Of course, if you've never used an X-T1, you will not have this problem.

Out-of-camera JPEG. ISO 200, F2.8, 1/500 sec. Shot using the Fujifilm 16mm F1.4 R WR lens.

Overall

Fujifilm cameras, like the X-T10, are best suited for folks who are looking for an uncluttered, back-to-basics shooting experience. I tend to take more time composing my images and less time worrying about settings when using an X-T10 or X100T, vs something like a Sony a6000. Of course the a6000 does a lot of things better than the X-T10, like track subjects across the frame. But the X-T10 also offers much nicer-looking JPEGs, right from the camera.

Ultimately, I am looking forward to spending more time putting the X-T10's autofocus to the test in a variety of scenarios. I'm also eager to continuing shooting street photography, using Face Detect. And in general, see how my initial, fairly positive opinion of the X-T10, holds up as I use it more. So stay tuned for our full review.