The Fujifilm X10, like its rangefinder-minded siblings, the FinePix X100 and Fujifilm X-Pro1, is a decidedly stills-oriented camera. Movie mode is largely a point and shoot affair, with precious little in the way of user control over focus or exposure. You'd be hard-pressed to find many other compact cameras that omit a dedicated movie record button, however the X10's designers have tucked the movie option onto the camera's 11-item mode dial. The X10 does offer 1080 HD output at 30 fps, as well as three high speed modes for slow motion playback, albeit at progressively lower resolutions.

Video specification

The X10 records 1080, 720 and 480 pixel resolution video at 30 fps. Movies are saved as .MOV files, a universally compatible format that can be played by any video app. You also have the option to record high speed video at either 70, 120 or 200 fps. Upon playback (at 30 fps) these frame rates give you slow motion video at just under 1/2 speed, 1/4 speed and 1/7 speed respectively of the live action. Choosing any of these higher frame rates disables the camera's audio recording capability, which is reasonable enough. Unfortunately though, video resolution drops as the frame rate increases (shown in the table below) such that a super slow motion movie shot at 200 fps is available only at a resolution of 320 x 112.

The X10 has stereo microphones that are located on its front-plate just above the lens and AF illuminator lamp. A monaural speaker for video playback is curiously located on the camera's bottom plate, which of course means sound output is muffled when the camera is resting on a tripod plate or other surface.

Sizes • 1920 x 1080 Full HD, 30 fps
• 1280 x 720 HD, 30 fps
• 640 x 480 VGA, 30 fps

• High Speed modes*
640 x 480, 70 fps
320 x 240, 120 fps
320 x 112, 200 fps
* Audio recording disabled
Audio Stereo, WAV format
Format H.264 MOV format
Max file size per clip 4 GB
Recording time per clip Up to 29 minutes (1080 and 720), up to 115 minutes (480)

Handling in video mode

Shooting video with the X10 is a simple proposition in so far as user options are concerned. With the mode dial set to Movie mode, you can select a resolution option, enable/disable continuous AF and face detection, set white balance and choose a film simulation mode (these last two options are sticky between stills and video mode). The only user control over exposure is via the exposure compensation dial. None of the options just mentioned can be adjusted for effect during the recording process. The one and only thing you can change while recording is the focal length by zooming the lens in and out. To begin recording you simply press the shutter button.

The information screen in movie mode is not customizable. Neither an electronic level or AF area box (both available in stills mode) are displayed. Focus confirmation in video mode is only available via the small green indicator light above the LCD. With a shutter button half-press before recording begins, the indicator shows a solid (as opposed to flashing) green light when focus is achieved.

During video recording you can capture a stills image by pressing the OK button. The resulting still image is a 6MP file in a 16:9 format. There are two significant downsides to capturing still images during movie recording. Initiating the stills capture often causes the lens to reacquire focus and both the sound of the lens elements adjusting and the shutter are audible on the video. Even more disappointing is that the resulting video clip skips ahead by roughly two seconds during each still image capture, which is obviously distracting when filming moving subjects or panning the camera.

There are two AF settings with the mode dial set to Movie mode. Continuous AF, as its name implies, adjusts focus while recording. Because you have no control of where in the frame it is attempting to focus, you may be tempted to use Center AF in which the camera locks focus on a predetermined area; the center of the frame. This is literally a static AF, as the camera acquires focus only once at the moment you initiate recording. Should the camera or your center-positioned subject move, or should you zoom the lens in or out, no further attempts at focus acquisition are made. Manual focus is not possible in Movie mode. In fact, the focus mode switch on the front of the camera has no effect in Movie mode.

The only way to have the X10 track focus on a specific subject is to enable face detection. When it is turned on, it overrides the menu's AF mode, even greying it out. Of course, these focus adjustments only work if a face is detected, and this requires that both eyes, as well as the subject's nose are facing the camera.

While it takes a full press of the shutter to commence recording, a half-press of the shutter button ends the recording. This can be confusing initially, particularly since you might reasonably assume that a half-press of the shutter button might reacquire focus, as it would in stills mode.

Video image quality

The X10 produces average quality video with pleasing white balance and well balanced exposures in all but the more extreme shooting conditions. Fujifilm's optical image stabilization does an excellent job of minimizing camera shake while still allowing for handheld panning that appears acceptably smooth on playback. The ability to record video in any of the camera's well-regarded film simulation modes puts a range of options at your disposal.

One thing to be aware of is that the camera is prone to significant focus hunting when panning the camera through a scene of near and far objects, even in good light. Its not uncommon to have AF give up entirely on a low contrast object. Even more frustrating is the lack of any onscreen focus confirmation feedback. Although a half-press of the shutter before recording will trigger the AF system, the only way to confirm the camera has acquired focus is to watch the tiny indicator lamp on the rear of the camera. And of course you have no way of knowing exactly what it has focused on, only that it has focused on something in the scene.

Audio recording is generally pleasing - if a bit muddy - about what you'd expect from a compact camera. The stereo microphones pick up a substantial amount of sound emanating from behind the camera, so its best to get close to your primary sound source in crowded environments. The lack of a wind-cut filter makes things even worse, as wind noise can easily become distracting when shooting outdoors.

Sample Video 1

This video clip shows handheld panning with the camera's in-lens stabilization enabled. The IS system does a very impressive job of minimizing camera shake while not interfering with the deliberate panning movement. The camera was set to 'Shooting Only' IS mode and the lens was zoomed to its maximum focal length. You can clearly see the camera's AF system hunting for focus throughout the clip.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 18 sec. 31 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 2

In this video you can see a second version of the handheld pan shown above, but this time with image stabilization turned off. With IS disabled, the clip is essentially unusable.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 18 sec. 31 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 3

This clip shows the camera's exposure system adjusting itself as the camera zooms out to include brighter scene elements. The stepped aperture adjustments appear as abrupt flickers during the video.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 16 sec. 27 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 4

This hand-held video highlights the X10's audio recording capabilities. You can hear the voices and individual instruments reasonably well, but it has to compete with a lot of background noise picked up by the microphones.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 24 sec. 41 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 5

The X10 has three high speed video modes, which when played back at 30 fps, provide slow motion output. Below is a video clip shot at 200 fps, giving a playback that is almost 7x slower than real time. At this frame rate though, the camera only captures a (non-standard) 320 x 112 crop of the image sensor. Be aware that at this non-standard pixel ratio, common video players like QuickTime and video sharing sites may display the video at its nearest standard resolution of 320 x 240 instead.

320 x 112 120 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 26 sec. 2 MB Click here to download original .MOV file