Film Simulation Modes

The Fujifilm X10 offers eight film simulation modes, drawing inspiration from the company's longtime and well regarded professional film stocks as well as the once-common use of colored filters to adjust contrast with black and white film. These film modes are available in both stills and video mode and their effects are previewed onscreen. For those desiring even more options, these modes can be combined with the camera's color (where relevant) contrast, sharpening, noise reduction and highlight/shadow tone parameters, giving you a wealth of options for customizing JPEG output.

Standard Velvia Astia B & W
Monochrome +Y Monochrome +R Monochrome +G Sepia

We're big fans of these film modes with quite a few of us in the dpreview office having long ago settled on our favorites. They're easy to access, provide 'looks' that reference the company's analog heritage, and most of all offer usable (rather than garish) results. The Velvia setting is a quick way to boost image saturation and contrast while Astia offers a subtler boost meant to be more flattering to skin tones. The modes included with the X10 are identical to those in the FinePix X100. These modes are part of the parameters available when performing in-camera RAW file conversions, so you can apply them post-capture as well.

Motion Panorama

As it's name might suggest, this mode allows you to create wide-angle panoramas, by pressing the shutter button and rotating the camera (rather like Sony's sweep panorama). The camera shoots continuously as you sweep, and stitches sections of multiple frames together produce a panoramic view. The mode's menu screen lets you choose the angle of view (120, 180 or 360 degrees) and sweep direction (left-right, right-left, up-down, or down-up) before you start. This gives images of various pixel dimensions, dependant upon angle and sweep direction, as shown in the table below.

1624 x 11520
11520 x 1080
1624 x 7680
5760 x 1080
1624 x 3840
3840 x 1080

There are two 360 degree options available. In addition to a traditional panorama, there is a 'Seamless' panorama option which in which the image is stretched so that it can be joined at both ends for a lopped playback in-camera. The file is saved as a JPEG, so once out of the camera, this functionality is lost. In this seamless mode, however, you do have the option (via a menu setting) to save the unprocessed version of the panorama - though not the individual images that comprise it - alongside the seamless version as well.

120 degree angle of view
180 degree angle of view
360 degree angle of view

Shooting in panorama mode is fun and the onscreen prompts make it easy to change settings and keep the horizontal level. The output is distinctly low resolution, with image quality that is better suited for viewing on the web, rather than printing or pixel peeping. The images are very soft and stairstepping artifacts are fairly common. Having said that, the image stitching is fairly well done. We've seen image softness and slight but noticeable distortion at joins that include detailed subjects like architecture, but nothing that is immediately visible at less than 100% screen views. Of course there's also the risk of ghosting if there are moving subjects located near the overlap of individual frames.

Although you can choose between creating 120, 180 or 360 degree panorama ahead of time, one useful feature is that with the (non-seamless) 360 degree option selected, you can simply stop your panorama - by pressing the shutter button again - before you've completed the full rotation. As long as you've covered at least a 120 degree rotation, the camera will process the individual images, stitching them into the maximum (preset) angle of view possible. Should you stop the panorama somewhere between 180 and 360 degrees for example, the still images beyond a 180 degree view are discarded. We found ourselves leaving the camera set to 360 degrees and simply panning until we'd captured a desired angle of view. One minor annoyance is that no matter which sweep direction you specify, in camera playback all panoramas scroll left to right or bottom to top.

Pro Lowlight

The X10 offers a 6MP 'Pro Lowlight' shooting mode that promises 'cleaner images' in handheld lowlight situations. When activated, the camera takes four exposures in quick succession and then merges them together into a single processed file. In theory, this should allow for noise averaging between the files to produce an image with fewer artifacts. The examples below were shot at an effective focal length of approximately 40mm, from the same position, hand-held.

Pro Low Light - ISO 3200 1/70sec P mode - ISO 3200 1/40sec
100% crop 100% crop

Pro Lowlight mode works reasonably well, and you can see from these examples that there's much less chroma noise visible in the image shot in Pro Lowlight mode than in the conventional 12MP ISO 3200 capture. The Pro Lowlight image is sharper, too, and it looks like camera-shake has had an impact on the 'standard' program mode exposure.

There are three potentially serious downsides to using Pro Lowlight mode. The first is that like many similar 'muliti-frame' modes, scenes that contain moving elements will contain 'ghost' images. The second is that despite the 'pro' designation, Pro Lowlight is a fully automatic mode, so manual control is limited to exposure compensation, via the physical dial on the camera's top plate. The third is that because the final image is made up of stacked exposures, there is an inevitable 'slop' between the framing shot to shot. The X10 gets around this by lining the images up and then cropping off the edges. This makes perfect sense, but less welcome is what happens next - the cropped image is then upsized to 6MP. If you click through to the original images in the table above, you'll see a noticeable difference in field of view, despite the fact that both were shot at the same focal length, from the same position (although admittedly, handheld).

Despite these issues, and the fact that we suspect that most enthusiast photographers will go down the 'low ISOs and a tripod' route, Pro Lowlight is a handy mode in marginal light, and a useful (as well as being more easily grasped by beginners) alternative to SN EXR mode for snapshots.