Body, handling and controls

The XF10 is an impressively compact camera considering it has a large APS-C sized sensor crammed into it. The controls are a little more basic than what you'll find on the last-generation X70, and while it's an attractive design, there are some turn-offs regarding handling that will be a pain.

Key takeaways:

  • Compact dimensions, easily coat-pocketable, feels reasonably well built
  • Simplified controls are approachable for new users, but offer good customization for more experienced photographers
  • Fixed screen restricts ability to shoot from the hip, or take selfies
  • Rear AF joystick only (no four-way controller)
  • Only one attachment point for the lens cap or a wrist strap
  • No provision for adding filters or a hood to the lens as added protection (don't lose that lens cap)

Design

There's no denying that Fujifilm knows how to make a good-looking camera. The XF10 is fetching in either of its champagne or black color options with a body that appears to be made mostly of metal. As we'd expect for a camera at this price point, the XF10 comes with no claims of weather sealing, so take care heading out into the elements.

However, the XF10 has only a single point to which you can attach a wrist strap or the included lens cap. Because the front of the lens is exposed, and because there is no method of adding a filter or lens hood besides glue, the lens cap is essential for protection. I ended up piggy-backing the lens cap strap onto my wrist strap, which does an admirable job cluttering up the camera's otherwise minimal aesthetic.

I have to admit, though, that needing to attach or detach the lens cap each time I want to take an image is a pain on a camera you're supposed to chuck in your purse or pocket. The Ricoh GR series' retractable, self-covering lens is more convenient.

The one anchor point for your lens cap or wrist strap of is on the left of the ports in this image.

Perhaps in an effort to slim the camera down physically and financially, Fujifilm has done away with the tilting screen we saw on the X70. This is a real shame, making it difficult to shoot unobtrusively from the hip and at lower angles (not to mention selfies).

The side door hides a 2.5mm port for either an external microphone or remote, a micro HDMI port and a micro USB port for charging and downloading images. The bottom plate includes a tripod socket (not lined up with the lens) and a battery door hiding a familiar NP-95 battery and SD card.

Controls and customization

In general, the controls work well. Advanced users will appreciate that the control dials default to controlling aperture and shutter speed in manual mode, and when in aperture or shutter priority, one dial covers exposure compensation duty. Flip the camera over to full auto and the rear dial still allows for exposure compensation control.

Customizable swipes on the touchscreen take the place of a four-way controller on the rear of the camera. While they usually work well, I've noticed more missed or misinterpreted swipes on the XF10 than Fujifilm's higher-end X-E3 which has a more powerful processor, but similarly relies on the touchscreen and AF joystick for much of your interactions with the camera.

Aside from swipes, the XF10 has two custom buttons and the function of the lens ring can also be customized. In all, I can't confess I was left wanting for customization options, but using the AF joystick to navigate the menus is a bit fiddly.

Lastly, the Auto ISO implementation allows you to select from three banks of Auto ISO settings. In each, you can customize the lower and upper ISO thresholds, as well as the minimum shutter speed that should be used.

Connectivity

As you'd expect for a camera aimed at smartphone photographers looking to upgrade, the XF10 has good connectivity options. Once you enable Bluetooth on the camera itself, you can connect the two from within the Fujifilm Camera Remote app. Once the phone and camera are paired, they can remain connected to make it easier to automatically download images as you take them, for example.

Fujifilm's Camera Remote app lets you download photos, browse images on the camera, update firmware, and yes, control the XF10 remotely.

You can also sync date and time and geolocation over Bluetooth as you take images. Some functions, such as downloading images or browsing what's on the memory card require Wi-Fi, which the app will switch over to as needed.

There's one issue we'd like to see addressed, though - if you enter, say, 'Remote Control' in the app but then decide you want to back out and browse images, you have to disconnect from the camera's Wi-Fi and then re-connect for the next function. It'd be nice to have the option to stay Wi-Fi connected until you choose to disconnect once you're completely done interacting with the app.

The rest

Though the flash hot shoe of the X70 has been lost, I'm happy to see the continuation of a built-in flash on the XF10, particularly because Fujifilm's flash balancing is so darn good. There's also a good amount of flash options, including slow syncro and a 'commander' mode to fire other external flashes (but not control their output).

Lastly, though I'm not surprised by the absence of any image stabilization (particularly at this price), it's still a bummer, especially when combined with the fixed rear screen and higher resolution sensor. For low-angle shots, I now have to crouch and crane my neck to see the image on the rear of the screen, which also makes it more difficult to hold the camera steady. It'll be interesting to see how effective the in-body stabilization system is on Ricoh's forthcoming GR III, and the (far, far more expensive) Leica Q has in-lens stabilization that works quite well.