Operation and controls

To all intents and purposes the FinePix F10 is a straightforward 'point and shoot' camera with little in the way of manual control. It doesn't even boast the wealth of subject (scene) modes found on many competitor models - though I often wonder if anyone actually switches to 'cuisine mode' to shoot their dinner...

But no matter how automatic a camera is, it's important to have easy access to the things you're likely to change in everyday shooting situations; flash mode, macro, self-timer, white balance and ISO. The F10 has external controls for the first three, and the now-ubiquitous 'F' button for access to image size/quality and ISO. Everything else - including white balance - is hidden away in menus. Overall control layout is excellent, though the large screen has forced all the buttons over to the right, meaning (as with all cameras using this type of design) it's a little too easy to accidentally press them with your thumb when shooting with one hand.

Rear of camera

The rear of the F10 is dominated by the large 2.5-inch LCD, with all the main controls ranged to the right. From the top we have the zoom rocker, and below the thumb indent, play mode button and 'F' button (for fast access to file size/quality, ISO and color effects). Below these are the standard four-way controller keys and a central MENU/OK button. The arrow keys are used to navigate menus, and each has a secondary function when there's no menu displayed: in record mode they give direct control over flash mode, self-timer, macro mode and LCD brightening, with the up arrow also used for single frame deletion in playback mode. Finally, the bottom button is used to cycle through the various recording mode screen display options (and as a 'Back' or cancel button when using menus). My only complaint - aside from the rather clunky menu system (see below) - is that it would be nice to have white balance in the 'F' FinePix Photo Mode menu.

Top of camera

The top view of the F10 shows its simple, fuss-free lines perfectly. The large mode dial and shutter release are joined by the main power (on/off) switch on the top plate.

Display and menus

With the F10 Fujifilm has once again decided to virtually redesign the on-screen menu system from scratch, and I have to say it's not a major improvement... in fact it's not an improvement at all, with many commonly accessed features requiring far too many key presses and a rather counter-intuitive tabbed menu design that takes some getting used to.

The basic record screen, showing pretty comprehensive shooting information across the top of the frame - you can also choose an information-free preview image, a 'rule of thirds' grid overlay if you struggle with straight horizons and Fuji's unique 'Post Shot' mode (see below). Half press the shutter and the camera will set the focus and exposure, indicating the focus point chosen (in multi-AF mode). The shutter speed and aperture chosen are displayed at the bottom of the screen, and warnings indicate if there is a focus problem or danger of camera shake.
The Post Shot view - in record mode - shows up to three of the last shots taken in a column up the left side of the screen (the main, live, image appears to the right). This is designed to help you get your composition exactly right. Pressing the 'F' button brings up a menu with options for image quality/size - from 6MP down to 0.3MP, ISO (80-1600) and color settings (B&W, normal, chrome). Annoyingly whilst there are two JPEG options (fine and normal) for 6MP pictures, there's none for any other size.
Pressing the 'up' arrow in record mode temporarily brightens the screen image. Less frequently accessed controls are found in the main record mode menu (activated using the menu button). The menus take some getting used to - and require a lot of button presses to get where you want - but the F10 does at least remember which option was selected when you next turn on the menus. Here you'll find options for everything from AE compensation to white balance, focus and metering options and the 'High Speed' shooting mode. Incidentally, in full auto mode you only have access to a couple of these options.
The only real 'manual' control on the F10: AE compensation. I'd rather it was more easily accessible, but at least it's here! Switching to SP (scene position) mode activates a final menu tab, where you can choose from four scene modes (portrait, landscape, sports, night scene), but disables most of the other options.
In playback mode you have the option of an information overlay (though it's fairly minimal - file size/quality, ISO, AE-compensation). There's no 'advanced' option for viewing actual exposure information or a histogram. The right (tele) zoom button lets you enlarge images up to 4.5x (the actual amount depends on the size of the image). You can scroll around enlarged images using the four-way controller.
Pressing the DISP button cycles through the various playback modes, including 3x3 thumbnails, as shown here. You can also view the images on the card in a 'calendar' format (sorted by the date they were taken).
The playback menu (activated by pressing the MENU button) has the usual options for deleting images, protecting (locking) them and producing on-screen slideshows. There are also options for rotating pictures, adding voice memos and trimming (cropping) photos. The four-page setup menu (accessible from both playback and record modes) is where you find camera-related settings.