A serious compact cleverly disguised as a rangefinder
Though it’s not always a given for compact cameras (even higher-end models), the Fujifilm X10 easily claimed an Excellent color accuracy rating, with an average Delta E of 7.4.
In the Field
While the Fujifilm X10 looks a whole lot like a rangefinder, it behaves much more like a high-end compact camera. For starters, its viewfinder is not an actual rangefinder. While the same can be said for the X100, that camera’s hybrid finder much better approximates the rangefinder experience.
Instead, the X10’s finder is more like (a pretty nice) version of the zoom finders that used to be found in upscale film compacts years ago. Unlike many viewfinders on past point-and-shoots, the X10’s is clear, undistorted, and has a welcome diopter adjustment. It also has quite good eye relief, even for eyeglass wearers.
Its main downfall? It shows no shooting information, so outside of full auto mode you’ll find it difficult to shoot without continually pulling the camera away from your eye. Furthermore, the finder’s 85-percent accuracy means that you can’t frame with any level of precision. Whenever we wanted to check out the picture elements we were placing at the edges of our frames, we had to resort to the LCD.
For DSLR shooters looking for a second camera, this might be irksome, but less so for shooters looking for a more powerful compact camera.
We also wish there were an auto shutoff for the LCD when you raising the camera to eye level; turning it off requires one (or more) presses of the display button.
Speaking of buttons, the X10 has plenty—its extensive external controls put many an entry-level DSLR to shame. Modes and exposure compensation each get their own dial, and there’s even a dedicated button for RAW capture. Sadly, you will have to dig deep into the Set Up menu to turn on RAW shooting if you want to capture more than one RAW image in succession.
Oddly, there’s no button for ISO, but you can program the top-deck Fn button for this. The single command wheel switches function with an inward press on it, so we hardly missed having a second command wheel.
The menus are well-organized and easy to read, though we rarely needed to explore them in our field tests.
The X10’s magnesium-alloy body feels very solid in the hand; a front bump and nubby leather-like surface provide a pretty secure grip. The shutter button and command wheel fall naturally underneath the index finger and thumb.
While Fujifilm’s X10 looks even more like a rangefinder than most rangefinder-style ILCs, at its core it is really just a high-end compact camera. Compared with the Canon PowerShot S100, for instance, the X10 offers slightly higher resolution, much nicer styling, more dedicated control buttons, and a manual zoom ring that’s both more ergonomic and more precise than the S100’s electronic zoom.
Furthermore, while both of those cameras’ lenses start at f/2.0, the Canon’s maximum aperture shrinks to f/5.9 at its longest focal length of 120mm, while the X10 loses only 1 stop to f/2.8 at its terminus of 112mm. Sure, the Canon has a longer zoom, but by 35mm it’s already slower (f/3.5) than the Fujifilm’s lens at 112mm.
The X10 also has a more useful lens, it in terms of maximum aperture, than any of the kit lenses that come with ILCs. Those typically have maximum aperture ranges of f/3.5–5.6; much slower than this one.
So while the X10 carries a hefty price tag, it is worth considering if you appreciate its design—and if its flaws, such as diminished resolution and lack of RAW capture at high ISOs, do not pose a problem for your style of shooting.