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EXCLUSIVE Hands On Review: Shooting a Party with the Fuji X10

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fuji X10 hands on review (18 of 21)

At Photo Plus Expo 2011, we got our first hands on experience with the newly announced Fuji X10. Marketed to the world as a point and shoot with phenomenal image quality due to a larger sensor while maintaining stunning good looks the on the outside, the Fujifilm X100 gives design cues to the Fujifilm X10, but targeted at a different price point.

On the second night of Photo Plus, I attended a party (one of many) where after a couple of rounds, I tried out the X10 with a flash mounted on it. Shooting all JPEGs and with the only intention being to have fun, did the Fujifilm X10 surprise me?

Please note that I was dealing with a pre-production unit that is extremely close to what the camera will be at release.

Tech Specs

Stats taken from B&H Photo Video’s listing of the product.

Imaging
Resolution 12 Megapixel
Sensor 2/3″ CMOS
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MOV
Image Stabilization Optical
Optics
Lens (35mm equivalent: 28-112mm)
Aperture: f/2.0 (W) – 2.8 (T)
Zoom Optical: 8x
Focus Range Normal: 1.6′ (48.77 cm) – 2.6′ (79.25 cm)
Macro: 0.3′ (9.14 cm) – 9.8′ (298.70 cm)
Super-Macro: 0.4″ (1.02 cm) – 3.3′ (1.01 m)
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity 100-12800
Shutter 30 – 1/4000 Seconds
Exposure Metering Multi, Spot, TTL 256-zones 1
Exposure Modes Modes: Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority
Compensation: -2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Fluorescent (Day White), Fluorescent (Natural White), Fluorescent (White), Incandescent, Manual, Shade, Underwater 2
Self Timer 10 Seconds, 2 Seconds
Flash
Built-in Flash Yes: Auto
Effective Flash Range Wide: 1.6 – 22.9′ (48.77 – 697.99 cm)
Telephoto: 2.6 – 16.4′ (79.25 – 499.87 cm)
Memory
Memory Card Type SD
SDHC
SDXC
Recording
Video Recording Yes
Video
Audio Recording With Video
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Optical
Viewfinder Coverage 85%
Screen 2.8″ LCD Rear Screen
Connectivity/System Requirements
Connectivity HDMI C (Mini), USB 2.0
Environmental
Operating/Storage Temperature 32 to 104° F (0 to 40° C)
Humidity: 10 – 80%
Power
Battery 1x NP-50 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
AC Power Adapter AC-5VX (Optional)
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2″ / 11.68 x 6.86 x 5.59 cm
Weight 12.3 oz / 349 g

Video Demo

Ergonomics

The Fuji X10 is remarkably small. However, it feels nice in your hand. It seems larger than a Canon G series camera but thinner and more elegant. Everything feels like it’s in the right place here, although the Canon G series cameras are also quite good.

The top of the camera features a hot shot in the middle. To the right of that is the function dial for the user to change shooting modes. Plus there is a shutter release with threading for a cable release. To the right of those are the exposure compensation dial and a function button. On the left where the camera says Fujifilm X10 is the pop-up flash.

The front of the camera not only features the twist to turn on/off/zoom lens, but also a dial for the focusing modes. Fuji has still decided to not put the macro focusing mode on this dial. Why? Beats me. It would make real life use much more simple. You can also put a hood on the front of the lens for protection and a filter.

The back of the camera is characterized by some of the same button placement and looks of the Fuji X100. On the left is the viewfinder, which is extremely plain and for the most part just functions as an eyepiece that zooms. There is no information that can be displayed in the viewfinder. Instead, you’re often better off just using the LCD screen. The screen, menus and functionality is similar to the Fuji X100′s.

The back of the camera features a dial in the top right that can change certain settings depending on the mode that you’re in. Additionally, there is an Auto exposure/focus locking button for use in the more automatic modes.

The directional buttons feature different settings each, but around this is another dial. In manual mode, this controls the shutter speed while the top dial adjusts your aperture. All of the other buttons function exactly the same as the Fuji X100.

Performance Through the Night

During my time with the Fuji X10, I shot at ISO 800 and aperture priority: letting the lens adjust the aperture itself when zooming in and out from f2 to f2.8. Once again, I used a hot shoe flash and often pointed it directly at my subjects. All photos were shot in JPEG mode. The majority of the photos are unedited, but some have minor exposure adjustments made.

Using the Fuji X10 was a very interesting experience. I have lots of experience photographing parties, but it is usually with a DSLR, not a point and shoot. I initially used the viewfinder but stopped for a couple of reasons:

- With the lens hood attached, almost half the viewfinder frame can be covered up because it extends into it.

- The viewfinder doesn’t show you exactly what is through the lens, but it does zoom when the lens does so you get an approximation.

- If the camera misfocuses (which it can at times but rarely) you won’t know until you chimp the LCD screen.

Because of these reasons, I just used the LCD screen instead.

The color rendition right out of the camera is very good and the distortion is kept down quite well. However, Scott’s shoulders aren’t really that large as we see in the photo above.

Don’t expect any delicious bokeh for the most part. While the camera has a 2/3rds size sensor, you won’t be experiencing any of it for party snaps.

That is, unless you get really up close. And even though, the bokeh is still not very creamy due to the size of the camera sensor. Still, it’s better than what you’ll get with anything in the same segment of the market.

As for the image quality: even the JPEG files exhibit low noise. This phot of Linsday Alder was extremely underexposed. However, I pushed it about a stop and a half and the image still looks good for something that came from a point and shoot camera.

Here’s a photo shot without flash.

And here’s the same photo with flash. Amazingly, that sensor is able to soak up decent amounts of light.

The color accuracy is impeccable. In fact, it’s really the best I’ve seen from any point and shoot camera on the market.

Despite having lots of drinks in me, I still didn’t take an unsteady shot. This is because the Fuji X10 is just so light, even with the flash on. It feels good in your hands when shooting too.

A big complaint of mine though is that I really wish that the optical viewfinder were functional and served a better purpose besides just zooming and composing.

I also wish that it were easier to select a focusing point. In order to do this, you’ll need to go into the menus a bit and unlock it. However once it’s done, you’ll be all set. I also wish that the camera had a sensor that changed the focusing point when the camera’s orientation changed from landscape to portrait.

However, the camera can take some awesome photos in the right hands.

First Impressions

So how does the Fuji X10 perform? In all honesty, it’s the most impressive point and shoot camera I’ve used to date. I need to test it more thoroughly though. In fact, I’d love to use it in a studio as well. I did that with other point and shoots and got some incredible results. But using these cameras in a professional way makes photography fun again by cutting out all the feeling of a big and super serious camera by giving you a small package that can give you amazing results when used correctly.

I’ve already put in a request for a review unit, and I’m eagerly awaiting it to end up at my doorstep.

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