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Friday, 16 December 2011

Comments

What about high ISO and noise?

I have been using the X10 for about 6 weeks alongside an x100 and Leica M.
You are absolutely right about the JPEG in camera processing, it is superb.
I have mainly used the X10 at night on the streets and it is exceptional.
Gripes-the optical finder is useless with the lens hood on, wake up in EXR Mode is dire. The EXR mode at night is great by the way.
But that is it, each day I am amazed by the quality and the handling is superb.
Ad a bigger sensor, the X100 viewfinder, interchangable lenses and you have the new Fuji X to be launched next year and then would anyone like to but my X10,X100 and M9.
Good review Ken
Regards
David

Sorry forgot there is a cute black tiny Thumbs Up that fits.
David

Yes-for my subject matter/way of working, these -X100 and X10 fit in. See
http://rodgersphoto.blogspot.com/2011/11/photography-thetimes-are-changing.html

There's one other distinction, Ken, that makes your sample images more useful than online pie tasting-- you've thrown in some first-rate photography.

I probably won't be buying an X-10 anytime soon, but I did enjoy looking at your work. Well done.

Thank you, Mr. Tanaka, for the most illuminating review. You have commented on camera characteristics that a photographer would want to know.
The sample images you have provided are, at last, ones that illustrate the capabilities of the sensor and camera processing. The images show an extremely satisfying range of tones.
I look forward to your future contributions to TOP, and congratulations to Mike for posting your fine review.

What's your experience with battery life?

It's official. I'm gonna have to buy one of these things.

Very interested to read your "Joys of JPEGgin" article! Looks like Fuji has another winner in this camera, though the price might be just a touch high when compared to some of the mirrorless options out there. The size looks about the same as my Oly EP-L2.

Rod

The photos comparing the size of the X10 to its competitors look like they were taken with a wide-angle. As a result the oblique views are distorted.

I have a huge crush on the X10, but the review sites have left me wanting. All the pixel-peeping comparison shots show the X10's full resolution images (which seem to look about the same as the competition).

I'd really like to see the X10's low-noise EXR mode compared to resized images from say the S100 or what have you, as I see myself using a camera like this an awful lot in the 800-1600 ISO range don't mind at all 6mp images if the IQ is as good as the marketing materials say.

I've had my X10 for a few weeks now and I agree with your observations. Especially regarding the high quality of the jpg's and the EXR functions of the sensor. It is built to do everything possible to get the shot even in tough conditions. I've only has the ability to process the RAW files in lightroom for a few days now, but its already clear that it will not be easy to beat the in-camera jpg's.

I haven't handled or even seen a Fuji X-10, but noticed that Michael Reichmann on the Luminous Landscape also gave the camera an excellent review. He particularly noted the off-on switch on the zoom lens, which he called one of the cleverest camera innovations in ages, and which Ken and Mike also mention as a fine innovation. Having not ever touched the camera, I can't testify to either liking or disliking that feature, but have to say, of all the camera features I've dealt with, which is a lot -- I must have ten different cameras around right now, and god-only-knows how many in the past -- the off-on switch is one feature which has never given me a problem, and on which I never felt an urgent need for innovation. I have four cameras sitting around my desk right now (Nikon P7000, Nikon D3, Panny GX1 and Panny GF1) and they all have different styles of on-off switches. I found them all extremely easy to use, immediately comprehensible, and essentially fail-safe.

Tell me, on the X10, if you manually focus wide, is it possible to inadvertently turn the camera off?

"the off-on switch is one feature which has never given me a problem, and on which I never felt an urgent need for innovation."

Me neither, but I really liked the Fuji's on-off anyway. It feels great, puts your hand where it's going to end up anyway, and it makes it a matter of a glance to see if the camera's on or not. It may not be a needed innovation, but it's a great one anyway IMO.

"if you manually focus wide, is it possible to inadvertently turn the camera off?"

No. It's quite distinct and there's a big gap between 28mm and off, both physically and as a matter of feel.

Ken can add his comments, but that's my $.02.

Mike

I've fondled (yes this camera calls for a fondle) the X10 twice now. Very nicely made.

But, for me, still a small sensor camera that doesn't fit in any pocket of mine with a viewfinder that is just serviceable and nothing more.

It's nice. It's hard to resist. And I can see why it's going to work for a range of people. I'll take a pass, however.

just a little midday musing here.

because of the smaller, more limited viewfinder, the x10 reminds me of screwmount leicas instead of m-mount leicas. looks more like them, too.

i wonder if anyone is going to do a comparison with older bridge cameras with 2/3" sensors, e.g., konica minolta a2, olympus c-8080, sony f-828, etc.

is the high iso really all that great? files look chalky above iso 400, but people are impressed with iso 3200.

where am I ? Oh... in a split of a second I thought I was in dpreview.... ;o)

Thanks for review and the excellent images.

Another mini-review plus very good images can be found on Jim Radcliffe's site:

http://www.boxedlight.com/x10/index.htm


So Ken, is it goodbye to the Canon S90?

I've had the x10 for about a month and am really enjoying it. Still trying to wrap my head around the nuances of the EXR function, and am still trying to determine which settings work best for me. I figured once ACR supported this camera I'd switch to full time RAW, but like the reviewer I find I'm keeping JPEG+RAW as my standard setting. The jpegs are good, and require minimal touch up in Lightroom. I do like the high ISO performance, but I would caution folks to realize you're not going to get DSLR results here. ISO 3200 is, in my opinion, a bit rough for anything but web or smaller prints, when shooting indoors. For some reason it's better outside at night.

A really cool little camera. Don't be afraid to try it out.

Ken & Mike -

This review just put me over the top. I've been reading others' assessments and reviews and was very close to pulling the trigger; this positive review from someone who's work I enjoy (I had worked my way through the last of Ken's online portfolio just a few hours ago. Kismet?) was the icing on the cake. Even better, Amazon has the X-10 in stock. 11 left after my purchase... and I'll have it in time for Christmas. Yay!!!

Thanks again, Ken. I'll be looking forward to future articles.

Well, well that is a new one...
Honestly I would be interested to see if Michael would share Ken's opinions if he spent time USING the camera . Yes ,the camera feels nice but it is has , contrary to what Ken writes , MANY annoying quirks . Like for instance being the only camera that does not write the files on your card in the order they were taken if you alternate between single and continuous mode. Not to mention the iso change when you change modes .
I have several other contrast based AF cameras and while the X10 AF is pretty fast , it is also the camera that refuse to lock focus in situations where all other cameras I have have no problem focusing

Using the jpegs only would be easier if the X10 offered an option of "NO " noise reduction

Maybe I am being spoiled with some of the other cameras I have used over the last 10 years but I cannot remember another digital camera with such a poorly designed user interface

Harold

@ John Camp: "Tell me, on the X10, if you manually focus wide, is it possible to inadvertently turn the camera off? "

Possible...yes. I've done it twice so far in the heat of pulling the lens back very quickly. (But because the power-on is so darn fast recovery is very fast.) I suspect that with practice will come the "feel" that will prevent me from ever doing this again.

---

I have added several images to the samples gallery, from image 14 up, specifically to show ISO 3200 examples and the camera's EXR "Dynamic Range" optimization processing. These really are JPGs right from the chicken with basically no other cooking.

Great post. Ken Tanaka surely is a great addition to TOP's (already) stellar writing staff.

***
I'm not sure about the appropriateness of this [Mike, you be the judge], but Thom Hogan just posted a quite useful guide to help JPG shooters tame the endless options provided by today's in-camera image processing. [BTW, spelling 'appropriateness' appropriately is no easy task for us non-native speakers, had to look it up, twice!]
http://www.bythom.com/jpeg.htm

To me there's something missing in these images--there's a level of sharpness (microcontrast?) that's just not there in the full-res, which shows even when resized to screen resolution.

I'd say it's a function of sensor size, except I get better sharpness and microcontrast from my new iPhone's camera! (the camera in the 4S is really pretty darn good)

This sense of definition in edges, the sense of the way the light is falling even on a surface, is missing from all the small-sensor cameras I see. Some shots with m43 cameras have it, and *many* of the shots I see with the APS-C sized X100 have it. But in all the X10 images I've seen, everything just looks smudgy.

This quality is pretty important to my work, and if the camera can't do it then I'm not buying it, no matter how much I want something small and unintimidating that I can put up to my eye. (I tried going back to film with my Canonet; sadly, reliable C41 processing is no longer available in my city)

Maybe someone else can articulate this better? Or tell me the term I'm searching for?

Postscript: anyone have experience with both EVFs like the olympus AND the optical/semi-optical viewfinders of the X100, X10, and film RF finders? I grew up holding cameras to my eye and I really don't want to give up on it now.

Utterly crap OVF, in common with all the rest of its ilk.
No sale.
Roy

I played with both of these in a shop today. I must admit, there needs to be some sort of "Seriously, Why Didn't Someone Do This Sooner?" prize for the X100's finder. It's the best of both worlds; a triumph of imagination. Bet Nikon, Canon, and especially Leica, et al, are kicking themselves. It's in a package that really should have been done long ago, too.
But what I most like about the X10 is that it shows Fuji's humility: they're not afraid of using the same branding for a more affordable, more versatile camera, without some of the luxuries of the X100. It's still an excellent-feeling camera, but despite placing a lot into "luxury good" aspect of the X100's marketing, Fuji were kind enough to give mortals like me a chance to own something similar, rather than risk "tarnishing the brand".

John Camp: "Tell me, on the X10, if you manually focus wide, is it possible to inadvertently turn the camera off?"

Not unless you're REALLY ham-fisted with the zooming. The "off" sits in a rather firm détente, and then winding it out to 28mm will hit another stop. It feels very firm, reassuring and VERY well-made. There is definite tactile feedback coming from the switch (that was just after my little fiddle with the camera today.)

Finally — looks like a camera that offers everything my wife, an old-school photographer, has been looking for:

Small and light.
Decent turn-on time and shutter lag.
All the good exposure modes.
Optical viewfinder. Yay!
Fast lens (not just fast for a zoom lens, but even for primes).

I've been keeping my eyes open for a couple years for a camera with those features. Finally!

Plus, other features I love:

Manual zoom ring. Yay!
Manual focus.
Great high-ISO quality for its size and price.
Very usable zoom range.
Handy auto-ISO feature.

And I haven't read about any cons that would kill the deal for her.

I just ordered one for under the Xmas tree.

-=-Joe

The Fuji X10 seems like a logical choice to replace my Canon G10. However I am disappointed that there is no electronic cable release to enable hands off exposures for vibration free shooting.

The Fuji EF 42 flash also leaves me under-whelmed compared to the Canon 430 EXII which I often use in eTTL mode with excellent bounce flash results. Having a GN of 42 pales to the 430s GN 0f 141. Of course the 430 could be pressed into service via manual mode but I've been spoiled with eTTL flash control.

Even with those complaints the X10 seems like a very appealing camera.

@ Sven W: "So Ken, is it goodbye to the Canon S90?"

It may be, but it won't be due to the X10. I have absolutely loved my S90 as a high-performance go-anywhere pocket camera. In fact it recently went to Japan as my "can't carry a camera today" camera.

But I've had my eye on the S100. (Given its scarcity, my eyes are about the only body part I can plant on it.) But I'm not yet sold on it's real added value over my beloved S90.

@ Juan: Thanks for that ByThom article link. Good general guidance.

@ Will: "What's your experience with battery life?
Good question, as others have remarked that it's short. The X10 uses Fuji's NP-50 3.7V battery. I've been using both the official Fuji brand as well as the MaximalPower brand and have been impressed with their longevity, particularly in cold weather. On my first evening, which was fridgidly in the mid-20F's, the Fuji battery level barely budged one click after two hours of nearly continuous-on and 200 frames. I had a similar experience last night in just slightly warmer temps after 90 minutes.

So the X10's battery life seems at least no weaker than any of its peers and may be better than some. Plus, while the Fuji NP-50's run over $30, the MaximalPower replacements run about $6 at amazon.

@ Luc N: In your defense, you posted this question about high ISO and noise before we posted the paragraph specifically addressing that topic. In fact, it was your first-poster question that prompted Mike to prompt me to write it. So thank you, Luc!

Very nice review and good sample shots too - thanks for posting them and I look forward to reading more from Ken. Also worth a look at LL and Outback Photo, two other X10 reviews that are great if you want to concentrate a litte less on all the technical stuff and more on what the camera is acutally like to use.

I've been using the X10 for around a month and now and enjoy it very much - lots of control if you want it, and mostly implemented in a sensible way that doesn't get in the way so you can concentrate on the image. I've been impressed with the dynamic range and high ISO ability too, and agree with others that it's not easy to improve on the JPEGs (once you've set them up with less noise reduction than the default setting).

My gripes are that the VF is useless when using the lens hood, reds in JPEG files under tungsten light seem to clip easily and go a very nasty shade of pink (not in the raw file though) and the histrogram in M mode is utterly useless - it actually doesn't function at all, which is apparently a trait shared with other Fuji cameras.

All that said, I think the colours from this camera give my E-1 a run for its money - and it's difficult to get E-1 owners to admit that!

Such a tempting camera, but why doesn't anyone else other than Ricoh have a 'snap focus' setting so you can pre-set a focus distance for instant response in street photography?

@ Simon Griffee: "...but why doesn't anyone else other than Ricoh have a 'snap focus' setting so you can pre-set a focus distance for instant response in street photography?"

As a Ricoh owner I know the feature, Simon. But your wish is basically granted in the X10. To eliminate focus lag I set the camera to manual focus (switch is on front) and then pre-set focus on a target by simply pressing the AEF/AEL button with my thumb. Works even more quickly than the Ricoh, as it's quicker to blindly reset. Basically, it's identical to similar press-to-focus features on DSLRs.

@ Kenneth Takanaka: Does the camera remember the set focus distance when turned off?

I think I would still prefer the ability to choose between and set a distance (1, 1.5, 2.5, 5 meters and infinity) like in the Ricoh, but the AEF/AEL trick sounds good — I will go look for and try this camera now — thanks!

I wonder whether Fuji will put the innards of the X10 also in a smaller camera, to compete with the likes of Canon S90/95/100? For me the X10 is too big, but a small camera of the size of the Fuji F10/11/30/31fd would be great!

I got to use an X10 for a week and was concerned with how exposed the front glass is. I don't usually keep a UV filter on my lenses, but I sure wanted to on this one. Unfortunately the X10's 40mm filter thread is non-standard, being only half a silly millimeter away from the next standard size up. It's not much, but it's enough that 40.5mm filters won't fit.

The only solution it seems is to buy the accessory filter adapter/lens hood. That would allow mounting a 52mm filter and would provide the further protection of the hood as a bumper guard. But then that would require finding an after-market lens cap to fit over the lens hood, assuming I wanted a cap (which I would). The filter adapter is slotted in the back, presumably so that it does not block the already sketchy OVF, so dust can still get on the lens. And the case won't fit over the lens hood, so that means a lot of fussing and fiddling with fine-pitched threads while I'm trying to use a camera that's supposed to be quick and intuitive.

To me, that was a real turn-off. Call me prissy if you like, but I like to keep my lenses clean and safe. And that's all the more important when that lens is firmly welded to the camera and can't be replaced.

Fuji's on the right track, to be sure, just not quite yet to the station.

I have also been using a Fuji X10 since the beginning of November and find it to be lovely camera. The build quality is very good indeed , as is the lens and the availability of direct controls. I have not had any issues with white discs nor have I found the battery life to be too short (though I did buy a spare battery based upon the quoted battery life). The X10 replaces an Olympus XZ-1, which replaced a Canon s90, which replaced a Panasonic LX3. All of these were pretty decent pocket cameras with perhaps the S90 being the best of the three; however, I think the range of control and imagine quality of the X10 has them all beat. The only real negative I have experienced so far with my X10 is the manual focus is poorly implemented and as such is better avoided ( it seems that a simple firmware fix to reduce the number of scrolls could fix this). Also I got a nice leather case off eBay for $19.95, and it is of pretty decent quality too. In fact I have switched the strap that came with the case for the one that came with the camera, as it is much more supple and of better quality.

So far I have really enjoyed using the X10, being a long time Nikon user, this is my first non-Nikon digital camera that I have owned, the image quality is quite good for the size of the sensor, I have added a Thumbs Up for added "grip"

Wow, thanks Ken! Once again, TOP, it's contributors and readers are the best.

@ Simon Griffee: "Does the camera remember the set focus distance when turned off?"

That's actually impossible due to the camera's power-on/off mechanism. But it's so fast to snap focus in manual focus mode (with the AEL/AEF button) that it's not an issue for me.

Mike: What you want is a Leica S2. Totally wonderful microcontrast and fine resolution; in my limited experience of the camera, it seems endless.

Hahahahahahahahahaha! Not exactly "pocketable". And a wee bit out of my price range. For my primary work camera I'll stick to my 5D.

My goal, as is common for many old-school pros (can't believe at 30 I'm old-school!), is for an inexpensive, walkaround camera with high image quality and a good OVF. The X100, along with the M43+EVF combos, fall just on the wrong side of inexpensive, and the X10 just isn't cutting it IQ-wise.

(And, as an aside, black vs chrome actually matters in the field when dealing with human subjects! Chrome just draws too much attention).

If only the X100 were just a bit smaller, cheaper, and black. And they let you adjust the brightness of the OVF overlay--way too bright, at least in the camera-store lighting I tested in.

I've been adding this to blog comments all over the internetz but I would say that the way to get the most out of any EXR sensor is to shoot it in M size and set DR400. You get all the benefits of of the pixel binning EXR modes (enchanced Dynamic Range at low ISO, reduced noise at high ISO) but you can shoot in whichever PASM mode you wish. Tests have shown that the camera resolves more detail in M size than it does in L, even when upsized. There's more info here:

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/9060476058/fuji-x10-exr-camera-suggestions-for-optimum-performance

I'd also set auto ISO up to 3200 but then I'm less fussy about noise than some...

From my experiences with EXR point and shoots the sensor becomes an absolute joy when the camera is shot like this. It also removes a lot of the fiddling meaning that you can concentrate on shooting, not fiddling. I highly recommend trying this!

Thanks, Ken, for the great review. I've been on the fence about picking one of these up...and you may have humpty-dumptied me toward the "yes" side of the wall. And as per your instruction, I may have to try a sedative of choice prior to shooting...gasp...jpg.

And I'm delighted to hear you'll be contributing a regular column. I've always loved your insight and acumen!

Finally managed to track down a demo model at the airport in Hong Kong (living in a non-major city in China, all the big electronics stores have the fake display models on display, but no working models).

I was *very* disappointed in the OVF! It suffers from internal reflection problems in bright light and is very intolerant of being off-axis, or too close to the eyepiece. To not have any fringing I had to have my eye a good 1/2" away and perfectly on-axis.

I understand the compromise involved here--in order to have room for the pop-up flash they had to do fancy footwork with the prism to route around it, losing coverage and optical quality in the process. I wish they'd gone the route of the X100 and had a straight-through, 100%+ finder and a flash elsewhere (or not at all!).

Definitely a won't-buy for me.

@ Kenneth Tanaka: Many thanks for your review and responses. I look forward to getting my hands on one of these chickens and seeing what kind of omelettes I can make!

Dear Ken/Mike,

I read this grumpy review on Pentaxforums where the writer claims that "due to the characteristics of the sensor resolution drops to 6 MP at ISO 6,400 and 3 MP at ISO 12,800" (http://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/fuji-x10-review/night-photography.html), and that a lot of settings are only available in EXR-mode.
What is your experience?

I bought one and loved the few test videos and photos I took in the first 24 hours EXCEPT for an orange band running across all images (which was clearly visible on photos of white objects). I returned the defective camera, and am toying with the idea of ordering another, but a bit gun shy now, especially with the additional widespread problem of white dots. Anybody else have similar problems?

I realize I'm posting this late enough that it won't get much notice, but I had to add this comment to the topic:

Why I'm Sending the Fuji X10 Back to the Dealer.

I love many things about the Fuji X10 I got for my wife: the look, the feel, the twist-lens on/off, the manual zoom, the nice zoom range. But it ultimately didn't work out for us:

1. The optical viewfinder is less than useful because there are no indicators of important details like where the focus point is. So though I really want an optical viewfinder, I end up using the X10's LCD screen.

2. It may not have the smallest sensor around, but there's still significant noise at ISO 800. (Though I may be spoiled by my D700.)

3. The lens is indeed fast at f/2.0 and the sensor is larger than many compacts, but the sensor is still so small that I can't really get a shallow depth of field even with the lens wide open. There is a special mode that seems to combine several shots to make a shallow DOF image, but from the artifacts I sometimes see, it appears to be faking it.

Back it goes. The search continues (though my expectations for shallow DOF in any compact camera are now dialed down).

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