Not so long ago, one compact camera looked much like any other. While many usable and technologically advanced cameras came rattling off the production line, they lacked that indefinable something special. Then Fuji took a bit of a punt with the X100 and quicker than you can say ‘wow, look at that retro-styled compact’ the gamble paid off.
Now Fuji has cemented its relationship with the prestige compact market by delivering the X10, another rangefinder/retro-styled but highly advanced compact aimed squarely at the discerning user. At its heart is a 2/3in 12MP EXR CMOS sensor and this, coupled with a quality 4x optical zoom lens (28-112mm equivalent), ensures high quality images are within your grasp.
Often compacts suffer from over-complication, with too many buttons and functions crammed into too small an area, or just over-complicated menu systems. Thankfully the X10 avoids this with its simple design. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its own frustrations though. For example, it took us a while to figure out how to change the focus point from its default central position, as the manual omitted to mention that you needed to switch off face detection first. Obvious when you’ve worked it out but not when you are thumbing through an extensive menu.
But on the whole, the big buttons and dials are easy and intuitive to operate. They feel reassuringly solid too. The top-plate features the command dial with its array of shooting modes, including the usual manual, shutter-priority and aperture-priority modes. There's also a large dial allowing for +2 or -2 stops of exposure compensation. Its size and presence is perhaps more to do with this camera’s styling but will prove useful when the first fall of snow comes this winter, or you want to photograph the proverbial black Labrador in a coal shed. There’s also an in-built pop-up flash and a hotshoe for an external flash or trigger. The 2.8in LCD panel is clear but fixed, so there’s no tilting for sneaky shooting or viewing in awkward lighting. But while we like a tilting LCD, we don’t regard it as essential.
One of the quirks of this camera is that Fuji has built the on/off switch into the lens itself, so to switch the camera on you manually rotate the lens barrel. It negates the need for an extra button on the body but doesn’t feel quite right, and pushes the lens cap off in the process. Initially, we thought this was the only way to switch on the camera, even if you only wanted to sit and review a day’s images. Fortunately it isn’t – simply push and hold down the review button and the LCD blinks into life.
With its now tried and trusted EXR technology combined with stylish looks, the X10 is definitely a welcome addition to the prestige compact arena. It’s a solid, beautifully constructed, real photographer’s compact. Focusing is responsive, while image quality doesn’t let you down.
- Street price: £312 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
- Effective resolution: 12MP
- Lens: 4x (28-112mm equivalent) f/2-2.8
- Sensor type: 2/3in EXR CMOS
- File format: RAW & JPEG
- ISO: 100-12,800
- Shooting speed: 7fps
- Card type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Video: Full HD 1080p
- Battery: 1x NP-50 Li-ion
- Weight/size (wxhxd): 350g/117x69.6x56.8mm
- Visit: www.fujifilm.eu/uk
This review was first published in the February 2012 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.