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My Photography with the Fuji X10
Jim Radcliffe

This Is More Like It

I was so disappointed by Panasonic's GX1 that buying the Fuji X10 was somewhat of a no-brainer. It's quite obvious that Fuji, unlike Panasonic, has been listening to their customers and produced a compact camera a that ticks a lot of check boxes for those who want a "rangefinder style" compact camera rather than a Mini-DSLR type camera. They gave it a fast lens, an optical viewfinder, manual controls and a retro look that is sure to appeal to many.

The Fuji X10 appeals to me on a number of levels.

Pros

  • It's small
  • It feels good in the hand
  • Control knobs stay where you put them.
  • Optical Viewfinder displays no info whatsoever
  • It has a fast lens that zooms
  • It has macro capability
  • It has manual controls..
    I hate having everything on a touch screen.
  • It is silent... yes, even more silent than a Leica.
  • It is relatively inexpensive
  • Its form factor is that of a rangefinder, not a Mini-DSLR
  • It's not made by Leica
  • It speaks to me... (I'll explain later)

Cons

  • It's small.. some would say too small
  • Optical Viewfinder displays no info whatsoever
  • AF sometimes indicates focus lock but the image is OOF
  • 40mm filter size.. not readily available
  • Proprietary RAW file format
  • No delete button on the back of the camera
    Correction: It does have a delete button but not a dedicated delete button. It is part of the multi-controller.
  • BIGGEST ISSUE: The X10 does not render specular highlights properly... see the example further down the page.

The Fujifilm X10 really does feel like a quality camera body from yesteryear. I like the styling. I like the form factor. I like the controls. I like most everything about the X10 except it occasionally misses focus on a subject which should not be hard to lock focus on. The X10 is also sometimes slow to focus. These along with the specular highlight issue are the only things I have concerns about at this time.

Optical Viewfinder Issues

The Optical Viewfinder is great but there is a flaw of sorts. Since the OVF is purely that and no data/information is displayed in it you will never know that the photo you just took was out of focus because the camera AF was incorrect. The same goes for the photo that might have been blurred or over exposed because you had the shutter set too slow. You will not realize these things until you view the photo on the LCD. The Optical Viewfinder relies totally on the best optics every created..... The Mark I Eyeball.

Damned if You Do, Damned If You Don't

Here Fuji runs into the damned if you do, damned if you don't issue. An EVF rather than an OVF would have solved the above issues but added to the cost and possibly the bulk of the camera. I'm willing to give the OVF a good chance to prove its worth. It takes me back to a much simpler time in photography.

Why Do I See The Lens In The Viewfinder?

I've had to laugh a bit about a number of posts on various forums complaining about the lens being visible in the viewfinder of the X10. Obviously those folks have never touched a rangefinder style camera before. Yes, it can be distracting but you do get used to it and it is perfectly normal and acceptable for the lens to be visible in the optical viewfinder.

But It Has A Small Sensor

So what? Yes, the sensor in the X10 is small but not all that small. You'll do fine with prints from the X10 and be honest, how much do you really print? The X10 sensor offers some capabilities I have not begun to explore. Its simple outward appearance is misleading. It comes with more than a few extraordinary features.

Who Would Want This Camera?

So, who would want this camera? My guess is quite a few will find it to be just what they've been waiting for. Anyone who wants a versatile and fun camera to take with them when the DSLR is just too much of a hassle. Keep in mind that the X10 is NOT a pocket camera. If you're looking for a camera you can slip in your jeans pocket, keep looking. The X10 is not that camera. If you are looking for a camera that will fit in your coat pocket.. this just might be it.

Could the Fuji X10 be your only camera? For some, yes, absolutely. For me, no, it could never be MY only camera. I need a system with interchangeable lenses and a larger sensor but the X10 will work for me on a number of levels.

It Speaks To Me

I love simple, manual control cameras. I love holding a camera that feels of quality and has a slight heft to it rather than a camera that feels like a plastic toy, (No offense to Holga users) The X10 just feels good in my hands and that is important. Not as important as image IQ, which IS there... but owning a camera that feels of quality really is part of the photographic experience.. ask any Leica owner about this and they'll gladly spend much more time than you hoped for explaining it or trying to explain it.

In a nutshell the Fujifilm X10 feels like a great little camera. It is loaded with features and a good lens with fairly good zoom capability. I mentioned above that it speaks to me... it is saying "Use me and enjoy me. I'm a bit different but isn't that why you bought me?"

There is so much to explore with the little Fuji X10. I have only just begun to dig into its capabilities.. more to come.. including any warts I find.

Final Verdict
November 27, 2011

I've been using the Fuji X10 for a little over two weeks now and I must say that it is probably the best small sensor compact camera I have ever owned. It is a delight to use, the image quality is excellent, handling is great, construction is top notch, AF is quite fast, it contains a fast and sharp lens, just enough zoom, great macro capabilities, the control layout makes sense, it fits in a jacket pocket along with a couple of spare batteries. I just can't find anything to really complain about with the X10 other than the issue of specular highlights not rendering properly.

One Glaring Issue
Specular Highlights

Definition: Specular Highlight - A specular highlight is the bright spot of light that appears on shiny objects when illuminated by a bright light source such as the sun. It is a reflection of the light source.

Several forums dedicated to Fuji cameras have recently raised the issue of the Fuji X10 not rendering specular highlights properly. They appear as blobs or orbs of light. I had not experienced this issue with my X10 until I made it a point to shoot the photo below to see if my X10 also has this fault. It does and it is unacceptable.

Click the thumbnail below to see a larger version of the photo.

Click here to download a full size image (1:1) format.

Specular Highlights on Water

Specular highlights on water are quite distracting as well.

Click here to see a larger version of the water shot
Click here to see the full size image of the water shot.

I hope that Fuji can come up with a fix for this issue as the X10 is a wonderful little camera in all other respects. If they cannot find a fix for this issue I will consider returning mine. For now I will wait and see what Fuji does about this issue.

Update: December 4, 2011 - Forum Hysteria

One of the online forums I visit has been stirring up a lot of talk and discussion regarding the X10 and the specular highlight issue. I have removed myself from that forum until some sanity returns. Fuji Japan is certainly aware of the issue and the concerns of those who bought the camera as soon as it became available. There are those who are demanding that Fuji fix the issue overnight, which sane people know is not going to happen.

I look at what I have produced with the X10 and I am happy that I have a camera that fits in my jacket pocket and is capable of so much. I will give Fuji the benefit of the doubt and continue to use the X10 because I like its features and enjoy using it. I will not get caught up in any online forum hysteria.

I have received emails from all over the planet in the last week asking what I thought of the X10. If I thought it was a bad camera I would not be keeping it. Should the specular highlight problem be addressed by Fuji? Yes, of course.

The purchase of the X10 or the decision to keep it, if you have already bought the camera, is a decision that only you can make based upon what you expect from the camera. For me, it works but your expectations may far surpass mine.

Update: January 31, 2012 - I'm Returning My X10
I really hate to do it but I must. Here's why.....


In the last week I have taken a number of shots in which the X10 just did not render specular highlights properly. It was annoying enough to make me reconsider keeping this camera. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I must be able to trust the camera I am using to render a scene properly. The X10, while capable in so many ways, falls short where the specular highlights are concerned.

I communicated with the camera store from which I bought my X10 and explained the issues and the lack of a fix from Fuji. They agreed to give me a refund. So, the X10 is back in its original packaging and was picked up by UPS today to be returned. I'll hang on to the flash I bought as it may work on the X Pro 1 should I buy it. If not, I'll sell it online along with the lens hood and adapter.

As you can see by the photos I have taken with the Fuji X10 it is capable of delivering some great photos but I have found myself in the awkward situation of owning a camera I cannot fully trust to render highlights properly, and that just does not work for me. I had hoped that Fuji would have a fix by now but that is not the case and so, it goes back for a refund.

It is truly a shame that the X10 has this issue as otherwise it would be a truly great compact camera. Fuji clearly shot themselves in the foot with this one. The issue has been known for some time now and Fuji has made very little in the way of a response to the problem, much less a firmware update to lessen or eliminate the problem. Proper testing of the X10 should have caught the problem before the camera went into production. I have to assume the X10 was either not fully tested or that Fuji felt it was not that big an issue.

Update: February 25, 2012 - Orbs are still visible after firmware update, according to a number of users and reviews such as DPReview. I had a feeling all along that this was a sensor/hardware problem that software will not be able to fix. So far, that appears to be true.

I do miss the camera but I will never hold on to a camera that can not perform under all lighting situations.

Update: July 31, 2012
Word on the street and from a few X10 owners is that the sensor swap has put an end to the problems with the Orbs. I no longer have an X10 and probably will not buy another as I now own and use the X-Pro1. If the issue has been eliminated then I could certainly reccomend the X10 to anyone looking for a camera of this size and style. I would have loved to have kept the X10 but could not accept the specular highlight issue. If it is, in fact, fixed the X10 will be a great buy for many.. and the truth is, even without the fix the camera was/is still capable of producing wonderful photographs.

Accessories I have purchased for the X10

EF 20 Flash

EF 20 Flash
I bought the EF 20 Flash for the X10 and it works extremely well. Very small and compact, simple in operation and easy to carry in a very small bag or jacket pocket along with several batteries.

Being able to use the EF 20 for bounce and fill flash is far better than using the pop-up flash on the X10. Affordable as well. Mine cost me $120.00.

Lens Hood & Filter Adapter

Lens Hood & Filter Adapter
I bought the lens hood and filter adapter because it is something I always do for any camera I am using. A lens hood always comes in handy and the Filter adapter lets me use my polarizer, UV and several other filters for certain effects I might desire when using the X10.

You can not use the lens cap that comes with the X10 if you keep the lens hood mounted as I do. Instead I use a Generic 52mm push in lens cap. Works great and is easily replaced if lost at a minimum of cost. The original lens cap went back into the box the camera came in until such time as I need it or decide to sell the camera.

Enough talk... let's look at the photos....

Back to the Auto Graveyard

I decided to take the X10 with me to photograph the old auto graveyard not far from where I live. It was an overcast day and perfect for photographing inside the old cars without the high contrast light the sun would have produced.

I actually used the LCD more than the OVF for shooting the photos below... it just worked better for me.. plus, as I mentioned, it was an overcast day and the LCD was not washed out with sun light.

Deep Ellum - Dallas, Texas

Took a trip to Deep Ellum in Dallas to take some shots of the colorful wall art and murals there. I had the camera set on the Provia setting but probably did not need to do so as the art is so brilliantly colorful.

The battery finally died on me and the X10 just shut down. The battery life really does seem to be good for such a small battery. I should have been paying attention to the battery level. Luckily I had another battery with me.

I continue to be impressed with this little camera and I'm still just shooting in standard mode with JPG output.. I've not even tried RAW yet. or the extended mode.

Random Shots Near Where I Live

 



To View The Images
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January 29, 2012 - Slow Night at the Carnival
The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is underway and I always go shoot the carnival that is part of the festivities. I usually do so while the rodeo is going on so that the crowd does not get in my way. I love shooting carnivals at night for the colors and atmosphere.

January 17, 2012 - New Bridge In Dallas

January 14, 2012 - Small Town Texas
Took another ride on the back roads about 100 miles from Dallas and found these shots from Neches and Palestine, Texas.

January 3, 2012 - Let There be Light
I saw this multi-filament, retro looking, light fixture in a store and decided to take a shot of it with the X10. I liked the simplicity of it.

January 1, 2012 - Shopping
First photos of 2012 taken in a shopping mall. While the wife was looking for bargains I was looking for light.

December 10, 2011 - In The Swamp

December 6, 2011 - In the Market

December 4, 2011 - Only One Shot Today

December 3, 2011 - Farmers Market

Had to run to the Farmers Market in Dallas and took a few shots while I was there.

December 1, 2011 - Just One Leaf of Color

Took a walk on my lunch hour looking for something to shoot and only found one thing I felt worth shooting. A single leaf with a bit of color left surrounded by its dead comrades.

November 29, 2011 - Eating Out Tonight

Decided to go out for Chinese tonight and took the X10 with me. Love the colors in the kitchen and the food was good too.

November 27, 2011 - Having Fun at IKEA

I had to take my son to IKEA to get some furnishings for his new apartment today. I have found that shooting in stores like IKEA can provide some very interesting photo opportunities. The two shots below were from a 60 second stint in the housewares department. The X10 was quick and stealthy.. I would never have tried to get these shots with my DSLR. As for IKEA.. we dropped close to $400 there, so they shouldn't be upset about these photos.

November 26, 2011 - Nobody Home

Took a late afternoon drive to Fort Worth, Texas to revisit a couple of old buildings that I have photographed in the past. Nobody was home, as usual.

November 23, 2011 - Why I was Late For Work

Fog is not something that occurs on a regular basis in the Dallas area so when I realized it was present, I had to shoot it.. the office could wait.

November 20, 2011 - Playing with EXR Mode

I decided to play with the EXR settings on the X10 today. I just set the control knob to EXR and started shooting in Grapevine, Texas where they have some old train cars and an old locomotive with access to the cab. Pretty impressive results. I've shot similar photos with both the D-Lux 4 and GF1 and the results were not as good as these. I like shooting old things and the more rust the better.



End of EXR Shots from November 20, 2011

 

 

More photos are on the way as time permits.