Fujifilm FinePix X10 at a glance:

  • 12-million-pixel, 2/3in (8.8×6.6mm), EXR CMOS sensor
  • Fujinon 4x (28-112mm equivalent) f/2-2.8 optical zoom lens
  • Optical zoom viewfinder with 85% coverage

There has been a buzz of activity in the premium compact camera market recently, so clearly the demand for these models is high. Until now, cameras such as Canon’s PowerShot G12 and Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX5 have proved popular options, but now Fujifilm is in on the action. In fact, on the surface the Fuji FinePix X10 appears to offer the best of both worlds, with its classic retro styling reminiscent of film rangefinders from decades past and a fast f/2 zoom lens.

The X10 is Fuji’s second X-series fashion-savvy camera, and it aims to build on the success of the X100. However, the X10 was not launched to replace or compete with its larger sibling, but to offer a much more affordable option, being roughly half the price of the X100. The main difference between the two is that while the X100’s fixed 35mm (effective) focal length is more limiting and typically associated with photojournalistic use, the X10 offers a zoom lens that should cover the photographer for a wider variety of situations. Also, the X100 uses the larger APS-C-sized sensor, which is roughly 7x larger than the 2/3in sensor of the X10.

The X10 is a camera that is intended to cover a wide variety of uses from its compact body, and tap into the nostalgia and high build quality of cameras past.


While a lot of thought has been put into the X10’s attractive classic exterior, there is a lot going on inside, too. The X10 has a 2/3in-sized sensor, which has a surface area of 58.1mm2. This is approximately half the size of Nikon’s new sensor found in its 1-series cameras, a quarter of the size of the micro four thirds sensor, but more importantly around 20-25% larger than the 1/1.6 (48.5mm2) and 1/1.7in (43.3mm2) sensors found in other premium compact cameras, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Canon PowerShot G12 respectively. Most standard compact cameras use a 1/2.3in sensor (28.5mm2), which is around half the size of that found in the X10.

The X10’s sensor has 12 million pixels, which will comfortably produce a 13x10in print without interpolation from a 300ppi file. In reality, this can be pushed up to A3 and larger by reducing the ppi without any noticeable degradation in image quality.

Most sensors use a colour filter array in the Bayer arrangement to ‘see’ colour, but Fuji has its own EXR version, which is the type used here. It was first introduced in the company’s F200 EXR in 2009, and in that instance was a CCD type. For more on the sensor and its practical use.

The size of the sensor means that the lens has a crop factor of 3.93x from a full-frame (35mm) equivalent. To achieve the 4x optical zoom 28-112mm focal length, the Fujinon lens is 7.1-28.4mm. It comprises 11 elements in 9 groups, each treated with the company’s Super EBC (Electron Beam Coating). Three of the lens elements are of the aspherical type, which allows a more compact lens design, while two are of the ED type designed to reduce chromatic aberration. Five of the lens elements are attached to an optical image-stabilisation mechanism that works by shifting the axis to counteract both horizontal and vertical movements.

The X10 has a fast lens with a widest aperture of f/2 at 28mm that is handily only reduced by 1 stop to f/2.8 at its 112mm telephoto setting. In between, f/2.2 is available at 35mm, f/2.5 at 60mm and f/2.8 at 90mm. Having such a large aperture, even at the 112mm telephoto setting, lets in more light and allows a reduced depth of field, which is useful for portraiture.

Images are recorded in JPEG, raw or JPEG+raw combined. By default, the camera is set to JPEG only, although search deep into the menu and raw can be activated. The other option is to use the dedicated button for raw on the rear of the camera to record the next frame in JPEG+raw.

There is a multitude of shooting modes available that are designed to enhance the performance of the camera, in areas such as dynamic range, clarity, depth of field and noise reduction. In advanced mode, the pro soft focus mode adds extra background blur, while pro low light records multiple frames and combines them for extra light, clarity and reduced noise in low-contrast light. Other shooting modes on offer are great fun to use, such as the 360° panorama and 1cm super macro.
Drive mode offers a continuous capture up to 10 frames per second (fps) at reduced resolution JPEG files in super high mode or 7fps for full-resolution JPEG files, both at an approximate 1sec burst. Raw capture is available at up to 5fps.

EXR sensor

Fuji’s X10 uses the company’s EXR sensor. This is of the CMOS type, rather than the CCD type used in the F200 EXR, Fuji’s first camera to feature its EXR sensor. The colour filter array is based on the same arrangement.

The EXR CMOS array angles the photosites at 45°. The traditional Bayer arrangements in most digital cameras use an array of ‘rectangular’ red, green and blue photosites, and the nearest similar colour photosite is a width away.

The real benefit of the EXR sensor is that neighbouring pixels can be combined, and this is most apparent in the EXR modes. In high resolution (HR) mode the EXR CMOS arrangement appears to have little benefit, but on our resolution charts the X10 still resolves a good level of detail. Practically, the user can make the most of the EXR auto mode that analyses the scene and chooses the appropriate setting from any one of 99 different patterns.

The other two EXR shooting modes are wide dynamic range (DR) and high sensitivity/low noise (SN), which are best used in situations that test the camera’s capabilities. These settings are meant to boost the performance, but resolution is halved to 6 million pixels in JPEG format. This is because the sensor is effectively divided into two, with each half given a different task.

In SN mode the photosites are arranged in pairs to collect more light. Combining the data from a similarly coloured neighbouring photosite is great in low-contrast light and reduces the effect of chroma noise. DR mode ‘underexposes’ the photosites in one ‘half’, ending their exposure part-way through the total exposure time to reduce the amount of light they capture and therefore the risk of overexposure, all in one capture. Other cameras achieve an HDR-type image by combining two or more shots, which is less effective for moving subjects. In this instance, the X10 is better. Finally, HR mode produces a regular output for every photosite.

Build and handling

If you didn’t knowing anything about the camera, you could easily spend some time trying to work out how to turn it on. This is because the control does not exist in button form. Instead, you have to twist the lens to its 28mm setting or beyond. I do not know why this is not commonplace in high-end cameras as it is such an instinctive way to switch the camera on. It means that start-up time is fast, because as the camera stirs into action the desired focal length can be set – and it is ready to shoot in less than 2secs.

A second benefit to this lens is that the zoom is operated manually. This makes precise adjustments so much easier than a powered zoom, and also saves battery power. Incidentally, the battery life of the X10 is not great, as it lasts for 250 shots at best when mainly using the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen. Charging the battery was a familiar experience throughout this test, so do not plan on using the camera for a whole day without opportunity and access to a charge or a spare battery.

The performance of the lens is key in a high-end compact camera. Because of the high focal-length magnification, the lens is extremely wide at 7.1-28.4mm. Consequently, there is noticeable barrel distortion at wider focal lengths, and sadly even at the most telephoto setting. That said, the cameras in direct competition with the X10 use a smaller sensor and therefore have an even greater focal-length magnification and wider lens, so they are more susceptible to distortion in uncorrected files.

A metal lens cap is provided, which matches the body very nicely. Its inner fabric liner provides a snug fit, although I would like to see it attached to the camera to reduce the risk of loss. A metal lens hood (LH-X10) is an optional extra at £59.99, and is suitable for filters with a 52mm thread, although the lens itself will not accept filters.

To complement the 2.8in, 460,000-dot LCD screen, a built-in optical viewfinder aids clear viewing in bright light. Its mechanics are linked to the manual zoom lens, and its design ensures bright viewing. The top and base of the X10 are constructed from die-cast magnesium, and its body is made from a durable synthetic leather. The shooting-mode dial and exposure-compensation dial, as well as the lens zoom ring, are also made from solid metal. The X10’s all-black textured finish is both classy and provides a firm grip.

The X10’s body has just about all the controls one needs for a day’s shooting. An FN button operates ISO as default, but offers the choice of customisation between image quality, AF mode and film simulation, among others. The dial to adjust exposure also switches between shutter speed and aperture in manual mode by pressing the dial in, which is handy considering that the control wheel operates micro-manual focus adjustments in MF mode instead of exposure control.

Handily, the drive-mode menu and timer menu are separate on the control wheel. This means a 2sec or 10sec delay can be combined with high-speed continuous shooting or any of the bracketing modes, which includes film simulation, auto exposure, ISO and dynamic range. As an aside, the tripod bush is far enough away from the battery and memory card slot to allow access while the camera is mounted to a tripod.

Fuji’s EXR processor uses two CPUs and an EXR Core processor. Not only are fast continuous captures available, but also full 1080p video recording for clip lengths in excess of 29mins. Using a High-Speed SD card, JPEG+raw capture takes 4secs to clear the buffer, but the user can take the next shot while the file is writing.

With its compact size, rangefinder style and quick response, the X10 should appeal to, and satisfy, the street photographer, among others. An optional LC-X10 leather case complements the X10 perfectly, and provides protection and quick access to the camera.

White balance and colour

White balance has a button on the rear of the camera through which auto, seven presets (of which three are for fluorescent light and one is for underwater), custom and Kelvin for the full 2,500-10,000K colour temperature scale can be accessed. The EXR sensor uses a different colour filter array to the standard Bayer arrangement, and promises strong colour rendition. For most images, it is difficult to notice any benefit to this in standard mode capture.

In reality, and like most systems today, auto white balance (AWB) can be relied upon in most situations for a fairly accurate colour rendition. Scrutinise the images from the X10 more closely, however, and on the whole AWB can be a tad cool, especially in tungsten light. In overcast light I took a range of photographs of the same scene using the Kelvin scale and then compared them with AWB, which I found to be a little cool and had a slight magenta cast.

For any scene where a dominant colour can throw the system it is worth using the dedicated setting, be it shade WB on a cloudy day or daylight WB in sunlight. This is especially the case for portraits, where a cool rendition can be a little unflattering. On the whole, though, none of this is unusual for any camera system, be it DSLR, CSC or compact, but it is just good practice to remember.

As is standard for Fuji now, colour settings like vivid have film simulation names, such as Velvia. Black & white users will appreciate the four monochrome settings of yellow filter, red filter, green filter and standard black & white. Those learning photography should find the on-screen guidance helpful, which suggests a red filter for enhanced contrast and darkened skies, for example. Film simulation bracketing allows a simultaneous Velvia (vivid), Provia (standard) and Astia (soft) capture. In its standard (Provia) mode, colours are natural, while the vivid setting gives some welcome punch.

Image: On this dull overcast day, the vivid (Velvia) colour setting adds some welcome punch to the autumnal scene


As we have come to expect from most compact cameras, the 256-zone evaluative multi-segment metering system typically meters for print-ready images. It analyses the scene and selects the appropriate setting. EXR shooting mode offers another auto option, although control over exposure is compromised. Often, dialling in underexposure of -0.7EV is about right, which is achieved quickly using the dial positioned near the thumb. Of course, raw files allow the freedom to make these changes post-capture.

Another option for accurate exposure is to use spot metering. This is linked to the autofocus and here it is particularly easy to use by selecting any one of the 49 points covering the greater part of the frame. Many other systems at this level are restricted to the central point of the frame. Average metering measures the entire scene to provide an average value.

Image: In raw capture, shooting on a late afternoon in winter, the X10’s colour rendition of the cool blue sky and warm skin tone is accurate

Noise, Resolution and Sensitivity

Although the sensitivity range extends from ISO 100-3200 to 100-12,800, the latter two EV stop settings are at a reduced resolution in JPEG format only. At ISO 12,800 the reduced file size affects clarity to the point that it does not even register on our resolution charts, and so is really not an option.

In full-resolution files up to ISO 3200, the resolved detail is impressive for a camera with this sensor size and resolution. Although noise is apparent, the impact on resolved detail is limited, with a drop-off from the 24 marker on our resolution chart at ISO 100 to the 20 marker at ISO 3200. Against the competition, this places the X10 with the best of them.

Image: While luminance noise is present at higher sensitivities, the X10 still resolves a high level of detail

Opening up to a wide f/2 aperture, the lens controls vignetting very well indeed. Only the slightest signs are apparent at f/2 and f/2.8, and these have all but gone at f/4. Although the sharpest setting for the lens is between f/4 and f/6.4, edge detail is good when compared to the central part of the frame at any ISO setting, which means there is a consistently high standard of clarity over the entire frame.

At ISO 100-400 image detail is crisp, and it is only at the higher sensitivity range that detail becomes more smudged and reminiscent of what we would expect from a standard compact camera. When using the camera up to ISO 400 image quality is great, and at ISO 800 and beyond it is respectable.


These images (below) show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured at f/5.6 and the 60mm setting of the lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.

Image: Because of the high 3.93x magnification factor, barrel distortion is evident across the entire focal range, although at 112mm it is more subtle. There is no in-camera lens correction, which I would like to see, so this must be achieved post-capture using editing oftware.   



Like most AF systems at this level, the X10’s AF is compromised in low light, but it is very responsive in high-contrast light. While I suspect most users at this level will stick to multi-point AF, this is a shame because the camera has more to offer. As well as multi-point AF, the X10 offers tracking, spot AF and manual focus.

It should not be underestimated how useful a spot-focus and metering system is. This is particularly the case with the X10, as it is available with any one of the 49 individually selectable AF points and handily covers the majority of the frame. For quick handling, the selected point reverts to the central point by pressing OK.

Like single lens reflex (SLR) and older rangefinder cameras, the X10 has a switch next to the lens on the front of the camera, which, in this instance, controls AF-S, AF-C and manual focus. The latter is achieved with manual-focus assist, which provides focus magnification and a distance scale on the LCD screen, and is adjusted by using the control wheel. While this process is slow compared to lens adjustment, it is very worthwhile for accurate focusing and easy to complete.

Image: 112mm – Even at the most telephoto setting, image detail is crisp right up to the edge of the frame

LCD, Viewfinder and Video

The X10’s 2.8in, 460,000-dot LCD screen has raised edges. This gives the initial impression that it is a tilted or articulated type, but alas it is fixed. There is a wealth of shooting information, including electronic level gauge, grid lines dividing the frame into 9 or 24 segments, histogram and the exposure settings.

Unlike the hybrid viewfinder of the X100, the X10 uses a built-in optical zoom viewfinder for image composition. It is linked to the manual zoom lens and, for a compact camera such as this, has an impressive 85% coverage and -3.5 to +1.5 dioptre adjustment. In use, the viewfinder is large and very bright. In fact, it is as bright as the human eye can perceive, which makes this the best option for composing in bright light.

The glass of the viewfinder is very close to the eye cup and picks up smudges and dirt easily. I had to clean the viewfinder several times throughout the test to see clearly. Its window is just above the lens position, and depending on the finger placement when turning the lens, the view can be obstructed. If fingers are placed on the underside of the lens for zooming, though, this is not an issue.  As there is no basic exposure information in the viewfinder, I found myself using the viewfinder more sparingly, opting instead to use the shooting information on the LCD screen, especially when the lighting is unobtrusive.

During an overcast day, when I could see the shooting information on the screen just fine, my use of the viewfinder was limited. If any macro mode is selected, there is no option to turn off the LCD screen, so make sure it is deactivated.  Video recording is available at 1080p via the shooting mode dial.

Image: AWB is a too cool, WB shade is a touch warm, so the WB Kelvin adjustment is about right

Dynamic range

In its normal mode, images from the X10 appear to have a slightly wider dynamic range than those from its direct competition. Typically, image detail is recoverable from shadow and highlight areas at ±2EV before distracting noise artefacts appear. As the camera exposes for print-ready images, highlights can be a little overexposed. This is where the shooting modes linked to the unique EXR colour array of the sensor are of benefit.

Wide dynamic range (DR) EXR mode produces an HDR-effect image in one capture, not by combining several frames together. Dynamic range optimiser can be set to auto or there are options for 100%, 200% and 400%. Sticking with auto usually produces a pleasing contrast, whereas pushing it to 400% can leave the images looking a little flat, with too much exposure given to shadow areas.

However, it is not just the dynamic range modes that boost performance when it comes to dynamic range, because high sensitivity/low noise (SN) gives greater depth to colour and contrast in low light, which is typically where images show less contrast and punch.

Fujifilm X10 Verdict

In boasting a high build quality, intuitive handling and a fast lens, the Fujifilm FinePix X10 combines the best of both high-end compact camera types, such as the larger Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon P7100, with the smaller Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Olympus XZ-1. The X10 ticks all the right boxes and is a pleasure to use.

Thankfully, a lot has been invested in the X10’s manual zoom lens. Its engineering is sophisticated and image quality is crisp across the entire frame at every focal length, and certainly at sensitivities up to ISO 400. Barrel distortion can be corrected easily enough at the computer, although I would like to see in-camera lens-distortion correction. For a high-end compact, the X10 resolves a high level of detail, but has a more limited performance at higher sensitivities.

The X10 costs a little more than other high-end compact cameras, but this model represents the top of the range before moving into CSC territory. It is a similar size to many consumer CSCs at this price, but has a built-in optical viewfinder. If the desire for simplicity provided by a compact camera is greater than the CSC, then the X10 is a winner.

Fujifilm FinePix X10 Focal points


The X10’s hotshoe mount is compatible with Fuji’s EF-42 and EF-20 external TTL flash units, with the EF-20 complementing the size of the body perfectly.

Built-in flash

There is a slightly underwhelming pop-up-type built-in flash, which Fuji informs us has a GN output of 5.5m @ ISO 100.

Lens stabilisation

Five of the 11 lens elements are equipped with a shift mechanism, correcting the position of the optical axis.


Super macro mode operates at a distance up to 1cm from the subject, while regular macro mode is up to 10cm.

Raw conversion software

Included with the camera is Silkypix viewer and raw conversion software, to work on the RAF raw files.


A number of bracketing options are available through the drive mode menu, including ISO, dynamic range, exposure and film simulation.

Raw capture

Another option to raw+JPEG capture is JPEG only and then use the dedicated raw button for a one-off raw+JPEG capture.

Control wheel

The control wheel not only scrolls through the menus, but is also used to make fine manual focus adjustment.


In terms of style and handling, the X10’s clearest competition is the Canon PowerShot G12. Both are large compact cameras by today’s standards, at roughly the same size as the smaller compact system cameras with pancake lens attached. Against the G12, the X10 has a lot in its favour, not least of which its metal chassis, larger imaging sensor and fast manual zoom lens.

The faster f/2 maximum aperture and more limited zoom range of the X10’s lens has more in common with other smaller high-end compact cameras, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Olympus XZ-1. In short, the X10 offers the best of both worlds, at a slightly higher price.

The price and size of the X10 do push it onto consumer-level CSC territory. Here its image quality is no match for the larger sensors and dedicated fixed lenses, although it still produces a respectable performance.

Images: Canon PowerShot G12, Olympus XZ-1