Quick Look : Fujifilm X10

x10 I had a 30 minute hands-on with the new X10 yesterday. I really wanted to like this camera. Really. I had loved the feel and fit of the X100 but ended up returning it because of poor focus, incomprehensible menus and a jog/dial/wheel that was so sensitive I spent more time getting back to where I wanted to be than actually getting there the first time. I also felt the camera was very expensive given the fixed focal length lens. Hence I was hopeful that the X10 would maintain the fit and feel but have learned from the X100 since it has been out for a while and gone through some firmware updates.

The X10 does not feel as "comfortable" as the X100, although this is very subjective. I prefer the optical vs the hybrid viewfinder, but it is not nearly as bright as I might have liked and the linkage to the zoom is not readily apparent. The camera is unlocked by rotating the zoom ring. As the ring is very narrow, those with larger digits (like me) may find that the ring is not easily grippable and your fingers often intrude into the viewfinder area. The ring is stiff to rotate and while I have no data to draw lifecycle conclusions, I am concerned that the zoom is also the on/off switch.

I really like the zoom range on the camera which covers something on the order of 28-112 relative to a full frame. I found this reminiscent of the wonderful old Minolta CLE kit, albeit that had three primes instead of a zoom. Images captured were very sharp and Fuji has been smart imho by not over saturating the megapixel loading, keeping it at 12.0 and offering decent low light. Capture is RAW and/or JPEG, but I could only work with the Jpegs because I did not have time to install Silkypix to do the RAW conversion.

I had no issues with the autofocus when the lens was at the wide end of the zoom range. Sadly not so at the telephoto end of the range. A slow moving subject (man walking) gave two out of focus images out of three, reminiscent of the focus problems encountered by many X100 users (including myself).

The battery is a tiny entity similar to some of the Fujifilm point and shoots. I was hoping for a decent sized battery so I could carry the camera with me all the time without worrying about power and recharging. I fear that with this teeny battery this won't be the case. Battery drain was observable in the short eval time as I burned through a number of test images, about 50% with the built-in flash.

The settings wheel is as sensitive and lacking in feedback as on the X100. The menu system is nominally better (similar to the improvements that came with the firmware updates on the X100) but still requires too many clicks and moves to get to the things that I would want to get to quickly. I won't say incomprehensible but would still encourage Fujifilm to hire a good UI person.

In summary, the images are really nice when they are in focus, the zoom range is great for a rangefinder style camera, but it's not enough of an improvement from the X100 for me, despite a more realistic price point. That said, having to spend a disproportionately high amount of money for a lens hood and a filter mounting ring is intentional pocket picking by Fuji and these products should cease being used as a cash grab and instead be bundled with the device. Hopefully Fujifilm will make the menus more usable via firmware updates.

As the young folks say. your mileage may vary, but I still don't have a viewfinder oriented rangefinder camera that I like and can afford. So count me underwhelmed.

2.5 stars out of 5