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Fuji X10 - User Review

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So a while ago I wrote a glowing report on using the Nikon P7100. I still like that camera. But it is no longer my favorite compact. About 2 weeks after buying the P7100, as is to be expected, the Fuji X10 came out in South Africa. I knew it was coming but I don't like to wait. I'm impulsive with camera purchases. (Very, very naughty habit.)

It turned out that my girlfriend was even more enamored with the brilliant black and white mode I wrote about. That 'Creative Monochrome' mode just lets you shoot and enjoy without much post image editing. She hates to tinker with photos in post. She basically pried the Nikon out of my hands and I soon found myself holding, lovingly, the beautiful Fuji X10 in my hands.

It has been a love affair. She makes people jealous and swoon. I've never had so many people, notably the public and not camera-geeks, remark what a sexy little camera it is. I have to agree with them. Many people take it from me to take a shot and are kind of surprised that it's a digital camera and not a film camera.

To be honest, I was being a little hipster-fashionista-esqe*. I almost replaced the hole in my camera bag with a Leica M3. My number one criteria was to find a camera that I would enjoy walking around with and that would, god help me, look good. Obviously I would only look at cameras that would deliver good image quality and that was compact. But here's the thing: I have a good few film cameras. I really don't need a Leica. Of course you don't need a Leica. I really, really, really want one though. Another post for another day. Long story short, the only M3's that my camera store had were pretty banged up and a decent one with a lens** was far more than the X10. Also, I'd just spent a small fortune developing a ton of film that been accumulating in my fridge and, well, it hurt my wallet a bit.

So the Fuji looks good and feel good. I can walk around in fancy-pants clothes and still look good with a camera. I love my 5Dmk2 to bits but it's a bit of a drag shlepping it around to dinner and movies. It doesn't quite go with a suit.

The X10 really is beautifully made. A joy to hold and use. I almost never have to dive into the menus. I assigned the Fn button on the top to change the Film Simulation modes. I am partial to the ASTIA setting though I know the names of the film stocks are a bit of a marketing misnomer. If you could add variable grain too, well, I'd be even happier. I have no idea about the Raw files since Aperture does not support them. Why Apple? It's not like I'm one of 10 people in the world shooting with this thing. C'mon!

It has it's quirks. Fuji is becoming famous for its recent brilliant but quirky cameras that drive uses to the brink of love and frustration all at once. I have to report that I have had very little frustration with this camera. The only thing that bugs me a bit is the odd restriction that in Aperture Priority the shutter speed is limited to 1/1000sec. Okay, it bugs me a lot. Photos are massively overexposed. Unusable. Crap. Delete. So now I just use Program if I'm outside on a bright day. Not ideal Fuji, not ideal…

Aside form that niggle, the X10 is a dream to shoot with. The big optical viewfinder is great. There's no information in the viewfinder at all. It's quite zen shooting with the cameras to your eye. Not terribly accurate but worlds better than the peepholes that never really bugged me too much with the Nikon P7100. I'm much happier to have an opitcal viewfinder than none and I'll take the good with the bad. There is serious parallax shooting closer than about 3 meters but you learn to use the viewfinder according to it's abilities. I must say though, I've found myself longing for the X100's finder at times.



The lens. It is wonderful. It's the best part of this camera. Bright all the way through it's very useful range, it also manages to give decent separation between your subject and the background. It is still a compact with a small sensor but it delivers the most visually pleasing results I've ever gotten from a compact. Below is the same pot-plant (at slightly different angles - they were shot on different days… very unscientific) shot with the X10 at 100mm equivalent and at F2.8 and the Canon 5Dmk2 with the luscious 100mm F2.0 wide open. No contest. Obviously. They're worlds apart. I'll let you guess which is which.


Overall, I'm very happy with the Little Fuji. It's not perfect but I love it a lot. It is a pleasure to have by my side (actually on a wrist-strap in my hand) all day. People admire it. I love holding it to my eye. I love the old-school shutter sound and the way you can hold down the DISP button and disable all sound making it invisible. And it's files print well.

Berea is a Block Away
Fuji X10, Program Mode, F8, 1/850sec, ISO 400
This printed beautifully A2.

I've had cameras that I've like a lot. I sold those. I love this camera. But damn that X-Pro1 looks fine...



* Dear Gods of the English Language forgive that 'word', please.
** Those are kinda useful when trying to make photograph. And HELL are those rangefinder lenses spendy…


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