September 1st 2011 2:45 am

final rating

reviewed on
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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Image quality If you go into this camera expecting APS-C or DSLR quality, you'll be disappointed. But if you expect an awesome P&S, you'll be blown away. good
  • Video quality Good enough for an after thought. I typically don't shoot much video, so I don't put much stock in this feature typically. good
  • Battery life The X10's battery is fairly paltry. It isn't a deal breaker, especially since you can find a spare on Amazon for ten bucks, but it can be limiting. so-so
  • Design and form factor The control layout is as close to perfect as I can imagine. Sexy and functional. Can't ask for more. great!
  • Durability Outside of the buttons and dials being a bit plasticy, the X10 is a tank in camera form. I can imagine this holding up better than most modern cameras. great!
  • Speed (start-up time, lag) A bit slow out of the gate, but never bad enough to have made me miss a shot. Shutter speed isn't noticeable in any way. good
  • Ease of use While much has been made of the X10's "quirky" firmware, I have found it to be quite capable and intuitive, especially thanks to all the manual controls. great!
Detailed review
The enthusiast compact market space has become very crowded of late. From the LX7, to the XZ-1, to the X10, there is no shortage of options for those looking for a do-it-all camera in a (comparatively) tiny package. Specs across these models tend to, naturally, fall close to one another. What sets the X10 apart in my eyes is build quality, it's very nice optic viewfinder and the powerful software contained in the camera itself.

Detractors often note that the X10's firmware is quirky and unintuitive. I disagree. Like everything, there is a slight learning curve, but given how many settings can be accessed directly from the camera's controls outside of the menu, I don't understand what more people want. And for those who bother to learn what's available within that firmware, you'll find a shooter that is capable of, not only doing an excellent job of processing RAW on-camera, but also manages to pull off all sorts of technological wizardry designed to get you the best shot possible.

But more so than anything else is the inclusion of the zooming optical viewfinder. Very simply, if you like shooting with a viewfinder, there is no substitution. While Olympus and Panasonic offer add-on EVFs that dole out data the X10's viewfinder is lacking, the bright, clear optics of Fuji's offering go a long way toward helping compose your shots. The fact that it's built in and doesn't add to the cost is pretty wonderful as well.

One thing I want to mention that is often overlooked in most reviews is how well the pop-up flash performs. In most situations necessitating a flash, I've always cringed at using one, even on my NEX-3. They always seem to wash out rather than make the scene easier to shoot. With the tiny size of the X10's flash, I wasn't expecting much. But the camera's sensor isn't very large, so I found it necessary to pop it out for some indoor shots. Basically, it blew me away. I never felt like it over powered the shot - far from it. Almost every time it fired, the flash lit the scene perfectly, with no real loss of detail. A nice perk that I wasn't expecting going in.

For the price, there is nothing quite like the X10 on the market today. If you're looking for a camera that can be grabbed at times when you don't want to fuss with a mirrorless ILC or DSLR, you'll find the X10 and its competitors to be a great choice over the plethora of cheaper, weaker compacts and super zooms. If you're looking for a very basic point-and-shoot for quick snapshots on the go, the X10 may be much more camera than you need. Either way, with a little effort, you can get some amazing results from such a small bodied shooter.

A quick note regarding the infamous blooming issue: It appears that Amazon is finally stocking the serial number batch 22A (versus the old 21A and older still 14A). This group has the newly re-designed sensor that compensates for the "white orbs" effect. If you end up with one from either of the other two batches, the Fuji sensor evaluation program will either replace the lens/sensor on your old camera or just exchange it for a new 22A camera. According to the rep I talked with, the 30 September cutoff for the program is likely arbitrary and he felt they'd be honoring sensor swaps for a decently long time. I should note that I started with a locally purchased 21A which performed well enough, but returned it and bought from Amazon which netted me a 22A. I doubt the 21A would have ever been bad enough to warrant me going through the hassle of sending it to Fuji, so unless you get a 14A, you should be very happy with this camera.
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