Friday, December 09, 2011

Fujifilm X10 (updated again)

I just got the Fuji (I still call them that, don't know why they changed it to "Fujifilm") X10.

This is the camera in the "on" stage. You turn it off by turning and collapsing the zoom lens, which about halves the length of the lens, a nice feature.

The reviews so far (I've read a long one in the non-online (except via Zinio) edition of Amateur Photographer) are very positive indeed. And from my short tests so far, I agree.
The camera feels great, the usability seems really nice, it's quick (one forgets the "old" days where every compact camera was slow as molasses to focus), the image quality is real damn good, even in the one area you think it might be a bit weak due to the smallish sensor: low light. (The sensor is smaller than those in exchangeable-lens cameras, but larger than other compact cameras like Canon's G12.)

It's large enough for good handling, but small enough for a large pocket (a jacket pocket or a side pocket on "combat" (cargo) pants.
The manual zoom on the lens is really nice, faster and more precise than the motorized zoom used on smaller compacts.
It is not cheap of course, around $600, but rather less than the X100 at $1000, which sells well though it's more limited.

For years we have been getting closer and closer to what Mike Johnston and myself and others wrote about longingly for years: the perfect street-camera. (Johnston calls it the DMD, the "decisive moment digital", though he prefers prime lenses.) It should be compact, and fast, and have image quality good enough for exhibitions.
A camera like the Panasonic Lumix GF-2 comes very close, except one thing: due to the sensor size, if you put a zoom lens on it for all-round use, it is no longer so durn compact, don't fit in no pocket, no sir.   So, not that universal. Fuji's own X100 has the same issue: it only has a slightly-wide lens, though it is compact for its large sensor.
I have tried cameras like these with fixed-length ("prime, non-zoom) lenses, but I just miss the zoom too much. I am really the happiest when I have a normal zoom from modest wideangle to modest tele.
And the X10 has just that: 28mm to 112mm. And it's fast too: F:2.0 to F:2.8. Very nice.

So I hereby declare, admittedly on slim evidence, that the X10 might be the best all-round, street-, or travel-camera we have seen yet. It has image quality similar to larger-sensor cameras, but it has a zoom and is yet in the big-compact class. This is quite exciting for a certain class of enthusiast photographer.

The one weakness I've heard about so far is the smallish battery: only maybe 250 pictures to a charge. A very active photographer might want to bring a backup battery.  (The battery is really physically unusually small. They must really have struggled with space in this camera.) Fortunately this is not expensive.
A note: in my brief testing, the X10 has surprisingly good image quality for a compact, even at 3200 ISO. This is a big accomplishment, even the older Lumix GF-1 with a much larger sensor suffered at only 1600. And older compact-ish cameras like my old Nikon 2400 from six years ago, had awful, dreadful noise at anything over ISO 200. Even 200 was noisy. This is a revolution.

And it gets even better, due to a special sensor with 45-degree angled pixels, Fuji has a pixel-doubling technology ("EXR") which if selected on the mode dial drops resolution to a still very useable 6 megapixels, but markedly improves fidelity in low light or alternatively in high-contrast situations! (You can set this to auto, and the camera decides which setting is the most called for.) This is very useful technology.
In fact this technology is used in several different ways which all seem promising. Normally I'm one who sticks with default settings, but I think these may be worth using in many difficult shooting situations.

I admit that the advantage in using the EXR technology is not always crystal clear, and it would be smart to learn more about it. But here is a couple good examples, hand-held photos (small crops) taken in a poorly lit corner of my living room (normally I wouldn't even have expected to be able to hand-hold photos in such a dark place) :

Without EXR:

And with EXR:

Notice how the details (in the leather etc) is nicely preserved with EXR, and the photo is less grainy and sharper.
But like I said, even if you forget about EXR, this camera is probably king of the hill right now for compact cameras as regard existing-light photography.

Again strongly cropped... EXR off:

EXR on:

See the detail. (Click for big pic.)

-----
Update: A few have had problems with white-disc shaped highlights. I just now shot at night, and even though that's just inviting problems of this sort, I only found this one, and not a bad one, hardly noticable I'd say.


34 comments:

emptyspaces said...

I've been testing one of these for a few weeks and concur with your assessment...it's a fantastic camera. The auto ISO is well thought out. Its macro capabilities are awesome. And it is indeed fantastic in low light, better than the Nikon 1 to my eyes (which has a bigger sensor). And I can (just barely) slip the X10 into the interior pocket of a blazer.

I dare say Fuji's on a roll. They should be unveiling a mirrorless system next spring, if the rumors are true.

Unknown said...

What I find hard to do is leave a camera system you have invested in for years for a new one you have to find lenses for and so on and so forth. For me I went with Minolta back in the day and now have a great set of lens, so am looking at the Sony A77 as a pocket camera. All of the Minolta lens work on the Sony Mount, (Minolta mount) which means you have a huge history of fabulous glass to draw upon. Of course putting the classic Minolta beercan (70-210 F4 with incredible color and boken) on that little one, (the A77) would drag my neck down to the ground and be impossible to manage. But somehow we get by.
All the best,
AL

emptyspaces said...

I'm with you on that one. Lot of new lens mounts coming out these days.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yes, it's a drag. I have bought maybe four different portrait lenses for different systems.
I guess it would be difficult to make a universal mount, not to mention to get anybody to agree on it, but...

==
Yes, Fuji really has their hands on something hot here, something which has not been obvious to others. It's a very difficult balanace, size and quality.

Alex said...

Can I borrow it for a weekend to try out?

TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"The manual zoom on the lens is really nice, faster and more precise than the motorized zoom used on smaller compacts."

I'm salivating, now! lol! I can't STAND those motorized zooms on the compacts! And...emptyspaces, you're certainly being a tease, as well, talking about the macro capabilities!

That EXR technology sure looks cool!

OK so...I've, briefly, glanced at the other (thought you already had a 'Fujifilm' (I know...the "film" part annoys me, as well! It's a CAMERA, guys!) and...got myself straightened out by this "quick and dirty" of the two here.

I agree: I would prefer a zoom, rather than a fixed lens, myself. Gees! ISO of 12800?! Wow! Nuts!

"So I hereby declare, admittedly on slim evidence, that the X10 might be the best all-round, street-, or travel-camera we have seen yet."

I like that a LOT, as well! Sounds really good! Looking forward to seeing some pictures! :-D

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"Gees! ISO of 12800?!"

Nah, consensus is that 3200 is the highest really useable one.

emptyspaces said...

TC, sorry to tease! There are two macro settings: regular and super. With super, and at the wide end, you can nearly touch what you're shooting with the glass and still focus. It's crazy fun to use.

Lucky me, part of my job is evaluating new cameras, so I get to try out anything interesting that comes through. I tried out the Nikon 1 system (both cameras), and this Fuji beats them both for what I like to do.

I'm a little conservative and leave the X10 on its auto ISO (1600) setting, which limits the ISO to 1600. I find 1600 to be amazingly useable in most situations, which as Eolake points out, is indeed a revolution.

112mm-equivalent f/2.8 lens...when zoomed all the way in. That is also a revolution.

emptyspaces said...

Here's a nighttime shot at ISO 1600...I steadied the camera in a telephone pole to hold it still. It's at full resolution (thanks, Eolake, I had been ignoring the EXR mode, which I'll now have some fun with) and I applied a small amount of luminance smoothing in Lightroom. It's amazing what Fuji can wring from a pretty small sensor.

emptyspaces said...

Whoops, here's that shot. Sorry for the extra noise!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Very nice picture.
And thanks for info.

recs said...

so you haven't noticed the "white disc" bug?

emptyspaces said...

Haven't noticed it...take a look at the moon my example shot in the link above, although I think that's what an out-of-focus 3/4-full moon should look like at 1/3 second and f/2. But who knows. It strikes me as being like the "black dots" think when the Canon 5DII came out, much ado about nothing that existed mainly in forums. Having used the X10, I say don't worry, a firmware update will take care of whatever miniscule problem may be present. Funny things happen when you point any camera at bright lights, really.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I haven't noticed any specular highlights problems either. Some say it was only early samples of the camera.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Re white disc, see update.

Alex said...

So is the problem that the flare gets coerced into a near perfect circle? The headlight look too circular, as does the streetlight by the Currys sign. Rest of it looks fine and dandy to me.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Exactly so.

TC [Girl] said...

emptyspaces said...
"TC, sorry to tease!"

Yeah, right! lol! (...as he, further delves into all the good stuff on this camera!)

"There are two macro settings: regular and super. With super, and at the wide end, you can nearly touch what you're shooting with the glass and still focus. It's crazy fun to use."

STOP IT! I'm already drooling! lol! I MISS my Zeiss lens on my old Sony Mavica! This one is similar but not quite it. I'm too tired, right now, to get up and go out to look at the model. :-P Anyway, that was my first taste of macro work and I had a LOT of fun w/that! I've been enjoying looking at your pics, whenever I could, today, and this one is just crazy macro!! Looks FUN!

"Lucky me, part of my job is evaluating new cameras, so I get to try out anything interesting that comes through."

LUCKY YOU, alright! That must not suck, too badly, to have to go to work, for you! :-)

"I tried out the Nikon 1 system (both cameras), and this Fuji beats them both for what I like to do."

Wow! Nice to hear!

TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"Nah, consensus is that 3200 is the highest really useable one."

That's what I thought; hence, why I made that comment. I've NEVER heard of anyone ever talking about needing anything that high! I wonder what the reason they have it so high for is.

TC [Girl] said...

emptyspaces said...
"Here's a nighttime shot at ISO 1600...I steadied the camera in a telephone pole to hold it still. It's at full resolution (thanks, Eolake, I had been ignoring the EXR mode, which I'll now have some fun with) and I applied a small amount of luminance smoothing in Lightroom. It's amazing what Fuji can wring from a pretty small sensor."

This is a really nice shot. I'll have to go back and look at the last batch of moon shots I tried to shoot and check out the settings. Certainly nothing like yours! :-/

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

High numbers are supposedly good for sales,even when unrealistic.
But huge cameras like Nikon D3s can actually take good pics at 12800, maybe even higher. Very heavy and expensive camera though. Useful for reportage with long lenses and many other things.

MichaelT said...

I am curious if folks reading this blog (including Eolake) have seen / compared the X10 with the Nikon V1. Kirk Tuck over at the VSL (blogging here: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/) has been posting some interesting images and his experience with this new system.

emptyspaces said...

MichaelT,

I have seen a bit of what Kirk Tuck's been doing. He really likes the Nikon 1 V1, as I recall. I had only a little time with the V1/J1 and like the Fuji better, but that's just me. The X10 has a built-in lens that covers the focal lengths I use for 98% of my shooting, and there's nothing more to buy.

The Nikon 1 V1 is nice, built very solidly. It would be a nice camera with a fast pancake lens (faster than the one available for it now).

TCgirl,

You are too kind, and thanks for checking out my pictures! That macro you like of the water drop is taken with two lenses reversed with a coupler ring...crazy magnification but damn hard to use.

TC [Girl] said...

emptyspaces said...
"You are too kind,"

Well, shucks! You pictures are great! :-D

"...and thanks for checking out my pictures!"

You're welcome! Thanks for linking to them! Pretty tough for me not to go down that road; I LOVE looking at people's pictures! :0) Thanks for sharing them with us!

"That macro you like of the water drop is taken with two lenses reversed with a coupler ring...crazy magnification but damn hard to use."

That does sound rather difficult! I've never even heard of such a thing, before! Is this a new thing?

Wish I had a coupla lenses to even do that with! All I have is a coupla zoom lenses and a "sick" (I'm sure sick about it, anyway!) 70-300mm zoom! :-( ...

The flower is cool, as well! And...I bet Eo hasn't seen this shot, yet! COOL! :-D But...there's a GOB besides the ones mentioned! LOTS of interesting stuff to look at and learn from your work! Thanks for sharing! :-)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Nice winter shot. I wonder if I haven't seen it before, seems familiar. But then shots from Central Park in Winter are bound to have similarities!

TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"Nice winter shot."

I know! Isn't it "dreamy?!" And I don't even like winter! LOL!

"I wonder if I haven't seen it before, seems familiar. But then shots from Central Park in Winter are bound to have similarities!"

With the "nostalgic" look of the Black and White of it, it reminds me of the one that you liked, a couple of years ago, that was looking down on CP and had all the tire tracks on the roads. Do you remember that one? Might take me a bit to find... Nope! Not able to recall what it was under. I seem to remember it had something to do w/some old picture site, however. Perhaps something to do w/your old typewriter...even though I'm not sure how that could be. An old camera, then, perhaps? I forget. I'll have to think about it. :-(

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yeah.
Maybe
http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2008/02/random-excell-1.html

TC [Girl] said...

Nopes! Not that one I was thinking of. It was right in the middle of the square...looking almost straight down on the activity. I'll try to search for it, via Google, 'cuz I can't find it doing a regular search of the blog.

Steve Weeks said...

TC Girl, if you are looking for B&W images of Central Park, Beckerman may be your go do guy.

http://www.beckermanphoto.com/category/central-park-photos

TC [Girl] said...

Thanks, Steve! Although they are really nice (makes me want to go and give it a whirl! I'll need a big, burly dude to accompany me, though! ;-) this shot was from about the 30's. How did you know that I'm STILL looking for it...schlepping through Eo's old postings from winters gone by! :-/ It seems as though he shared it w/us during the winter and I thought it was a couple years ago but...perhaps it was from 3 years ago. And...it seemed like it was from a series...on some historic site. Annoying when you can't find what you're lookin' for; isn't it?! :-( (I'll just say that I printed the picture and made Christmas paper out of it! :-D

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Could have been from Shorpy.com

TC [Girl] said...

You know what? I think you might be right! I'll look around on there! Looks very familiar! :-D

TC [Girl] said...

OK so...I was off some 30 years! lol! Do you remember this shot, Eo?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yeah, I think that's the one.