Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fuji X10 Gets Its First Real Review

Photography Blog has reviewed the new Fuji X10, and it's everything that we thought it was. It is easily the best compact camera on the market. The lens is very impressive in this review, which was the only element that had me worried. If the lens wasn't up to snuff, then the much-cheaper Olympus XZ-1 would have been a better choice. But no. Fuji nailed it. The lens appears as good as the Olympus.
Glorious, glorious dials.
They express the same concerns that others, myself included, have been expressing. Namely, the camera is quite bulky for a compact, and the price is stomach-turning. Aside from that, though, there is little to fault. The interface is simple and intuitive. There appear to be none of the baffling problems that plagued the X100.

As with the X100, image quality is exceptional. A bonus that I hadn't even noticed but they make a point to discuss is the excellent macro performance. A fun day at the flower house would be well within this camera's ken. RAW files reveal a sensor with excellent noise characteristics. I don't believe this sensor is a current-gen Sony, so much like the X100, Fuji has done great things with a slightly older sensor (You hear that, Olympus?!).

JPEG performance is a mixed bag. Color's looking pretty ho-hum out of the standard color curve, known as Provia. Other than that, the JPEGs show excellent color and detail retention up to ISO800-ish. Past that, detail loss is significant, but that's not really news. It's the fact that ISO800 is more than usable even on this small sensor that is worth noting.

This is a tough camera. At $600, it costs over $200 more than a Panasonic GF2/3 with lens. The sensor in the Panny is larger, but the lens is larger and it is nearly two stops slower. The only noticeable difference between the two cameras' images is noise, and the noise difference is a stop's worth at most. This means that in any given light environment, the Fuji would actually produce superior images. The same goes for the Olympus E-PM1. You could buy the exceptionally good Panasonic 20mm F/1.7, but then you lose the zoom capability. It's a tough choice with no right answer.

As a photography enthusiast, if the camera cost $100 less, I would have little qualms in buying it. For me, the deciding factor, considering that image quality is a wash, is the build. The build quality is excellent, it takes old plunger-style remote shutters, and has all of the manual controls one could want. It FEELS so great! But as it is, since I'm already so invested in Micro 4/3, there is little room for me to rationalize a very expensive, and needless for me, camera.

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