There are two ways to look at the Fujifilm FinePix X10. You can view it as a cynical attempt to capitalize on the fanboy frenzy of the X100 with a camera that looks a lot like it, but that lacks everything that made it desirable to the fans. Or you can look at it as Fujifilm's first serious entry into the enthusiast compact market, going up against stalwarts from Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic (and newcomers like Olympus), with a design and specs that don't look too shabby in that crowd. I'm taking the latter view.
Keep in mind, however, that Fujifilm hasn't released the price, which makes it close to impossible to say anything meaningful about the camera. So I'll frame it this way: unless it can deliver absolutely stellar, X100-class photo quality, which I doubt, then anything more than $599 is too much.
With that in mind, here's how I picture its competition:
|Fujifilm FinePix X10||Nikon Coolpix P7100||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||10-megapixel CCD||12-megapixel EXR CMOS||12.3-megapixel CMOS||10-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel CCD|
|1/1.7-inch||2/3-inch||23.6 x 15.8mm||1/1.7-inch||1/1.63-inch||1/1.63-inch|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 80 - ISO 3200||ISO 100 - ISO 12,800||ISO 100 (expanded)/ 200 - ISO 6400/ 12,800 (expanded)||ISO 100 - ISO 3200||ISO 100 - ISO 6,400||ISO 80 - ISO 3200|
|Closest focus (inches)||0.4||n/a||3.9||0.8||0.4||0.4|
10 JPEG/8 raw
90 JPEG/ n/a raw
23 JPEG/8 raw
|Viewfinder||Optical||Optical||Optical/EVF switchable||Optical||Optional EVF||Optional OVF or EVF|
|Metering||n/a||n/a||256 zones||256-segment matrix||324 area||n/a|
|Shutter||15-1/4000 sec||30 - 1/4000 sec||30 - 1/4000 sec; bulb to 60 min||60-1/4000 sec||60-1/2000 sec; bulb to 16 min||60-1/4000 sec|
|3-inch fixed OLED|
|Image stabilization||Optical||Optical||None||Optical||Sensor shift||Optical|
|Video (best quality)||720/24p|
H.264 QuickTime MOV
|1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo||720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo||720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV|
|720/30p Motion JPEG AVI||720/30p AVCHD Lite|
|Manual iris and shutter in video||No||n/a||Iris only||n/a||No||Yes|
|Zoom while recording||No||n/a||n/a||n/a||No||n/a|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||390 shots||300 shots (est)||300 shots||350 shots||320 shots||400 shots|
|Dimensions (WHD, inches)||4.4 x 3.0 x 2.0||4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2||5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1||n/a||4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7||4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7|
|Weight (ounces)||14.2||12.3 (est)||15.8||14 (est)||9.6||9.2|
|Availability||October 2010||November 2011||March 2011||September 2011||January 2011||August 2010|
Let's start with the sensor. Fujifilm won't reveal exactly how big it is, only stating that it's smaller than APS-C but bigger than 1/1.6. Given that it also adds more pixels than the current 10-megapixel 1/1.6-inch sensors here, I'd guess that the higher resolution eats up whatever size advantage it might otherwise offer. But that particular SuperCCD EXR is a bit of an unknown. Though not a new size--a few years ago there was an 11-megapixel version--it's a new resolution for the size.
The lens and build quality do sound relatively nice. Though it's not the longest lens in the bunch, it's got a wide aperture and good coatings. The zoom operates via a manual ring, but that goes into the plus column for this crowd. The body has a magnesium alloy chassis and an aluminum front, and obviously takes after its more expensive sibling in the looks department--retro all the way. But don't look for the X100's hybrid viewfinder; this is a plain-old straight-through version like the one on the G12 and P7100
Performance will be important as well. These are not terribly fast cameras as a rule, and the X100 is really slow; Fujifilm's point-and-shoots rarely take the lead for speed. The company claims it has fast autofocus, but companies rarely admit their cameras are slow until they've got a faster replacement in the wings. The LCD also looks a bit disappointing: relatively small, low resolution and inarticulate.
There's enough here that the X10 could possibly successfully challenge the incumbents; while they're a good group of cameras, none is an obvious leader of the pack. Let's hope Fujifilm doesn't price it out of the competition.