Will the Fujifilm FinePix X10 win over amateur shooters?

Fujifilm capitalizes on the buzz around its X100 to enter the enthusiast compact market with a very different, yet still retro-looking model.

Fujifilm
Top view Fujifilm

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:

  Canon PowerShot G12 Fujifilm FinePix X10 Fujifilm FinePix X100 Nikon Coolpix P7100 Olympus XZ-1 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
Lens 28-140mm
f2.8-4.5
5x
28-112mm
f2-2.8
4x
35mm
f2
28-200mm
f2.8-5.6
7.1x
28-112mm
f1.8-2.5
4x
24-90mm
f2-3.3
3.8x
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 n/a 3.9 0.8 0.4 0.4
Continuous shooting 1.1fps
frames n/a
7fps
n/a
5fps
10 JPEG/8 raw
1.1fps
90 JPEG/ n/a raw
2fps
23 JPEG/8 raw
2.5 fps
JPEG/n/a raw
Viewfinder Optical Optical Optical/EVF switchable Optical Optional EVF Optional OVF or EVF
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
n/a 49-area
Contrast AF
99-area
Contrast AF
11 area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
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
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD 2.8-inch articulated
461,000 dots
2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated
921,000 dots
3-inch fixed OLED
610,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical None Optical Sensor shift Optical
Video (best quality) 720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
720/30p Motion JPEG AVI 720/30p AVCHD Lite
Mono
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
Mic input No n/a No n/a Yes No
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
Mfr. Price $499.99 n/a $1,195.95 $499.95 $499.99 $440
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.

Back view Fujifilm

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.

 

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