Fujifilm X10 Review
Fujifilm X10 Image Quality
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
About average saturation levels, with very good overall hue accuracy.
Skin tones. The Fujifilm X10 pushed Caucasian skin tones noticeably toward pink, though results are still realistic. Darker skin tones had a slightly orange push, but overall skin tones were quite pleasing in simulated daylight. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Fujifilm X10 shifted cyan toward blue pretty strongly (probably for better-looking skies), but other shifts in color were quite minor. Mean "delta-C" color error at base ISO was 4.3 after correction for saturation, which is very good. Hue is "what color" the color is.
|See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Slight yellow cast with Auto and warmer orange cast with Incandescent white balance. Best accuracy with Manual setting. Average amount of positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was slightly warm and yellow with the Auto setting, which is pretty good for Auto. The Incandescent setting produced a stronger warm cast, with more of an orange tint. Manual white balance was pretty accurate though, just a hint cool and magenta, though still best overall. The Fujifilm X10 required average positive exposure compensation at +0.3 EV for these shots, though they look a touch dim. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)
Good colors overall, though slightly high contrast under harsh lighting. Better than average exposure accuracy.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
The Fujifilm X10 produced good color when set to Auto white balance in our "Sunlit" Portrait test, with natural looking results. The X10 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation to keep facial tones reasonably bright on the mannequin, though that also resulted in very strong highlights on the white shirt. The X10 also performed well with our Far-field shot, with very good overall exposure, few clipped highlights and natural-looking colors.
Very high resolution, ~1,900 to 2,000 lines of strong detail in JPEGs; surprisingly, about 100 lines less from converted RAW files.
In-camera JPEGs of our laboratory resolution chart at the highest quality setting revealed sharp, distinct line patterns to about 2,000 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 1,900 lines per picture height in the vertical direction. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until a little over 3,200 lines. Surprisingly, RAW conversions using the bundled Raw File Converter as well as Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 produced strong moiré interference patterns, reducing resolution somewhat compared to camera JPEGs. It's a little difficult to call the resolution numbers from the converted RAW files, but we'd say about 100 lines less than the camera JPEGs. Aberrant pixels were also not well corrected, especially in the ACR conversions.
Sharpness & Detail
Good detail though slightly soft overall, with some minor edge-enhancement artifacts on some high-contrast subjects. Low levels of noise suppression generally leaves excellent detail at base ISO.
|Good definition of
though with some visible
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast but
the X10 does better than most here.
Sharpness. The Fujifilm X10 captures fairly sharp, detailed images, though images are a touch soft overall. (Some of the softness is due to diffraction, as our "Pine" shot was taken at f/5.6, where sharpness is already diffraction limited for such a small sensor.) Some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the thicker branches and pine cones in the crop above left, but it's not too bad. Fine detail such as the smaller twigs and pine needles show very little edge enhancement, but still show good detail. Overall good results here, and sharpness improves somewhat at larger apertures. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows minor noise suppression in the darkest areas of the model's hair, as most individual strands of hair are well defined except in very low contrast areas. Overall, detail is quite good for a compact camera. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO 100, 200%
ISO 100, 200%
We noticed that while the Fuji X10 performed well with our resolution chart, it produced demosaicing errors more often than competing models with traditional sensor layouts. Compare for instance the small red text in our Samuel Smith beer bottle label in the 200% crops at right. Also notice the 12-megapixel Fuji X10 was unable to resolve the horizontal lines contained within the "Pure Brewed" letters better than the 10-megapxel XZ-1. In fact, it seemed to add vertical lines that don't exist.
RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Fuji X10 produces detailed though slightly soft JPEG images at default settings. Let's see if we can extract more fine detail from RAW files without introducing additional sharpening artifacts:
In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above, and clicking on the link will load the full resolution image. Examples include (from left to right): an in-camera Fine JPEG, RAW file processed through Fuji's RAW File Converter EX software (which is based on SilkyPix) at default settings, another processed with RFC's in-application sharpening turned down to a minimum but with output sharpening applied using unsharp mask of 500% with radius 0.6 pixels, and finally, one processed in Adobe Camera Raw 7.1, and sharpened in Photoshop using unsharp mask of 500% with radius 0.6 pixels.
As you can see, the RFC version at default settings is quite a bit softer than the in-camera JPEG. (Color rendering is also slightly different which is not usually the case for bundled software but not a surprise since it's based on third-party software based on SilkyPix.) Increasing the sharpness helped, but the resulting image doesn't really show much any additional detail. In fact, it shows less fine detail in the pine needles and foliage than the in-camera JPEG. Adobe Camera Raw was able to extract slightly more fine detail than the in-camera JPEG, but required fairly strong sharpening to match the camera's output, leading to some visible sharpening artifact. ACR also shows a bit more noise at default noise reduction settings. Of course, you can always adjust the amount of noise reduction and decide for yourself what trade-off in detail you'd prefer when processing your own images. That's one of the advantages of shooting RAW. Bottom line, though, the Fuji X10's JPEG engine does a pretty good job of holding onto most of the detail offered by its sensor and lens.
ISO & Noise Performance
Very good noise versus detail handling through ISO 400, though strong noise reduction and visible grain at higher ISOs.
Default High ISO Noise Reduction (Standard)
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600||ISO 3,200|
|ISO 6,400||ISO 12,800|
The Fujifilm X10 captures a lot of fine detail at ISO 100, though a tiny amount of noise is already visible in terms of colored pixels in the darker hair strands. ISO 200 is similar, just a touch noisier. Noise is more noticeable at ISO 400 along with a drop in saturation, though fine detail is still very good. A more pronounced noise "grain" is visible at ISO 800, reducing detail noticeably. From ISO 1,600 on up, noise pattern becomes more predominate, with less and less detail preservation apparent. At the highest settings of 6,400 and 12,800, the camera does damage control by limiting image size to 6 and 3MP respectively, but overall results are still quite blurred and stippled-looking. Still, above average high ISO performance for a 12-megapixel compact camera, helped by the fast lens and larger-than-average 2/3-inch sensor for a compact. As always, see the Print Quality section below for maximum recommended print sizes at each ISO.
The Fuji X10 also has a special EXR High ISO & Low Noise (Signal to Noise) mode with lower noise, accomplished through pixel binning. Of course, the tradeoff is lower resolution 6-megapixel files. We didn't test that mode in the lab.
Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range, and low light tests
Very high resolution with good detail, but high default contrast and limited dynamic range without EXR DR mode. Good low-light performance.
|0 EV||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
Sunlight. The Fujifilm X10 struggled a bit with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test, as do many digital cameras. Quite a few highlights are clipped in the white shirt and flowers, while many shadows remain quite dark, though noise in shadows is considerably low. We preferred the +0.3 EV exposure overall, because the exposure of skin tones in the face was better than 0 EV, though highlights are very bright here. See below for how the Fuji X10's Shadow and Highlight Tone settings, and EXR D-Range modes help with high contrast scenes.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here. In actual shooting conditions, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown here; it's better to shoot in open shade whenever possible.)
The Fuji X10 does not offer a traditional contrast adjustment. Instead, it offers Shadow and Highlight Tone settings, which let you adjust contrast in highlights and shadows independently. There are five settings each: "Soft", "Medium Soft", "Standard" (default), "Medium Hard", and "Hard."
|Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison|
Shadow and Highlight Tone. Above you can see the effects of three of the five settings for Highlight and Shadow Tone control on our high contrast Far-field shot. Mouse over the links to load the associated thumbnail, and click on the links to visit the full resolution image. Note how the Highlight settings affect only the brighter portions of the image, while the Shadow settings impact the darker areas. Both settings can be used simultaneously, giving more flexibility than a standard contrast adjustment.
"Sunlit" Portrait D-Range Comparison
Shadow Noise (levels boosted)
D-Range is Fuji's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. D-Range is designed to preserve hot highlights. In full-resolution PASM modes, the camera does this by essentially underexposing to reduce highlight clipping, then boosting mid-tones and shadows to compensate, similar to other manufacturers' dynamic range optimization systems. In EXR D-Range Priority mode, the camera reads half the pixels early and uses them to determine highlight detail, while the remainder of the sensor continues the image exposure. That generates half-resolution (6MP) files though, and we didn't test that mode in the lab.
There are three levels of D-Range available in PASM modes: DR100 100% (default), DR200 200% and DR400 400%, as well as an Auto mode. Mouse over the links above to load the corresponding thumbnail image, histogram, highlight and shadow crop. Click on the links to get to the full resolution images. DR800 (800%) and DR1600 (1600%) settings are also available in EXR D-Range Priority mode.
As you can see the images above, the Fuji X10's D-Range feature was very effective at retaining clipped highlights in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot. As they say, though, there's no free lunch: if you look closely at the full resolution images or the crops, you'll see that highlight retention comes at a cost of increased noise in the shadows. This is because the camera raised ISO to 200 and 400 for DR 200% and 400% respectively. (Note that the shadow crops above have had levels adjusted in Photoshop significantly to reveal the increase in shadow noise.) Also notice the Auto setting only helped a bit here, and DR400 resulted in slightly darker shadows with lower saturation of some colors.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
|Face Detection Disabled
|Face Detection Enabled
Face Detection. Like most cameras these days, the Fujifilm X10 has the ability to detect faces and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. As you can see from the examples above, face detection worked only slightly in Aperture Priority mode, however switching to full Auto mode produced a much better exposure. In full Auto mode, the camera raised ISO from 100 to 400, increased shutter speed from 1/85s to 1/350s, and opened aperture slightly from f/5.6 to f/4.5.
Low Light. The Fujifilm X10 performed well in our low light test, getting bright exposures at the darkest light levels. Noise was pretty well controlled up to ISO 800, though at the highest ISOs, noise becomes much more noticeable, even with default noise reduction enabled. In some cases, noise grain is so strong that details become quite blurry. We didn't notice any issue with hot pixels, and only slight banding is noticeable at the highest ISO setting, which is not unusual.
Auto white balance did a fairly good job here at higher light levels, producing fairly neutral color balance just slightly on the cool side, though there's a noticeable red or magenta bias at lower light levels.
The Fuji X10 has a number of tricks up its sleeve for low-light shooting, including EXR High ISO & Low Noise mode which produces cleaner but smaller (6 megapixel) files by combining pixels, and Pro Low Light and Advanced Anti Blur modes which stack multiple images reduce noise and blur for static subjects. We don't typically test those special modes in the lab, though -- check the review for samples of special modes.
The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on our subject down to below the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted, which is excellent. The fast (bright) lens no doubt helped a lot here. Our tester noted that the AF assist lamp often overwhelmed the autofocus system, however, making it useful only to about the 1/2 foot-candle level in our tests. AF assist should still come in very handy for most real-world subjects that aren't too close or too far from the camera, though.
You can easily see the orb/white disc issue in these shots, though low light levels are not required to cause them. In the crop at right, you can clearly see them in the reflections in the bell in the upper-right quadrant of the "Dave Box," particularly at lower ISOs where the hard edges are not softened by noise and noise reduction processing.
Fujifilm says they've fixed the issue with a revised sensor, however we have not received an updated unit yet.
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to their phase-detect AF systems, digital SLRs tend to do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. The X10 uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability is less than that of most SLRs with phase-detect systems. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
The Fujifilm X10's ISO 100 images are usable at 16 x 20 inches, but are a little soft in some areas to support printing at this size. Prints at 13 x 19 inches are quite a bit better, with good color and detail.
ISO 200 shots are also good at 13 x 19. They're slightly softer, but not enough that they need a print size reduction.
ISO 400 image look better at 11 x 14 inches. Shadow noise is well controlled at this size, and color still looks good.
ISO 800 prints are also good at 11 x 14 inches.
ISO 1,600 images are better printed at 8x10 inches, though reds are somewhat soft.
ISO 3,200 shots look good at 5x7.
ISO 6,400 are usable at 5x7, but better at 4x6.
ISO 12,800 images are too soft for printing even at 4x6.
Overall, the Fujifilm X10 does a pretty good job for a 12-megapixel camera, and even its softer images look good enough for wall display.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)
Fujifilm X10 Flash
Flash Test Results
Coverage and Range
Good range with the flash, though with somewhat narrow coverage at wide-angle.
Coverage. Flash coverage from the Fujifilm X10's built-in flash was fairly uneven at wide-angle, leaving corners a little dim in our flash coverage test image. Narrow coverage at wide-angle isn't unusual, though, and some of the corner darkening could be from the lens itself. Coverage was more uniform at telephoto, though exposure was darker.
Exposure. Our Indoor Portrait test scene was just slightly dim in auto flash exposure mode, with a noticeable warm shift in color from the background incandescent lighting. The Fuji X10 has a slow-sync flash option, however we did not test that mode.
ISO 200 Range. The Fujifilm X10's flash exposure started out bright at 6 feet at wide-angle and actually increased in brightness to 13 feet, remaining bright out to our limit of 16 feet. At full telephoto, flash exposure was also bright at 6 feet, though it began to dim incrementally from about 10 feet on. Pretty good range for a tiny flash, though the fast (bright) lens really helps.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 200
Auto ISO 800
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. The Fujifilm X10's built-in flash is rated to about 22.9 feet at wide-angle, and 16.4 feet at telephoto, when the camera is set to Auto (800) ISO. In the shots above, the X10 produced a dim target at wide-angle at ISO 200, thanks in part to some strong reflection on the white walls at this distance despite using spot metering mode. Flash exposure at full telephoto was however quite bright, though the camera boosted ISO to 800 to achieve that result. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 200, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm X10 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm X10 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.