Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thoughts after a couple of weeks

I deliberately held off commenting about the X10 until after I'd tried it out for a while but I think I've had it long enough now to begin to form a view, so here goes.

First of all, the most important thing...how it looks!  Actually, I didn't love the looks from the photographs, but in the flesh I think the X10 is a great looking little camera: neat, unobtrusive and straightforward.  It's nicely put-together too, the only bit that lets it down being in my view the rear sub-control dial - which is somewhat small and fiddly.  There's enough real estate on the back of the camera for that to have been made a little larger.

It's relatively easy to find your way around the controls and menu system, and this is definitely a camera that will appeal to people who like to fiddle with settings rather than leave it in the full auto modes.

In terms of image quality, I've not really explored RAW yet (I want Adobe support before I head in that direction) although a bit of fiddling in Silkypix suggests that RAW will give a useful improvement in image quality compared to the JPEGs.  And JPEGs are really pretty good: the colours are great, dynamic range in the EXR mode is a significant improvement from previous compacts I've used, and noise handling really does seem to rival the earlier micro four thirds bodies - so much better than my expectations from a small sensor, and really quite usable up to ISO1600 and perhaps beyond.

The viewfinder is nice too - nice and bright although perhaps not likely to be used as much as I thought before I bought the camera.

In total, I really do enjoy using this little camera and it provides a pleasure in ownership not unlike some of the classic cameras of the past - eg the Lumix LC1/Digilux 2.  However, as with all cameras, there is an element of compromise.

So, what do I not care for?  I've not yet suffered from the "white blob synndrome" associated with spectacular highlights that some other users have experienced: but I don't like what I've seen.  In addition, there are a few foibles that I hope can be sorted in a firmware fix, such as:

(1) the histogram does not work properly in manual mode (in fact, it is quite useless, which is very irritating)
(2) you can't use exposure compensation if you attach an external flash (ridiculous)
(3) you can't shoot RAW in the EXR mode, even though the camera is actually capable of doing so
(4) I'd like to be able to configure the RAW button differently (so it works for more than just a single shot)
(5) An RGB histogram would be useful - esp as the JPEGs blow the red highlights too quickly

In addition, I would love to be able to use the OVF with the LCD turned off most of the time, but have the LCD turn on automatically for a few seconds if you turn the rear control dial - so you can see what aperture or shutter speed you have set before it turns off again to save battery.  Currently, if you want to check or change a setting, you need to keep the LCD turned on, which rather defeats the object.

And on the subject of the OVF, it would have been nice to have some kind of markings for the central focus point (including one to correct for paralax error); 35mm compacts used to have that as a matter of course, so I don't see why it couldn't have been implemented in the X10.

All that said, the bottom line is that I think Fuji have got a lot right with this camera, and the compromises are all ones I personally can live with.

Over the next few weeks I hope to post more sample images and comparisons on this site, and work out how to get the best out of this great little camera - so I hope you'll come back and visit in a while to see what's new.