10 Thoughts on the Fuji X-T10

Originally published on Bokeh on 17 August 2015

Fuji doesn’t trust users of the X-T10 to use Photoshop.

That’s my one sentence conclusion after a whirlwind week of romance with the Fuji X-T10.

You’ll never need to shoot RAW with this camera, since most likely your botched results will never look as good as their original JPGs anyway.

Regardless, that’s kind of the point. This is a small, tidy camera that you’ll bring around and have a lot of fun snapping with. It isn’t perfect, but it may be the one for you:

1) Size Matters

4.65 inches of joy.

And whether you admit it or not, aesthetics does too. Fujifilm has done a beautiful job replicating the look and feel of a traditional 35mm camera, and it’s done it in a way that is compact and light.

It was easy to fit into my bag (and hence it came out more often), and didn’t look like overkill as I snapped pictures of Lok during lunch.

Always camera ready.

2) Handy Knobs

A for awesome.

Let’s compare the modern DSLR to a car:

Automatic transmission is more convenient and practical than manual transmission in 99% of all situations. When I’m sitting in traffic for 30 minutes, idling every 20 seconds, the last thing I want to be doing is twiddling with my gear stick.

Yet who can argue that driving with a firm grasp of the controls in manual is not more rewarding? You become the rugged cowboy as he tenderly, but forcefully, directs the vigorous colt through the plains.

With the X-T10, a small army of Japanese designers put photographers back into the driver’s seat with knobs galore. Twist here, tinker there. Fuji does everything else for you already, so at least these physical controls allow you to feel like you are doing something.

3) Fool proof

ISO 3200, Fujinon 35mm 1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/7

To be honest, this camera is ridiculously easy to use and doesn’t require too much prior photography knowledge. I tested this camera in a variety of situations with mostly (A)uto mode on, and had a blast. The only thing I had to change was the aperture.

ISO 1000, Fujinon 35mm 1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/75

The white balance was generally accurate outside, and performed reasonably well. The naturally high saturation exaggerated the effects of certain lighting scenarios.

The bar was roughly this orange.

4) Decent metering

Here I try to channel my inner J.J. Abrams, but the 35mm 1.4 holds up ok against flaring.

To the X-T10’s credit, it could meter quite well during the day. I didn’t experience too many blown out highlights (except when I aimed at the sun above…).

Howver, it consistently underexposed scenes in the dark, and wasn’t too “smart” with difficult scenes where a variety of sources competed for attention. Of course, good results can be easily attained with a few twists of that exposure compensation knob.

The bokeh was beautiful, but that’s not exactly the point right?

5) Lacklustre focusing

Totally intentional photo of that man in the back. Do I need a model release for him?

How can I put this nicely? Hmm…

There’s no real way to get around it. You can’t focus on the broadside of a barn with the X-T10 in the dark. It focuses fine as long as there is some light illuminating the subject, but if anyone is moving — even slightly — forget it.

It took me a ton of tries to get some usable images during a birthday party. Flash works great though for more casual events.

6) Fun modes are fun — no matter what you say

I don’t remember the last time I did a double exposure, but I have no regrets.

I guess there’s something oddly nostalgic about being able to do double exposures on a DSLR that feels like my first camera — an 80’s era Fujica. Does it have any practical use? Not really, but again, this camera is an anti-Photoshop model.

7) The Fuji X-mount is seriously good

There aren’t many Fujinon lenses, but you don’t need that many.

Many people have spoken highly of Fuji’s X-mount glass, so I won’t go into too many details. I used the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4, which is the equivalent of a standard prime. It was great to use, and I loved the physical aperture ring.

It’s sharp and has a pleasing bokeh, although I’m spoiled by Zeiss glass. Luckily, the X-mount has access to the Zeiss Touit line.

8) Punchy tones

ISO 640, Fujinon 35mm 1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/75

Where Fuji always excels is in the quality of their colours. The importance of this cannot be overstated, since achieving good tonality may often require a ton of post-processing.

My only complaint is that it seems reds are a little extreme; this is interesting when thinking back on the colour profile of Fuji Velvia 50, which was always biased towards more prominent greens and reds.

Velvia 50 was terrible for human skin tones, until they changed the formula a bit in the early 2000’s. Even after the modification it still was more of a landscape option. Images from the X-T10 certainly remind me of this colour bias, as the results are punchy but a little too saturated. Skin tones in the day aren’t a problem though.

9) The sensor is good enough…for now

ISO 400, Fujinon 35mm 1.4 @ f/11, 1/350

The 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor used in this camera is the same one released in early 2014, so it’s getting a bit old. This is Fuji’s last chance to parade it — but there are no complaints here.

The files are detailed enough for a healthy amount of cropping, and of course will print beautifully. Still, the humble 16-megapixels on offer here won’t be satisfying to users as newer models continue to roll in. Consider how the new Sony A7rII has 42-megapixels and full-frame at a similar size.

Zoomed up 100%. Looks sharp enough to me.

10) Clean as a whistle

ISO 800, Fujinon 35mm 1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/120

Low light images look really clean, and skin tones fair especially well. These photos once again don’t need much work.

My main criticism is that in this case I really think the JPGs demonstrate far too much noise control. There is a great loss of detail when zoomed in, as I’m guessing the idea is to have zero noise show at all.

100% zoom demonstrates over-aggressive noise control.