Fujifilm X-T10 review and real-world write-up

So, let me get this out of the way up-front.  The thing is this, I really didn’t want to like the X-T10 right from the start.  I couldn’t understand who it was aimed at given the current line up of Fujifilm cameras, and I don’t particularly like the Fujifilm X-Series camera with central viewfinders.  One of the reasons I loved the X-Series to start with was because of that classic rangefinder styling.  I prefer not to hide behind the camera, I like to see what is going on and for people to see me if I’m shooting a someone.  Fujifilm UK very kindly lent me an X-T10, and I’ve had it for a few weeks now, using it in a variety of circumstances both personally and professionally.  Keep reading to find out if I have changed my mind about the latest camera in the Fujifilm line-up or not.

As always with my write-ups I’ll include a wide variety of images shot in many different circumstances so you can see what it is capable of.

Introduction

It is becoming harder and harder to write reviews about Fujifilm X-Series cameras, I suspect that may change over the next year or so, but for the moment there isn’t a huge difference between the various models other than form factor and some minor specifications.

I don’t do feature by feature, button by button reviews, that’s not what I do, so for me in many ways it is even harder to find something new and different to write than those type of reviews because essentially the X-T10 is very similar to the X-T1, even the X-E2, and I’ve written about both of those extensively in the past.  Pop over and check out my X-T1 review if you want to know more as much I have written there will be relevant to the X-T10.   I will do some general writing about my thoughts on the X-T10 and where things are different I will point those out to aid in your decision as to whether this camera is for you.  At £499 for the body this certainly appears to be a bargain compared to the X-T1, and comes in at a very affordable price point for a mirrorless camera given the capability it offers.

Build Quality

The X-T10 feels very well constructed.  It feels as though it could stand up to the rigours of even professional use in all but the extreme of shoots.  The X-T10 isn’t weather sealed as the X-T1 is, and that is one of the main points that sets them apart.  I do have an issue with people who say they absolutely need weather sealing.  Unless you’re a photographer who makes money from shooting and simply have to go out and shoot in the pouring down rain, the need for it is really very limited.  I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it, my X-Pro1 isn’t weather sealed in any way, I’ve used it in the pouring rain many times, I’ve used it in the dusty environment of a bakery, various engineering companies, I’ve used it by the lake in gales, by the sea, in the desert, and pretty much taken it beyond what most people would do and it still works perfectly well.  I’ve never had any sort of problem with it at all.  Cameras really can stand up to a lot more than you may believe, even if they are not ‘officially’ weather sealed.  I’m not saying there aren’t people who do actually need weather sealing, clearly there are, but that certainly isn’t the average shooter, and you could save a lot of money by getting a camera without that trait, especially in the case of the X-T10, which is thereabouts £350 cheaper than the X-T1, that’s enough for another lens that will almost certainly be far more useful.

Image Quality

The sensor has remained the same for some time now in the X-Series cameras since the X-E2, we know the lenses already, so in terms of image quality there is little to say that would set the X-T10 aside from any other model in the past couple of years.  As expected, the image quality coming out of the X-T10 is outstanding.  For such a small camera you really can’t beat it.  Combine the superb X-TransII sensor along with Fujifilm’s incredible XF series of lenses, excellent JPEG processing engine, their LMO lens correction processing, and you’ve got the best camera JPEGs of any system in my opinion, and yes, I do use other systems from time to time!  It’s certainly significantly better than my Nikon D600 files, which I have to process each time from RAW to get them where I want them.  With the X-T10 I can almost always use the JPEGs straight away, and that saves a huge amount of time.

One of the massive advantages of mirrorless is that you can see exactly what you’re going to be shooting on the screen before you shoot it, which can drastically reduce the amount of messing about you have to do with an image if you shoot it right in the first place!  Yes there are times where I use the RAW files, but a lot of the time for many circumstances the JPEGs that come from the camera are more than satisfactory.  I may make a minor tweak here or there, but nothing substantial, and because I could get it right in camera through live-view I have even less work in post.  In the shot below I could set the exposure exactly how I wanted it to be to give a dark background to the flowers.  On a dSLR it would probably have taken me maybe 3-4 shots to get the perfect exposure in circumstances like this.  With the X-T10 I could see exactly what I was going to get in the viewfinder.

Features of the X-T10

This isn’t a list of every feature, more the ones I find useful, and where appropriate, features that make the X-T10 stand out from other X-Series cameras.

The X-T10 brings a number of new features and improvements on the previous generation of X-Series cameras.  One of the things I love about Fujifilm is that they won’t scupper owners of older cameras, and these features have all been brought to the X-T1 via firmware v4.0, so they are not forcing you to buy another camera as most other companies do.  That builds a level of brand loyalty that you can see evident amongst Fujifilm owners.

Central high-resolution, very low latency EVF with rotating information display.  One of the very best EVFs in any mirrorless camera, if you’re an old-schooler that says you can’t use anything but an OVF, I think you should give these more recent EVFs a chance.  I now find it much easier to use an EVF than an OVF, and in reality even though the X-Pro1 is still my favourite X-Series camera, I never have used the OVF.

WiFi – for transferring images from the camera to a tablet or phone, and for remote shooting with live view.  I was really surprised at the Fujifilm implementation of this feature.  I’ve used WiFi in a few cameras and their associated Apps and Fujifilm really have the best all-round system out there right now.

Tilting rear screen – once you’ve had one of these you’ll never want a camera without one again!  A big advantage over the X-E2.

Pop-up flash.  Something the X-T1 doesn’t have.  The X-T1 does have a flash is included, but it is an odd add-on affair that is a pain to carry and easy to loose!  Some might spurn on-camera flash, but they are surprisingly useful for just a burst of fill light on a bright day, and if you’re shooting family, especially indoors then they make a lot of sense.  Who wants to carry a speedlight around to shoot Mum’s birthday?!

An electronic shutter (ES) mode that has recently come to some other X-Series camera (X-T1 & X100T) allows you to shoot at up to 1/32000s, which allows lenses such as the 56mm f/1.2 to be shot wide open in bright sunlight.  It doesn’t come without some issues though, there is no flash capability with the ES, fast-moving subjects and certain light sources cause problems, so it is best to leave the camera in MS (mechanical shutter) + ES  mode that allows the camera to shoot with the MS up to the maximum speed and then automatically choose the ES is necessary.  One advantage I have found is that if you’re shooting in a sensitive environment, by using the ES you effectively have a totally silent camera, which means you may be able to keep shooting where otherwise you could not.

The shot below was taken wide open at f/1.4 on a bright sunny day at 1/18000th of a second!   I would have had to use an ND filter to do that normally.

fujifilm x-t10 sample image electronic shutter

The latest AF firmware that comes as standard in the X-T10 improves on the previous AF system and allows phase detection to lower light levels, it adds the ability to focus on a person’s eye rather than just on their face in general, and it improves on subject tracking throughout the frame, showing you live which parts of the frame it is focussing on and following motion across the screen.  The whole package adds up to something that is really very capable in many differing conditions.  Believe it or not, the X-T10 with the XF35mm (one of the slower focussing lenses) out performed my Nikon D600 with an f/2.8 zoom lens during an evening event I was shooting.  The D600 often struggled to focus at all, where the X-T10 would lock on every time.  That shocked me.  I had only brought the X-T10 to grab the odd shot, yet ended up using it quite substantially because of that, if only I had the 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom I would have put the D600 away completely!

Handling

I am someone who tends to prefer larger cameras.  That is one of the reasons I didn’t want to like the X-T10, but I have to be honest and say that actually I find it a great form factor and very easy to get along with.  It isn’t a small as I expected it to be from the photos, but it is small enough to set itself aside from the X-T1.  It is more like the size of the X100 series camera.  It fits nicely into the hand and really does work well.  There is just enough of a rubberised grip on the back to hold your thumb against and the slight protruding grip on the front gives a sense of security whilst holding the camera.

Combine the X-T10 with something like the 18mm or the 27mm and you could conceivably have a strong rival to the X100T as a portable carry around camera.  The X100T does have some advantages, but not ones that everyone needs or wants – OVF if you use that, and a leaf shutter, which for me is one huge advantage in terms of flash sync speed.  If you don’t use the OVF and don’t need to sync a flash at higher shutter speeds then I’d strongly consider buying an X-T10 and the 27mm lens instead, which would allow you to expand the possibilities by adding new lenses later on.

Things have changed again in terms of button placement, but not massively so, and with a large variety of customisable buttons, I got the X-T10 setup to be all but similar to how I’m used to controlling any of the X-Series cameras.

Buttons are well placed and out-of-the-way enough that they don’t get accidentally pressed.  Dials all feel well weighted with a quality ‘click’ that is perfectly balanced between being firm enough to not knock accidentally, yet just right that they can be moved by your thumb without having to grab at it.  The exposure compensation dial in particular seems to strike just the right balance for me.  On more recent cameras, this dial has been getting larger, which although can be useful, does make it more prone to accidental movement.  On the X-T10 is has shrunk once again and is just recessed enough to be perfect.

Gone are the mode dial adjustments that sit below the shutter and ISO dial on the X-T1 that I so often found myself turning when adjusting shutter speed or ISO.

When I first started using the X-T10 after using the X-T1 for so long I bemoaned the lack of ISO dial and had to re-train myself to find that setting, but after a while you soon get used to it.  On the subject of the ISO setting, one thing that makes more sense on the X-T10 is the front dial.  On the X-T1 I never found a use for it, but with the X-T10, because there is no ISO dial, this front dial is ideal for that function.  Press the dial in to activate the ISO setting and then dial it in with the wheel, press in again to set it.

The X-T10 has three Auto ISO customisable settings that each allow for different minimum, maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed, that is extremely handy as I mostly use Auto ISO, but was always adjusting it depending on what I was shooting.

Customisable displays for both the EVF and rear screen, including my favourite of an electronic level, make for a good shooting experience.  The eye cup on the EVF is not quite as substantial as the X-T1 and there doesn’t appear to be any way of replacing it with anything larger, but it is more than adequate for my needs.

X-T10 vs X-T1

So there are a few differences, and the X-T1 remains the king in terms of features for professional use.  Weather sealing, UHSII (ultra fast) SD card compatibility and side-loading card slot, tethering capability, larger electronic viewfinder (although only in terms of magnification – otherwise they are identical).

The X-T1 is a bit more substantial, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the build quality feels any better than the X-T10.  Probably for me the extra size of the X-T1 makes it a bit easier to hold, and I like the side-loading SD card, but neither of those are really points that would put me off buying an X-T10 instead, the only stand-out feature that would make me choose an X-T1 is the ability to tether it to a computer a for studio work as I find that extremely useful.

The X-T1 does have an optional battery grip, personally I never saw the need for it, but I do know a lot of people like that and it does balance out better with some of the larger zoom lenses in that configuration.

For the most part however, it comes down to personal choice and finances in the end.

Conclusion

The X-Series has steadily matured from model to model.  Both in terms of physical handling, but more significantly in terms of capability and is now getting to a point where any of the early criticisms of the system are all but wiped out.  It is hard to think of a situation that you would run into that would cause you to think that the camera couldn’t do what you wanted.  Image quality always has been a strong point, and with the increase in the number of lenses the X-Series has now really become a fully rounded system.

The X-T10 certainly has changed my opinion of it the more I have shot with it over the past few weeks.  I personally like the slightly larger body of the X-T1 to hold in my hand, but many people want a smaller body camera, and essentially the X-T10 is every bit as capable as the X-T1 so fills that market very well.  When you consider the price difference, it would seem like there is no point going for the more expensive X-T1 unless you really need the extra functionality that camera provides.

The X-T10 is both a great camera on its own, but would also make the ideal back-up to someone shooting professionally with an X-T1 without having to go to the expense of buying a second X-T1.  I have shot with X-T1 since it was launched and I can’t see that anyone who has done the same would not hold it in the same high regard.

In summary, the X-T10 is the X-Series camera that I would recommend most right now to anyone wanting to get into the Fujifilm X-Series system.  Purchase the X-T10 with the surprisingly sharp 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom as a kit, save the extra from the X-T1 and buy one of the excellent Fujifilm prime lenses would be my advice.

 

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