Like most of Fujifilm's high-end super-zoom cameras the HS10 is physically quite large and heavy, measuring 130.6 x 90.7 x 126mm and weighing a hefty 730g including the four AA batteries that power it. This is comparable in size and weight to an APS-C digital SLR, and the camera has a very SLR-like shape, with a large comfortable rubber-coated handgrip and rear thumbgrip. The build quality of the plastic body is excellent, and the textured matt black finish looks good and provides a secure grip. Despite its size and weight the camera handles well, but it definitely one that you'll need both hands to use.
The control layout is very similar to that of a digital SLR. It has a large main mode dial and a smaller adjustment dial on the top panel, canted back by about 30 degrees to make them more accessible. It offers Program exposure, full auto, scene-recognition auto as well as aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure, with a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second. Also on the top panel are dedicated buttons for exposure compensation and drive mode.
The rear controls are divided into two sections, with a row of buttons to the left of the monitor, each controlling a single function in both record and playback modes. On the right is a conventional D-pad, as well as buttons for AE/AF lock, display mode and playback. There is also a dedicated button to start video recording. The controls are well mounted and operate smoothly, but the method with the left-hand buttons, of press-the-button, turn-the-dial takes a little getting used to.
The monitor is mounted on an articulated arm and folds out by 45 degrees downwards and 90 degrees upwards, or anything in between, making it ideal for holding the camera over your head, or using as a waist-level finder. The screen itself is clear and bright, but it is quite prone to reflections and has a rather limited viewing angle. Obviously with the articulation this isn't a major problem, and it is usually possible to tilt the screen so that glare isn't a serious problem either.
The electronic viewfinder uses what appears to be a field-sequential display with resolution of 200k dots. I usually like field sequential type viewfinders because they provide a sharper, smoother image than conventional mosaic LCDs, but the one in the HS10 has a relatively low refresh rate, with the result that every time you move your eye or pan the camera you get multi-coloured acid-flashback after images around any highlights, and also around the focusing target point. The viewfinder is sharp and bright enough for general use, but in manual focus mode it uses digital magnification to enlarge the centre of the image. This causes the image to pixilate badly, making it impossible to tell if it is in focus or not. The HS10 has a proximity sensor next to the eyepiece, and switches to viewfinder mode automatically when the camera is raised to the eye. However there is a delay of about two seconds, just long enough to be annoying.