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Fujifilm X10 - Image Quality and Verdict

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis



  • Recommended by TR
Fujifilm X10


Our Score:


User Score:

Overall image quality is superb, with the X10 able to deliver consistently sharp, bright and vibrant images. The Fujinon optic particularly impresses, delivering very high levels of corner to corner sharpness while resolving plenty of fine detail too. Thanks to the use of three ED elements within the 9-group/11-element lens configuration purple fringing is notably absent on high-contrast borders. The Macro mode is perhaps the best we’ve yet seen in a camera of this type, with an additional Super Macro setting letting you get as close as 1cm away from your subject. If you’re a fan of photographing small things then the X10 is an ideal camera for you.

Given the wealth of in-camera options that allow you to adjust image settings, it’s possible to set the X10 up in advance to deliver exactly the kind of image you want. This is most likely something you’ll want to experiment with and then leave (perhaps assigning a couple of choice settings to one of the two Custom settings on the main mode dial for quick access). For testing purposes we were happy to stick with the factory standard set-up, with all colour, sharpness and tone curve settings set to Standard.

And so to the one major chink in the X10’s otherwise impenetrable armour: the widely reported appearance of ugly white discs in place of specular highlights. To be honest, in the hundreds of test images we took with the X10 we only found this to be a real problem on a relatively small number of images and even then you often have to go looking for them (see the Sample Images: General Images page for an example). And as reported elsewhere, the problem does seem to be more pronounced at low sensitivities, ISO 100 particularly.

Still, that doesn’t excuse the phenomenon and it isn’t really acceptable for a £500 camera to be producing such aberrations like this at all. Fuji is aware of the issue and has, only today, released a statement recognising it as a cause of "concern" for consumers. Furthermore, Fuji believe the problem is the result of a "blooming" (pixel overload) issue that the company claims is "not uncommon to many types of digital camera". More importantly, Fuji has pledged to release a firmware update to "lessen the effect".

The white disc issue is a real shame, simply because the X10 shines in so many other areas. Metering is taken care of via a TTL 256-zone module and proves consistently accurate, especially when exposing for evenly-lit scenes. In trickier situations you can always call upon the AEL button to lock down the exposure as you see fit and then compose your image as planned.

Alternatively, you can increase the X10’s dynamic range, right up to 400%. Used in this way the X10 delivers pretty good results in high-contrast lighting situations; even when cranked up to the maximum 400% images shot in this way still maintain a fairly lifelike appearance, although we did notice a slight tendancy for blue skies to turn a little cyan - something the X100 is also guilty of to an extent. Tonality is another area where the X10 delivers pleasing results with good levels of contrast, even with all tonal settings set to ‘Standard’.

Sensitivity performance is very good too, with images shot at or under ISO 400 free of noise. The X10 particularly impresses in the mid-range; from ISO 800 to ISO 3200 too, which are the kind of settings you might find yourself using in dark shade or under dim artificial lighting. At all of these settings we were able to capture images that, while hardly free of noise or the effects of noise-reduction processing, were still perfectly usable. Higher up the scale at ISO 6400 and ISO 12,800 quality does drop off quite significantly though, with the effects of processing quite noticeable. Special mention must go to the EXR High ISO and Low Noise mode, which we found to produce very usable images, especially for use at smaller sizes or on the web.

We didn’t experience any problems with automatic white balance, although we noticed with a fair bit of regularity that the camera can take a second or two to adjust when switching from natural light to artificial light (and vice versa).


In many ways the X10 is the best advanced compact we’ve ever laid our hands on. Not only does it look super stylish, it also handles fantastically while offering a rich feature-set that’ll appeal as much to casual photographers as it will to enthusiasts. The manual zoom control, large optical viewfinder and DSLR-like handling are the X10’s undoubted highlights. And while general image quality is some of the best we’ve yet seen in an advanced compact, the white discs issue does present a problem. For this reason we’ve docked a point from the overall score. However, if Fuji makes good on its promise to fix this with an upcoming firmware update then we’ll happily adjust our score upwards, as in just about every other aspect the X10 is a 10/10 camera.


May 20, 2012, 6:29 am

Firstly this review claims the sensor is a backlit CMOS well I'm not convinced. I have heard that a modified sensor has replaced the original which had white disc problem. However if you look at the FujiFilm X10 sensor on their website it has the sensor's silicon wafer wiring facing this is as far as I know on the top of a wafer so the light is falling on the front not the back in their photo please check your facts they make no mention to 'backlit'
This camera I have tried for a few minutes in a local camera shop as it was closing. I was able to work out how to manually focus from looking at the buttons and trying all the adjustment knobs rings etc so I would say fairly intuitive but not what is wanted such as several rings on the lens to control manual focus apature and zoom. What I didn't like was a lack of EVF - information in the view finder. If it is to resemble a film camera then my cheap Practica BX film camera shows me the Apature and suggested shutter speed and focus in the view finder I am thinking twice for the lack of these. I don't find going back to the funtionality of my Leica 1A view finder an advancement worth this price tag. Manual everything yes please retro looks and perfect size great. Would I buy one, well its the nearest thing I have seen so far as it does everything I want but to save money perhaps loosing the LCD and keeping the EVF instead would give me what I need. I don't need to review on screen and I don't need lots of menus I just want a camera that takes film like photos without the delay and cost and waste of film.

Ken Johnson

January 11, 2013, 11:43 am

This review needs updating, I have had my X-10 for over 6 months and the updated sensor has never produced "ugly white discs" that you have listed as a Con.
I have a Nikon DSLR, a Panasonic GF1 and the X-10. I choose to carry the X-10 everywhere, it is a solid, well made camera, image quality is excellent and the camera is fun to use. People always admire the retro styling too!
As far as I am concerned there are no downsides to this camera.


May 13, 2015, 5:00 pm

You're right, it's not a backlit sensor, although arguably the special low-light abilities of the EXR arrangement make up for that.


May 13, 2015, 5:15 pm

I picked up a used X10 a few months ago - the model is more than three years old now - and I just love this camera to bits. I have a decent Canon DSLR that takes technically much better pictures with its APS-C sensor and more reliable phase-detect autofocus, but it's nothing like as fun to use and the pictures from the Fuji have a certain quality that just elevates them. Shooting this camera at 6MP with the dynamic range mode set to DR400 gives you the same hardware-based enhanced DR as the (all automatic) EXR mode, and the results are often beautiful. It is easily the most "film like" digital camera I've ever come across, not just in looks and handling but in the images straight from the camera as well.

After this review was written, Fuji actually redesigned the sensor and fixed the "orb" problem altogether, offering a free replacement sensor to all affected cameras. My particular camera is a late serial number built after this redesign, so I've never had to worry about this issue. It's a shame that the X10 became synonymous with orbs since it's such a fantastic camera; the replacement X20 ditched the EXR sensor and its clever DR and low iso tricks altogether for a slightly more conventional x-trans design, and although its images are a touch sharper (due to ditching the AA filter) its jpegs actually aren't as good in capturing DR or dealing with ISO noise. All of which leaves the X10 as something of a classic, and a camera I'd currently choose over pretty much anything.

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