In many ways the X100 was one of the biggest surprises of 2011, even making it onto the shortlist for the TrustedReviews 2011 Camera Of The Year. However, while the X100 rightly won a lot of critical acclaim for the way in which it effortlessly combined old-school rangefinder design with cutting-edge digital camera technology, the £1000 asking price was always going to put a lot of people off. With the X10, Fuji’s guiding principle has been to cram all of the X100’s retro charm and desirability into a camera costing half as much.
The X10 is still very much an enthusiast-level, premium-grade camera though, and as such it’s most likely to appeal to DSLR owners looking for something that’ll comfortably slip inside a jacket pocket and yet still deliver the flexibility and user experience of a DSLR. That said, the X10 also makes some concessions towards more casual users by offering a number of fully automatic exposure options, including Fuji’s proprietary EXR shooting modes that have proved so popular on other Fuji models.
The main differences between the two X-series models are that whereas the X100 sports an APS-C sized sensor, the X10 uses a newly developed 2/3inch chip. In terms of overall surface area this new Fuji sensor is fractionally larger than the 1/1.6inch and 1/1.7inch sensors used by the X10’s main rivals, namely the Panasonic Lumix LX5, Olympus XZ-1, Samsung EX1, Nikon P7100 and Canon G12, as well as being approximately twice the size of the regular 1/2.3inch sensors found in the vast majority of cheap to mid-range compacts and superzooms. The X10’s 2/3in sensor is, however, considerably smaller than either Micro Four Thirds or APS-C. For more about sensor sizes, check out Wikipedia's comprehensive sensor size comparison page.
Another big difference between the X10 and X100 is that the X10 gets a manually operated 4x zoom lens, whereas the X100’s optic is fixed at 35mm. The X10 lacks a dedicated aperture ring too, with all shutter/aperture adjustments made via the thumbwheel on the back of the body. Finally, the X10 doesn’t get the hybrid optical/EVF viewfinder of the X100 either, although it does sport a larger than average conventional viewfinder. The two cameras do share the same retro rangefinder styling though, along with the same high level of overall build quality.
The X10 is equipped with a fixed 4x Fujinon zoom lens that is manually operated and offers the equivalent range of 28-112mm in 35mm terms. Maximum aperture at 28mm is a usefully quick f/2, rising to a still very impressively quick f/2.8 at 112mm. While 28mm isn’t quite as wide as we’d ideally like, it is on a par with all of its main rivals. Indeed of all the fixed-zoom advanced compacts mentioned above, only the Panasonic Lumix LX5 is wider at 24mm. It’s worth noting, however, that this advantage is balanced by the LX5's shorter 90mm telephoto maximum, it's also slower (f3.3) at this focal length.
So, does all of this add up to Fuji’s best X-series digital camera to date, or does the X10 fall short in other, less obvious, areas?. Let’s take a closer look and find out…