There are times, when something or someone looks unattractive on first glance, but becomes much more attractive upon making your acquaintance. I think of my wife’s first impressions of me when we were in college. Apparently over time, I kinda’ grew on her.
Thus it was with me, and the new Fujifilm XT10.
I remember seeing the announcement on Dpreview back last May as “a smaller and lighter version of the X-T1”. Now having handled and shot an XT1, I knew that camera was already quite modest in size and frankly could not figure out why Fujifilm would’ve developed what looked to me like a watered-down version.
Then I began to notice the reviews. Inexplicably there were multiple photographers were absolutely smitten by this particular product. I remained unimpressed and uninterested.
Then while in Seattle, I had the opportunity to shoot multiple products with movable LCD screens. Particularly for “street shooting”, I found the feature very useful in obtaining unusual angles, and viewpoints. I began to think that it it might be nice to have a Fujifilm body with this feature.
I thought first of the XT 1. I then however began to compare it to the newer XT 10. I got to handle both cameras at PIX 2015 in Seattle. I was impressed particularly with the smaller body. Still I weighed the options.
Obviously the XT 1 is weather sealed, the Xt-10 not. But my lens collection includes no weather sealed lenses, and I have no burning desire to update my current lenses, as they are excellent. Also the fact that the XT 10 is not weather-proofed allows it to have a threaded shutter button so that I may use a mechanical remote release rather than purchasing an electronic one.
The XT 1 has a larger buffer. With my style of shooting however, this is not a problem to me. Plus if I shoot sports, I’m using a different camera system anyway. Plus the XT 10 has the best auto focus Fuji film offers, something the XT 1 will get in a firmware upgrade.
Both cameras offer a tilting LCD screen. The view finder is larger and brighter in the XT 1, but the actual LCD including the refresh rate are the same. I like the idea that the XT 10 is smaller, given that I often use the Fuji cameras while hiking and backpacking.
And given my penurious ways, I could not help to notice that the XT 10 significantly cheaper ($699 vs. $999US on Amazon as I write this).
So predictably, I placed an order for the XT 10.
It arrived in typical Fujifilm packaging (I do miss the premium packaging of the original X100 and X Pro 1). It came with the usual stuff, including the little plastic thingy that helps you put the metal loops on the strap lugs. I ignored the included neck strap and purchased an inexpensive one from Amazon that converts into a wrist strap if needed.
I mounted a lens, and was again impressed with the workmanship and apparent heft. For a supposed “budget” camera body, it feels extremely dense, with a very rigid body, beautifully assembled .There is a small soft rubber handgrip on the front, with a clever rubber thumb grip in the rear. All the materials seem first-rate.
The LCD screen tilts roughly 90° upward, and perhaps 45° downward. The mechanisms feels quite sturdy.
This camera body is small. It is significantly smaller than my XE2, and certainly the X Pro 1. In fact has roughly the dimensions of the X100 series (though it will usually have a larger lens attached).
Button placement on the back is slightly different from previous Fujis, given that the movable screen precludes having buttons on the left side of the back of the camera. Instead they are scattered about the camera back. The drive functions move from a button on the range finder style cameras to a dial on the top of the camera. It lacks the XT1’s dial to control ISO, but this function is easily controllable through the “Q” menu, available with a press of the button on the camera back.
There is now a rotating dial on the front of the camera, with a programmable push-to-click function. The dial on the back is also push-to-click, which is defaulted to ”image magnification” for manual focusing. Many of the buttons can be “purposed” with a long press which brings up an appropriate menu on the back screen.
The LCD features the new “transparent” display style, first seen on the X100T. Also like that camera, the view finder information rotates so that it can be read when shooting either portrait or landscape. It has the same excellent implementation of Wi-Fi, and controls nicely through my Android phone. I especially like the touch screen focusing which I wish Fujifilm had implemented for the camera’s own LCD. It’s a bit time-consuming to connect the camera and the phone however, which limits the utility of this otherwise excellent smartphone app.
I also notice that on the displays, when shooting, there is displayed a bank of yellow crosspoints in the middle of the frame. I these apparently signify the cross-point focus receptors on the imager. I have not seen this on any of my other Fuji cameras.
For the first time on a Fujifilm body in my collection, the viewfinder sits behind a faux pentaprism that also contains the flash, classically located in the top center of the body. I had a surprising amount of trouble adapting to this which is odd, especially as I also shoot DSLRs with the finder in the same place. I kept putting my eye to the upper left corner of the camera, as though it was my XE2 or my X Pro 1. I’ve since adjusted.
Auto focusing is absolutely the quickest and most reliable of any Fujifilm body I have. In good light, it feels as fast as the Sony “A” bodies I shot in Seattle. I can also now lock focus on dark, low-contrast scenes where my XE 2 and my X100T fail. I understand this autofocus upgrade is coming for the XE2 later this year. One hopes the X100t will also receive it, as it shares technology with the newer camera.
Image quality remains the same as the other X-Trans-sensored cameras, which is to say extremely good. Like the other recent Fuji X cameras, the raw files are 14 bit, giving one a bit more latitude in manipulation without posterization. It is also reputed to have slightly better JPEGs than earlier cameras particularly in regards to low light images. As I don’t shoot JPEGs, this is largely immaterial to me.
So what is it about the XT 10 that is attracting all of the rave reviews? Certainly all of the improvements are appreciated, particularly the autofocus, and the rapid response viewfinder, but I think it is the intangibles that are driving the appeal of this camera. The camera is light, yet there is a feeling of solidity and quality, that along with the operating speed, really make it truly enjoyable to use.
I have been using it both on and off a tripod. I love having a Fujifilm camera with a movable view screen which means that I can shoot from unusual viewpoints without straining to see the LCD (though with the camera supported, the smartphone app is another way to do this). Also the camera’s small size, even compared to the XT 1, makes it less intimidating to use in crowds.
Quite honestly, I don’t need any more cameras than this. If on a rare occasion I have to shoot in the rain I will throw a camera cover on it. If I want to shoot a football game I’ll take one of my Nikons. But I suspect that along with my X100T, this will be my most utilized camera going forward…
… At least until the upcoming X 2 Pro is released.
As usual, these images and more can be viewed on my Smugmug site