X10

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE? FUJI X10 OR X100S

I purchased my Fujifilm X10, above at right, in November 2012, and wrote about it in what has become my most viewed blog post, INTRODUCING MY X10. Since then I've carried this camera almost daily and six months later I have no regrets. It has been a wonderful little camera and I still like how it looks and feels and continue to be impressed with the quality of the images.

So why have I been thinking about upgrading to the Fujifilm X100S camera? While I am not looking to replace my DSLR and lenses for work assignments, upgrading to this camera could render a second DSLR on assignment useless.

Fuji X100S.  Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Fuji X100S. Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Announced in January, the X100S began shipping in March and so far the hands-on reviews have been very positive. If you just read the blog reviews by Zack Arias and David Hobby, you'll want the camera immediately, however, at the time of this post, there is a one or two-month wait list.

Having such fun and success with my X10, which Fuji recently replaced with the Fujifilm X20, I immediately thought about upgrading. In my original blog post about the X10, I laid out the reasons why I purchased that camera instead of the X100 and cost and focus issues were two of them. Well, it seems focus is no longer a concern, but there is still the question of cost. At around $1,300, that clearly puts the X100S in the realm of a pro camera and not a simple point and shoot. Even though many of today's point and shoots, or sub $600 cameras, are capable of taking incredible images, just look at the X20 or what I paid for my X10, as examples.

So should I upgrade or not? To help answer that question, or maybe just convince myself one way or another, I decided to take my X10 and visit the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Chantilly, Va., in order to take some photos and see if I would be happier if I were carrying the X100S instead.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

The lighting in parts of the museum is very dim requiring higher ISOs. Advantage X100S. By all accounts, the X100S does remarkably well at high ISOs, even 3200. I rarely push the X10 past 800. The built-in flash on the X10 is not really usable so being able to get usable photos at ISO 3200 is a real bonus. I shot mostly at ISO 400 at the museum which meant I was shooting at very slow shutter speeds, but since I was photographing static objects it was not an issue.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

While most of the photos I take with the X10 are at 7.1mm or 28mm equivalent on a 35mm lens, I do sometimes find myself using the zoom, as I did often during this shoot. Advantage X10. Would I have been able to get away with just a 35mm point of view? I suppose I should not have used the zoom in order to really test that theory. Zoom with your feet, isn't that what's said.

Did you notice what I did in the previous paragraphs? I both stated one of the big reasons I am considering the X100S and one of the reasons why I am questioning if it really is the camera for me. But honestly, there is more than just ISO and zoom.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Ever since I purchased my first digital P&S camera I've always insisted on some sort of a viewfinder. The X10 does have a viewfinder, but the X100S with both an electronic or optical viewfinder takes it to the next level making the viewfinder incredibly usable. Advantage X100S.

Many of the other features are very similar or the same, although the X100S is a 16MP camera versus 12MP and has a nine blade aperture shutter instead of seven, the X10 does shoot 10 fps continuous versus 6 fps. Advantage on these features favors neither X10 nor the X100S. That is to say, they are not part of my decision process.

Finally, after shooting the X10 for seven months, I really don't need to be sold on the look, feel and form of this camera. While I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, I did use a Leica M3 as a second camera for several years in my early Navy career and this does have that same feel. Some of the photos I shot at the museum were taken with the camera set to black and white which made me think I really was transported back 25 years holding that M3 loaded with Tri-X film. Holding these Fuji X cameras does elicit certain emotions. Is it because I'm a little older? Maybe, but I  believe part of making good images is attitude and how you feel about your gear does play a role in that.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

I could go on and on about the advantages and disadvantages, but I'm clearly not going to answer my question during this blog post and even now as I look forward to a vacation in Toronto and an upcoming assignment, a video shoot in Hawaii, I'm thinking long and hard if I want to take the DSLR with various lenses or just the X10. Or possibly even theX100S?

One question I will answer is that I do think this would make a perfect second body on any assignment.

The rest of the details and more links below:

Specifications X100S:

Number of effective pixels: 16.3 million

Image sensor: 23.6mm x 15.mm (APS-C)

Lens: 35mm equivalent at f2.0

Dimensions: 5.0 (W) x 2.9 (H) x 2.1 (D) in.

Weight:  Approx. 15.7 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from the Fuji website.

Specifications X10:

Number of effective pixels: 12 million

Image sensor: 2 / 3 inch EXR CMOS

Lens: 28mm to 112mm equivalent at f2.0 and f2.8 respectfully

Dimensions: 4.6(W) x 2.7(H) x 2.2(D) in.

Weight: 12.3 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from my Flickr X10 set.

David Hobby provides a thorough overview of all the X100S features in a YouTube video. And I even learned something new about my X10 as well by watching this.

And just in case, the leap from X10 to X100S is too much, then check out Dan Bailey's full review on the X20.

Get the full X100S specifications available on Fuji's website.

INTRODUCING MY FUJI X10

Front view of the Fuji X10 camera. Photo courtesy of Fujifilm.com

Camera photos from Fujifilm.com

I just purchased a Fujifilm X10 compact (X10) camera. I've owned numerous point-and-shoot (P&S) cameras over the years, most recently the Canon G10, before that a Canon G7. And I've never considered the smartphone as a walk-around camera or camera replacement.

But let's face it, carrying a DSLR around all the time takes some effort, so having a compact camera that takes quality images and has many of the same capabilities is something I've been searching for. In 2011 at PhotoPlus in New York I thought I had finally found it in the new micro four thirds cameras, mostly the Nikon 1 series. I still think these cameras are very good and again at this year's PhotoPlus I found myself looking at the 2 series and thought again this might be it.

So to back up a bit. In March of 2011 Fuji released the X100 and it caused a real buzz among photographers and much was written on blogs, both good and bad. The good mostly revolved around the styling and retro look. The bad, according to some, was focusing issues. I did love the styling and look of the camera and somewhere in the back of my mind pictured myself carrying this camera around and as Fuji continued the X series of cameras, those thoughts didn't diminish. Seeing the images produced by photographers, like Zach Arias only made me more curious about what I could produce with this camera. And not just what this camera was capable of technically, but having a camera that I really wanted to carry around was just as important. Can't make photos if you don't have a camera.

Top view of the Fuji X10 camera. Photo courtesy of Fujifilm.com

Problem was that both the Nikon micro four thirds series and Fuji X series were a little expensive. And the idea of spending around $1200 and up made holding onto the Canon G10 as my compact camera seem practical.

Still, every time I was in a retail or electronics store, I found myself looking over all the P&S cameras, mostly out of curiosity. So it was on a recent pre Black Friday shopping trip that I once again found myself looking at all the P&S cameras when the X10 caught my attention. From the moment I picked it up, it felt right in my hands. Also at under $600 the price tag seemed right. It was solidly built and had the same great classic look as the rest of the X series cameras, but what really caught my attention was that you turned in on and zoomed in and out by twisting the lens. That simple feature, combined with a viewfinder, made holding the camera feel right and set it apart from all the other P&S cameras there.

Rear view of the Fuji X10 camera. Photo courtesy of Fujifilm.com

I ended up spending about 20 minutes playing with the camera. Walked away and came back. The rest of the day I thought about the camera and as soon as I could, I logged onto the computer and read the reviews at Digital Photography Review and also at Dan Bailey's Blog along with others. As I said before, I was aware of and read about the Fuji X series cameras, so I'm not sure how I missed this addition to the line which was released in November of 2011. After looking at sample images, I made the decision that I wanted this camera. So the next day I purchased my used, in like new condition, X10 for $150 under the $599 retail price through Amazon from Roberts photo in Indianapolis and had it three days later.

Reflection of the United States lightship Chesapeake (LV-116), part of the Maritime Museum in Baltimore, Maryland taken with the Fuji X10.

Reflection of the United States Lightship Chesapeake in Baltimore.

1/500, f2.2, ISO 400

I spent Friday photographing around Baltimore and my first impressions are good. The controls easy to use, intuitive and taking full control of this camera didn't require diving into complex menus. Most functions can be changed quickly using buttons which seem to be in just the right location. Even when shooting in manual mode, using the sub command dial makes setting f-stops and shutter speeds quick and natural.

I set the programmable function (fn) button to allow me to easily adjust ISO during various shooting conditions. I upgraded to Firmware version 2.0 which changed the functionality of the RAW button so it brings up a quick or "Q" menu giving me access to the most commonly used features on one detailed screen. Easy auto focus and auto exposure lock buttons allow you to recompose shots. This is the first P&S that I've used that I can operate all the buttons easily even when holding the camera to my eye.

Robert Israel's

Robert Israel's "School of Puffer Fish" sculpture located at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

1/170, f2.2, ISO 200.

Calling the X10 a P&S is really a disservice. Just one day shooting with this compact camera felt like I was carrying much more. This isn't a DSLR replacement, but I am considering taking this as my second camera during an upcoming self-assignment project to Arizona.

I've only scratched the surface here and I look forward to writing more about this camera and sharing my thoughts and experiences while using it in future posts. I've already begun to add X10 photos to a Flickr set and cross posting to the Flickr Fuji X10 group.

Some specs that caught my attention :

Number of effective pixels: 12 million

Image Size: 2/3 inch EXR CMOS

Storage Media: 26MB internal, SD memory card

Lens: 28mm to 112mm equivalent   

Aperture: 2.0 (wide), 2.8 (telephoto)

Format: JPG, RAW, or RAW plus JPG

Get full specs at the FUJIFILM web site or watch the promotional video on YouTube.

Read Zach Arias' reviews and experiences with both the X100 and X-Pro 1.

Dan Bailey writes about the X10 on his Adventure Photography blog.

UPDATE: (4/24/2012) The X10 has been replaced by the Fujifilm X20 12 MP Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD (Black)

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