Full Review of the New Rugged Fuji X-T10 Camera

X-T10aLast week, I posted my review of the new firmware update for the Fuji X-T1 which dramatically improves the camera’s autofocus system. I need to fess up, though. I wasn’t just trying out the new firmware, I’ve actually been testing a whole new camera: the new Fuji X-T10.

Announced this week, the X-T10 is basically a stripped down, non-weather sealed version of the X-T1, and man, is it a little hot rod! Aimed at enthusiasts and budget minded photographers, this is a powerful and budget friendly entry into the Fuji system, and it makes for an awesome, lightweight adventure camera.

Retaining most of what makes the X-T1 so great, and leaving off just a couple things to give it a more affordable price tag, the X-T10 brings top level X Series performance for only $799 (body only) or slightly more if you pair it with a lens. Based on how well the X-T1 has been received and how well this one performs, I’d say this is the mirrorless camera that many people have been waiting for. It seems like a very smart move on Fuji’s part.

It has the same 16.3 MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor as the X-T1, so it produces identical image quality. It’s also built tough with an all metal SLR style body, Vari-Angle tilt LCD screen and a center-positioned viewfinder. Best part of all, the X-T10 comes already loaded with the new v.4.0 firmware. This means it has the exact same, highly improved AF system as the top shelf X-T1.

Design and Feel

X-T10knobsWhen I first took it out of the box, I was struck with how small this thing is. After using DSLRs for so long, I thought the X-T1 was tiny; the X-T10 is even smaller. At only 13.4 oz (381g), it’s a full two ounces (60g) lighter than the X-T1.

Of course, it’s got that classic Fuji look, with its milled metal dials and traditional styling, and it feels good in your hands. Built on a slightly smaller and lighter chassis than the X-T1, the X-T10 is amazingly compact, but it’s got heft. While the grip is a bit smaller, it’s very easy to hold, say when you’re shooting one-handed in exposed situations. Coming from the X-T1, it definitely feels familiar.

With all-metal top and bottom plates, it’s considerably more rugged than most, if not all mirrorless cameras in the under $1,000 price range. In my mind, this hits a huge target, especially for outdoor and travel photographers.

The X-T1 also has a viewfinder very similar to the X-T1. It has the same refresh rate and the same 2.36 million dot EVF with four glass elements that offer 100% coverage, the only difference being that the X-T10 has a slightly smaller magnification ratio: .62x vs .77x on the X-T1. (Same as the X-E2.) The view is WAY bigger than what you’ll see looking through any entry level DSLR on the market, or most other mirrorless cameras.

Modified controls

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The X-T10 is setup very much like the X-T1. Going from right to left on the top deck, you have EV+/-, Shutter speed, and Drive. You also have the 4-button D-Pad on the back, but a couple of the other Function buttons have been moved.

There’s also an “auto switch” right on the top deck that puts the camera into SR Auto Mode mode at the flick of a finger. That’s also where you can use the different Scene Recognition Modes, like portrait, landscape and so forth.

One major difference from the X-T1- there is no top deck ISO adjustment on the X-T10. In its place is a single-function, hard-click metal Drive dial with a couple new options. I do like this, even though I miss having an ISO dial right on top. ISO on the X-T10 can be quickly accessed via the Q menu. Hardly a deal breaker, especially since you can customize the Q-menu layout on the X-T1/X-T10. You can also configure ISO to one of the Function buttons.

Both the Q-Menu and the regular menus on the two cameras are the same, and most of the custom adjustments you have on the X-T1 are also found on the X-T10. Like I said, it’s pretty seamless to go back and forth between the two cameras.

Fuji also stuck a pop-up flash on the X-T10. Although it has the same guide number and range as the flash on the X-E1 and 2, it’s considerably more solid and secure.

Battery and SD card access are both found on the bottom, just like on the X-E1/2, and the NP-126 batteries are interchangeable with most X Series cameras; if you have an older X camera, you now have extra X-T10 batteries.

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Performance

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As I said above, the X-T10 really is a hot little number. In terms of performance, it’s pretty much identical to the X-T1 in nearly every aspect, inside and out.

With Fuji’s brand new updated autofocus system, the focus and tracking capabilities have been vastly improved over the original X-T1 system. With six focus modes, including the powerful Zone AF mode, 9 Phase Detect AF points that now function in even lower light (from 2.5EV now down to 0.5EV), the new Eye Detection AF and improved AF algorithms, the X-T10 gives you incredible AF performance for a mirrorless camera. We’ve all be waiting for mirrorless AF to mature, well that day has finally come.

Remember, all of these new AF features will be added to the X-T1 in the v.4 firmware update, which rolls out around them same time as the X-T10.

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Image quality is the same, as are the CL and CH shooting rates of 3fps and 8fps. The X-T10 will even track and capture moving subjects at 8 fps, just like the X-T1, but herein lies the biggest performance difference between the two cameras.

The X-T10 has a much smaller buffer than the X-T1. Also, it does not use the ultra fast UHS-2 memory cards, so you’re limited in how many shots you’ll get in CH bursts before the camera has to stop and write, at least when shooting in RAW.

Setting the camera to shoot in RAW+JPEG, with a Sandisk ExtremePlus 95MB/s card in the slot, the X-T10 starts to slow down and stutter after about 6-8 frames while it’s writing to the buffer. With the X-T1, I can usually get three times that number. Shooting in JPEG mode, I get about 20 frames on the X-T10 before the slowdown.

DSCF0840Is this a huge issue? Probably not for most people. Even with my fast action style of shooting, I don’t usually peg the shutter button and hold it down for a long time. I’m usually firing off quick bursts of around 5-8 frames and going for moment instead of getting a huge flurry of images I’ll just have to edit later. I’ve shot quite a bit of action with the X-T10 and was very happy with my results.

For full time action photographers and pros, that extra $500 for the X-T1 is probably money well spent, but for most photographers, the little X-T10 is an exceptional action camera. Just make sure you’re using the fastest card you can get your hands on.

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In Action

The test version X-T10 showed up right before I flew down to Oregon for a 9-day bike tour out to the coast and back. Timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I’ll be honest, though, when I first heard about the X-T10 from the Fuji rep, I had mixed feelings. I’ve already found the perfect combination of weight and performance in the X-T1. Why would I want another camera?

Because the X-T10 is even smaller. That’s why. As much as I love the X-T1, I was surprised at how often I reached for the X-T10 every day during my trip. Sure, some of that was because of the new AF system, which my X-T1 doesn’t have yet, but a lot of it was about the weight.

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My carrying style theses days is often to keep the camera slung around my neck/shoulder. I’ll ride/hike/ski for hours with it like that, because it’s instantly accessible there. Or else it’s in my pack. On the Oregon trip, I did a lot of shooting while riding, sometimes holding the camera high above my head while pedaling in front of, or behind my subject. That’s where the little grip is REALLY nice.

When you’re going all day, especially when traveling or in the backcountry, weight matters, and having a lighter camera makes a difference. Even though it’s not a huge reduction, those extra ounces count when you’re carrying your camera gear in the outdoors.

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The Imagery

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During the course of the past week, I’ve shot a wide range of subjects with both cameras- biking, running, landscapes, travel, people- and it never mattered which one I was using. I felt right at home with the X-T10, just as much as I did with the T1, and once you’ve hit the shutter, there’s no difference in how the photos look.

After all, both bodies have the same sensor, image processor and built-in film simulations, so they produce the same Fuji colors and ultra high resolution detail that rivals full frame in terms of pure sharpness. Although I shot most everything in RAW+JPEG, most of the photos in this post are straight JPEGS.

The Fuji cameras are known for their vibrant images and great color reproductions. With an 80 year history of making film, they’ve infused these looks right into the cameras, and that’s one of the things I really love about shooting with them. They offer a wonderful blend of technology and artistry, because modern photography should be about both. The built-in film simulations, including the new Classic Chrome give you a wide palette of options for any style.

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Overall

Fuji keeps knocking balls out of the park, and they did just that with the X-T10. It’s got top shelf performance in a compact, rugged affordable body. Between this and the X-T1, it just becomes a question of size which control layout you like better, and…oh yea, the extra five hundred bucks. And whether you need/want the slightly bigger EVF, faster buffer, weather sealing and more contoured grip that the X-T1 offers. In terms of image quality, though, the X-T10 is as good as any current Fuji on the market.

It’s hard to see anything wrong with this camera. I see a few people knocking it on the web, but I think that for the performance and price, you simply cannot beat the X-T10 if you’re say… just about ANY photographer. It works as an entry level X camera, as a backup body to the X-T1 or X-Pro 1, or as a primary, ultra lightweight, rugged, world-travel, backpacking, street or all around general camera, no matter what you shoot. It’s got tons of features and very high performance, and most importantly, you can use ANY Fuji XF or XC lens with it.

Sure, it’s not weather sealed, but I’ve used it in the rain and I’ve used my X-E1 in the rain, and it’s even less rugged, and it did fine. The X-T10 is built tough, and it will certainly take some punches, just don’t drop it in the water. For most people, I don’t see the lack of weather sealing to be a deal breaker at all. Do your best to keep it dry and you’ll be fine.

In short, the X-T10 is everything a modern affordable mirrorless camera should be. Plus, it fits comfortably in your hands, it’s easy to handle, and the D-Pad buttons are quite easy to press- they’re a little bit less recessed than the buttons on the X-T1.

This is indeed a very exciting time for photographers, and if you’re looking for a new or second camera, or if you just want to get into the Fuji system for under a grand, here’s your chance.

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Compared to Other X Cameras

X100T: When I traded in all of my DSLR gear, I wanted a second backup body, and I seriously considered getting an X100T. However, as awesome as the X100 is, it’s just not the camera for me. It doesn’t fit in my hand as perfectly as the X-T1, and it doesn’t have predictive autofocus tracking. I just can’t imagine shooting action, holding it one handed while riding a bike with the X100.

In short, the X-T10 is a better performer in most regards than the X100T, with the exception of the x100′s leaf shutter “any speed flash sync” and the built in ND filter. In my opinion, the interchangeable lens XT-10 is a more versatile all around camera. If you like the optical viewfinder, just turn off the “Preview Picture Effect” option in the Screen Setup menu. You’ll be surprised at how natural the EVF really looks when it’s not showing you a film sim.

If you like the size, then get the XF 27mm pancake lens and you have a fixed lens camera that’s almost the same size/view, but with a WAY better AF system.

X-T1: I just bought a second X-T1, but I can say that if the X-T10 had been out last month, I might have gone for that one. I like having two identical bodies, but I also like having a smaller lighter option.

This new X-T10 definitely complicates things for me. I love my X-T1 for shooting everything, but after using the loaner 10 for two straight weeks, I’ll probably end up buying one for myself.

X-E2: Simple. Aside from the identical EVF screen, the 10 will out perform the 2 in every way. You’d get the 2 if you really wanted a rangefinder.

X-Pro1: Same thing I said about the X-E2, except that the Pro has an optical viewfinder. Again, turn off Preview Picture Effect and you won’t know the difference. The X-T10 is a better all around performer. Of course, to all those people who are holding out for the X-Pro 2, my advice is to sit back and wait for the X-Pro 3. It will be even better.

Support this site: If you decide to pull the trigger on the X-T10 or on any piece of camera gear, please consider purchasing through the links on this site. It’s a way that you can show your appreciation for the time and effort that it takes me to compile and write these reviews, and it won’t cost you anything extra.

The Fuji X-T10 is scheduled to ship on June 18, but you can preorder the camera here. You can also check out the dedicated Fuji X-T10 website here.

 

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Fuji Announces Major X-T1 Firmware Update and Vastly Improved AF

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X-T1 drivers, take note. Today, Fujifilm announced a brand new firmware update that dramatically increased autofocus performance of an already awesome camera. We’re talking game changer update. I’ve been using a beta version of the firmware for the past week, and I’m super excited about what I’ve seen so far.

We all know that mirrorless cameras have been trying to catch up with DSLRs when it comes to AF speed, accuracy and tracking moving subjects. While the X-T1′s original predictive AF system was huge leap forward for mirrorless cameras, it still wasn’t quite on par with what high performance DSLR shooters were used to.

As someone who has transitioned entirely to mirrorless cameras, I have fully embraced the X-T1 and have been able to adapt and work around these minor limitations. That said, I’ve secretly been waiting for Fuji to update the AF, and it looks like they have now delivered in a big way.

Version 4.0 adds a brand new “Zone AF” mode, where the sensors automatically detect the subject and “move” dynamically across the viewfinder as it tracks subjects through the frame. It’s similar to what Sony has done with their “4D system”, and anyone who’s used DLSRs will immediately notice the familiarity of the little moving lights.

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In Zone AF, you can select a specific area of the frame, which may include a mix of contrast detect and phase detect sensors, or you can position it into the central phase detect sensor array. In CH mode, you’re limited to ONLY using the phase detect array, but the PD pattern has now been increased from 3×3 points to 3×5 points.

Whereas before, you had to position the appropriate AF point over your subject using the thumb pad, now you can put the camera on Zone AF and let it select the subject for you. This makes it way easier to shoot just about every kind of subject, not just action, and it makes it easier to shoot one handed.

In addition, the AF predictive tracking algorithms have been improved, as have the performance of the phase detect sensors themselves. Previously, phase detect AF on the X-T1 was usable down to EV 2.5, now it’s usable all the way to down to 0.5. This means better AF performance in lower light conditions.

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Single point AF has also been improved. You can now change the AF point size with five different levels of detection.

There’s also a new “Wide mode” AF, which I’m told is ideal for tracking moving subjects when the camera is on a tripod. In Wide mode, each point is now divided into 3 points, which effectively makes the entire array of AF sensors a 77 point detection system. It only works in S and CL mode, but not in CH. I haven’t used tried this mode out, and in fact, Fuji’s recommendation to me was to go ahead and use Zone AF for best all around performance. Still, the new Wide mode does offer options for certain applications.

In my tests, the new Zone AF system rocks. Plain and simple; it’s awesome. It finds, it locks, and you’re in business. Just like that. It’s the update I’ve been waiting for and it reaffirms my decision to go all in with the X-T1, especially as someone who depends on fast, accurate autofocus in my photography.

All of the photos in this post were shot using the new Zone AF system. It’s amazing to me that a camera, which is over a year old, has been improved so much with all of the recent firmware updates. This is not just a testament to Fuji and their desire to create longevity and constant improvement in their camera, it’s a reality of mirrorless cameras.

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With DSLRs, many of the components, such as the AF module and the viewfinder, are pieces of built-in hardware that can’t be swapped out. If you want a better AF system, you need to wait for a better model. With mirrorless cameras, many of the performance aspects are run in the software, and that CAN be changed. Fuji continues to demonstrate that with each new firmware.

There are a few other advancements in the new version 4.0 update, including smoother movie AF, seamless shutter speed changes in T mode that go through the entire range. (Previously, T mode was limited to 30″ down to 2″. Also, the EV dial now works in Auto ISO mode.

Fuji is still tweaking the software, and I was told that the new firmware will be available for download near the end of June. However, it’s already included in the brand new X-T10 camera, which was also announced this week.

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First Look at the Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 R Lens

Learn Photography Online with the Pros

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In all my years with SLR and DSLR cameras, I never owed a traditional 35mm lens. Despite its legendary status with street photographers and photojournalists, that focal length never quite felt right for me. It was either too wide, or not quite wide enough. I always went for the classic “Nifty Fifty,” 50mm f/1.4 which was my first lens, and more recently the lighter weight 50mm f/1.8. If I wanted wide, I went for my 24mm /2.8.

Originally created for press photography, the standard 35mm f/1.4 is one of the fastest wide angle primes you can buy. Offering great versatility, they can be used for just about anything- landscapes, portraits, still ice, indoors, street, product, and they even shoot relatively close up. (On a crop sensor APC-S or DX camera, you need a 23mm lens to get that classic 35mm view angle.)

Fuji’s offering in this range is the XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens. I already have that focal length covered with my 18-55 and my 18-135. However, I’m a sucker for fast primes, and besides, my friend Josh gives it very high praise as his favorite Fuji lens. So, with some camera store credit to burn after trading in all of my DLSR gear, I decided to plunk down and give the Fuji 23 a try.

I figured, why not try something new? Photography is a lifelong journey, and I felt that running with a focal length that doesn’t feel all-too-familiar could be a good thing for my creativity and my continuing evolution with the camera.

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First Impressions

The Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 R is first and foremost a gorgeous, high quality lens. It’s simply beautiful, and it feels incredibly solid in your hands, with durable construction, metal focus and aperture rings, and a decent heft of glass inside. It has 11 elements in 8 groups, including 1 spherical element, but it doesn’t feel heavy.

At 10 oz (300g), it carries a very workable size and weight, and when stuck on the front of my silver graphite X-T1 it just screams “classic,” and it feels perfectly balanced. Going by size and weight, it seems like the perfect lens for these X cameras. Even with the lens hood, it’s totally manageable.

When I looked through the lens, I loved the view it gave. Maybe it was the “newness” factor, something different, or maybe my tastes are just maturing as I get older. Oh god, did I really just say that?! Maybe I was just tapping into the long history of accomplished photographers who have made incredible imagery with this focal length.

At any rate, there was something really cool about this awesome little prime, and I suddenly felt like I’d just acquired a piece of gear that could see years of hard work. I couldn’t wait to get out and throw it into action, so when my friend Michael called an invited us biking, I stuck it on my X-T1 and headed out with him for an evening of fun.

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Performance

When I got out there, I was struck at just how ridiculously sharp this lens is. The Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 R produces imagery that have an incredible level of crispness and tonality, and it renders the out-of-focus stuff with beautiful creamy-ness. The bokeh factor on this is simply delicious. That’s why it’s so good for environmental portraits- you can get relatively close, capture your subject tack-sharp and give just enough of the surroundings.

Autofocus on the 23 is quick and responsive probably because there’s so much light coming into the front of the lens. With a fast maximum aperture of f/1.4, it lets in a ton of light, which makes this lens incredible versatile for a wide range of lighting conditions. I’m suddenly thinking travel, interiors and night sky photography.

I also love how it renders colors. Since this was a cloudy day, I went between black and white mode and the new Classic Chrome mode, which increases tonality in the lower mid tones and dark areas, but decreases contrast in the brighter areas (white skies), and I was very pleased with the looks that this lens gave me.

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A New Way of Seeing

I think what excites me most is the challenge of learning to see in a new way. For me, this is somewhat of an unfamiliar focal length, and so I’ll have to adapt to the fact that it’s it’s not the kind of wide angle lens that I’m used to, nor is it a telephoto by any sense of the word.

That 35mm angle of view falls right in that middle range that I’ve tended to avoid during much of my career. When I look at years worth of of metatdata in my images, I see that the 50mm and Fuji 27mm are my least used lenses. It’s not that I don’t like those lenses, it’s just that I like true wide and true tele more.

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It will be an interesting journey to figure out how to use this lens to its full potential in the coming years. From the results I’ve already gotten, I’m pretty excited to take on that challenge. While I can’t bring myself to say that I wish I’d bought a 35mm lens much sooner in my career, I do love this new XF 23mm f/1.4 and I see it getting a lot of use in the future. In fact, this could end up being my go-to lens for a wide variety of subject, matter, and if not, I have another awesome photography tool in my bag.

I’ve been using the 27mm f/2.8, which pretty much turns the X-T1 into an X100, and while I’ll continue to use that lens when I need to go ultralight, there’s just something special about the 23 1.4. This is a really cool lens and I’m glad I pulled the trigger on it.

And as for going light and fast? Attached to my X-T1, even with the hood on, the 23 is very manageable. It’s certainly comfortable enough to ride bikes with it slung around my neck/shouder for a few hours, or even all day. Or multiple days.

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If you’re a Fuji shooter and you love that classic 35mm viewpoint, or if you like prime lenses, I’d highly recommend checking out this lens. If you’re a Nikon full frame shooter, you might check out their inexpensive AF-S 35mm 35mm f/1.8G ED lens. It offers the same viewpoint and similar performance. Canon has their version, the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens.

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I’m on TV! Watch an Interview with Me on KTVA Anchorage

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My lifelong dream of becoming a TV star finally came true. Yesterday I made an appearance on KTVA’s Daybreak morning show in Anchorage yesterday to talk about my brand new book, Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography, which was published earlier … Continue reading

The End of an Era – I Just Sold All of My DSLR Gear

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The other day, I walked into my local camera store and traded in all of my Nikon DSLR gear. Gone. Just like that. Almost 20 years of history, now exactly that: Just history. I never thought this day would come, and … Continue reading

Try Creating Photos with a Dominant Color Palette

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I’ve seen a few posts around the web lately featuring images that are each shot with a single color palette, where one color or color scheme dominates the majority of the image. Here’s one example of what I’m talking about. It’s a … Continue reading

My Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography Book is Now Out!

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It’s finally here!!! My book, Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography, has been officially published by Focal Press and it’s ready to order. Being my first print book, I feel an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment to see this project come … Continue reading