Between the two models, I’ve been using the Fujifilm X10 and X20 for almost two years, which would normally be more than enough time for my infatuation to wear off. It hasn’t, though, which convinces me that I’m not dealing with some mere schoolgirl crush here, but true, unbridled love.
The X20 is packed with so many usable features and has such good image quality that I’ve come to believe that the guys at Fujifilm have created a true classic. It has such broad appeal to just about any type of photographer, and these days, I rarely leave the house without it, even when I head out the door with my D700.
My own seemingly blind obsession aside, here are 10 reasons why I think that the X10 is the best little compact cameras in its class.
NOTE: Of course, the brand new Fujifilm X20 is now out, and it’s even better than the X10 in every way. Read this post to see my first impressions of this camera. So, everything I say below applies to the X20 as well.
Note: The Fuij X30 has now replaced the X20, but it’s built on a very similar chassis and has all the features of the X20, plus a few more. The optical viewfinder has been replaced with a newly designed EVF, battery life has been improved, it has a tilt screen and WiFi that enables you to remotely shoot and share images from your smartphone or tablet.
1. It’s Not the X100
I keep reading about how much better the X100 is than the X10, but in my mind, those reviews miss the point. The X10 is clearly NOT the X100, nor is it meant to compete with that particular product.
The Fujifilm X100 costs $1,200 and has a fixed 35mm lens, and is targeted as an expensive camera for the pro user, or the luxury guy who sports a Visa Black credit card. Just kidding. The X100 is a fantastic camera, but the higher price is certainly harder to swallow for some photographers. By contrast, the X10 is an affordable, all around camera for the all around user. It has a zoom lens that offers more creative options, and at only $600, you don’t have try so hard to justify the price or be to paranoid about it getting dinged up.
2. It’s Good Enough for Pro Work
Even though the 12 MP 2/3″ X-Trans CMOS sensor on the X20 is not as big as some small camera sensors, the Fujifilm engineers have done some amazing things with the RGB pixel placement and alignment on the sensor that give the X20 outstanding image quality. They may not be as good as photos from an APS-C sensor camera, but shots out of the X20 are good enough for a wide variety of pro work, and certainly good enough for just about any kind of enthusiast photography.
The X20 allows me to go virtually unencumbered and still create pro quality work, even during those times when I don’t have my DSLR with me. I’ve taken the X10 hiking, skiing and traveling, and I love using it on my bike and in my airplane. I’ve already sent X10 and X20 photos to clients and I anticipate sending more in the future, and recently had an X10 image used as a 4 x 6 foot corporate display print. Turned out just fine!
3. It Triggers Remote Flashes
Both the X10 and X20 have an External Flash option that lets the camera trigger other optically controlled flashes and strobes. It doesn’t offer the full flexibility of the on-board flash on my Nikon D700, but it still offers some pretty cool off camera flash options. I’ve used the X20 to trigger SB-800s, SB-900s, older SB26s, and even my Photoflex TritonFlash battery powered strobe. If’ the flash has an optical sensor, the X20 will fire it. Way cool.
With the X20 and even just a single small speedlight, you can potentially to really fast with light and still have some good creative options. There’s even a dedicated flash for the X20- the Fuji EF-20 flash. Great little light. Add a Canon compatible sync cord and you can open up your off-camera flash options even more.
4. It Fires at 12 Frames Per Second
Today’s CMOS sensor technology allows for incredibly fast capture and write speeds. The X20 can fire at an staggeringly fast 12 fps at full 4,000 x 3,000 pixel resolution. Not only is this great for shooting sports, it’s awesome for capturing portraits and fleeting expressions. I used this feature when trying to take photos of my 3 year old niece during a recent family vacation. Have you seen how fast a 3 year old moves? Shooting regular sports is easier. Seriously. High speed capture really helps here.
5. It Does Full Manual
As good as the exposure, sensor and image processor on the X20 are, let’s face facts: There will be photographic situations where shooting on auto will simply not give you what you want. The X10 and X20 have three different exposure meters, full manual mode, even manual focus, and everything in between. Plus it shoots Full HD video. If you have skills, the X20 will allow you to use them.
6. It Has Metal Dials
I love the fact that the X20 has real dials. Milled aluminum dials with textured edges. Just like old cameras. (One for exposure mode and one for +/- EV compensation.) Not only are real dials cool, they allow you to change modes and exposure way more quickly than if you had to go in and scroll around some menu. Some cameras today require you to do everything inside the menu. For me, this is just not desirable or practical, let alone fast enough.
7. It Shoots RAW
Unlike some compact cameras, like the Nikon AW100, the Fujifilm X10 and X20 both shoot RAW. With a simple press of a button on the back of the camera, you can set it up to shoot in either RAW, or RAW+JPEG. It’s files are recognized in Adobe Lightroom, but with it’s on-board RAW converter, you can process and distill your RAW photos down to JPEG right in the camera.
That said, the X20’s dual CPU image processor is so good that I rarely find the need to shoot RAW with this camera. However, if I’m facing a tricky lighting situation, or if I want full control, the feature is there.
8. It Has Awesome Macro Capabilities
The X20 has super macro that focuses down to an unbelievable 1 cm. You can pretty much get as close as you want to a subject and still capture it in focus, as long as it isn’t touching the lens. I’ve played around with macro photography a bit in the past, but I’m totally blown away by how well the X20 allows you to shoot extreme closeups and details without having to resort to using closeup lenses, extension tubes or even a seperate macro lens.
9. It Has a Viewfinder
The X20 has an optical viewfinder that shows about 80% of the image. With the X20, they added shooting info inside the OVF, including shutter speed, aperture and focus zone. The reality is that most of the times I shoot using the LCD panel, but if I’m shooting in really bright sunlight, or if I want to conserver batteries, the zoomable viewfinder definitely comes in handy.
10. It’s Just So Damn Stylish
The X20 is a dream to handle. It’s such a great size, and the styling and ergonomics of the camera draw you right in. Plus, you can’t beat the cool retro design. Like I said above, it’s an instant classic; a fully capable “gentleman’s camera,” or “ladies’ camera,” if you will, that does it all.
The Fujifilm X10 Fujifilm X20 may not be the perfect compact camera, but I’d say it comes pretty darn close. There are some cameras out there that do a few things better than the X20, but with the impressive amount of features, technology and quality that the X20 carries, you’d be hard pressed to find a better overall camera in one self contained package at this price.
Even though the X20 is out now, the Fujifilm X10 is still a great little camera for the price. For more info, read my full review of the Fuji X20 here, check out more X20-related posts here on the site, or just pick one up and see for yourself.
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Chugach Mountains, Shot with the Fuji X10