Fujifilm X-S10 Review: An Enthusiast Camera Worth the Investment

Aimed at photo and video enthusiasts, Fujifilm’s new consumer offering the X-S10 is all about fast continuous shooting speeds, vlogging tools and making shooting easy. But how easy? That depends on how well you know your way around a camera body.

A small-ish, light-ish interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm X-S10 sports the same 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor as its beefier brother the X-T4 (which we also reviewed recently – see here!). With 4K video up to 30P and full HD high speed video up to 10x slow motion, it isn’t the most hard-hitting video shooter out there, but the X-S10 still holds its own.

Who moved my cheese?

Fujifilm often hark back to classic camera designs that give each setting their own wheel, handing complete control over to the photographer. Newbies can breathe a sigh of relief – the X-S10 isn’t one of those cameras. With a very familiar top wheel for mode selection, less experienced photographers can take advantage of a range of automatic and semi-automatic modes – SP (“scene position” or Auto will do the heavy lifting for you, and filter mode exists to let your creative juices out with filters that throw back to early Instagram times – toy camera, selective colour, saturation and more.

For the exposure control freaks, you can settle into manual if they like, or set up one of the four custom modes with your go-to settings for various situations. We love a customisable queen.

I’m always excited to see a dedicated video record button on a Fujifilm camera – it’s not always a given – and the X-S10’s is well placed behind the shutter button and easily pressed. I’ve had trouble with some older Fujifilm bodies needing a VERY firm press to commence and stop recording, resulting in me having a bunch of useless video taking up card space when I thought I’d stopped recording two minutes ago, but that’s definitely not an issue with the X-S10.

Shot on the Fujifilm X-S10. Click to see full size version on Flickr.

What if I don’t want to expose?

Let’s say you’re a total newbie and you want to tell the camera what your situation is, then have it choose the best settings for you based on that. This is where things get tricky – SP mode is there, packed full of shooting scenarios with descriptive icons like “fireworks”, “fish” and “drink”, but the way to sort through those modes isn’t remotely clear at first glance.

I’ll save you a dive into the manual – you’ll need to hit the Q menu button (on the top of the body behind the video record button), then use the joystick on the back to navigate to the scene position selector (it should default to the top left), then rotate the wheel near your right thumb to scroll through. It won’t give you the names of the modes, just an icon, so get your thinking cap on – or just switch back to AUTO and hope for the best. To be honest auto mode probably wouldn’t let you down, but I’m still a bit confused that I couldn’t find any other way to change this scene position selection issue.

For a minute there I thought the same issue arose with the filter mode, but filter mode actually gives you the option to use the other wheel (near your left thumb) to sift through filters, and in doing so it shows you their names and descriptions. In SP mode that left wheel only turns on and scrolls through the film simulation modes. This issue in itself lost this camera a whole star off its’ review score in my books.

Shot on the Fujifilm X-S10. Click to see full size version on Flickr.

Faster, Faster!

The selling point of the year has been Ridiculously Fast Continuous Shooting (ironic for a year when not much was happening), and the X-S10 won’t be left behind with continuous shooting up to 20 frames per second with no cropping of the image, or 30 frames per second if you don’t mind it slicing off some of your edges. Who is this good for? Anyone who likes to shoot things that move FAST – sports, live music, your cat scaling the Christmas tree…

As long as there’s plenty of light around you, the X-S10 is good to go – just hold your finger down on that shutter. Just keep in mind that in the dark on auto modes you might not get great results here. If the camera chooses a slow shutter speed – which is the length of time it opens its little camera “eye” to let in the light – it won’t be able to shoot enough of them in one second to get you that variety you need, and the shots will be blurry or streaked with movement. Math! You can’t fit thirty half-second exposures into a single second. So move into the light, or use flash, or switch to a manual or semi automatic mode where you can control the shutter speed. The age-old tip from photographers gone by is that your shutter speed needs to be a 250th of a second or faster to freeze motion, so that’s a good place to start.

That said, the X-S10 does have in-body image stabilisation – contracted hilariously to IBIS. That stabilisation compensates for shaky hands for both photos and videos, meaning you can push your shutter speed a little slower than those age-old photographers did and still get a sharp image. The X-S10 claims you can achieve a sharp shot at a shutter speed six stops slower than you could have without their IBIS, and I did find it performed well for my slower low light shots. It will also help smooth out your videos for a cleaner look.

Shot on the Fujifilm X-S10. Click to see full size version on Flickr.

What about my Youtube channel though?

We live in the age of vlogging, and Fujifilm are aware. The X-S10 is fully equipped for vloggers with a flip-out screen and microphone input, plus reliable and effective face- and eye-detecting autofocus. There’s a hotshoe on top where you can affix your Rode Videomic, or… you know, a flash, and even a weird IS boost mode made to stabilise your shot so it looks like you had your camera on a tripod. It’s not helpful for boosting tracking or panning shots, and it even tells you so in the menu – it’s just for when you want the camera to be still. Me, I’d just put it on a tripod and call it a day, but if that sounds like something that would be of use to you… it’s there. Without that extra boost, the regular 5-axis image stabilisation is just fine, and even better when used in tandem with a lens that has its own extra stabilisation built in. Check out the video embedded at the top of this post to see some examples.

Ever needed to change your settings while shooting, and cringed at that zippy wheel-rotating sound that happens while you get your settings back in order? No more! The X-S10 has a handy function where, as long as you’re shooting on the dedicated movie mode on the top dial, you can change those settings from the touch screen without ever needing to touch a dial or wheel. No more zippy sounds, just smooth and intuitive operation.

The USB-C input on the side of the camera, just underneath the mic input, also allows you to charge the camera, or power it while you shoot. There’s an included handy headphone-to-USB-C adapter in case you’d like to monitor your audio too, but since there’s only that single USB-C input, you won’t be able to monitor audio AND power the camera at the same time – a small trade-off and I can’t imagine it inconveniencing that many users, but it’s good to know nonetheless.

Shot on the Fujifilm X-S10. Click to see full size version on Flickr.

All the pretty colours!

Fujifilm take colour seriously. They’ve been the mainstay of film for so long, it makes sense – and all their cameras offer their signature film simulation modes, to help film enthusiasts get the look they love without having to drag things into Lightroom. It’s also great for the younger generation, who’ve grown up slapping filters on their phone photos – it works like having the VSCO built into the camera.

Video colour enthusiasts aren’t left behind – not only can you shoot video with any of those film simulation modes turned on for an all-in-one colour grade option, you also have the choice to shoot in F-Log. It’s one of those Serious Video person modes – it gives you a wider dynamic range in your shot so that you have more control over how the video looks once you pull it into editing software and tweak it all around. Straight out of camera it will look pretty grey and flat, but you can customise it however you’d like from there, or throw a LUT on top of it and watch it transform in front of your eyes. You’ll need to be on the dedicated movie recording mode to turn F-Log recording on – it won’t work in any other video shooting situation.

Fujifilm X-S10 film simulation modes.

Is there an app for that?

Of course, the X-S10 can connect up to your phone with Bluetooth or wifi. With the Fujifilm Camera Remote app you can transfer your photos to your phone, shoot remotely, monitor your video, or even update your firmware without needing a single cable. If you like to shoot RAW, I’d recommend you have the camera make a JPEG copy at the time of shooting too so you can get that back to your phone without fuss.

The X-S10 is perfectly suited to an enthusiastic beginner or an established photographer – as long as you’re willing to learn where everything is. If you’re more inclined to shoot on manual, that likely won’t be an issue for you, but beginners might find there’s a little learning curve as you find your way around.

Review score:

THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Affordable, versatile camera

Lowlights: Changing scene position modes is a super annoying process

Manufacturer: Fujifilm

Price: $1699.95 for the body only (on Teds.com.au)

Available: Now

Review conducted using a loaned retail unit provided by the manufacturer.

 

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