Fujifilm are pitching this 8.2 megapixel camera as a budget model with no compromise on quality. But can that really be true? We get snapping to find out.
Measuring 91 x 55 x 19mm, this is not the smallest compact on the market, but is small enough to slip in to your pocket. The front of the body is constructed from a brushed metal that feels sturdy enough, whilst the back is a silver plastic; it also comes in black.
The back features a 2.4in LCD screen, more on that later, and the general controls for the menus, shortcuts and the Fujinon 3x optical zoom. The top of the camera has the "shutter" button and the power on/off, which at times seems particularly unresponsive.
The J10 comes with 8MB internal memory, a paltry offering as this will only give you 1 photo at the highest settings; alternatively you may wish to shoot 2 seconds of video. The camera will accept SD, and the HC variety, as well as xD-Picture Card, but you don’t get anyhing in the box, so allow for that when considering the price.
You do, however, get a li-ion battery and charger, as well as cables to connect to the TV for video and slideshow playback and the normal USB. There is no cover to protect the socket for these cables, so you can expect it to fill with pocket lint and such.
Back to the LCD display. Well, it’s pretty poor and perhaps a reflection of the cuts that need to be made to reach this price point. The menus look blocky and unrefined; image playback is not much better, perhaps because of the limited 153k pixels on the display compared to the 230k on the Canon of similar specs (but not price) that we looked at a few weeks back. It also suffers in bright conditions, perhaps the only saving grace is the button to brighten the display, but you have to select this each time, and it won’t help you in really bright sunshine.
The menus hide most of the features, including all the normal presets and the video mode which will shoot 640 x 320 at 30fps. The zoom is disabled whilst filming, but can be used to zoom in first, so video can be a little flat and lacking options. The menus are easy to navigate, but look terrible, so it isn’t a compelling experience.
The menus change based on your selections, so it is not until you select "Manual" that you find there are white balance controls and so on. The ISO option is always presented, but often only gives you the option of "Auto", rather than letting you pump it up to 1600, which of course brings in a lot of noise. This perhaps means that you are unlikely to spend your time rooting through the menus to change all the settings you want. The presets will cater for everything from "Baby mode" to "Text" (which is essentially macro).
The display button will give you some options, basically thumbnails, calendar, information (ISO, quality settings, date, etc), or just the image: there are no more advanced details available, but that is probably not a consideration on this level of camera. Shortcut buttons on a circular ring give you access to flash controls, macro mode, self timer and the screen brightener.
We found the camera had a tendency to fire the flash when in auto mode, even when it wouldn’t normally be needed, so in conditions with less than perfect light you have the flash jumping in and leaching out all the colour. There is a shortcut to disable the flash, which you may have to do more than you want.
Focusing seems to be ok, but if your subject is very detailed, you can’t really tell enough from the screen to judge for yourself, which is a real shortcoming; larger subjects, like people, are fine. We found colour was something of an issue, especially over distance when some images appeared almost as greyscale, but seemed to be pretty good in macro mode.
The camera is fairly simple on the outside, but doesn’t really draw you into the menus so you may miss a lot of the functions without exploring. It encourages you to take the default settings because you don’t have a scene button, so we suspect that those looking at the cheaper end of the market won’t explore the delights of the "Museum" or "Natural light" modes.
All in all, this is really a question of budget and how much you get for your money. The screen is a serious shortcoming and would compel us to look elsewhere, perhaps for something with less than 8MP, which would be fine for normal holiday snaps and web sharing photography. Other minor niggles are the lack of memory card in the box. The price here is perhaps the biggest bonus, but jumping straight for the big MP numbers is probably not the right answer.
As a closing remark, we also didn’t like the way it deleted images. This is nothing technical, but delete an image and it sort of dissolves off the screen like a blocky 8-bit game of yesteryear, which looks awful.