(Pocket-lint) - When we first heard about the XF10 it filled our hearts with excitement. With its small body, massive sensor at its core, and that classic Fuji style, this semi update on 2016's X70 sounded like a dream high-end compact camera.
In reality, however, the XF10 functions like a camera that's struggling to keep with the times. Its sloppy autofocus system - a surprise, considering the company's considerable capabilities, just look at the X-T3 - makes it tricky to use.
It's a camera that leaves us torn, however, as its picture quality is often exceptional thanks to the fast f/2.8 aperture lens. But is that enough to get over its hurdles in use?
- 'Champagne Gold' or Black finishes
- 28mm f/2.8 (equivalent) prime lens
- 112.5 x 64.4 x 41.0mm; 279g
The XF10 is all about small scale. It's a genuinely pocketable compact, with the same front-on footprint as the X70 making it smaller than most modern smartphones (well, it's thicker, obviously, but that's to be expected). It's this portability that will be a major appeal.
In terms of finish we have the Champagne Gold with faux brown leather on review, but there is a more subdued black option available too. It's a reasonable finish, although doesn't have the same sense of hardy-meets-luxe that you'll find in some higher-end X Series cameras (like the X-Pro2).
Part of the reason the XF10 is so small is because it has a prime lens, i.e. there's no zoom. The 28mm (equivalent) optic is a wide-angle view onto the world, often cited as the street photographer's classic lens of choice. That lens has a manual focus ring around it, which moves smoothly, but there's no aperture ring as per the X70 - instead the XF10 depends on use of the dual thumbwheel control to make adjustments in its manual modes.
In addition to the main mode dial up top, there's a function (Fn) button, while the inset rear top wheel acts as (unmarked) exposure compensation by default. There's no lock for any dial, which is a shame.
The rear has a thumb rest, while a depressible joystick control functions well to make adjustments and selections - we much prefer this to a four-way d-pad control.
- Fixed 3-inch, 1040k-dot LCD touchscreen / no viewfinder or hotshoe
- 'Snapshot' autofocus (pre-set 2m at f/8 or 5m at f/5.6) option
Overall, the XF10's controls feel a little scattered. It's too easy to randomly change settings - while writing this review we set the camera into square aspect ratio without meaning to - while the inclusion of touch controls on the screen can be a benefit and a burden in equal measure.
The screen itself is a fixed panel, so there's no angling of the screen, while the absence of a viewfinder of provision to add one means using the camera in a distinctive way. This away-from-face approach is fine, but it feels less connected than a viewfinder option.
The XF10's biggest issues surround its autofocus though. The lens is fixed, but there's some slightest of movement, as it's not internally focusing. This motion is unusually noisy for a modern camera, which is irksome.
Furthermore the autofocus is simply poor. Even in daylight it has to hunt backwards and forwards one time before acquiring focus, making it unusually slow. This is particularly noticeable when Fujifilm makes so many super-fast cameras in its mirrorless line-up. Sure, the XF10 isn't a mirrorless system camera, but we expected a lot more in terms of autofocus.
Low-light is a much greater problem, with that hunting continuing for longer, often failing to focus altogether. That said, thanks to the wide aperture lens, very low-light doesn't make focusing impossible - we've shot successfully in low-light where other cameras would struggle to obtain anything.
Perhaps Fujifilm is assuming the camera won't be used in this way though. Its addition of Snapshot - which pre-focuses to 2m at f/8.0 or 5m at f/5.6 - is in line with what street photographers would use for rapid in-the-moment snaps. There's not the same precision or control, but at least this mode is more discreet.
- 24-megapixel APS-C size sensor (as per X-T100)
- ISO 200-12,800 (51,200 extended)
The real reason to buy an XF10 is the sensor at its core: it's a massive APS-C size. Indeed, this sensor is the same 24MP one you'll find in the X-T100, which is great in many ways - but not the best that Fuji has to offer, as it's not an X-Trans CMOS type.
The obvious bonus of a large sensor and wide f/2.8 aperture is depth of field. It's easy to shoot frames with soft, blurred backgrounds that other smaller-sensor devices simply can't achieve.
That said, just like the XF100T, the XF10 doesn't like to close focus much at all. Anything that's confirmed as in focus while the aperture is wide open won't be sharp if too close to the camera lens, which feels like a mis-match of presented information (don't confirm focus if that's not the case).
No image stabilisation is on offer either, which is a shame, as this would help aid those slower shutter speeds that can be necessary in particularly low light. It is possible to set a minimum shutter speed, but this will inevitably drive up the ISO sensitivity or other settings as necessary.
Quality wise, the baseline ISO 200 sensitivity delivers clear, detailed images with natural colours. JPEG shots are a little over-sharpened though.
As the ISO sensitivity rises the XF10 is able to hold its own, with four-figure settings still presenting ample detail and colour. The camera's ability to produce superb looking shots from limited light situations is indicative of its large sensor size and lens combination.
That's the Fujifilm XF10 in a nutshell: its large lens and wide aperture have the potential to deliver delightful images, but the noisy and poor autofocus often makes it a struggle to get there.
Which makes our heart sink, because we were genuinely excited about this pocketable, fixed-lens compact. We've ummed and arred about whether the results trump the path, but in our two weeks holding the camera - from London to San Francisco to Cologne - we've rarely wanted to whip it out of pocket and use it. That says a lot.
Even for those who would accept the XF10's niche fixed lens proposition, we don't think the performance will be a compromise worth making, irrelevant of the image quality potential.
No, it's not a fixed lens and, yes, it's a bigger camera. But it's the same price and all-round more capable, should you be looking for a slightly leftfield alternative.