First Impressions: Fuji X-T10, the mini X-T1 with lots to like about it. Even better for street photography
Fuji's new X-T10, a cross between the X-E2 and X-T1, has made a welcome arrival for review. I am a great fan of the X-T1 and Fuji X-series cameras in general. Last October I wrote about the X-T1 as an alternative camera to the popular X100T for street photography. I argued that, when combined with the tiny 27mm (41mm effective) pancake lens, it could equal the fixed-lens 100T in performance without too much weight or size penalty. And it also offered the versatility of a system mount.
The X-T10 is likely to be an even better contender for street photography because of its smaller size and lower weight. After playing with the camera for a couple of days I believe it could well cannibalise sales of both the larger X-T1 and the more specialised X100T. It is also a solid contender for the rangefinder-styled X-E2. Choosing the right Fuji has never been more difficult.
If Fuji follows Apple's lead, however, the company will not worry about cannibalisation as long as people buy one of their products.
First impressions are extremely positive. The camera is verily a chip off the old block, cuter than its larger sibling yet sacrificing little in the way of operational ability and nothing in terms of performance. It has the same 16.3MP sensor and image quality on both cameras should be identical, depending on lens used.
With the tiny pancake 27mm the X-T10 weighs a mere 18g more than the X100T but it is 60g less than the X-T1. So you do get a very similar handling experience to the X100T. The substitution of a largely plastic body for the metal of the X-T1 is not noticeable other than in weight. The new boy is superbly made. It looks solid and feels durable. Unlike the X-T1, however, this body is not water resistant. Nor are most Fujinon lenses, including the kit XC16-50 or the XF18-55 for that matter.
The most noticeable difference in the control layout is the absence of the larger camera's dedicated ISO dial. But you do retain the exposure compensation dial and the usual Leica-style shutter speed control. To the left of the top plate, where the X-T1 fields the ISO dial, lies the drive dial with a concentric lever to pop up the plasticky minimalist flash atop the viewfinder hump. Unlike the X-T1, and indicative of this camera's broader appeal, there is a lever concentric with the shutter speed dial to select full-auto mode. This is actually quite useful, as a dedicated toggle rather than as just one setting on a mode dial, and I can see myself using it occasionally.
Compared with those of the larger camera, the rather cramped controls are immediately noticeable. Larger hands might find haptics awkward but I soon felt at home. The first thing I did, though, was to disable the four buttons around the direction pad. I found I was constantly brining up the flash menu with pressure from the ball of my thumb. It is fortunate that this menu option to disable is possible and it is something I like about Fuji's sensible all-round approach.
The articulated screen has a slightly lower resolution than the one on the X-T1 but this is hardly noticeable in practice. If I hadn't seen the spec sheet I wouldn't have realised. The viewfinder housing and eyecup is smaller than in the X-T1 but, subjectively, the finder itself looks identical when you put it to the eye. It is actually slightly smaller at 0.39in compared with the 0.5in of the X-T1 but has the same number of pixels, 2.36 million. The monitor screen lacks the side-by-side option of the X-T1 but this is no great loss. I found it to be something of a gimmick.
Autofocus is fast, as fast as on the X-T1 and similar to the X100T. The camera also benefits from the 1/32000 electronic shutter which is now also available to X-T1 users via firmware update. While rolling shutter effect is a risk when panning, as with all fast electronic shutters, I find no cause for worry with my normal static shots. It is undeniably useful to have the ability to shoot wide open in bright conditions without the need for an ND filter. Shutter noise, mechanical up to 1/4000s, is subdued and the electronic shutter can be set to silent. The 56mm prime used in this evaluation suffers from the usual noisy focus (as does the 35mm) but that is nothing to do with the camera.
In manual focus mode the finder offers the same options as the older camera, including split image and various hues and degrees of focus peaking. At first play, manual focus is actually easier than on the X-T1. The rear adjustment dial acts as the magnification trigger and it is easier to find and press than the customisable button option on the older camera.
I did not get to borrow either of the kit zoom lenses and am relying on my own quartet of Fujinon glass—the 27mm pancake, the 35mm f/1.4, the 56mm (non-APD) f/1.2 and the versatile 18-135mm zoom (which is waterproof and stabilised, by the way). These translate into full-frame equivalent focal lengths of 41, 50, 85 and 27-200mm.
One consequence of the smaller body is that the 56mm prime and 18-135 zooms (and, probably, others) are too fat for the camera. On a flat surface the body is propped up by the lens which, in the case of the 56mm, comes 60mm proud of the baseplate. This is probably where I would recommend getting the accessory grip, if only to raise the camera a little in order to protect the lenses.
The built-in grip is smaller than that of the X-T1 but actually very usable. Yesterday I dangled the camera and bulky 400g 56mm on a Barton Braidy wrist strap and found my thumb hooked comfortably against the rear thumb rest with two forefingers lightly brushing the front grip. Balance is perfect but with the 18-135 the camera is clearly less well balanced. For this longer 490g lens I could be tempted to the additional hand grip.
Using the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 prime for the first time in several months, I am reminded of its tremendous abilties. This is probably my favourite lens for the Fuji X system and I remember how well it performed at the Brooklands Military Day last November.
After 24 hours I am feeling surprisingly positive about this little camera. I prefer it on size and even in the handling department to the larger X-T1. It feels even lighter than the on-paper 60g saving would suggest.
With equivalent performance and image quality, there is not much to dislike about this new arrival. In fact, unless you really must have weather resistance, it is probably sensible to choose the X-T10 over the X-T1 for half the price. The X-T1 body costs £999 (currently discounted to £878) while the new X-T10 is a very attractive £499 and will probably soon be down to £449. It also calls into question the value of the X100T fixed-lens retro. At £999 (£800 cheapest) it is twice the price of the X-T1 although you have to factor in at least one lens with the system camera.
As a second body for Leica owners it works well, particularly for those who enjoy the different focal lengths created by the cropped APS-C sensor. I screwed on the Leica f/4 Tri-Elmar which offers 42, 50 and 75mm primes on the Fuji system whereas on a full-fame M it is 28-35-50. So two cameras and one lens gives the considerable versatility of five primes, from wide for landscape to a useful portrait length.
Full review will follow.
Below: Another of my regular camera-test haunts on the River Thames with sunny downtown Hammersmith in the background (those pesky cranes drive me crazy and spoil all my pictures). Underneath is a crop of the same image to show the level of detail from this lens and the Fuji sensor. Fuji X-T10 and 56mm. Shot at f/5.6 and 1/2400s