I don’t write much about cameras because much of the new releases don’t appeal to me for street photography. Nevertheless, when I saw Fuji’s X10 announcement, a few surprising features jumped to my eyes. Could it be that small compact camera that many street photographers were waiting for ? Let’s have a look at the main features :
- Optical viewfinder : Fuji states that the viewfinder on the X10 is revolutionary, which at least makes me believe that they did put some serious engineering effort on it. Unless most compact camera, the coverage area of the optical viewfinder is 85%. While I would love 100%, this is not too far of cameras such as the Leica M8 and makes it actually usable for street phtoography. Optical viewfinder are a must to me and it is great to see it included in such a small body. Finally, let’s mention that Fuji mentions excellent brightness at all step zooms, it should therefore be usable in all light conditions.
- Focal ring : There is a numbered focal ring around the lens, meaning that you can very easily and quickly change focals. The usual focal are marked (28mm, 35mm, …), this will help figuring out in a glance on which focal your camera is set. Many street photographers work with one or two focals, one could very well set the X10 on 35mm and leave it there for a full day. The camera would automatically return to it when powered on.
- A F2.0-F2.8 aperture. This is a small sensor camera, yet the F2.0 aperture coupled with the 2/3-inch sensor means that some selective focus will be possible. You’ll probably need to be very close to your subject to notice it. F2.0 also makes it usable at night, though high ISO performance needs to be acceptable at ISO800.
- Small size : The X10 is basically the size of a Leica CL. Easy to fit in a pocket and even less obstrusive that his older brother the X100. It will also weights (350 grams), which is much less than a Leica M with a lens on.
- Design : let’s say it, the little thing looks very sweet, Fuji even calls it “Luxury design”. It won’t help you take better pictures, but when you pour a few hundreds dollars in a camera, a good look definitely makes the cash outlay easier. Add to that that the body is made of dies-cast magnesium and it might result a very durable camera.
- Fast focus : Fuji promises a fast auto-focus. Well, I just hope it is better than the X100′s. This being said, I don’t care about autofocus since I should exclusively in manual focus. There is a lever on the X10 to activate manual focus yet I could not find any details on how the later works. Obviously, with such a small sensor, depth of field is much easier to manage so zone focus should be pretty easy and effective without a complicated manual focus system.
- Silent mode : nothing revolutionary for a point and shoot, yet the X10′s shutter can be operated without noise. And we all know how important it is to street photographers.
So, a new pretender for street photographers ?
It had been a long time since I awaited anxiously for a new camera release. This X10 has a awful lot of promising features. Obviously, a Leica M8/9 will still outperform it in terms of image quality and selective focus capability (which is key to my photography). The viewfinder and framelines system alsso remain superior to the X10. Yet, assuming good image quality, this new camera could actually be a very nice back-up or take everywhere point and shoot. It adds a lot of versatility thanks to its 4x zoom, 1080 HD movie recording and a plethora of options (though I would prefer less options and less buttons). I can even imagine it becoming the lone companion of some street photographers. Mount an external optical viewfinder in his hot-shoe, and you have pretty much a copy of the Leica CL appreciated by so many.
Let’s wait for the first reviews to hit the net (if you get to handle one, to not hesitate to post your feedback here). I’ll then decide whether I pick up one when we reach Australia (if available). If not, Hong Kong is on the route later on too …
Meanwhile, discover more about the X10 following this link