When you buy a camera, you’re aware it usually allows to adjust parameters for things as “portrait at night”, “landscape” or “photos taken under candlelight”, but not all models offer things like a simulation of Velvia or Provia emulsions. The Fujifilm X-T10 does!
When I recently wrote the article Fujifilm: in search of film’s soul in a digital world, Fujifilm sent me a small X-T10 to play with for some days, so it makes complete sense to share with readers where at ProVideo Coalition some of my experiences with a model that is one of the big hits on Fujifilm’s line up. And one that, as other X-series models, offers multiple film emulsions – and emotions – in one camera.
The Fujifilm X-T10 is a small version of the X-T1. Surprisingly, it does a few things better than the bigger brother… or sister. Launched in June 2015, the X-T10 is one of the reasons why Fujifilm is happy with the sales of their X-series. Since launch, the X-T10 has been on high demand, mostly because it offers, according to Fujifilm, “outstanding image quality and comfortable operability with a compact and lightweight body.”
Vintage body, modern technology
The Fujifilm X-T10 is also, indicates a company report, high ranked at Amazon, when it comes to sales, although the bestselling model is the Fujifilm Instax, with a targeted sales volume raised from 4.6 million units to 5.0 million units. Yes, the bestselling camera is a “polaroid-like” model, the brand new Instax Mini 70 with Selfie mirror, which, in fact, is responsible for a large chunk of Fujifilm’s imaging division profits.
The Fujifilm X-T10 is a mixture of the most modern technology and the design and dials from vintage models. Fujifilm knows their way around this type of cameras, and the X-T10 works surprisingly well, although you’ll need some time – more than I effectively had – to get familiar with all the essential controls. Years ago, when I tested cameras on a regular basis, it was easier and always exciting to jump from model to model, but nowadays I feel comfortable using the buttons and dials on my Canon DSLR and do not feel the urge to change. Sometimes, in the few days I had with the X-T10, it was a challenge to get my fingers on the right places and even find the right way to do some things. Taming a camera takes time, more time than a review allows you to.
A camera for photographers
Still, I wanted to know the camera, not because of the specs, which seem quite humble when you look at many of the discussions online, but because of the film emulation. People seem to want more and more pixels and features, so a camera with a 16 MP sensor and no 4K is… “outdated”. The truth is that Fujifilm seems to be creating cameras for people that put photography before specifications, and in that sense the 16MP APS-C sensor has a few tricks and really offers results that will make most photographers happy. Did I say photographers? Yes, I did.
It was not so long ago that we had cameras with 3 million pixels, and everybody was happy with them, so the race for more pixels seems insane and not really something most people need. I remember printing huge posters – over 2 meters high – from files coming out of my Canon D30 and an IBM MicroDrive (anyone remembers those?), with a little help from the original Genuine Fractals program, so I never understand why so many people gets excited over more pixels.
After Fujifilm’s colours
Being familiar with older Fujifilm models, what moved me to try the X-T10 was the presence of the Film Simulation modes, something that the company has explored and perfected for years and continues to develop, as recent news suggest a new batch of presets will be available with future models. And on some older ones, probably, through an update of firmware, if that’s possible.
Back to the X-T10, the sample I received had a normal kit zoom present, the Fujinon 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS, which on an APS-C body works similar to a 24-75mm on a 35mm or full frame body. I am not going to refer here all specifications or even comment on them as there is already more than enough information on the web about the camera. Google for “X-T10 reviews” and you’ll get all that information, if you need it. Here I want to look at some aspects of colour how I experienced it with the Fujifilm X-T10, and how handling and finally video work on this model.
Disabling real-time preview in the EVF
First let me state one thing: I continue to prefer the optical viewfinder of a DSLR to anything else, and the days with the X-T10 didn’t change my mind about this. I do not need to preview what the image is going to look like on the viewfinder, and if I need to do it, I prefer to use the LCD on the back. The X-T10 offers the option to disable real-time settings preview in the EVF, something a DSLR user like myself appreciates, but I continue to feel there is a disconnect when I frame my image through an electronic viewfinder. I probably need more time to get used to an EVF…
Albeit the difficulties, I managed to “become friends” with the X-T10, and enjoyed carrying the small size and lightweight system around. I guess that’s one of the benefits of such a system, although sometimes I felt I would prefer to have my DSLR close by, both for the familiarity I have with it and because it gives me access to lenses and modes of work I cannot use with the X-T10. This said, for many types of photography and for travelling light, it is difficult to beat what Fujifilm offers. And I would gladly try the system with more lenses to fully understand what of the photography I do would fit within the X-series.
Small package, great results
What’s really amazing is what this small package can deliver in terms of colour, sharpness and even high ISO results. I leave the high ISO and sharpness aside, though, to center on colour, as that was what first attracted me to the system. Fujifilm, I wrote on my previous article, knows how to recreate their emulsions in the digital world, and it shows on the X-T10. I took some test shots that show the differences between the multiple emulsions available on the camera, along with the variations created with the introduction of filters in monochrome and a sepia tone. They reveal some aspects of the experience, but do not tell the whole story.
Photographers need to use a camera like this for some time to really appreciate the options available in terms of colour. I did not have enough time to try the different emulsions intensively in real world conditions, as I would like to use the Velvia mode, which would take me back to the days I used the original 50 ISO emulsions. Instead, I centered my attention on the Classic Chrome, a recent mode that does not recreate a film but more an aspiration of photojournalists.
Multiple colours in the park
I took multiple images at different locations using the Film Simulation modes, and for this article I picked two series, one taken at a park at the end of a sunny Autumn day, and a smaller series with one of my passions: plants and flowers. All images were edited with simple adjustment of exposure, contrast and colours, while trying to keep the mood of the original file.
I really like the results from the park series, as they reflect the mood and atmosphere at the end of the day, while still full reproducing colour when it is present, as is the case with the spring rider in the children playground. Those red, yellow green and blues are, to my eye, spot on. That’s a Fujifilm JPEG and one of the reasons why so many people simply use JPEGs directly from Fujifilm cameras: they work rather well. The softer tones on the pink walls from the WC areas are also a good example of appealing results that reflect what I saw in the park that afternoon (Classic Chrome in action there). To see some bigger size images of the photos, visit my page at Medium, Classic Chrome, a Fujifilm X-T10 experience (which is also the title of the video) where I publish some more notes about the X-T10.
Close up and plants
The second series of images used shows a fake-clover photographed on a window sill. I framed the plant showing its placement in relation to the window and background, and then explored the creative possibilities going from a normal exposure with the background still visible to an exposure for the shadows and detail on the plant, meaning the background was blown out to become almost completely white. The technique is similar to the one I use for the international project Meet Your Neighbours, although here the results are achieved in a different way.
I did some cleaning on the white areas on the final image, but kept the colours of the plant as they were shot. I wanted to try this kind of photography as it relates to some of my work with flowers and plants, and allowed me to explore the potential of using the X-T10 for some of the work I do. Being limited to the kit lens, though, reduced the possibilities, although I do think I manage to get some interesting photos.
Three cats and a video
The video section of the Fujifilm X-T10 was also something I wanted to try. The video Classic Chrome with a Fujifilm X-T10 is an unpretentious capture of three kittens we sheltered at home for some time. I used the Classic Chrome film emulation from the Fujifilm X-T10 as a “colour grading tool” for the film, which was not subject to any changes during the editing process. The film was shot in different days as a way to try the video options from the Fujifilm X-T10.
Let me say that I do not like the way the video button on the X-T10 works. Sometimes it is hard to press it properly so the camera starts to record. I do know one does get used to these things, after some time, but this is essentially a first impressions note and I believe I should say it.
Video is not the strongest point of the Fujifilm X-T10. Still, it does Full HD movie recording (1080/60p, 36Mbps bitrate), and offers a built-in stereo microphone which, as usual, captures everything, including any noises from the camera. An external microphone can be used and is recommended. In terms of AF, the camera does focus on moving subjects during video capture, but tends to hunt a bit with subjects like cats, which are animals that don’t keep much in the same place – except when sleeping – and don’t follow a set path. Again, I do believe knowing the system well might help to get better results.
Final notes on the X-T10
Compared to the video from other cameras, the video on the Fujifilm X-T10 may be its least exciting feature in terms of results, what is a pity as the camera does offer things like full manual controls, besides Aperture and Shutter priority modes, during video capture, along with Auto ISO functionality, a helpful feature when using the camera under changing light. The fact that the camera does work well at high ISO is also important. Still, for many users, the video captured with the Fujifilm X-T10 may be enough. The video made with the cats here at home is an example of what can be achieved with little effort or preparation.
Looking like a small X-T1 with the added benefit of a popup flash, the Fujifilm X-T10 is, no doubt, one of the smallest and most exciting packages for photographers that want to travel light. The most recent reviews and news suggest it beats many competitors in terms of what is important: photographic results. For a little camera that continues to pursue the “soul of film” search Fujifilm has taken years ago, this unexpected success is a confirmation of the company’s right decision when it transitioned to a digital world: to keep the spirit of their films alive inside their digital cameras. Because, after all, it is that decision that molds the path Fujifilm has taken all the way towards the X-series.