Price as Reviewed:£949.00 (Body Only)
Fujifilm’s latest mirrorless model is aimed squarely at DSLR users who don’t want full frame. Andy Westlake gets hands-on.
Fujifilm X-S10 at a glance:
- £949 body-only
- £1299 with 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens
- 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor
- ISO 80-51,200 (extended)
- 5-axis in-body stabilisation
- 2.36m-dot viewfinder
- Fully articulated touchscreen
Our hands-on first look review is based on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10
Ask a group of photographers what Fujifilm cameras look like, and chances are you’ll hear a lot about analogue dials and retro design. In the decade since the firm revived its fortunes with the original faux-rangefinder X100, nostalgia for the mechanical cameras of the 1960s and 70s has been a key part of its brand identity. On this basis, its new mid-range mirrorless X-S10 comes as a surprise. Gone are the top-plate shutter-speed and exposure compensation dials, with the camera instead looking more like a miniature version of a Canon or Nikon DSLR. So what’s going on?
Essentially, the X-S10 is aimed at DSLR users who want to upgrade to mirrorless, but have grown used to the design template of a large handgrip, electronic control dials and top-plate mode dial that has dominated the market for 30 years. It’s also designed for those who don’t want the size, weight or expense of full-frame, and are frustrated by the disinterest shown by Canon and Nikon in the smaller and more affordable, but still extremely capable APS-C format.
The result is a small SLR-shaped camera equipped with in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) and a fully articulated screen. Surprisingly, this appealing combination hasn’t actually been seen before in the APS-C format, with IBIS previously restricted to just a few high-end models from Sony and Fujifilm. It might just be a masterstroke.
The Fujifilm X-S10 will be available from the middle of November for £949 body-only, and in three lens kits: £999 with the XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ; £1299 with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS; or £1399 with the XF 16-80mm F4 R OIS WR. I’d skip the 15-45mm powerzoom, which is infuriating to use if you like to compose your pictures with any degree of precision, and go with one of the nicer lenses.
Fujifilm X-S10 – Key points
This is Fujifilm’s first mid-range X-system camera with a fully electronic control system, and its third model with IBIS.
- Electronic dials Unlike previous mid-range X models, the X-S10 employs electronic rather than analogue control dials
- X-mount Fujifilm offers the best lens line-up of any APS-C system, with 30 optics available
- Handgrip The X-S10’s deep grip provides space for the battery and SD card in a shared compartment
- IBIS A compact 5-axis in-body image stabilisation unit allows shutter speeds up to 6 stops slower than usual to be used hand-held
Fujifilm X-S10: Features
Positioned between the enthusiast-focused X-T30 and the high-end X-T4 within Fujifilm’s range, the X-S10 is based around the same imaging hardware as its stablemates, with a 26.2MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4. This brings an impressive specification: its standard sensitivity range of ISO 160-25,600 is expandable to ISO 80-51,200, while shutter speeds range from 15min to 1/4000sec with the mechanical shutter, or up to 1/32,000sec with the silent electronic shutter.
Burst shooting is available at 8 frames per second using the mechanical shutter, 20fps with the electronic shutter, or 30fps with a 1.25x crop. On-chip phase detection supports autofocus anywhere within the frame, with a choice of either 117 or 425 selectable points, along with face and eye detection and tracking. Video can be recorded in 4K at up to 30fps, or Full HD up to 240fps. The camera has a 3.5mm stereo mic socket built in, while headphones can be connected via a USB-C adapter for monitoring audio.
Fujifilm has downsized its IBIS mechanism compared to the X-T4’s, resulting in a smaller camera body that measures 126 x 85.1 x 65.4mm and weighs 465g. But the system is still rated for between 5.5 and 6 stops of shake reduction with the vast majority of the firm’s lenses. When an optically stabilised lens is mounted it corrects for pitch and yaw, while the IBIS compensates for roll around the lens axis, along with left-right and up-down movements.
For composition you get a 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder with 0.62x equivalent magnification and a refresh rate of 100fps. This is pretty much the same spec as those in the firm’s X-T30 and X-T200 models; it’s not huge, but it gets the job done. It’s joined by a 3in fully articulated screen that’s great for shooting at high or low angles in both portrait and landscape orientations, and can also be set facing forwards, or folded in against the back of the camera for protection. However its touch functions are rather limited: you can set the focus point, browse through images in playback and change certain settings, but not navigate the main menus.
Below you can see the camera’s rather simple array of connectors. The 3.5mm microphone socket is placed high up on the shoulder where it won’t obstruct the screen; it can also be used with a vast range of Canon- or Pentax- compatible remote releases with 2.5mm jacks, although this requires you to buy a simple adapter. Meanwhile the USB-C port can be used both for charging the battery, or to connect headphones for monitoring audio during movie recording, again via an adapter. A mini HDMI port rounds things off.
The X-S10 also offers the usual smartphone connectivity, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in for sharing your images, or controlling the camera remotely complete with a live view feed on your phone’s screen. Fujifilm’s nicely implemented in-camera raw conversion allows you to adjust or re-interpret your shots before sharing them.
Fujifilm X-S10: Design and handling
When it comes to build and handling, Fujifilm has done a fine job. The body shell is mainly constructed of magnesium alloy, giving a reassuring impression of robustness. The deep handgrip provides a secure hold, and the key controls are all well positioned for easy operation with the camera to your eye. Along with front and rear command dials, there’s a third dial on the camera’s left shoulder; by default this selects between the firm’s superb Film Simulation colour modes, but it can be re-assigned to different functions if you prefer.
On this note, the X-S10 benefits from Fujifilm’s full array of film simulation modes for both stills and video shooting. This is a real benefit, as it means you get to choose between a range of attractive colour signatures for different kinds of subject that build on the firm’s huge heritage in producing film. Press the Q button while you’re selecting between them, and the camera shows a detailed description of what each one is for.
A well-placed joystick on the back is used to select the focus point and navigate though menus, while a small top-plate button sets ISO, and another alongside it calls up the onscreen Q Menu that’s used to change a wide range of secondary settings. Most of the firm’s lenses benefit from dedicated aperture rings, too. Put all this together and you get one of the best-handling APS-C cameras on the market.
Many of the controls can be re-assigned to other functions if you prefer, and the Q Menu is also user-customisable. Four camera setups can be saved for quick recall via the C1 – C4 positions on the mode dial, and helpfully be given meaningful names. This makes it much easier to remember which one you should be selecting in any given shooting situation.
The main controls operate with satisfying precision, but some of the buttons are rather small, including the Menu and Disp controls on the back. About the only real disappointment is that Fujifilm makes no claims for any weather-sealing.
When I first heard about the X-S10, I must admit to being sceptical, as I enjoy using Fujifilm models with analogue control dials. But after a few days using a pre-production sample, it won me over. This is a lovely little camera that fits nicely in your hand and works really well, with all the controls in the right places. With its proven sensor and processor, it’s also sure to deliver lovely images.
Compared to its most obvious competitors, the X-S10 looks very strongly placed. It gives access to a much more comprehensive lens range than either the Nikon Z 50 or Canon EOS M6 Mark II, while being immeasurably nicer to use than the Sony Alpha 6400. The inclusion of IBIS and Fujifilm’s peerless colour science are also significant benefits. So overall, it looks extremely promising; stay tuned for our full review.
Fujifilm X-S10: Specifications
- Sensor: 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4, 23.5 x 15.7mm
- Output size: 6240 x 4160
- Focal length mag: 1.5x
- Lens mount: Fujifilm X
- Shutter speeds (mechanical): 15min-1/4000sec
- Shutter speeds (electronic): 1sec-1/32,000sec
- Sensitivity (standard): ISO 160-12,800
- Sensitivity (extended): ISO 80-51,200
- Exposure modes: PASM, Auto, 4x custom
- Metering: Multi, centre-weighted, spot, average
- Exposure comp: +/-5 EV on 0.3EV steps
- Continuous shooting: 8fps mechanical; 20fps electronic; 30fps 1.25x crop
- Screen: 3in, 1.4m-dot fully-articulated touchscreen
- Viewfinder: 2.36m-dot, 0.62x magnification, 100fps
- AF points: 117 or 425
- Video: 4K up to 30p; Full HD up to 240p
- External mic: 3.5mm stereo
- Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-1)
- Power: NP-W126S
- Battery life: 325 shots
- Dimensions: 126 x 85.1 x 65.4mm
- Weight: 465g