There's some great news out for everyone who has been drooling over the Fujifilm FinePix X100, but choking over the $1,200 price tag: Fujifilm has announced the Fujifilm FinePix X10, a new model that's poised to compete against premium compact digital cameras such as the Canon Powershot G12, Nikon Coolpix P7100, Olympus XZ-1, and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Though pricing for the X10 has not yet been released, my guess is that it will be priced at roughly half of the X100, say $599, possibly slightly higher than the $500 price tag most of the other premium compacts sport, since the X10 currently outspecs them. Still, cameras like the G12 and LX5 are getting a little long in the tooth (in the insanely fast-paced camera market, anyway) and are ripe for updating. (The oldest of the group, the LX5 -- released just over a year ago -- is scheduled for a firmware update on September 13.)
The biggest difference between the X10 and its current competition is its larger 2/3-inch (8.8x6.6mm) EXR CMOS sensor -- the others max out at 1/1.63 inch (7.89x5.81mm) CCDs. Though a bigger sensor typically means better image quality (especially in low-light), Fujifilm opted for a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, while other camera vendors have wisely stuck with 10 megapixels in their premium compacts (even while they cram the tiny sensors in their lower-end compacts with more and more pixels to appease the megapixel-mad masses). We'll have to wait for hands-on reviews to see if the extra megapixels cancel out the benefits a larger sensor can offer in terms of image quality. Sensor size aside, however, like Fujifilm's other EXR-sensor cameras, the X10 offers three different shooting modes that vary the usage of the sensor depending on the shooting environment: The High Sensitivity and Low Noise (SN) mode aims to deliver better-quality low-light images with less noise, the Wide Dynamic Range (DR) mode offers an increased dynamic range for detail in both shadow and highlights, and the High Resolution (HR) mode uses full 12-megapixel resolution to deliver better detail in bright, even lighting.
The X10 also sports a relatively bright 28-112mm equivalent (f/2.0-f/2.8) 4x optical zoom lens and a broader sensitivity range (ISO 100-12,800) than its competitors, as well as a much faster maximum continuous shooting speed of 10fps (at medium resolution) and 7fps at full resolution, besting even its big brother X100.
Speaking of the X100, the X10 echoes its older sibling's fabulous retro look, with a textured finish, top-mounted dials, and a manual barrel zoom to complete the old-school feel. While it doesn't have the X100's cool hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, it does have a straight optical viewfinder in addition to the 2.8-inch, 460,000-dot LCD. The X10 also inherits the X100's 49-point autofocus system, but improves upon the HD video recording capabilities by offering 1080p full HD recording at 30fps (vs. the X100's 720p at 24fps max).
Other key features include:
- 8 Film Simulation modes that mimic Fujifilm photographic films (e.g., Velvia, Provia, Astia)
- Custom and Auto White Balance (with 9 white balance presets)
- Noise Reduction Adjustment function
- Manual shooting modes (Program/Aperture Priority/Shutter Speed Priority/Manual)
- Power start-up within approximately 0.8 seconds (must be in Quick Start mode)
- 360° Motion Panorama
- Manual pop-up flash
- Electronic horizon leveling gauge
- 4 auto bracketing functions (exposure, ISO sensitivity, dynamic range, and film simulation)
- RAW shooting and in-camera RAW processing
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