Cameras

Head to Head: Fujifilm XF1 vs. X10

Which of Fuji's X-series compacts is the best value for your dollar?

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In 2012, we saw most major camera manufacturers taking measures to improve their high-end compact offerings. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung all put out models with 1/1.7-inch or larger sensors, and Pentax followed suit at this year's CES trade show. At the same time, the number of cheap entry-level point-and-shoots on store shelves is plummeting, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and camera-equipped tablets.

Fujifilm also released a new advanced compact with a larger-than-average (2/3-inch) sensor in 2012: the FinePix XF1. Following on the heels of 2011's enthusiast-oriented X10, it aimed to bring the stylish retro appeal of the X series to the mass market, while still retaining the control and photographer-friendly features that made the X10 such a success in the first place. Since they employ the same sensor specifications, many are naturally curious as to how these two compact powerhouses compare.

This is intended to be a quick ‘n’ dirty breakdown of the major differences between the Fujifilm FinePix X10 and the Fujifilm FinePix XF1, according to our test results. For a full review of the Fuji X10, follow this link. If you want to get our full opinion on the Fuji XF1, look here.

Handling & Portability

The first difference you'll notice between the X10 and XF1 is their physical dimensions. To put it simply, the XF1 is pocketable (as in a jeans pocket) while the X10 is not. You want numbers? The X10 checks in at 117 x 70 x 57mm, while the XF1 is a svelte 108 x 62 x 33mm. It's that last number, the depth, that really matters in this case. Whereas the X10 has a small front grip and a large, protruding lens, the front of the XF1 is virtually flat.

This pocketability is one of the XF1's greatest assets, but when it comes to handling it's also one of its biggest failings. The lack of a front grip, combined with the slippery faux-leather body covering, makes it a fairly uncomfortable camera to hold. A tiny hard plastic nub at the edge of the rear thumb area does little to help the situation.

In comparison, the X10 is a joy to hold. Though its front grip has nothing on some of its closest competitors (particularly the lovely Nikon P7700), it's still a good deal better than the XF1's featureless front facade. Around back, the thumb rest is made of sticky rubber and helpfully curved, giving you plenty of traction.

The X10 also weighs a bit more (350g vs. 255g), but its heft feels natural given its design and build. In contrast, the XF1's lightweight and flimsy build betrays its leather-and-metal form.

Features & Usability

The X10 is a far more full-featured camera than the XF1. Not only are there more physical buttons, dials, and switches, but the X10 has some features that the XF1 lacks entirely—a hot shoe and an optical viewfinder are the most notable. The finder is a real blessing on sunny days; where the XF1's screen can simply wash out in extremely bright sunlight (even with its "Monitor Sunlight Mode"), the X10's OVF remains bright and clear. Screen resolution is identical on both cameras, but the XF1's LCD is slightly larger at 3 inches compared to the X10's 2.8 inches.

As previously discussed, the two cameras share the same 2/3-inch EXR CMOS sensor (or at least one with identical specs). The lenses, however, differ quite a bit. The X10's optic is a little slower on the wide end (f/2 vs the XF1's f/1.8), but has a much more consistently fast maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. It only drops to f/2.8 at 112mm, while the XF1 can't do better than f/4.9 at 100mm. As you may have gathered, the zoom ranges are also slightly different; the XF1 covers a 25-100mm equivalent, while the X10 gives up some wide angle in exchange for better telephoto, going from 28-112mm.

The zoom controls also feel very different. While both cameras employ a mechanical zoom, the X10's is far more enjoyable to use. This discrepancy is due to the XF1's unique three-step collapsing lens design, which allows you to stow the entire assembly within the camera body for travel and storage. It's an odd setup, and one that felt distinctly unnatural at first blush. But even once we got accustomed to the lens-as-power-control implementation, we were less than enchanted with it in field use. Generally, we found it more cumbersome than helpful.

Despite its shortage of physical controls, the XF1 is actually quite photographer-friendly. Its customizable E-Fn menu in particular is a big help, giving six of the rear buttons secondary functions accessible with just two presses. The presence of another customizable function button and two rear dials allows for even more control. Still, you can't beat the X10's physical EV compensation dial, focus mode switch, and extra direct controls for things like white balance and AE/AF lock. The latest X10 firmware (v2.0) also introduced a handy Quick Menu, reached by holding the RAW button—something the XF1 is sorely missing.

Image Quality

When it comes to image quality, there's really little difference to be found between these siblings. They scored virtually identically in color error (alright, but not great), similarly in noise control (very good, but with aggressive NR), and virtually indistinguishably in sharpness. Both lenses are quite good, but we did note that resolution was higher for the XF1 at middle and long focal lengths, where the X10 was sharpest at full wide angle.

The XF1 actually produces far sharper full-HD video, resolving as much as 45% more detail in our standard video sharpness test. (This is probably down to some processing advancements Fujifilm discovered in the year between the X10 and XF1 launches.) Overall video quality isn't great for either camera, though. Functionality is limited—there are absolutely no manual exposure controls, for instance—and there's nasty aliasing on the edges of curved objects.

Conclusion

At the time of writing, the Fujifilm FinePix XF1 is going for $399 from reputable sellers, while the now-discontinued X10 can be had for anywhere from $475 to $600 as new old stock. However, used copies are considerably cheaper on eBay and other second-run markets.

The X10 and XF1 are virtually identical performers in most image quality metrics, so their pros and cons primarily boil down to size, handling, usability, and features. Long story short, the XF1 wins in the first category but loses everywhere else.

With this in mind, we're comfortable saying that the only reasons to get an XF1 over an X10 are if you absolutely need pocketability, or if you can't spend more than $400. And if you're buying a camera solely as a fashion accessory… well, that's going to be down to personal preference. Each of these cameras is stylish in its own way.