Fuji X10 – Not Nirvana

At this point, I’ve pretty much abandoned my Fuji X10.  As much as I love the quality of the photos one can get from it – and make no mistake, it’s capable of taking great pictures – there are usability issues that have served to consign it to my dehumidifier cabinet until I get around to selling it off.

I wondered if I was the only one who felt this way until I came across this interesting review today by Steve Meltzer at Pixiq.  Like me, Meltzer is someone who initially fell in love with the Fuji X10 but it’s clear that as he started using it, his frustration levels grew in ways similar to mine.

It is not hard to imagine then my shock the first time I looked through the X10 viewfinder. It was tiny and did not even show the whole field of view of the lens—just barely 85% of the image. Because of that, there were no frame lines to help framing. There was not even a LED to indicate correct focus or exposure, only a clear glass window. Then as I began to shoot pictures, I realized that the viewfinder had a serious case of parallax error. Because an optical viewfinder sits above and to one side of the lens, it does not show the proper framing for subjects that are close to the camera.For example, when shooting portraits, a model centered in the viewfinder, at any focal length above 50mm, would appear in the picture off to the left and she often right up against the frame edge.This problem is typical of compact digital cameras with optical glass viewfinders, like the Canon G series, but I had hoped that the X10 would be different.

I can’t begin to impress upon you how frustrating that optical viewfinder is.  It’s even more frustrating than Meltzer indicates because of the fact that the Fuji X100 has this positively brilliant hybrid optical/digital viewfinder.  So knowing they can do that, have done it, and chose not to include it here just burns me up.   Okay, I can hear you saying, “But you knew when you bought it that it was only an optical viewfinder so it’s your bad.”  And you’d be right.  I did know that.  I didn’t think it was a deal breaker for me.  But I didn’t realize up front how bad it was going to be and most of the reviews that I’d read in advance didn’t highlight this fact either.

Before I posted this review, I looked online and in magazines to read what other reviewers had to say about the X10. I wanted to see how well their experience matched my own. Most reviews reached conclusions similar to mine, although wrapped in much more sweetness and light. For example, one reviewer said of the optical viewfinder, “It is not particularly precise.”

At any rate, I’ll be selling off the X10 pretty soon.  If you’re reading this and interested in buying this camera, drop me a line.  Mine’s only been lightly used, perhaps a few hundred shots at most, and is in like-new condition.

Right now, my daily walking around camera is the Sony NEX-7.  An APS-C sized sensor.  Excellent controls.  Brilliant electronic viewfinder.  The problem with it?  The only really decent lens available for it so far is a Carl Zeiss 24mm that sells for US$1,000.   The Sony lenses are average glass at best.  My solution for now comes via the adapter I bought that allows me to mount Nikon lenses on the Sony, which puts me into full manual mode all the time – aperture, shutter speed and focusing – but that’s okay for the most part.  I just bought, really cheap, a 20 year old Nikon 70-210mm lens.  And if the weather in Hong Kong ever clears up, I’ll get out there and really test it and post the results.

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