Updated (27/2/12): We have updated this page to include the mention of the 'white orbs' artifact.
The Fujifilm X10 shares one defining trait with its elder sibling, the X100. Like the X100, there's so much about the X10 that is excellent; its design, build quality and image quality. And like the X100, the X10 is flawed, with its spotty auto-focus, image distortion, low battery life and that one RAW button. It's frustrating that there are so many ways in which the X10 excels above and beyond the average compact camera, but falls just short of being the superior compact camera of 2011.
It's also frustrating that the 'white orb' artifact mars what would otherwise be above average image quality. We'd like to emphasize that the artifact doesn't appear in every shooting situation, only when shooting into light sources or strong highlights. Not everyone will mind the effect, but it is distracting enough for discerning users. Fujifilm is aware of the problem and has issued a firmware update (1.03) to fix the problem, but unfortunately the update doesn't seem to have much effect. We hope future updates will resolve this issue and it's something prospective owners will need to keep a watch out for.
Despite its flaws, we found ourselves bringing the X10 with us nearly everywhere we went. The bright f/2-2.8 lens let us blur backgrounds, the great ISO performance let us shoot at higher ISO settings than we'd normally get away with when using a compact camera, the manual controls let us change settings easily and the Super Macro mode was fun to play around with.
Because of its undependable AF, the X10 is a camera you need to wrestle with to bend to your will (just like the X100 - what a coincidence). There will be times you'll find yourself superbly happy with the X10, and times you want to chuck it against the wall. For the same reason, the X10 makes a good personal camera for the enthusiast who knows how to use the camera, but a bad camera for the family. You simply can't hand it off to a casual user, even in Auto mode, because more often than not the AF will not focus on the right subject or will take too long to do so.
If anything, the X100 and the X10 have proved that Fujifilm can do design, sensor and lens right. But Fujifilm seriously needs to improve their auto-focus system, and refine the user experience (see RAW button and menu system). Fujifilm is nearly at perfect with the X10. All it needs to do is take a cue from Apple and just iterate; make a X10S (and X100S) next year with improved auto-focus, faster processors, longer battery life and replace the RAW with a Function button. And it will blow everyone out of the water.
There is no compact camera in the world today like the Fujifilm X10, with its combination of beauty and performance. It has character, but like any great character, the X10's superior qualities are offset by its flaws - which is why even though we love this camera dearly, we hesitate to recommend it fully. The X10 really is a compact camera for the enthusiast, because it takes an enthusiast to work with the X10.