Since we've shown you how the camera looks and feels like on the earlier page, we'll now focus on the finer design and usability points. Like the X100, the X10 comes with a glass viewfinder, but unlike the older sibling, the X10's viewfinder doesn't come with an electronic display overlay. It's also not tied to the X10's image sensor, so unlike the X100 where you can toggle between an optical and electronic viewfinder, it's just glass on the X10, letting you see straight through with an approximate view of what you will be shooting. The viewfinder zooms in tandem with the lens when you zoom. In use, the viewfinder feels too small for comfortable use as it requires a lot of squinting. As a result, it's mostly useless and you won't know what settings you're shooting at looking through it.
Like the X100, the X10's top and bottom decks are made with magnesium alloy, while the body is covered with synthetic leather and is built with a 1mm aluminum sheet on the front and back panels (which are thicker than those of ordinary compact cameras). This all translates to a solid heft, a premium build and a durable camera which feels like it can take a few knocks.
And like the X100, the X10 looks like a work of art. The body's matte blacks and the lack of ornamentation on the front panel give it an understated air; this camera would rather recede into the background than stand out in the crowd. To complement the camera's quiet air, you can also turn on Silent mode which switches off all sounds on the X10, including the faked shutter sound, so that when you press the shutter release, all you hear is a soft whisper from the shutter.
The X10 isn't just a pale imitation of its older sibling. It brings its own unique identity to the table with an innovative lens design. Whereas most compacts zoom via a zoom toggle, on the X10 you manipulate the lens directly, twisting it to zoom, just like the lenses on a DSLR camera.
You won't find a power switch on the X10 body, because the lens itself serves as a power switch. Twisting it all the way to the right locks the lens and switches the camera off, twisting it to the left powers the camera on and unlocks the lens. In a single swift movement, you can power up your camera and compose your image straight away. There's no need to worry about accidentally switching off the camera while you're twirling the lens, as there's an extra catch you can feel before you get to the Off position, and you have to apply just that extra amount of force to turn the lens all the way in to lock.
It works beautifully, except that the metal lens cap on the X10 has to be taken off first. It cannot be attached to the X10 as the lens cannot be extended (and the camera powered on) if the cap is on. This helps to prevent the camera from accidentally turning on, but it also slows down the power up process, especially when you have to find somewhere to stow that cap.