Just like on the X100, a dedicated RAW button appears once again below the d-pad. Reviews of the X100 (such as ours) have already bemoaned how much of a waste this button is – how many people are likely to switch between shooting JPEG and RAW on the fly? But unfortunately Fujifilm seems to have a thing about this button and RAW modes. While most cameras include RAW as part of the image quality settings in the interface's Shooting menu, on the X10 RAW is an on/off option puzzlingly buried within page four of the Set-Up menu.
While the RAW button could have been an additional programmable Function button, we are given only one on the X10's top plate, above the exposure dial. We would have loved to map that one Function button to ISO control, but instead we had to map it to switch between AF modes, because like the X100, the X10's AF system is fiddly.
When the programmable function button is set to multi-area, there were many instances when the X10 couldn't find the proper focus point. To take over manual control of AF points, you switch into area mode, and then press the AF button next to the LCD screen, while manipulating the AF point using the d-pad. That's a three-step alternative (assuming you mapped the Fn button like we did) we wouldn't have had to use if the AF system was more accurate.
Also like the X100, manual focusing with the X10 is painfully slow. There is no focus ring on the lens, instead you use the scroll wheel on the camera's back to control manual focus. Use the focus switch on the front of the camera to turn on manual focus, the scroll wheel will then take over manual focus. If you're in Manual mode, shutter speed and aperture control will then both be controlled via the control dial on the back, which switches between both controls when pressed. Turn on Focus Check in the menu and when you twirl the control wheel a magnified view will help you fine tune your focus.
Whereas these quirks were present on the X100, that was a first generation camera with so many overwhelming strengths that they could be, if not forgiven, at least tolerated. To still be present on a second generation camera like the X10, after these problems were highlighted on the X100, is frustrating.
Like the X100, the X10 has the habit of locking up if you're shooting RAW in Continuous Shooting or Burst mode.
Even if you're in Burst mode and squeeze off only one shot, you'll still see the 'storing' screen as the X10 locks up for one to three seconds. The benefit of shooting in Burst mode is that you can press and hold the shutter release, the X10 will focus lock based on the first shot and then squeeze off a subsequent series of shots for as long as the buffer can hold.
But if you're not shooting action, you'll be better served using the X10 in single mode, where the screen will momentarily black out for a brief second (as with all digital compact cameras) and you'll be able to shoot again without the camera locking up. If you do shoot action, shooting in JPEG will be faster. When shooting JPEG in Burst mode with the Low option (3 frames per second), we were averaging 10 sequential shots before the frame-rate started stuttering, which then took about one to two seconds to write to the memory card. When shooting RAW at the same settings, we were averaging six to seven shots before stuttering, which then locked up the camera for four to six seconds while saving to the memory card.
Your mileage will differ, based on the speed of your memory card. We were using a pretty fast Class 10 SanDisk Extreme with a read/write speed of up to 30MB/second.
We have to warn you to prepare extra batteries if you're shooting with the X10, because it uses a lot of juice. It's officially rated for approx. 270 frames by CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association), and we ran the juice down after about 300-odd shots, or one day with lots of shooting. In comparison, the Olympus XZ-1 is rated for 320 shots, the new Canon S100 a low 200, and the older Panasonic LX-5 gets 400 shots.
Besides these drawbacks, the X10 handles well, feels comfortable in the hands and the controls are well placed for quick access. A control dial on the upper back gives you control over aperture/shutter speed, a quick press down switches between the two controls when in Manual mode (you can also use the control dial together with the scroll wheel). It's quick and easy to use. Using the lens to power on the camera is so obvious it's almost genius, and twirling the lens to zoom feels more natural than the zoom toggles you get on standard compact cameras.
Even though it's a compact camera, the X10 should appeal greatly to photographers used to manual shooting, if not manual focusing. Were it not for the RAW button mystery and the inefficient AF, the X10 would rank up there as one of the – if not the best – designed compact cameras with manual control and handling.