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Monday, October 8, 2012

Fuji X10 and Firmware 2.0 Review and Samples

One thing I really enjoy since I started using Fuji X cameras is that Fuji listens to us users and pushes out Firmware updates over time that don’t only improve speed and reliability, but also add features.

I have been enjoying the use of my Fujifilm X10 as my most compact “serious“ camera. I always take it along when I only have a coat pocket of space for a camera and I’m always amazed by the quality images I get from this small sensor camera. The awesome fast lens does work perfectly together with the EXR sensor. But the fast zoom lens comes at the price of a little bit bigger size. Unlike a Canon s95/S100 who’s lens retracts 100% into the body to give a small package that fits in your shirt pocket, the lens of the X10 sticks out too much for any shirt pocket that I own. But my coat pockets will hold the X10 comfortably.

I just returned from a 1 day business trip to Munich. I only had a little extra room in my bag and it was easily filled with the X10. Here are three quick photos that I snapped on the way:

As always, click on the image for a larger version


A cool looking subway station that is hidden in the south of Munich: Spaceport Munich - Fuji X10 sample


And the very famous Marienplatz station that most Munich visitors come across: Munich Marienplatz Station - Fuji X10 sample


The X10 has a great auto white balance even in this tricky yellowish airfield lighting and very good ISO 1600 quality for a small sensor camera
Fuji X10 ISO 1600 AWB sample








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Firmware 2.0

Last Friday my almost one year old Fuji X10 received a 2.0 firmware update from Fuji. Two things were mentioned as changes in the release notes:

1. The “Q“ (Quick) Menu that I love so much on my X-Pro 1 was added to the X10 “RAW“ button. You now have the camera’s most important functions all on one detailed screen to quickly change them.

2. An “Advanced Filter” function has been added. Those filters can be activated in the Advanced Mode and give you the choice of 5 special filter effects (Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High-Key, Dynamic Tone and 6 individual color key (partial color) filters.

I have spend some time over the weekend to play with the new firmware functions. The added “Q“ Menu alone made the upgrade worth it for me. Although you need to be aware that you loose the option to program the “RAW“ key with a custom function. The Fn key can still be programmed with you favorite function, though.

The color filters are a nice add on, too. But to be honest, I’m not a big fan of these filters in general. I do, however, see why Fuji added them to the prosumer targeted X10 compact. The X10 is a very capable compact camera. And I enjoy the excellent image quality and natural color rendition of the original files straight out of the camera. But there are users who prefer a different style of look to their images that had to be applied outside the camera in a photo editor, untill now.

But now you can choose the filter style you like in the Advanced menu and preview the effect the filter will create live on the LCD. One click and the image has been captured in that style and is ready for upload via USB, SD-Card reader or Eye-Fi card.

Here are some examples of what some of the filters look like (out of camera):


The Miniature filter: Fuji X10 Miniature filter sample



The Dynamic Tone filter: Fuji X10 Dynamic Tone filter sample



The Partial Color Blue filter:
Fuji X10 Partial Color Blue filter sample



And the High-Key filter:
Fuji X10 High-Key filter sample


While it is convenient to have the camera bake the filter style automatically into your photo there is a drawback. Once the JPG is created, there is no turning back! The effects only work in JPG and don't work on your RAW files. So there is no way to neutralize your image file after the filter style has been applied. Therefore use the filter effects wisely!

While I tested the filter effects, I started to wonder if their use could be improved. I came up with the following suggestions/questions:

1. Why can't the filter effects be created from a RAW file inside the camera's RAW converter like the film simulations?

2. Why can't the filter effects be incorporated into the "Drive" function "Film Simulation Series"? This way I could choose one or two effects and still have the original Provia file.

3. Why can't the filter effects be accesed in the "Q" menu for quick changing?Maybe Fuji listens once again to our suggestions - and please Fuji, add the "Q" menu to the X100's Raw button, too ;-)


If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

16 comments:

  1. nice review for new filter. I have a question which is aside from the filter and Q menu,are there any other different you notice??

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    1. To tell you the truth, I have the feeling that the AF improved - especially in low light. But it could be a placebo effect and I can not do an A/B comparison as I only have one X10. And I switch so often between the X10. X100 and X-Pro 1 that the X10 wotht the small sensor and shorter focus distances internally seems very snappy compared to the APS-C brothers :)

      So someone else has to verify this in an A/B comparison to give us clarification...

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  2. Seems ridiculous to me Fuji making the RAW button the Q menu button, why not just use the function button by the shutter release?
    I would hate a camera with buttons labelled up that don't do as the label says.

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    1. Paul, I know what you're saying :)

      I guess that not many people showed love for the Raw button on the X10 since day one. The forums were full of complaints that the Raw button should be customizable. We did get our wish. And once we made use of it, the Raw button did not do Raw anymore, but AF, ISO or what ever else we programmed it to.

      But with the arrival of the X-Pro 1 people were so excited about the "Q" menu that Fuji now gave this feature to our X10.

      I personally like the "Q" menu as I shoot the X10 in JPG. But I agree that Fuji could have given users the choice to activate the "Q" button and assign it to a custom key if they like.

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    2. The low light improvement was the first thing I noticed. No change in normal light though, and one can still miss focus lock at times.

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  3. Some nice shots there Smatty.
    However, I would have tried to catch some of that atmospheric nightly airfield spectrum that the X10s white balance apparently had for late supper.

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  4. Well the way the photo turned out was actually how I saw it with my eyes. We seem to have gotten used to AWB beeing off under difficult artificial lighting with mixed color temperatures. And a heavy yellow or orange cast are results that I regularly got from my Canon FF DSLR's in these situations.

    So I'm quite happy that the X10 had the color cast for supper and made the white plane actually look close to white. I rather add a colorcast later in post if I feel like it fits better - all a matter of taste. But wehen you shoot JPG, I find it comforting to start off with neutral color images for more post processing latitude.

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  5. Any hope to get new firmware for X100 too?
    Most important is the auto ISO on off integrated into the quick ISO select option. Now about 9 button press need to do it...
    And some other flaws. Then this Q menu also would be nice.

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  6. Are there any infomation about a firmware update to the Fuji X-S1 ?

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    1. There is some discussion about this -- although it's quite inconclusive -- at
      http://www.fujixseries.com/discussion/3501/wait-for-the-x-e1-upgrade#Item_28

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  7. Marienplatz station - stunning picture ! The Miniature filter - looks cool.

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  8. Thanks for these images. How did you get the high contrast in the B&W of Marienplatz? All my B&Ws look a git grey ...

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    1. I don't use B&W straight out of the cam!. I usually take the photo in the standard Provia (color) mode with the X10. Then I import the photos into LightRoom 4 and try out one of the B&W presets in th LightRoom preview. The one that comes closest to the contrast that I like to see in my B&W images is my startingpoint. Then I usually tweak a bit more to get the result that I like.

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    2. Thanks for this hint -- its very helpful1

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  9. Foto Marienplatz sehr gut. Ich mag die Miniatur-Effekt.

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