Don’t get me wrong, I love all Fujifilm cameras equally. In fact, I love all of them so much that I even went as far as purchasing the most hated Fujifilm camera out there: the XF10. It’s a truly pocketable point and shoot in the spirit of competitors like the Ricoh GR and perhaps even Fuji’s own X70 (which is starting to show it’s age). The XF10 brings an upgraded sensor in an even smaller form factor, what’s not to love?
Well, without going into too much detail as this is not a camera review, there are a couple of things. When buying this camera I was fully aware of the general complaints people have; slow autofocus, a Bayer rather than an X-Trans sensor, no hotshoe, no tilt-screen. All the stuff that doesn’t really matter, at least to me, but are minor inconveniences to be take into account nonetheless. All I cared about was having a device that I’m willing to take with me at all times that shoots a good picture. The APSC sensor inside this tiny (tiny!) body is what really enticed me to buy it. It’s a decision I have not regretted since as it fulfills that need very well.
I bring the XF10 when my other Fuji’s are too cumbersome (yes, even the X100V can be too much at times), or too dangerous (when going out for drinks abroad, for example). It’s perfect for those moments where you don’t really want to bring a professional looking camera, not even one as inconspicuous as an X100, but still want to be able to take a picture with something other than an iPhone. There is, however, a small caveat that I was hoping wouldn’t be an issue but it still sort of is. Here it comes:
All the buttons of the Fujifilm XF10 control the wrong parameters.
Yes, you read that correctly. Although I’m exaggerating my point a little bit, all the buttons on the camera do the wrong thing. While at first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to shoot this camera in full Manual mode, that turned out to be no trouble at all. Sure, the camera has an ‘M’ on the PSAM-dial but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can control all three parameters using the buttons available. Thankfully, I can control my shutter speed, aperture and ISO using the three dials the XF10 has at its disposal. The only trouble is, the parameters are not mapped to the buttons I want them to be and until now I have not found a way to re-map those.
So what’s wrong then, you ask? In a perfect world I would be able to control my aperture on the control ring around the lens, my shutter speed on the control ring around the shutter button and my ISO on the control ring on the top. You can’t do this. Instead, the ISO can only be controlled using the ring on the front, the aperture by the ring around the shutter button and the shutter speed by the ring on the top. While I love everything Fujifilm are doing, I don’t know why they’ve made this decision. I mean, most of their lenses have aperture rings on the lens. This camera has a ring on the lens. Why not allow us to use that ring to control the aperture? The ISO would then be delegated to the control ring on the top, as ISO is usually a sort of exposure compensation anyway, and all would be well! This would bring a great deal of continuity between all of Fujifilm’s cameras and this is what would make sense to me.
This is not the reality we live in though.
To make matters even more confusing, the buttons turn the wrong way as well. Being forced to have ISO mapped to the control ring around the lens, I decided to make the best of it and just adapt while shooting. While this is already a little difficult considering my muscle memory from Fuji’s bigger cameras, this became even more challenging when I noticed that turning the ISO dial to the left actually raises the ISO. In my opinion, it makes much more sense to turn left to lower the ISO. Okay maybe it makes sense when you look at a lens with an aperture ring, which also opens up more (ergo: the picture becomes lighter) when you turn it left. The same is also true for the ISO dials on my X100V and X-Pro3, they both turn to the left to raise the aperture. All that is true. But still, I could not get used to it on the XF10. I keep turning the ring the wrong way to adjust my aperture. The same is true for the aperture dial around the shutter button. But then comes the shocker, the shutter speed dial, the one on the top of the camera. Guess what? Turning this dial to the left raises your shutter speed and therefore darkens the image. Which is the opposite behavior of the other two parameters!
I’ve had this camera for a good few months now and used it quite a bit but cannot get used to the controls. I still get my picture as I realize my error quick enough but it adds just enough friction to make shooting with it a little less enjoyable. Some might argue that I’m trying to push too much out of a point and shoot camera that is clearly targeted towards people who like taking good pictures and have an eye for composition but rather have the camera handle the technical aspects. There’s definitely something to be said about that, I agree. But giving people the option to shoot full manual but then making the process as unintuitive as it is just seems a little cruel. Though maybe I’m overthinking this 500 euro gadget a little too much.
I am trying to solve all the above by approaching this camera differently. I have never been a fan of Aperture Priority but am now giving it a shot to get the XF10 closer to its comfort zone of being a point and shoot camera. Now all I have to think about is setting the aperture with the control ring around the shutter button and be done with it. To make the process a little more fun though, I’m also manually mimicking the Snapshot function.1 I have set the focussing to be controlled by the control ring around the lens and usually keep my aperture rather high. I can now use the XF10 to zone-focus for quick operation but also have a reliable way to dial in a shot that needs closer focus or a different aperture. Those two parameters are usually the most important to control creatively anyway. The only downside of this is that I have to rely on the camera to now set the shutter speed and ISO accordingly to get a proper exposure. A little scary (oh no! Loss of control!) but a trade-off I’m willing to give a shot (pun intended) if it makes the Fujifilm XF10 fun again. We’ll see how things pan out.
A built in function that sets your focus distance to either 2 meters or 5 meters with apertures 8 or 5.6 respectively. This greatly enhances the focussing speed of the camera and does wonders on the street or other fast-paced scenes. ↩︎