New Camera, New Adventures – My take on the Fuji X-S10
I got a new camera!
Now, how did this happen when I am so in love with my small Fuji X-T20? Well, a couple of months ago, I started looking at a second body so I can keep my 10-24mm on one body and my 55-200mm on the other, so I looked for a cheaper alternative to the premium X-T4.
Not wanting to spend a fortune on a camera, I really got two options: the X-T30 or the X-S10.
So, one day when I was looking around, I stumbled on a YouTube review of the X-S10 done by Andy Mumford, and after watching it I left him a comment asking him about the transition from the X-T20 to the X-S10. He kindly replied and told me that in terms of image quality (the most important thing to me), there isn’t much of a difference, so I listened to his advice and thought, “well, I don’t really need the camera if the image output is not that different.”
So a few months went by, and in January, I started to prepare for the first trip of the year. Just a few days before leaving, I remember watching a YouTube clip from Omar Gonzalez about travelling and spending money in better ways than buying new gear, and I left a comment on his video saying that as long as my lovely X-T20 will keep working, I see no reason to upgrade.
Well, well… maybe I should have phrased it differently…
The next morning I started cleaning my Fuji kit and preparing it for the new trip. Only five days until my departure and I always test the camera before, play a bit with the lenses, charge the batteries, etc., so I know I am good to go. I took out my X-T20, placed my 55-200mm on it and started shooting some pictures in the garden. Shock! Wave after wave of out-of-focus pictures.
I didn’t panic because I thought… Maybe I bumped some buttons or dials. So I closed the camera, restarted it, put it on AF-C, checked all my settings and started shooting small bursts of images. Out of focus, out of focus, out of focus! My hands started to sweat a bit, and I replaced the 55-200mm with the 10-24mm. Same thing. Now, I really started to panic, and I placed the 18-55mm on the camera and played with it in AF-S and AF-C. A little bit better, but still… a disaster.
With only five days before departing, I packed the whole system, let it in my bag and waited for the next day. That next day, that Sunday, I kept running tests over tests over tests with all three lenses and even though my hit rate improved, I was still missing huge amounts of pictures.
Now, as you know, I used the X-T20 to shoot basketball, handball, ski, aerial meetings and I never encountered such problems.
I was prefocusing and the camera just didn’t seem able to focus on the object I wanted even though it was a static one. It wasn’t my ability to focus the problem, but rather the fact that the camera couldn’t lock focus on a tree six meters away from me, over and over again. Even when it managed to acquire focus, it lost it, got it back and so on.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t focusing on planes, cars or fast athletes but on 3 things. A large tree I have in my yard, a house about 20 meters away and some flowers in my garden.
So on that Sunday night, despite the fact that I wasn’t 100% convinced, I placed an order online.
I had a week-long trip ahead, a new place, a place I had wanted to see for a long time, and I didn’t want to go there with a camera that appeared to have lost the ability to focus 100 % of the time.
So despite my love for the little X-T20, on Monday morning I picked up my new camera, the Fujifilm X-S10.
I mounted the 10-24mm on it, let the 55-200mm on the X-T20 (because I couldn’t leave it at home), and on Wednesday I boarded the plane for Tenerife.
So, new camera, new trip. A perfect way to start 2023.
Now, I shot about 1200 pictures on my trip to Tenerife and that’s a huge number for me actually. For example, on my last trip to Tuscany, I shot a little over 400 pictures in a week and still managed to get back with a few decent shots despite the small number of pictures taken. However, if you got the chance to read my article in the Fuji X Passion magazine in February you will know that I regret shooting so little exposures during that trip and why I won’t ever do that again.
But this time, I didn’t really care about anything other than putting the X-S10 through the tests and seeing how it performed.
In case you wonder why the X-S10 and not the X-T30, well, a couple of things swayed my mind:
1. The flippy screen. Yup, it sucks for photography (in my opinion) but I wanted this camera to be a camera that I can also use to take pictures of me and my girlfriend while travelling. We do enjoy taking silly pictures and funny memories and having the ability to reverse the screen and see us before taking the picture was a big point for me.
2. The price. I managed to secure a better price, about 170 euros cheaper than the X-T30.
3. The curiosity. While I do enjoy Fuji dials, I shoot Nikon for sports, so the PASM dial wasn’t a huge deal breaker for me. I am comfortable with both settings, and it only takes me a few minutes to accommodate from one setup to the other.
4. The grip. From the start, I have to say that the grip on the X-S10 is soooo nice. I have been handholding it for a week, only a small Peak Design wrist strap and the camera just feels good in my hand.
5. The IBIS. I don’t like to admit this, but due to gym injuries in my left elbow and right shoulder, my hands are not that steady anymore. I would never dream of shooting handheld below 1/15th for example, even though my lenses have OIS. With the X-S10 I took shots for practice at about 1/10th and the results were far better.
So, what happens when you bring a new camera on a trip?
Well, you take a lot of pictures, you play with the improved AF (improved over my old X-T20) and see if you enjoy shooting PASM and flippy screen (for street and landscape) over the traditional dials and screen that brought you into the Fuji world.
Just like in Tuscany, I went to Tenerife as a tourist rather than a photographer. I had some amazing weather, with clear blue skies, as you’ll see in my pictures, and even though some would be upset over the weather conditions, I learned in time that regardless of how bad the weather is (for taking pictures), I will surely be able to return home with a handful of keepers.
Before starting, I want to state something about Tenerife. Now, regardless of what other visitors told me, of people mainly going there to escape the winter times and get back home with a tan in January, I truly believe that this place offers an abundance of things to see, do and photograph. I spent a week there, but a week is barely scratching the surface, and I am sure I could spend two to three weeks on the island if I wanted to return home with some class-A portfolio shots.
The multitude of subjects is impressive and ranges from the ocean, bays, hills, valleys, mountains to street photography, old towns, surf and kite lovers and more.
Add into the equation the fact that Tenerife has one of the most impressive skies for night photography, and you can easily imagine the endless possibilities.
As I said before, I chose to visit the island as a tourist with my girlfriend and not as a photographer looking for his next award image shot. So, how did the new camera perform?
1. Ease of handling.
Even though I shot only classic Fuji bodies (X-E2, 2 X-T1’s, X-T20 and an X-T3) I found the new X-10 easy to use.
Maybe it is my history with Nikon DSLRs but I had no problems using the PASM dials. I actually find PASM to be superior in some conditions over dials but I guess that can vary from photographer to photographer. We are all different after all, no?
2. Image quality.
As with all Fuji bodies before, the image quality is SUPER OK for my needs.
There are some instances when I look at a picture and say, “damn, I wish I took this with my D750”, but in general, I am very pleased with how my files look. Once again, this varies from person to person.
For me, even though I am a Fuji fan, the image I am getting from my D750 tops the image quality I got from all my Fuji bodies. Not by a huge margin and not always, to be honest, but when it comes to sports, wildlife and night photography I prefer the look on my Nikon camera. But I am sure that are millions of people out there who would pick an X-T2 look over my D750 and that is perfectly fine.
However, when I travel for 7 days and 14k steps/day is the lowest number of steps I do in that week, a big camera and 2 huge lenses suddenly lose their charm. One small mention though: I used the camera in Tenerife but also in another location and noticed some small, subtle differences when compared to my X-T20. I think that the SOOC jpeg profiles for Provia and Velvia look more natural on my XS-10 than on my XT-20, but I haven’t done extensive testing.
I shoot Raw and Jpeg and edit my raw files in LR a bit, but when looking at different pictures in Jpeg profiles I do think my new camera renders the colors a bit better.
3. Build quality
I know that many people are impressed by WR cameras and lenses while others claim that there is no such a thing as WR and if the weather sucks, you better keep the camera in your bag but the truth is that for me this point sits somewhere in between.
I took my X-T20 and X-T1 in really ugly conditions, with heavy rain and got them pretty soaked, and they kept running for years after. Nowadays, no, I wouldn’t do that ever again. If the weather sucks, I’d just keep my camera in my bag regardless if the manufacturer claims it is weather sealed or not.
As far as construction goes, I will be honest and say that all my Fuji cameras felt good in the hand, the materials felt good, and not a moment did I think, “wow, this feels cheap”. Not the same thing can be said about lenses though. I know this will bring a lot of hate for me, but I used the 50-140mm at a soccer game and it left me quite a bad impression. Coming from the Sigma 70-200mm sports line, the 50-140mm actually felt cheap in my hands. I’m not knocking on its image quality, and I know the lens has plenty of fans, but in my opinion, a lens that is 300 Euros more expensive than my Sigma (in my country) should feel at least as good as the Sigma does in the hands.
Before moving forward, I want you to remember that what I am writing today comes not from hate or envy as a user of other systems but rather from love for the X mount system. A system that got me hooked on photography, a system I used to take amazing photos, photos that helped me publish articles, win contests, get distinctions and more.
Nonetheless, I think that in 2023, the system still has some flaws, flaws that keep it from becoming my only system for photography. I know that there are people who use the system for work on a daily basis, but we are all different, we all shoot in different ways, and therefore my needs may not be the same as those of other Fuji users.
For me, the biggest problem in 2023 is still the eternal Capture One vs Lightroom debate. I did a few tests with the camera and took photos and edited them first in LR, then in Capture One. While colors are subjective, and I think I can make the images look alike, I do think that there are more details in the Capture One files. To be honest, I think the Capture One files look a bit better, but in no way could I switch to the program.
First, even though I am a very fast learner and can get to the bottom of things pretty easily, I am totally turned off by Capture One’s interface. After years and years of LR usage, it just feels natural to me to do my minor edits with the software I already know.
Second, I do shoot Nikon for sports, and while others may swear by Capture One for Nikon, I am more than pleased with how LR handles my Nikon files.
Third, paying for a full subscription (since I shoot Fuji and Nikon) is pretty expensive so here LR wins again for me.
We talked about size, weight, Raw files, etc., but you know me, there is always more.
Asides from the technical things, how does it feel? Do you enjoy it?
Well, to be honest, I enjoy the camera a lot. It is a bit tricky to switch from PASM to my backup X-T20’s dials and back to PASM again but in no way is this a deal breaker.
Some reviewers called the camera plasticky and feeling cheap. I like holding it in my hand. As a matter of fact, due to the big grip, I enjoy holding it more than I enjoyed holding other Fuji cameras.
Do I rely on the camera to become more creative? More inspired?
That’s my job. The camera is just a tool in my hands. First I see the picture, and then my camera sees it and frames it.
One other aspect I forgot to mention is the possibility to shoot longer exposures without a remote and this one thing is a gem for me. While I do believe that a remote is the best option when shooting water, I can safely use the extended exposure for night photography or even day exposures without needing to connect my remote to the camera. I have shot quite a few long exposures in Tenerife and while not all of them will find their way into today’s article, I am very happy with this ability of the camera.
I wrote this part, the final part of the article upon returning from a superb place, a place I had visited twice before but never with a camera. However, this time I took my Fuji kit there and rocked it for more than 1600 pictures, and I can safely say that investing in the X-S10 was a great idea.
Now, having a new camera does not mean my X-T20 will stop getting love from me. While the AF issue is still bugging me, I don’t think I will ever sell this little camera. And not because the camera is cheap and I will not get a lot of money from it but rather to different motives.
I thought about titling my article “Goodbye my friend, goodbye” after that beautiful song by Demis Roussos but I decided against it due to the fact that I don’t think this little camera will go anywhere.
Even if I stop using it, I think it deserves better than to be sold for parts or bought by someone and thrown away because it has AF issues in a few months.
I might be a sentimental fool, and I am not usually a hoarder or a collector, but I think I will put this camera on a shelf, and when I sit in my armchair reading, editing photos or working on my laptop, I could lift my eyes and see this little toy that helped me take so many beautiful pictures and great memories.
And in time, maybe, the X-S10 will grow on me just as the X-T20 did.
I already consider the camera a great substitution, so I guess it is just a matter of time before I start to use it all the time.
P.S.: You might notice a few pictures taken with my old X-T20 in this article and that is because I didn’t want to accept the fact that the camera was done. I still think the image quality is great, I still think the camera feels great in my hands, and I still think that if you are looking for an amazing camera, the X-T20 is hard to beat.
However, for me, taking only the X-T20 is a risky thing because you might look at the pictures from this article and say, “you’re mad… the images are great.”, and you’d be right. But unfortunately, you don’t know how many pictures I took to get those in focus. When it nails focus, the image is to die for. But sadly, it doesn’t do that all the time anymore.
“My name is Stefan Panaitescu, I am 38 years old and I am from Bucharest, Romania.
I work in sustainability and corporate social responsibility and I love my job.
I am an avid traveler and in my spare time I run a travel blog and I try to get out as much as I can and shoot with my Fuji cameras.”