The Fujifilm X-T10 for Street Photography

The Fujifilm X-T10 for Street Photography

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Fujifilm X-T10

Introduction

Last week we released our much anticipated Street Hunters review of the Fujifilm X-T1 for street photography, Fuji’s flagship DSLR challenging mirrorless camera. This week we’re going to be reviewing the Fuji X-T10, the powerful little brother of the X-T1, and once more kindly lent to us by Fujifilm Hellas.

Our X-T10 camera review is joining our little cache of Street Hunters camera reviews. We’ve previously reviewed the pocket-sized powerhouse Ricoh GR for street photography, the very capable full frame Canon EOS 6D full frame DSLR, and the rangefinder styled Fuji X-Pro1.

All Street Hunters reviewed are focused on how a camera performs for street photography. We won’t be giving you a general outline of what the camera can do, rather a very focused review on exactly how well the camera performs on the streets, and whether or not is can be classed as a good street photography camera.

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The Fujifilm X-T10 for Street Photography

This review is based on my personal experience with using the Fujifilm X-T10 for street photography. I am now quite familiar with Fujifilm’s X Series cameras, having shot with a Fuji X-Pro1 extensively for almost a year. Before that I practiced street photography with a Canon EOS 6D. I’ve also written an article for Street Hunters all about why I made the decision to switch from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera for street photography.

I shot with the Fuji X-T10 on the streets using the XF18mm f/2 R and XF27mm f/2.8 lenses. I use these same lenses for street photography with my X-Pro1. However, this review will be examining the performance of the Fuji X-T10 body only. We plan to review Fuji’s X-mount lenses for street photography some time in the future.

The Street Hunters review of the X-T10 will follow our usual camera reviewing system. I will analyse the Fuji X-T10’s size & weight, build quality, handling, performance, features, low light performance, image quality, and value. As I’ve stated, this review is my personal feelings about the street photography experience with the Fuji X-T10. I only had a limited amount of time to practice, learn and shoot street photography with this camera. So, if you know the camera more extensively that I do, or feel I’ve missed anything, please feel free to make a suggestion in the comments at the bottom of the page!

Size & Weight = Portability

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Fujifilm X-T10 size comparison with an iPhone 5S and AA battery

First impressions of the X-T10’s size were great! This really is a compact dinky little camera. It measures 118.4mm (W) x 82.8mm (H) x 40.8mm (D). The X-T10 weighs 381g with battery and memory card, lighter than both the X-Pro1 (450g) and X-T1 (440g). Light weight is useful for street photography, as it makes the camera much easier to carry over long photo walks. It may sound silly, but it is something I used to really underestimate. Now when I lug my Canon 6D DSLR and lenses around for a while I really notice it! I was pleasantly surprised that Fuji managed to engineer such a small camera that has both interchangeable lenses, and also a conventional SLR style shape with manual buttons and dials. The X-T10 is much smaller than my X-Pro1, so much so that the pretty diminutive XF18mm lens I use all the time really dwarfed the X-T10! With the pancake style XF27mm lens attached, this camera has a tiny footprint. In my experience, small cameras are great for street photography, and the smaller the better. What I really liked though, was that the X-T10 is a tiny camera with lots of features, and in particular a viewfinder! The only reason it doesn’t have a perfect score here is because there are smaller cameras like the Ricoh GR (although this doesn’t have a viewfinder), and because the X-T10’s small size did sometimes affect its handling (more on that later). You can’t have everything though, and the X-T10 packs a lot into a tiny footprint.

Rating: 9.5

Build Quality

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The X-T10 is pretty nicely built. Having used a very robust DSLR, and the elegantly engineered X-Pro1, I was expecting worse from the X-T10, especially given that it is the little brother to the X-T1 in the Fuji lineup. Of course, the X-T1 does have a ‘better’ build, in that it is weather sealed. However, to me at least (and I wasn’t able to directly compare the cameras, just working off memory) the comparison in build quality wasn’t a huge gulf. The X-T10 even has a magnesium alloy body! There are caveats of course. The weather sealing of the X-T1 (when paired with the weather sealed lens) would be invaluable in certain circumstances, for instance street photography in rain and bad weather. And after years of use (or abuse) perhaps a X-T1 would fare better. But compared to the difference in feel and ‘quality’ between different tiers of Canon’s DSLR lineup the gap between the X-T10 and X-T1 isn’t as great. A Canon 400D for instance, feels much more plasticky. The dials and wheels felt nice, as with the X-Pro1 and X-T1. The EVF was good – not as large as the X-T1’s (0.39 inches vs 0.5 inches) but I didn’t find that a problem. The LCD was a 3 inch non touch affair, and I see it has a slightly lower resolution than the XT-1’s – 920K-dots compared to 1,040K-dot. I can’t say I noticed a difference! Having never used a tilting LCD screen before I must say it looked like a potential weak-point to me from an engineering perspective, but it would be unfair to mark the X-T10 down here as all the tilt screens use a similar mechanism. As a ‘baby brother’ camera, I was expecting worse of the X-T10, and it pleasantly surprised me. It goes to show that with camera ‘feel’ it is very important to try the camera for yourself before you buy. For my purposes, I thought the X-T10 had a good build quality for the streets.

Rating: 8

Handling

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Having used an X-Pro1 so much, the XT-10 felt pleasantly familiar to me. The manual dials on the Fuji X Series cameras are an acquired taste, but are something that many people find a joy to use, especially if they have shot with film cameras. Of course, like build quality, camera handling is very subjective, and what feels great in one person’s hands will feel horrible in someone else’s. In fact, how we hold a camera varies from person to person. So my scribblings here are based on my experiences with the X-T10 on the streets. The handling for much of the main controls is very similar to that on the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-T1, so you can read those reviews for an idea of the handling of the Fuji controls on the street. I’ll mainly focus on the differences here.

Pros

I really liked the front command wheel on the X-T10, which is something the X-Pro1 doesn’t have. I used the custom button settings to dedicate this wheel to ISO. By default, this wheel controls the autofocus settings. By pressing the wheel in and then spinning it, I could quickly change my ISO using my index or middle finger, and it was ideally placed just below the shutter release too! This was much easier than the X-Pro1, where I have to press a function button on the top plate and then spin the back wheel to change ISO. The idea of using the settings screen or Q Menu to change the ISO on any Fuji camera seems an anathema to me. I want to be able to change my ISO as easily as my shutter speed or aperture, not dive into a menu each time. There are 7 function buttons you can assign custom settings to, and you can assign custom settings to each of the direction buttons on the rear selector d-pad too. This is really useful, as it gives you a great amount of flexibility to set the camera up to suit your style of street photography. There isn’t this degree of customisation in the X-Pro1 (only 2 buttons can be configured), so it was a nice feature for me.

Cons

As I said in my piece about the size of the X-T10, the compact nature of the camera does have a slight drawback when it comes to handling. I tend to like to hold my camera down in my right hand while shooting, and I found I’d often end up pressing buttons on the d-pad selector with the base of my thumb/palm. This got a bit annoying after a while. I had to train myself to hold the X-T10 quite precisely. This problem never occurs with the X-Pro1 because it has a larger grip and body, and also because I use a leather half case. I think a half case on the X-T10 would make it much easier to grip. Ideally I’d like to change the position of the playback button on the X-T10 too. At the moment it is on the left of the camera at the top, and I found this quite frustrating for reviewing. Often I like to be able to review my shots quickly in the viewfinder, and it was really annoying not being able to do this one-handed! With the playback button at the very top of the camera you have to use your left hand, and also change the position so you’re not using a ‘correct’ camera grip. I think this is very silly. The playback button should be placed on the right of the screen.

Rating: 8

Performance

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The X-T10 is a smart performer on the streets. Its small size and the excellent image quality from its APS-C X-Trans II sensor combined with Fuji’s great small prime lenses means you can produce some really great street photographs with it. I enjoyed shooting with the X-T10, and I didn’t feel like I had to ‘fight’ with the camera to get the results I wanted. It was enjoyable to use. Here’s a breakdown of some the camera performed over a certain set of criteria:

Camera Responsiveness

The X-T10 felt nice and snappy to use. The contrast with the X-Pro1 was very marked. Fuji have certainly been hard at work with the processing and computing speed of their cameras since the X-Pro1, which is a famously ‘slow’ camera. The X-T10 started up quickly, with little noticeable shutter lag, the autofocus was incredibly quick (more on that later), and writing and browsing to the memory card very fast too. I never had a moment when I felt I had to wait for the camera to catch up (although I didn’t shoot in burst mode).

Battery Life

As with all mirrorless cameras, I didn’t have high expectations for the battery life of the X-T10. It’s certainly not going to get near a DSLR for battery life. Shooting about 100 or so photos over about 3 hours with the X-T10 using a mixture of the EVF and rear LCD depleted the battery to under half (probably less, considering I’ve found Fuji’s battery meters to be quite pessimistic). Obviously I was playing around a lot with the camera too, diving into menus and things. Also I kept it switched on for speed, and in ‘high performance mode’. So I wasn’t optimising the camera for battery life. So I would estimate a hard-core street photographer shooting with an X-T10 would want at least 2 spare batteries, perhaps more. I think I’d run through batteries faster than with the X-Pro1 because of the X-T10’s EVF, and also because the tilting LCD is so useful for shooting too.

Autofocus

I currently like to use manual focus and the zone and hyperlocal distance technique for street photography because it’s the quickest, but I forced myself to give the X-T10 autofocus a spin in the interest of giving it a fair review. And I was blown away by the X-T10’s autofocus performance! The autofocus on the X-Pro1 is ok, but not super fast or accurate, but the X-T10 autofocus is both fast and accurate. I’d say it could challenge several DSLRs. Using the XF18mm and XF27mm, the X-T10 focused quickly on moving subjects, with as much if not more effectiveness than my Canon 6D would manage with its L series lens attached. And it would blow my 6D with the old 50mm f/1.8 out of the water for focusing speed. The X-T10’s autofocus settings were well organised too, and easy to understand. I kept the camera in single focus mode (the front switch set to S) and used the Zone focus setting to select an area where my focus points would be. So the camera would pick whichever was the best of the focus points in this ‘area’ to grab a subject. The results were excellent. I was walking quite briskly around the ‘Golden Hour’ time at dusk, with people passing by on one side. I mostly had the camera held away from me and I was using the LCD screen to compose too, so the body was moving a fair bit too. The X-T10 managed to net about 85-90% of the shots, which really impressed me. Autofocus performance as good as this in a small camera for street photography was a revelation for me, and it actually allowed me to be more flexible with my shooting. Instead of having to keep my aperture small and depth of field large for zone focusing to work (and crank my ISO or lower my shutter speed too) I was able to use much larger apertures on my lenses and rely on the autofocus. Fantastic! I’d be confident to use the X-T10 for an event with such great autofocus performance, which is not something I’d say about the autofocus on the X-Pro1. Having such an ability really adds another string to the X-T10’s bow!

EVF Performance

If you’ve read my comments in Spyros Papaspyropoulos’ review of the Fuji X-T1 for street photography, you will know that I am not a huge fan of EVFs. While they offer great benefits (exposure simulation, WYSIWYG, customisation, and the ability to review your photos in-camera) they can still be very artificial and ‘digital’. I also find them a little wearing on the eye, and hard to get used to, as they force your eyes to constantly adjust between real life and natural light, and a little screen that is artificially lit. This contrast in light intensity gets quite wearing, and gave me a headache when I first started using it. But I shall put my personal gripes aside and try to be objective about the X-T10’s EVF. Firstly, I preferred it compared to the one in the X-T1, which may be a surprise to some of you. The X-T1’s EVF is bigger, with a better magnification level. But for the first time ever for me, I preferred the smaller viewfinder! The X-T10’s EVF didn’t have the horrible constant refocusing effect/setting we complained about in the X-T1 review, which made an enormous difference. The fact it was a little smaller also made it feel less immersive, and a little less like I had my eye rammed into a computer screen. So subjective opinions, but important ones. Like the X-T1, I found the delay with activating the EVF from the eye sensor just too slow for street photography, so I switched the feature off. When putting the X-T10’s EVF up against the X-Pro1’s, the difference is night and day. In my experience, with the lag, frame rate and resolution in the X-Pro1 EVF, the feature is really only useful for slow shots and compositions. It’s not fun to shoot street with it. The X-T10 EVF is like stepping into a new world, and seeing everything in HD for the first time! It’s clear, crisp and sharp, and without a horribly laggy frame rate. Of course, it needs to be this good, as it’s the only viewfinder option in the X-T10! I just wish Fujifilm had kept the same X-Pro1 design for the graphics and typography in the X-T10’s EVF display. I found the ‘new’ style (as found in the X-T1 also) much harder to read faster. With the higher resolution EVF, Fuji have made things like the focus distance scale indicator and exposure meter much finer, with smaller indicators. With so much going on in a scene, I found them much harder to glance at quickly than those in the X-Pro1. This was annoying, as I use the exposure meter and distance scale indicator constantly for street photography, as I shoot in full manual. It’s something you get used to, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. And of course, the X-T1’s issue with the lack of a default shortcut to disable exposure simulation when using a flash for flash street photography is still present here, though reading through the manual I see you can assign this setting to switch off exposure preview one of the function buttons, which is a start!

Rating: 8

Features

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Like the X-T1, the X-T10 packs DSLR style features into a small mirrorless camera body. As well as the impressive autofocus system, there are dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation, drive and mode selection. There’s also a lever that quickly activates the camera’s auto and semi-auto modes. The X-T10 sports Fuji’s usual custom presets menu, allowing you to save settings to quickly access for different shooting conditions. There’s also the ‘Q’ Menu, as you’ll find in many other cameras – a single location where you can change several tertiary settings, like ISO, White Balance, File type, etc. All of these features allow you to switch between manual, auto, and semi-auto-modes quickly to tailor your shooting to your scene. As I mentioned above, there’s also the ability to customise the 7 function buttons and the direction pad too, so you can set the camera up to suit your style. As with all Fuji cameras, there’s a choice of the fantastic Fujifilm ‘Film’ processing presets too.

Like the X-T1, the X-T10 sports a 3 inch rear LCD screen that can tilt outwards. As I mentioned, it’s a marginally lower resolution than the X-T1’s, and like the X-T1 screen, doesn’t have a touchscreen capability. I’m yet to use a touchscreen camera LCD, so I can’t say how useful they are for street photography. I haven’t yet found a moment when I have wanted one yet, but perhaps that’s because I don’t know what I’m missing! Having not really shot with a tilting LCD screen before, I found it a really really useful feature for street photography. It allows you to explore different angles, and I was able to be more bold with my shots too, because in many ways it is less conspicuous than using a viewfinder. You don’t have to look at your subjects as much (you can see your scene through the screen) and you can also pretend that you are shooting video. Based on my experiences, a camera with a tilting LCD would definitely be a useful thing to have in your street photography arsenal! As I’ve said, the X-T10’s EVF is good, though I still prefer a real OVF. If you’re interested in specs, the EVF is a 2,360K-dot OLED, 0.39 inches in size, with a 0.62x magnification. The X-T1’s is 0.5 inches, with 0.77x magnification. You can set the EVF to a digital split image focusing screen, unlike the X-Pro1, and the focus peak highlight is easier to see than on the X-Pro1’s EVF too.

If you like to practice off-camera flash street photography, be aware that there is no flash sync port on the X-T10. This is not the end of the world, as there are other wired and wireless options for triggering a flash off-camera. The X-T10 does have a little built-in pop up flash, which the X-T1 doesn’t, and this can be quite a useful feature. Not only does it give an option for flash street photography all the time, but you could probably use it to trigger another flash optically too, allowing for dual flash street photography and some crazy lighting effects! I didn’t get very long to play around with the pop-up flash, but it seemed usable enough if you really needed it, or adapted your shooting style to suit it. I was impressed that were able to alter its settings in camera – setting it to rear curtain sync for instance. I was quite disappointed that it doesn’t seem possible to use the electronic shutter in conjunction with the flash though – surely that would be a brilliant option to overcome the flash sync speed. I have no idea why it didn’t work.

As you’d expect from a modern camera, the X-T10 is Wi-Fi enabled, but it does not have GPS. My Canon 6D has both, and I have barely used the GPS feature, though I can see why it would be useful. I use the Canon’s Wi-Fi sometimes for quickly transferring photos, so I would say it’s a useful feature at those times when you want to download a photo quickly. Unfortunately I didn’t get time to use the Fuji App, as I was focusing so hard on testing the X-T10 on the streets. Personally I am yet to see the appeal of a Wi-Fi image transfer to mobile device workflow – I much prefer using an SD card and Adobe Lightroom on my laptop with its nice screen. So I would only use it to grab a photo if someone wanted me to send them a shot I just took of them while out ‘in the field’. Wi-FI remote shooting features in my experience add another layer of complication to things for street photography, and the convenience being able to view via your phone (thus being more discreet) is rendered obsolete by the X-T10’s tilting LCD screen. So for me, Wi-FI is a nice feature to have, (and I’d expect it), but not a total deal breaker.

Rating: 8

Low Light Performance

ISO 2500
ISO 2500

What you expect from your street photography camera for low light will depend on what you are used to. Having used a full frame Canon 6D for example, I’ve got used to decent low light performance at ISO 6400, and just about up to 25,600 with the right exposure. Using APS-C as the comparison though, the X-T10 is a good performer. The X-T10 uses the same X-Trans II 16MP CMOS sensor as the X-T1, so it has the same score in our test for low light performance. I’d say the X-T10’s files are pretty usable at ISO 5000 or 6400, provided (as with all low light shots) you nail your exposure well. I think the X-T10 files are perhaps marginally sharper than those from the X-Pro1 at ISO 6400, where the older camera (with its original X-Trans I sensor) can make things look at little ‘smeary’ sometimes in tricky lighting. It goes to show how much we are being spoiled by modern digital sensor tech when I am able to make comments like this about ISO 6400! While we’re on the subject, as a raw shooter it’s a little annoying that the maximum you shoot in raw on the X-T10, X-T1 and X-Pro1 remains ISO 6400. If you could shoot at higher ISOs, I’d use it for sure!

Rating: 8

Image Quality

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You really do fall in love with the files that Fujifilm cameras produce. The wizardry they employ with their X-Trans sensor (a custom red and green filter array over the top of a sensor, as opposed to a Bayer filter), really works! The colours are excellent, dynamic range very good, and there is a lovely ‘depth’ to the photos, and the results are very sharp too, especially when teamed with one of Fuji’s nice prime lenses. Some may complain about ‘only’ 16mp, but for street photography purposes I have never encountered a problem with it. Perhaps the X-T10’s files look a little more ‘digital’ and hard-edged than those produced by the X-Pro1 and its first-gen X-Trans sensor, but you’d really have to be looking for a difference, and even then you’d be hard pressed to spot it. The quality of the images this little camera produces really are stellar!

Image Quality: 10

Value

The Fujifilm X-T10 side by side with the X-Pro1
The Fujifilm X-T10 side by side with the X-Pro1

In the UK, I found the X-T10 for sale around €520 (£450) for the body only. There are several ways to look at the camera from a value standpoint. The first is the cash outlay itself. An X-T10 with the 18mm or 27mm lens would come in around €900-1020 (£780-880) which is of course not an insignificant amount of money. For comparison, I paid €750 (£650) last year for my X-Pro1 with the 18mm and 27mm lens and a leather case, which was an amazing offer, even it is was for an old camera that was released way back in 2012. An X-T10 with kit lens will cost around €17 (£15) more than a Canon 70D body only (APS-C sensor) or €100 (£85) less than the 70D with a kit lens. The gulf between the X-T10 body only and 70D body only is big – €290 (£250)! Given the X-T10’s impressive skill set, this is pretty good. A micro 4/3s Olympus EM10 MkII retails for around €520 (£450) (body only), and the Panasonic G7 with 14-42 lens sells for €580 (£500). These both have much smaller sensors than the X-T10, so it represents good value compared to them. The Sony A6000 body only is about €485 (£420), so the Fuji is about on a par here, and they both have the same sensor size too. When you start to look within the Fujifilm lineup, the X-T10 becomes even better value. It has a very similar set of features to the X-T1 (the biggest difference for me being the weather sealing), and currently costs a whopping €405 (£350) less! So I could get an X-T10 with a nice lens for the price of just an X-T1 body – that’s a no brainer for me in favour of the X-T10!! It’s a pocket powerhouse, and the differences with the X-T1 are not worth the extra €405 (£350) to me. If you need a weather sealed camera, perhaps they are. The X-T10 is of course hugely cheaper than the X-Pro2 €1,560 (£1,349) – that difference could pay for a couple of street photography trips to some fun cities. A used X-Pro1 can be had for about €345 (£300) used, which still makes the X-T10 look pretty good value – €175 (£150) extra for an excellent autofocus system and a camera released in 2015 vs 2012 is pretty competitive! Spending my own money, and already owning two great Fuji prime lenses for street photography, I’d seriously consider the X-T10 to complement my X-Pro1. If you wanted an all-Fuji camera lineup, and a second camera to use for events, plus a tilting screen, an X-T10 would be a great option. I shall keep track of used prices for this camera to consider adding it to my collection, as it provides a nice smaller option to the X-Pro, and another shooting experience.

Rating: 8.5

Conclusion

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The Fujifilm X-T10 is a good camera. Like the X-T1, it performs very well as an all-around camera. The excellent autofocus and small size makes it a great event or wedding photography camera. The fact it shares so many features with the X-T1 but costs much less makes it very good value proposition in my opinion. For my purposes (I don’t have weather sealed lenses, so a weather sealed camera only has a limited use) I would definitely choose an X-T10 over an X-T1 unless I found an incredible deal on an X-T1. The price difference is too large to ignore, and it’s an even smaller package too! I really don’t see a big advantage to paying more currently.

I would definitely recommend the X-T10 as a very good street photography camera. Provided you like shooting with an EVF and LCD (as opposed to an OVF) it really is fantastic. The X-T10 is very small and fast, with good autofocus for street photography too, which is a massive bonus. Most importantly, the more I used this lovely little camera, the more it got under my skin, and the more attached I grew to it. When I came to give it back, I must admit it was a bit of a wrench. Whilst I love my X-Pro1, I can definitely see a place in my ‘bag’ for an X-T10. The EVF and autofocus improvements it offers over the X-Pro1, as well as the extra customisable buttons, are fantastic. I’m sure the X-Pro2 is a really impressive camera, but with the current high cost of the body I could definitely see myself considering an X-T10 at some point in the next few years if I was looking for another smaller Fuji camera to complement my X-Pro1. The X-T10 is a very good little camera, and Fujifilm should be commended for the way they’re constantly improving their gear. They seem to be on a real roll. Keep up the good work guys!

 

Review overview
Size & Weight - 9.5
Build Quality - 8
Handling - 8
Performance - 8
Features - 8
Low Light Performance - 8
Image Quality - 10
Value - 8.5
Digby Fullam is a photographer with a passion for photojournalism and narrative documentary photography. He finds street photography to be an excellent storytelling medium. He is the newest addition of the Streethunters.net team. If you would like to see his work you can also visit his Street Hunters Profile.

2 COMMENTS

    • Hi Domtar. Yes, I think the Fuji X-T10 as a ‘tool’ does take good pictures. As you can see, I gave it a score of 10/10 for Image Quality. The street photos I have included in the review were also taken with the X-T10. Obviously they may not be great photos in your opinion, but it should give you some idea of the camera image quality. A good lens is also important, and I used the XF18mm and XF27mm. We hope to make a review of those lenses in the future.

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