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Hands on: Fujifilm X-S10 review

A mini Fujifilm X-T4 with an interesting twist...

What is a hands on review?
Fujifilm X-S10
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Fujifilm X-S10 is shaping up to be one of the best small, mid-range mirrorless cameras you can buy. It packs much of the Fujifilm X-T4's shooting power into smaller body with IBIS and great handling. It's a shame there's no weather-proofing and stills-only shooters might lament the inclusion of a vari-angle screen. We also need to fully test those IBIS claims. But the signs so far suggest it's going to be a great new hybrid option for hobbyist shooters and a strong rival to alternatives like the Nikon Z50.

For

  • Proven APS-C sensor
  • IBIS in a small body
  • Large grip and great handling
  • Strong video specs

Against

  • No weather-proofing
  • Minor control annoyances
  • No touchscreen menu system

The Fujifilm X-S10 is a bold new step in the company's quest to make the ultimate mid-range mirrorless camera. By taking many of the highlights of its flagship Fujifilm X-T4, including in-body image stabilization (IBIS), and shoehorning them into a smaller, cheaper body, it's made a camera that has the potential to be one of its most popular mirrorless shooters so far.

Until now, the role of deputy to Fujifilm's X-T flagships has been filled by excellent little cameras like the Fujifilm X-T30. The X-S10 isn't a replacement for that model, but instead a slightly uncharacteristic attempt to win over new fans who have so far been resistant to Fujifilm's charms.

Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

Like the X-T4, the Fujifilm X-S10 has been built as a true all-rounder that's as comfortable shooting video as it is stills. You get the tried-and-tested combination of the 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4, plus the ability to shoot uncropped 4K/30p video.

But that uncharacteristic change of tack can be found in the X-S10's handling and controls. Rather than Fujifilm's signature array of manual dials, you get a PASM (Program, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Manual) dial and a chunky handgrip that are more reminiscent of classic DSLRs.

Clearly, the Fujifilm X-S10 is an attempt to lure floating voters who are currently clutching aging Canon and Nikon DSLRs. 

But in ditching some of Fujifilm's traditional charms, does the X-S10 lose the magic that's made the company such a popular choice for mirrorless cameras? We spent a day with the X-S10 to find out.

Fujifilm X-S10 release date and price

The Fujifilm X-S10 will be available to buy from "mid-November", according to Fujifilm. You'll be able to buy it body-only for a pretty reasonable $999.95 / £949 (around AU$1,710), and in various kit lens bundles too.

The XC15-45mm kit bundle will cost £999 (around $1,290 / AU$1,800). If you can, we'd recommend getting the XF18-55mm kit lens bundle for $1,399.95 / £1,299 (around AU$2,340) over the former, given how great the latter is. The X-S10 will also be available with the newer XF16-80mm for $1,499.95 / £1,399 (around AU$2,520), should you need an even more versatile lens.

Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

This pricing is pretty reasonable considering the Fujifilm X-S10's range of skills. At launch, the Fujifilm X-T4 cost $1,699 / £1,549 / AU$2,999 (body-only). 

With the X-S10 packing the same sensor and processor as the latter, it could well be an excellent new option for anyone who's been put off by the X-T4's size, complexity and price. Though that depends a little on whether you'll be okay with its quirks and limitations...

Design and handling

The Fujifilm X-S10's design is simultaneously vintage Fujifilm and a big change from its other mirrorless cameras. 

At first glance, it looks like a slightly smaller Fujifilm X-T4 with a larger, deeper grip. Because of that grip, the size difference isn't, in practical terms, much different from the X-T4. You won't be slipping the X-S10 into your pocket, but it is noticeably lighter than its sibling at 465g (about 23% less than the X-T4).

It's only when you come to use the X-S10 that you notice the big changes from its the rest of the X-series. Fujifilm cameras are renowned for their dial-heavy approach to controls, with most offering a triplet of wheels for tweaking your shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. 

Those are (gasp) not on the X-S10.

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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

The Fujifilm X-T30 (left) versus the Fujifilm X-S10 (right) (Image credit: Future)

Instead, you get the PASM dial (Program, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Manual) approach favored by most other cameras manufacturers. The reason for this, Fujifilm told us, is because it found that many people were put off from switching to X-Series cameras purely because they found its usual dials too confusing. 

Neither approach is objectively better than the other, just Apple and Android's differing takes on the smartphone homescreen. But it's fair to say that while the Fujifilm purists might not be impressed, anyone coming from the likes of Sony or Nikon will feel instantly at home with the X-S10.

Not that the X-S10 is a complete ergonomic success. We found its power button to be too slippery for our liking, making it hard to turn the camera on quickly without looking. This is probably the result of its close proximity to the front command dial, but it was a slight annoyance.

The lack of a d-pad on the back of the X-S10 also makes it a trickier to cycle through its menus than on other X-series camera, with the small AF joystick instead taking on these duties. Still, we're glad to see an AF joystick included for choosing autofocus points, and the X-S10 is otherwise a very enjoyable camera to shoot with.

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Fujifilm X-S10

The Fujifilm X-T30 (left) versus the Fujifilm X-S10 (right) (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

That generous grip is a real bonus for an otherwise small mirrorless camera. Of course, this means it's nowhere near as compact as the Fujifilm X-T30, which can slip into pockets when paired with a pancake lens. But simply being able to hold the X-S10 one-handed by its grip was a real joy, and the grip also helped to balance out longer lenses like the XF50-140mm. This alone makes it a great alternative to the Nikon Z50 and Sony A6600.

The X-S10's viewfinder (a 2.36m-dot affair with a maximum 100fps refresh rate) is solid rather than spectacular, while its vari-angle touchscreen (which flips round 180-degrees to the front) makes it versatile for both video and stills. Photographers may prefer the tilting screen seen on stills-focused cameras like the X-T30, but this screen's flexibility is definitely a bonus for solo videographers or vloggers.

Those vlogging credentials are strengthened by the inclusion of a 3.5mm mic input for using external microphones. This sits above a USB-C port (which can double as a headphone port via an optional adaptor) and a Micro HDMI port, which lets you output 10-bit 4:2:2 video to an external recorder.

Take a closer look at these ports, though, and you'll discover the Fujifilm X-S10's main design weakness when compared to pricier cameras – there's no weather-proofing at all. If you shoot regularly in unpredictable weather, that may push you back towards the weather-sealed Nikon Z50.

Specs and features

The Fujifilm X-S10 certainly packs a lot of power and features into its relatively compact body – and the most notable of these is in-body image stabilization (IBIS).

We've seen small, APS-C cameras with IBIS before – the Sony A6600, for example – but none that are as affordable as the X-S10. The most obvious rival at this price point is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, which has superb stabilization but a smaller Four Thirds sensor. There are also question marks over the longevity of cameras like the E-M5 series, given Olympus' decision to exit the camera business.

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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

IBIS systems are useful for shooting both video and stills – they can counteract handheld jitters and preserve photo quality by letting you shoot at longer shutter speeds and lower ISOs. But they're not all made equal. The X-S10's five-axis IBIS system is 30% smaller and lighter than the one in the Fujifilm X-T4, and slightly less effective.

Still, on paper, there isn't much in it, with the X-S10 managing a maximum of six stops of compensation when paired with most X-series lenses, compared to the X-T4's 6.5 stops.

We'll need longer with the X-S10 to really test its stabilization, but broadly speaking it's not dissimilar to the X-T4. We found the latter's stabilization claims to be a little overstated in practice (with real-world compensation of more like four stops), and there's no doubt that you'll still need a gimbal for truly smooth walking video footage.

But the inclusion of IBIS on the X-S10 is a huge boost for anyone who has (or is considering buying) non-stabilized prime lenses. Fujifilm has also included a few digital stabilization options to bolster the X-S10's sensor-based stabilization. If you don't mind your footage being cropped by 10%, these will add an additional smoothness to your videos.  

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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

How does the Fujifilm X-S10 stack up in other areas? It's a mid-range camera, so performance is naturally a notch below flagship level, but features like continuous shooting and video are likely in the 'good enough' zone for most people.

The X-S10 can shoot at 8fps in burst mode (using the mechanical shutter). That's some way short of the Fujifilm X-T4's 15fps maximum, but if you switch to the electronic shutter (which can create issues like rolling shutter with fast-moving objects or panning) it can reach 20fps without any crop.

It's also shaping up to be a very capable little camera for video and vlogging. Like the Nikon Z50, it can shoot uncropped 4K/30p video and Full HD at up to 240p for a 10x slow motion effect. 

Unlike its Nikon rival, though, the X-S10 does also offer F-Log recording (for preserving more dynamic range than compressed formats) and the option of outputting 4:2:2 10-bit video via its micro HDMI port. Throw IBIS into the equation, and there's no doubt the X-S10 is one of the most powerful video cameras at this size and price.

We'll need a little more time with the X-S10's autofocus to see how it compares to its rivals, but so far the signs are promising. 

You get Face/Eye AF and Tracking AF, and these worked well in our brief time with the camera. Still, it's worth noting that Sony, Canon and Nikon have all made big strides in this area lately – and while this has largely been reserved for their pricier full-frame cameras, the Nikon Z50 did get Animal Detection AF in a recent firmware update. There's no equivalent AF mode on the Fujifilm X-S10.

This camera has, though, boosted its user-friendliness in other ways. The X-S10's 'auto' mode is now much more powerful – it lets you shoot raw photos (alongside the usual JPEGs), and there's now the option of choosing from three different AF modes.

Fujifilm has also added an 'auto' film simulations option to the camera's 'auto' mode, which sees the camera choose between 'Provia', 'Velvia' and 'Astia', depending on what suits the scene best. If you're not familiar with Fuji's film simulations, they're essentially subtle filters that recall the look of certain types of film, and are one of the main reasons why the X-Series make such great point-and-shoot cameras. 

Adding an 'auto' mode to these makes sense, but it's pretty easy to choose from the much broader range of 18 film simulations by turning the camera's Function dial.

Image and video quality

We only used a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10 for a day, so it's a little early to make conclusions about its image and video quality.

That said, its 26.1MP back-illuminated sensor is a tried-and-tested one that we've been impressed by before in the Fujifilm X-T4 and Fujifilm X-T30. In fact, in our review of the former we called it "class-leading in terms of detail and low light performance". Assuming nothing goes spectacularly wrong with the final version of the X-S10, it should produce similar results.

Of course, you probably won't get quite the same level of raw editing flexibility as you might with a full-frame camera, but the inclusion of IBIS here should help you preserve image quality in tricky conditions. It's also a relatively small pay-off when you consider the X-S10's size, price and the quality of its JPEG images, which appear to be as strong as usual.

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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-S10

This photo was taken on a pre-production Fujifilm X-S10, so may not represent the final quality. (Image credit: Future)

One of the benefits of X-series cameras is their ability to produce great out-of-camera shots without the need for much editing – whether or not you use the 18 Film Simulations, that continues to be the case here.

While the X-S10 lacks the latest autofocus skills like Animal Eye AF, its AF system performed well during our short play, for both stills and video. You get a lot of control over your video recording, which now gets a dedicated menu system, and it shoots uncropped 4K/30p video and Full HD at up to 240p, which we're looking forward to testing more.

Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

During a time when the future of mid-range mirrorless cameras from Canon and Olympus is a little uncertain, the Fujifilm X-S10 is a welcome reminder that exciting launches are still possible for photographers who can't afford, or don't want the complexity of, full-frame flagships.

While it's not a budget camera, the X-S10 packs an awful lot into its well-designed body for the price. You get the same sensor and processor as the Fujifilm X-T4, a generous grip that's ideal for longer lenses, and in-body image stabilization, which is a great feature that isn't on APS-C rivals like the Nikon Z50.

Naturally, there are some compromises – the main one being a lack of weather-proofing, plus a more conservative 8fps burst mode than the X-T4. The vari-angle screen and new PASM control setup might also be off-putting for stills-focused Fujifilm traditionalists. But there's no doubt the X-S10 is shaping up to be one of the best small, mid-range mirrorless cameras you can buy. We'll let you know if it lives up to that billing in a full review very soon.  

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.