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Whistling Past the Graveyard with the Fujifilm X-T10

By Jeff Wignall   Thursday June 9, 2016

“You probably seen me sleepin'

out by the railroad tracks

go on and ask the prince of darkness

what about all the smoke

come from the stack

sometimes I kill myself a jackel

suck out all the blood

steal myself a station wagon

drivin' through the mud

whistlin' past the graveyard

steppin' on a crack…”

          Tom Waits, Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard


I was driving around town looking for interesting subjects when this 18th Century cemetery illuminated in a golden late-afternoon light popped into view. Shot at 1/280 second at f/9, ISO 200. The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens that I used with the camera is very sharp and a nice compact zoom. Thankfully no one mowed the cemetery (apparently for a few weeks!) before I got there. 

Snapshot:

Model name: Fujifilm X-T10

Lens mount: Fujifilm X mount

Image sensor: 23.6mm x 15.6mm (APS-C), CMOS

File formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW

Movie File Format: MOV (no 4K)

Sensitivity:AUTO: SO 200 - 6400 (Standard Output Sensitivity); Extended output sensitivity : Equivalent ISO 100, 12800, 25600 and 51200

Exposure control: TTL 256-zone metering, Multi / Spot / Average

Exposure mode Programmed AE / Shutter Speed priority AE / Aperture priority AE / Manual exposure

Shutter speed:(P mode) 4 seconds to 1/4000 second, (All other modes) 30 seconds to 1/4000 second, Time 30sec. to 1/4000sec.

Synchronized shutter speed for flash:1/180 second (or slower)

Hot shoe:Yes (Dedicated TTL Flash compatible)

LCD monitor: 3.0-inch, 920K-dot, tilt type

Battery life: Approximately 350 frames


The file quality of the Fujifilm X-T10 is extremely good. I had some minor issues with shadow detail in very contrasty scenes like this one of late-afternoon sun hitting a lighthouse, but I shot everything in RAW so opening shadows wasn't a problem. Shot at 1/240 second at f/4.5, ISO 200. 

Vampire Cameras

I was never a Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Twilight Saga fan, so I don’t know much about modern vampires, but the one thing I do remember from watching old Bela Lagosi movies as a kid is that vampires can’t see their own reflection in a mirror (the theory being that vampires have no souls and therefore no reflection). Because the reflex mirror is a key element in SLR design, I have to assume that vampires can’t be photographed with one, which probably accounts for the fact that you didn’t see many photographs of real vampires during the SLR days. You might also rightfully assume that vampires, who have probably long bemoaned their lack of family albums, may have had some small hand in creating mirrorless cameras. It’s for these reasons (and the fact that I seem to have to give everything that I use a nickname), I refer to mirrorless cameras as vampire cameras. Perhaps now, at long last, we’ll begin to see more vampire photos showing up on Flickr.

While I’m not yet sure that we should be hammering nails in the DSLR coffin, it’s clear that this relatively new breed of cameras is no longer a novelty and that they are quickly becoming the a major player in the camera world. At the very least, vampire cameras are smaller, lighter and quieter than their DSLR ancestors and those facts alone are why they are being adopted by a wide-range of photographers, including a lot of established pros who, just a few years ago, would rather have every last drop of blood sucked out of their bodies that give up their DSLRs. 

It was with these somewhat disturbing images creeping around in my obviously overactive imagination, and with Tom Waits booming from the van speakers, that I spent the past few weeks exploring the Fujifilm X-T10 (with an XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens).

And let me tell you, there were more than a few chills running down my spine when I found myself shooting in, among other locations, a local historic graveyard. You can bet I did some serious whistling as I shot. 

  


Talk about retro! When was the last time you used a post-film era camera with a shutter-speed dial? Everything about the Fujifilm X-T10 felt comfortable in my hands, though I have to confess there was quite a bit of nostalgia going through my head. I probably still prefer spinning a command dial to get shutter speeds, but you can do that here, too. (Photos courtesy of FujiFilm)

Mechanical Bliss

If there is one word that would describe the overall design of this camera it has to be retro. And I mean spookily retro, too. The minute that you unbox the camera you realize quickly this is not your typical menus-only camera. There are things here that I haven’t seen on a camera in years. 

Take the shutter speed dial, for example. The what? Yes, there really is a shutter speed dial. Rather than setting the shutter speeds via front or rear controller you actually set the shutter speed by spinning a mechanical dial. I’d almost forgotten how to do it. There is also a threaded cable release. Yep, the shutter button is equipped to accept that most ancient of camera accessories, a cable release. The camera even has a fake pentaprism housing (it hides the built-in flash). Imagine the irony of this: a camera that was created to eliminate the need for a pentaprism and yet was designed to look like it has one. Go figure. Maybe it’s a bit of a private joke among vampires.

I had a good time shooting with and getting to know this camera and there are some features that stand out. (By the way, if you’d like more info on any of these options, the entire camera manual is online here.) 

Size and feel: Compared to even the smallest SLR that I own, this is a really small camera body. And yes, while I’m used to holding a much larger body (and lens), this camera has a nice solid feel to it. 

Mode changing: Unlike most cameras that simply have a mode-selection dial for choosing between, say, aperture or shutter priority or manual, the X-T10 lets you shift modes without having to pull your eye away from the viewfinder. If the camera is set to “A” (automatic), for example, and you want to shift to aperture priority, just turn the lens’ aperture ring and you’re there. Similarly, if you want to control shutter speeds just turn that dial away from “A” and now you’re in shutter- priority mode. The front command dial lets you cycle through various shutter-speed and aperture combinations (but only if a switch on the lens is set to the correct position). 

Focusing options:  Single point, group, tracking focus options are easy to access: just press in the front command dial and the menu pops up. Then use the up/down arrows on the rear selector to choose single point, zone or wide tracking. You can also move the focusing target area to any point of the viewfinder. In the zone mode, the focus zones include multiple focus points (5 × 3, 5 × 5, or 3 × 3), making it a lot easier to focus on subjects that are moving. 

The Drive Dial:  A dial to the left of the fake pentaprism lets you switch to things like two bracketing modes, two burst modes, a panoramic mode and a multi-exposure mode. The multi exposure mode works very nicely and gives you the option to bail out if you don’t like either the first or second exposure—but only lets you combine two images.


The color fidelity of the files from the X-T10 is excellent. Both of these frames were made using the Provia film simulation setting. The greens in particular were bright and accurate in the JPEG format (though I shot JPEG and RAW simultaneously--a nice feature). Top: Shot at 1/125 second at f/4.5. Bottom: 1/30 second at f/8. Both at ISO 200.

Things that I wasnt crazy about: 

l
As cute as the flash is, nested in the "pentaprism" housing, the flash on the X-T10 is pretty weak and I hope that Fuji will power-up the flash in the next generation. The camera does have a hot shoe though, so it's easy to bring your own light to the party. One thing I love about the camera is that it has a pull-out LCD screen so that you can shot low-angle shots like this and compose from above. Shot at 1/30 second at f/13, with flash, at ISO 200. 

Flash: The flash, sad to say, is a bit of a joke in terms of power. Even when shooting my cat (see photo) from less than three feet away, I had to bump up the RAW exposure by two full stops to get the exposure close to where it belonged. 

Film modes dont show up in Meta Data: This drove me nuts. As much as I loved shooting in the various film-replication modes, the actual mode that I shot in didn’t show up in the meta data in the Bridge CC or in Photoshop CC. Is it there somewhere? Darned if I know, but I wasn’t able to find it. And to be honest, that could be a Photoshop issue, I'm just not sure.

SD card tight fit: The SD card slot is jammed right against the card/battery cover and trying to swap out cards in a hurry is a pain. You either have to have very small fingers or long fingernails. Not a biggy, but annoying.


I spent about an hour experimenting with the film-simulation modes while shooting the historic Captain David Judson house in Stratford, Connecticut. The top frame here was shot using the Provia model and the bottom using (can you guess?) the Velvia model. The greens and reds really are just like the old Velvia film days--a fantastic film mode for an old slide shooter to have available. Both shot at 1/25 second at f/8, ISO 200. 

Going Chameleon 

Whenever a group of photographers who started their careers in the pre-digital age (i.e. old photographers) get together, someone is almost guaranteed to wax nostalgic about the qualities of various films. In perhaps its most endearing retro extra feature, the X-T10 offers a host of Film Simulations that mimic the look of some classic color films. Options include: Providia, Velvia, Astia, Classic Chrome, Pro Negative films. There are also several black-and-white modes and a sepia mode (see photos). I had a blast playing with the simulation modes--and as you can see in the two shots below, I got a bit addicted to the sepia mode.


Come on, how could I not try out the sepia mode when I'm standing in an old New England cemetery? I have to admit I'm a sucker for in-camera effects but even so, I was surprised by how much I really liked this particularly effect. Funny thing is, when you shoot in a film-simulation mode in both JPEG and RAW, the RAW file, of course, filters out the effect so you only see them in the JPEG file--and that only makes sense! Both shot at 1/200 second at f/8. 


One of the most fun and impressive features of the X-T10 is its sweep panorama mode. I was honestly astounded at how quickly and accurately it stitched pans in camera. Basically all that you have to so is tell it which direction you're going to sweep the camera and them press the shutter once and keep the camera moving in that direction. I was able to see the finish pan almost instantly. How cool is that? I really couldn't tell how many frames the camera was capturing for a single pan, but it keeps shooting until you've made your entire sweep. It does take a bit or practice to get the speed of your sweep just right and a few times the camera stopped recording and told me to sweep faster. I took its advice and it worked perfectly. There is a horizon line in the viewfinder to guide you in keeping the horizon level, a really helpful feature. Exposure was 1/850 second at f/5, ISO 200.

Conclusion

While the Fujijilm X-T10 is a slightly more consumer-oriented camera than the more pro-oriented X-T1 (the former is not weather sealed, for instance), I think that this camera falls into that somewhat vague category of “prosumer” camera—one that is capable of existing in both pro and amateur worlds. While they might not choose it as a primary camera, I can’t imagine that any pro who had a few weeks to spend with this camera wouldn’t grow to admire it and likewise I think for someone making the leap to interchangeable-lens-cameras and who wanted a more compact and lightweight system, the X-T10 would make a fine entry point. I was particularly impressed with the ease of shifting focusing modes and the color accuracy of the files. It’s one of those cameras that I hate to pack up and return! 

Product News

Takeway R1 Mini Clampod.
If you’re one of those somewhat crazy folks that likes to mount an action camera on your bike or your skateboard or a garbage can with wheels perhaps, and then perform death-defying feats, Kenro has introduced a new mounting device just for you. The Takeaway R1 Mini Clampod is a mini version of its popular T1 Clampod. The new clamp (along with a range of accessories introduce with it) will let you mount your action cameras, mobile phones and GPS devices onto anything that is onto anything 5-32mm thick. It has a quick-release plate so an action camera or other device can be quickly mounted or unmounted. So there you go, time to find a new waterfall to pedal over—can’t wait for the video!

HELIPAK™ FOR DJI INSPIRE. ThinkTank has just introduced a nice carrying case for those of you lucky enough to own a DJI Inspire Quadcopter. It’s equipped with backpack straps and a lumbar support pad so that you can hike your quadcopter farther afield and still have the energy to fly it. It also has large accessory pockets, big enough to carry a 17” laptop or a big tablet. Internal dimensions for the main storage area are 19.3” W x 24” H x 9.4” D (49 x 61 x 24 cm) and exterior dimensions are 17.3” W x 21.7” H x 7.9” D (44 x 55 x 20 cm). 

SanDisk Ultra®Dual Drive USB Type-C.SanDisk has introduced a new method for transferring files between your smartphones, tablets and computers. The SanDisk Ultra® Dual Drive USB Type-C includes one reversible USB Type-C connector and one standard USB (Type-A) connector, so you can quickly transfer files between various devices. Their Memory Zone app (available on Google Play) helps speed up the transfer process. 

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