Fujifilm X-S10 – Strategic Evolution in progress

Announced on Oct 15 2020 and shipping now, the Fujifilm X-S10 is the newest member of the X-family of cameras sporting the X-Trans IV sensor and boasts almost the same level of imaging performance found in Fujifilm’s flagship models the X-T4 and X-Pro3 for around half the price. 

The X-S10 paired with the XF35mm f2.0 lens, all in at under 640 grams.

Since it is now a month after the announcement, I am going to take a different tack in this review and I am more keen to touch on two topics most reviewers did not discuss in depth, for example: 

“what is the raison d’etre for the X-S10’s existence?”

and well, what were Fujifilm designers thinking when they removed the ‘Fuji-listic’ (yes, I coined this word) dials
X-S10, XF50mm f1.0

To guide reading, this review will come in three main sections:
1. The X-S10’s design and the philosophy behind it,
2. The difference between the X-S10 and X-T4,
3. Conclusion.

Section 1. The X-S10’s design and the philosophy behind it

The elephant in the room – first such top plate design for a X-Trans sensor camera

The first design element that will catch the eye of the current Fujifilm owner is the top dials have now been redesigned to be very … ‘un-Fuji-listic’. Gone are the engraved dials that shows Shutter Speed, ISO and Exposure compensation which is now replaced by a set consisting of a pair of unmarked dials and of course, the PASM dial with the addition of options such as ‘Filters’, ‘Auto’ etc. 

Bonus Question: Anyone knows what does ‘SP mode’ stand for? You will be surprised to know of the answer.

The ISO and Q (for Quick Menu) buttons have also been moved to the top plate from their previous positions at the back LCD / thumb-rest area.

The X-T3’s top dials for comparison

To be clear, such a top plate arrangement design has long been adopted by Fujifilm in it’s entry level cameras, which all run a Bayer filter design sensor and not Fujifilm’s propriety X-Trans sensors. Even the ‘entry’ level but now discontinued X70 had a full suite of engraved shutter speeds, exposure compensation dials simply because it came equipped with a X-Trans sensor and IMO this was a way Fujifilm differentiated its camera designs by the imaging sensor used.

The surprise is this is the first time such a design appeared on a top-performance X-Trans sensor X-mount camera and I am going to take a stab at the philosophies behind this change.

The X-T100 was an entry model sporting a Bayer design sensor. The top plate design is similar to the X-S10

My review of the Fujifilm X-T100 is here.

However, the X-S10 is not an entry level model. The comfortable size of its grip also clearly suggests that this camera is aimed at the users who may carry the larger and optically more competent lenses. For the users who had written the X-S10 off as an entry level camera, I am sorry to say you are wrong.

X-S10, XF50mm f1.0
X-S10, XF50mm f1

A chat with a very respected Manager at Fujifilm Asia Pacific kindly advised me that the X-S10 is an important model in their roadmap, because it is actually a ‘strategic model highlighting a change in Fujifilm’s strategy.

Mulling over it, my thoughts are that in our competitive market nowadays, a strategy to further grow a brand’s community is attracting new users and the X-S10 spearheads this. We have to recognise that to the competent Fujifilm user, Fujifilm’s style of physical dials are seen as a norm but to someone from Nikon, Olympus or Sony, this design may seem foreign to them.

The X-S10 and the X100V
Notice how the X-S10’s top plate designs are similar?
Notice how the X-S10’s top plate designs are similar?

The X-S10 is Fujifilm’s 6th X-Trans IV sensor camera , and what Fujifilm did here was to take the strengths from the models:

The 5 axis IBIS that debuted in the X-H1 plus it’s the comfortable grip design, coupled it with X-T30’s compact design (did you realise the X-S10’s built-in flash is of the same exact design?), the autofocus algorithms from the X-T4 and take 40% off the price of the X-T4 and voila, you have one very competent and thoroughly tested camera with Fujifilm’s most current X-Trans IV sensor to to attract the users who are currently considering Fujifilm as a choice, even as a second body to their main systems.

Remember how the X-Pro3 was ridiculed back then when it was announced and some of us forgot it was Fujifilm’s design philosophy that X-Pro series will always represent the epitome of their innovative spirit? I invite you to mull over this a bit.

Section 2: X-S10 vs the X-T4

Right off the bat, if you are an enthusiast user, the X-S10 (USD999) will perform almost as well in terms of imaging as the X-T4 (USD1699) which is priced at USD700 above it.

Not mentioned as often is that the X-S10 actually possesses an updated 30% smaller IBIS unit than the X-T4, allowing this camera to be significantly much smaller in comparison, with it at 465 grams vs the X-T4’s 550 grams.  

Both cameras sport the same menu system for familiarity. The main difference seems to be the mechanical fps which maxes out at 8 fps in the X-S10 but goes to 15 fps in the X-T4. Note in electronic shutter, both cameras are on par at 20 fps, or 30 fps with a 1.25x crop.

I am mostly a Aperture Priority and Manual mode user, and all I need to share on Handling is that on the top dials, the left unmarked dial allows one to switch Film Simulation modes directly, the PASM dial other than the PASM modes gives access to Auto, Filters, Videos and even 4 more C (custom) modes. The rightmost dial even though unmarked gives exposure compensation and the ISO and Q buttons do what they are supposed to do.

Is there any change to the way I use the camera? Frankly, not much.

X-S10, XF35mm f2

If anything, the main functional differences comparing to X-T4 will be at the video capabilities, with the X-S10 doing 4K/30P instead of the X-T4’s 4K/60P but weirdly, the X-S10 sports a 10 mins longer maximum recording time over the X-T4 hence its quite a mixed bag here. 

On top of this, the X-S10’s build is not weather-sealed and has one UHS-I SD card slot instead of X-T4’s two UHS-II slots. Both models actually give the same set of Film simulations that Fujifilm is renowned for, and the X-S10 actually has the newest Bleach Bypass simulation which the X-Pro3 doesn’t. 

X-S10, XF50mm f1

You get the same level of autofocus performance, even down to ISO performance because well, the two cameras use the same imaging sensor and quad-core X-Processor 4 setup.

X-S10, XF50mm f1

Conclusion

With the view in mind to not go into too long a review, I wish to conclude the X-S10 is part of Fujifilm’s strategy, in fact the first model to extend a hand to enthusiast users who might find it difficult to transfer over to Fujifilm due to the handling, and in this sense – this is a brilliant marketing move in my opinion. For starters, can you imagine say Sony doing Fujifilm’s style of design to attract Fujifilm users?

Current users of Fujifilm already have a plethora of choices, and not surprisingly, I have seen some actually picking up the X-S10 as a back-up body or due to it offering an AUTO mode, as a training camera for their children or beginners.

Thank you for reading.

My standard disclaimer:

  1. The X-S10 is a pre-production set running firmware 1.00.
  2. All the samples shared here are photographed by me and edited to my preferences in LR CC.
  3. In general I am pretty easy with copyright but I always appreciate a polite request before using the images here.

10 Replies to “Fujifilm X-S10 – Strategic Evolution in progress”

  1. Nice writeup. For some reasons the XS10 seems to be largely ignored and not much talked about and I am you reviewed it.

    Like

    1. Thank you 🙂 Yeap, I’m not sure why too but maybe it is due to the multitude of models and I guess, marketing efforts

      Like

  2. thanks Keith. I thought I was finally over GAS, and now you have interested me.

    Like

  3. Nice review, Keith! I currently rotate the X-t3, X-pro3, and X100V. I’ve been taking a close look at the X-s10 for a small walkaround/hiking camera that will pair with the 27mm or 18mm. I love that they were able to pack a new IBIS system into the small body. I just wish the X-s10 was weather sealed.

    Like

    1. Thank you 🙂 I currently pair mine with a XF35/2 and kinda liking the more compact size over the larger siblings too. The weather sealing I agree but I guess that prob be too much eating into X-T4’s area haha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I heard the X-E4 is confirmed and likely to be sold with the XF27 II as a street photographer’s kit 😆 but ya, I’m not sure about the specs too.

        Like

  4. Enjoyed reading your review! Eager to receive my Fujifilm X-S10 (ordered in October from B&H but still waiting for the body).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s