Fujifilm X10 Digital Camera Review$599.00
The X10 performed well in our noise tests—no surprise, since its 2/3" CMOS sensor is the largest chip in any current fixed-lens compact. We did expect a higher final score, but looking at the real-life crops, we can't find much to complain about at all. Shots up through ISO 3200 (the highest full-res sensitivity) are arguably clean enough for making large prints and full-size digital viewing. Chroma noise stayed consistent among all the color channels, while luma noise is notably higher.
While we aren't counting EXR mode performance as part of our official score, it's worth pointing out that the X10 shows less noise when the EXR High ISO & Low Noise setting is activated. This mode cuts the resolution in half and uses a different processing technique to prevent graininess, and it works. The X10 earned a total noise score of 15.31 with this setting, a notch better than its official score of 13.94.
Noise reduction is adjustable in the camera as well. Since we tested the X10 on a point-and-shoot rubric, we left the noise reduction at its default setting (Standard). Had we ratcheted it up to Medium High or High, it probably would've earned a higher score, though the shots would lose fine detail at higher ISO settings. Shooters who prefer to correct their JPEGs by hand can drop the NR down to Medium Low or Low. More on how we test noise.
We measured less noise in bright light (3000 lux) than in dim light (60 lux) throughout the ISO range. At 3000 lux, noise starts at 0.67% and rises to 1.45% at the top sensitivity. The pattern is the same at 60 lux, though levels are higher at every setting, peaking at 1.74% at ISO 3200.
Noise increases consistently with the ISO setting, without any of the peaks and valleys that usually come along with heavy-handed noise-reduction processing.
The X10 didn't score quite as well in our noise tests as the other high-end compacts in our comparison group. The Canon G12 beats it out by a very slim margin, while the Canon S100 earns a much better score—one of the best we've seen, in fact. Fuji's own F600EXR finished well behind the others in out test. That's no surprise, since it's built around a smaller sensor.
Looking at the real world crops below, the X10 matches up to the S100 quite well. The Fuji is a bit grainier at high ISO settings, but below ISO 1600, both cameras take almost equally clean and detailed photos. The G12 is notably messier starting in the middle of the ISO range, and its higher score probably comes from heavier noise reduction, which obscures fine details and leaves sloppy edges.
If we consider the X10's EXR-mode score, it beats out the G12 by a healthy margin, but still finishes well behind the Canon S100.
Full resolution ISO settings stretch from 100 up to 3200, hitting the usual full stops (ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600) as well as partial stops (ISO 250, 320, 500, 640, and so on) along the way. Added control like that is uncommon for compact cameras, but makes sense on a powerful, enthusiast-oriented model like the X10.
Some additional ISO settings are available, but at reduced resolutions. ISO 4000, 5000, and 6400 are accessible at the medium resolution setting, and ISO 12800 can be reached at the smallest picture size.
NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.