FUJIFILM X-S10 Review – Footage & Mini Documentary

8 days ago

The FUJIFILM X-S10 has just been announced and we were lucky enough to play with a pre-production camera paired with the latest available firmware installed. If you are in the market for a capable, compact 4K APS-C stabilised sensor mirrorless camera, then the new offerings from FUJIFILM might be the right tool for you. Interested to learn more? Head to my FUJIFILM X-S10 review

Happy birthday to me. And not that you get me wrong, I really dislike celebrating my own birthdays as I’m yet to understand what’s the reason for festivities. Getting a year older is never a joy, unless….you get to celebrate at the same exact day when a truly nice camera is being announced – and this is the case here. Thank you FUJIFILM…

FUJIFILM X-S10 and X-T4 Size compression. Image credit: CineD

It’s no secret that my “go to camera” is the FUJIFILM X-T4. This little “Swiss army knife” camera, which was introduced at the beginning of this year has A LOT to offer. With internal recording at up to 4K/60p, ALL-I codec, 4:2:0, 10bit recording capabilities, great autofocus, a stablized sensor and a fair price, I find it to be one of the most reliable and flexible working tools currently available in the land of mirrorless cameras.

So, what does the FUJIFILM X-T4 have to do with the newly announced X-S10, you may ask? Well, take a successful, capable camera, make it smaller, cheaper and a bit less capable and voila, FUJIFILM has created a new filming device that follows the footsteps of the X-T4 very closely. (And “on the way”, created a new line of compact cameras). 

FUJIFILM X-S10
FUJIFILM X-S10. Image credit: CineD

FUJIFILM X-S10 – What is New?

It is not that compact and capable cameras are foreign to FUJIFILM. In the past, we’ve already tested the X-T20 and X-T30 and could see a noticeable evolution in video quality and usability. So, how do you innovate within a field you already did well? Apparently the answer is easy. Make the tool even more desirable and keep its price extremely competitive. This is exactly what FUJIFILM did. The new X-S10 is built on the heritage of the X-T30, yet takes some fundamental elements from its older sibling, the X-T4. Maybe the most noticeable upgrade from the X-T30 is the inclusion of an In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) in this compact-bodied camera. And please don’t underestimate the technical challenge here. The IBIS had to be designed from the ground up in order to fit into the enclosure. The result is fantastic. While lightweight mirrorless cameras tend to remind you of how shaky your hands are, the built-in IBIS is doing a great job with stabilizing the image, and as a side bonus “playing on your ego”, giving you the feeling of mastering steady shots… Personally, the “Boost” mode (found first inside the X-T4) is still my favourite option. I use it for both, stand still tripod-like filming and “walk and talk”. 

FUJIFILM X-S10
FUJIFILM X-S10 4K DCI mode. Image credit: CineD

FUJIFILM X-S10 In the field

Now, before clicking the “buy now” link, there are a few things that you ought to know about the new camera. Although the sensor and processor are similar to those found inside the X-T4, the X-S10 differentiates itself from the more expensive X-T4 by: 

  • No 4K/50/60p internal recording (Up to 30p only) 
  • No All-I recording (Long GOP only) 
  • No high 400 Mbps data rate recording (Up to 200 Mbps only)
  • No internal 10-bit recording

But in all honesty, for $999, I feel that the deal is still very good, as on top of the benefits highlighted before, we have the possibility to connect the camera to an external recorder and get 4.2:2 10-bit via the HDMI connector. 

I really had A LOT of joy working with this small camera. I love the form factor (great comfortable grip), although I could use some additional FN buttons. One thing that FUJIFILM is very consist of doing is maintaining high quality sound recording in their mirrorless cameras, and the X-S10 is no exception. The recorded audio is simply good and relatively noise-free! Speaking of sound: for monitoring sound, FUJIFILM have included a USB-C to headphone jack adapter (like with the X-T4). For some it might be an obstacle, but for me, I really got used to this. The only time that this solution proves to be a limitation is when attempting to connect the camera to a gimbal via USB-C. That is the occasion where you lose the ability to monitor your sound.   

Now, a few things to be aware of. This camera uses the same batteries as the X-T3! (Lack of body space, I guess, for using the X-T4 batteries). The consequence is rather obvious: since there now is an IBIS on board, batteries drain out rather quickly. On a positive note, when you see the red bar, which indicates an almost empty battery, don’t “panic”. The camera will keep running for an additional considerable amount of time. So in short, if you are an X-T3 owner, the pave for easy powering life is open. If you are a proud X-T4 owner and like to have that camera with you too, well, be prepared to invest in extra (different) batteries and a charger. I’m sure you would love to know if this new compact camera overheats, well, the answer is sadly yes. But, the kind of good news is, that although I used it extensively during filming the football game, I got the yellow temperature warning sign, but the camera did not shut down on me up to the point of me finishing filming (lucky is my middle name).

ETERNA vs. F-Log

I love working with the ETERNA film simulation picture profile, especially when there is no time to grade the footage. On the other hand, when working in this mode, the Dynamic Range gets narrower (loss of up to 1.5 stops, on all FUJIFILM cameras). So whenever I can, I prefer filming with F-Log enabled and later in post color correct to my liking, or, use FUJIFILM’s official ETERNA LUT which can be downloaded here. The thing is, when filming with the X-S10 (and X-T30 and X-T2 before), the image is recorded in 8-bit internally. And with FUJIFILM, I feel like this is rather an issue, as the picture tends to break easily when color correcting. To the credit of FUJIFILM, I must say that they were very concerned and hesitant to include F-Log with cameras that can film in 8-bit internally. So in other words, try and plan your move carefully, depending on what you are about to film with this little camera. 

Articulated screen
FUJIFILM X-S10 Articulated screen. Image credit: CineD

About the Above Video

By now we know: no birthdays and no sweet birthday cakes for me, so what is the alternative? Well, freshly made pizza of course! And in my search of the perfect home-made pizza, I came across Nnmadi who is a pizzaiolo by heart and a serious hobbyist football player. This down to earth guy discovered, during the lockdown, that he was able to sell home-made pizzas and that alone made me curious to hear more about his story. 

Now, a new engaging camera and a desirable filming subject deserve doing something a bit different, so I decided to challenge myself by finding “on a budget” solutions for anamorphic shooting again. My goal was to not exceed the $2000 benchmark. First, I decided to avoid working with SIRUI’s anamorphic lens. As it has a fixed 50mm focal length and no autofocus, it wouldn’t serve me well in this specific project. So I opted for matching the camera with one of my favourite FUJINON lenses, the XC 15-45mm, F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens and attached it to the SLR Magic Compact Anamorphot-40 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter. A rough calculation showed that I was well below my “on a budget anamorphic kit” goal. 

Lens and adapter selection
FUJIFILM X-S10 FUJINON XC 15-45mm and SLR Magic anamorphic adapter. Image credit: CineD

FUJINON XC 15-45mm Lens

We all work differently and regard quality and quality of work in various ways. For me personally, when filming a documentary, usability and the freedom to move and react fast scores high, sometimes even on the expense of optical quality. Surely, there are faster, sharper lenses out there, but for true documentary work, this lens proved to be a very reliable piece of equipment, over and over again. It is a very compact, lightweight and modestly priced stabilized lens with an adequate focal length. Its optical performance is fine and since its maximum open aperture is rated f3.5 (on the wide side), soft edges are not so noticeable. Speaking of soft edges, when attaching the SLR Magic anamorphic adapter to that lens, it acts like an “insurance policy”. Because of that f3.5 aperture, you already avoid the risk of using the anamorphic adapter at its optical limits. On top, “zooming in” must be applied to avoid vignetting, so when doing so, aperture will close even more to f4.2 or even f4.5 depending on your focal length. The end result is a much sharper image when compared to using this adapter on a fast lens. (There is always the risk of getting close to unusably soft images when working with a fast lens at full open aperture with this adapter). 

To summarize this lens/anamorphic adapter paragraph: Like many of us, I could wish for greater anamorphic squeeze (more than 1.33x), I could also wish that FUJIFILM would finally allow in-camera image de-squeeze (to see how the anamorphic image truly looks like), but all in all, my favourite FUJINON kit lens together with the SLR Magic anamorphic adapter (compact), proved to work perfectly well together.

FUJIFILM X-S10 Q mode
FUJIFILM X-S10 Extensive Q mode. Image credit: CineD

Conclusion

The smaller the filming tool, the better it is for me (I know that I might represent a minority here). As I don’t have to impress anybody but myself, the closer I can get to the person I’m filming without being “a threat”, the better it is. So here I have a small, capable 4K large sensor camera with IBIS, all in a stylish shell for a very competitive price. The fully articulated LCD screen is very nice to have and the same goes for the 240 frames per second in full HD. It is not perfect (depending on what you film) but very much usable. The lowlight capability of this camera is very good too! I could easily use the footage I shot at ISO 10,000. The added grain is actually very nice as it seems not to consist of any (or very little) chroma micro blocks. So, no annoying color noise all over the place.

Back to my birthday. Would I like getting such a camera as a present? Hell yes! Would I be able to tell a nice stories with it? You bet! Together with the FUJINON 15-45mm lens and SLR Magic anamorphic adapter (compact), I managed to stay within the budget I set for myself and create a video that, for a change, doesn’t need to be masked with black bars but rather uses the all sensor pixel readout. 

The above video was shot with FUJIFILM X-S10, 4K DCI, 25p, 200 Mbps, F-Log. Graded with FUJIFILM’s official ETERNA LUT. (Slow motion shots: 1080/200p upscaled to 4K). Music taken with permission from epidemicsound.

What do you think about the new FUJIFILM X-S10. Would you consider it as a complementary camera for your X-T3/4, or even get it as your prime filming device? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. 

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Ali Hammad
Ali Hammad
Member
Today

Hey Johnnie, I just wanna say your work was excellent! Really enjoyed the mini doc.

Regarding the dynamic range in Eterna, I found that if you go to the settings and enable DR400, it gives you 2 more stops of highlight information while raising the base ISO to 640, which adds a tiny bit more noise to the shadows while giving you much more room to overexpose. I use that setup on my XT30, overexposing about 0.6 – 1.3 stops without clipping highlights in Eterna DR400 and the results are excellent. Just as much usable DR as F-log with a small penalty of noise in extreme shadows but overexposing helps with that. I’m shooting a mini doc/spec commercial tomorrow with my friend in a small plane, so hope it works well! :)

Vlad Box Rojas
Member
5 days ago

Not my type of Camera for what I am doing, BUT the pizza ohh yes Basel and Mozzarella, the best!!! Great vignette Thanks Johnnie.

Christian W. Meyer
Christian W. Meyer
Member
8 days ago

Hi Johnnie,

Thank you for this great camera review. I like the approach to film with equipment that fit’s the project. At the end there are many building blocks for a good documentary. I bought the X-T3 on behalf of your camera review and I still like to work with it. Stay creative greetings from Switzerland.

Eugenia L
Member
8 days ago

If someone was just starting with a hybrid camera, this is the one I’d suggest to them (along a non-PZ zoom). The only camera that comes close to this video-wise for the price, is the Panasonic G9 (minus the smaller sensor and worse AF). Sony is behind overall (again, for the price), and Canon is miles behind (except for their superior AF).

So overall, if you want to do both photos and good video on the cheap and you have no legacy with another system already, that’s the camera to get, and I’m writing that while I’m no Fuji fangirl (never owned one myself). The only problem with Fuji (except the slightly magenta skintones and jade greens), is the expensive lenses apart their cheaper zooms. So expansion can prove costly overtime. But other than that, awesome release!

Jack Jin
Jack Jin
Member
8 days ago
Reply to  Eugenia L

I feel like their jaded greens is more of a symptom of their film emulation profiles. The fuji filmstocks they are emulating all have very jaded green, like classic chrome, classic negative (xtra 400), so that’s why it looks that way. Though I shot some eterna 400t and the greens were quite normal, so don’t know why it’s still so desaturated on their eterna emulation.

Eugenia L
Guest
7 days ago
Reply to  Jack Jin

You need to add some yellow in the image (using the tint ability under WB) to make it look more like their films. Some people ran some tests with their digital tests against real fuji film, and the colors matched alright, but only after adding yellow or making the image warmer. It might be an issue on how the fuji cameras calculate WB.

Jack Jin
Jack Jin
Member
7 days ago
Reply to  Eugenia L

I think they scanned their film on noritsu scanners, which adds a lot of yellow into the image. If they used fuji premier scanners (which fuji themselves probably used cause it’s their own scanner), it will match a lot better.

Raw Shooter
Raw Shooter
Guest
8 days ago

“The smaller the filming tool, the better it is for me (I know that I might represent a minority here).”

Same here. I stopped buying m4/3 cameras when the bodies got bigger than the GH2.

The other thing I love(d) about the GH2s was that no one asked me who I’m shooting for.

I like the stealth of small powerful cameras.

When shooting with my cine camera I get approached all the time and I can see people watching me all the time.

One of the things that is an issue is that you’re a great story teller.

You can make any camera review and experience where we have to remind ourselves that it’s a review. But it’s really this thoughtful little documentary.

Happy belated birthday.

Adrián Mahovics
Adrián Mahovics
Member
8 days ago

Hi Johnnie, Thank for the informative video about this camera! I enjoyed it very much! I am excited that now, seems like Fujifilm is in the position for “experimenting” and break just a little bit away from the recent shapes and forms which we got to know from X-T series, X-E series and so on, yet keeping somehow the original DNA! I love my X-T3 and X-E3 but in my view, this X-S10 is a different tool for a different purpose which is great! Wish you a great day!

Gilles van Leeuwen
Gilles van Leeuwen
Member
8 days ago

Hi Johnnie, can you record indefinitely when you record external?

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