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…
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 – 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 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.
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.
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.
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.