Alexandria's Old Town With The Fujifilm X-T10
Another week with The Camera Project inevitably means another camera, and this time it's the Fuji X-T10, an ASPC-sensor mirrorless camera with the style and function of an analog film camera. I had the opportunity to test it out over a long weekend during which I also attended a friend's wedding (Olivia over at Libera Corpus!!) in Alexandria, Virginia, so I was able to take a few snaps while wandering around town the day after.
A little bit about Alexandria: situated on the Potomac River, it's very near to Washington, D.C., (7 miles away in fact) and thus serves as a popular residential community for those who work in the nation's capital. The main hub is Old Town, a very cute and quaint little area with a real colonial, small town Americana feel; think Charleston, SC or Annapolis, MD. Technically considered the American "South" by Civil War standards and the Mason-Dixon line, Alexandria itself is very old, with the first settlement dated 1695, and the city historically thrived by producing and exporting tobacco.
It was a beautiful, still-warm September day as I walked around Old Town. I stumbled into a Saturday farmer's market with loads of gorgeous-looking local produce and baked goods, stopped into a tobacco shop to buy a cigar (featuring that famous Virginia tobacco) for my dad, had a delicious lunch of grilled fish tacos and watermelon salad at Virtue Feed & Grain, and of course capped it all off with an ice cream cone from Pop's.
And now a little bit about the camera: the Fuji X-T10 is the more affordable cousin to the X-T1, and has an 16MP X-Trans CMOS II APS-C sensor, a tilting display screen, high-resolution EVF, lots of tactile dials and knobs in keeping with an analog style of form and function, and the trademark Fuji film emulation color settings. I'm not going to go into too much technical detail, because lord knows that stuff is available in buckets just a google search away, and I would not consider myself a technical expert by any means.
The images within this post have undergone some minor post-processing with Lightroom and the VSCO stable of presets, but mostly just to add a little pop and contrast. Much of the color rendition is fairly indicative of the sort of thing coming right out of the camera.
WHAT I LIKE
• Film emulation modes. I primarily shot with the camera set to "CC" color mode which stands for "classic chrome". I usually find color/picture modes on digital cameras to be a bit stupid and unnecessary, as someone who almost always does post-processing, but the modes available in the Fuji felt way more authentic, cool, and subtle than what is offered by other brands.
• Beautiful depth of field. Paired with good Fuji lenses, this camera will give you a hell of a beautiful image. People speak of "Fuji magic," and if I had to guess, it's the result of the sensor size, film emulation modes, good lenses, and I swear to god some kind of smoothing effect done to skin tones.
• Manual focus peaking. This is always nice to have on a digital camera!
• Quick menu. This made it super easy to look at all your settings and adjust accordingly.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE
• Wi-fi. This may be unfair, but compared to the Olympus, I found the wi-fi difficult to set up (and the trouble shooting guide online was no help) and the app was fine, but nothing to write home about.
• Autofocus. I found to be a little lacking, and lagging. Often the lens would hunt, which I sort of expect in a low-light situation, but was surprised at how it even felt slow in broad daylight.
• Manual aperture control. At first I found the physical dials to be clumsy and needless, but I sort of came around to using them, except for the aperture control ring on the lens. I was constantly grabbing it by accident when I'd go to zoom or manually focus, which was pretty annoying. I wish there was a way to lock it or just control it digitally so this wouldn't be a concern.
• Auto-ISO limits in RAW. If shooting in any mode but auto, there is an upper limit to the ISO that the camera will allow you to select, even though there are higher settings available. Stop trying to protect us from ourselves, Fuji!!
• Slow to capture and playback RAW. Josh noticed that the camera exhibited serious lag when shooting RAW in burst mode, and the camera would freeze/buffer after about 6 continuous shots. I noticed major lag when trying to playback, which was massively frustrating.
• Video. Didn't even bother with this, because I've been told it's so pointless.
MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAY
At first, I was really hating on the Fuji. It felt pretentious, and clumsy (maybe it's just me) and like shooting with it was a real gamble. But, the more I was able to play with it, the more I realized it does produce an exceptional image. And isn't that the whole point of a digital camera?
Well, yes. The image is wonderful, when you get it. The color rendition is beautiful, focus is sharp, and you can achieve unique "creamy bokeh" (a phrase my friend once used, which I found disgusting, but now I can't think of anything more apt.)
If you are a user of above average experience and patience, and your top priority is a fantastic picture, this may be your camera. The trade-off for me is that it doesn't have all the bells and whistles many other digital cameras are now providing, and that the auto-focus, upon first use, is finnicky. So, I think this camera perhaps has more of a learning curve than many other systems coming out today, and it's for a fairly targeted user: one who is a fan of analog systems, Fuji films and products, and wanting a specific look to your photos.
Would I buy it? If money was no object, I would absolutely add this camera to my collection, and bring it out when I knew I only planned on shooting stills. It almost feels like a novelty or hobby camera, but then again, I'm the sort of person who wants to be able to do a little bit of everything (including video). However, at roughly $800 for the body alone, and additional hundreds for Fuji lenses, that seems like a lot to spend for a camera that's serving a kind of singular purpose, but hey, that's just me.
Most reviews online for this camera are absolute Fuji boner-fests. People fucking love this goddamned camera. And, honestly, I came around on it too! I just think it's important to consider the user's needs and intentions, and when dropping this kind of cash on what is inevitably a system (lenses too!) making sure that it's going to meet your needs and last you a while.
Stay tuned for a video review where Josh and I ramble on and on about many of these same points!
For more detailed reviews and info, check out these links: