I did not like carrying my Canon Rebel when hiking, so I really wanted the Fuji X10 to prove a good addition to my backpack. A hike in Piatra Mare mountains with a group of friends proved a good occasion to see how the Fuji X 10 works with landscapes, scorching sun and an 8 hour hike.
The question is: can a digital camera like the Fuji X10 work from forest shade to open spaces close enough to a DSLR? While the low weight of a digital compact camera seems like a great thing, maybe the disadvantages when comparing with a DSLR are too much.
Fuji X10 things I liked on the trip
- low weight (350g)
- good dynamic range which managed to capture both deep forest shade and noon blue sky
when set in EXR DR400 mode, which offers 6MP with up to 3 more EV dynamic range
see an explanation of my preffered settings for Fuji X10
- good ISO performance for deep shade canyons
- small form factor
allowed me to have the Fuji X10 ready to shoot and not packed in my backpack
- great macro mode
though to get very close to a subject I have to set the lens in wide-angle mode
what I missed on my Fuji X10 compared to my Digital Rebel
- Fuji’s LCD in direct sunlight makes squinting a fact of life
- optical viewfinder
it helps when the LCD gets washed-out, but there is no focus confirmation
- small battery
I had a spare battery with me but for a longer or multi-day hike a this can be a problem. Fortunately spare batteries are pretty cheap (third-party batteries are around $10 and I had no problems with them)
- the Fuji X10 has less cropping possibilities
especially as I shoot a lot in 6MP DR400 mode (which offers the large dynamic range latitude)
As every camera is a set of compromises, I did not expect to find the Holy Grail of digital cameras with the Fuji X10. However, as I wrote in my Fuji X10 review, this little camera really has a lot of advantages. As a compact digital camera it cannot have the sheer potential of Canon DSLR RAW files but for a short mountain hike the Fuji X10 was more than enough. JPEG files that have good dynamic range, gorgeous Fuji colors and fast enough AF allowed me to have a very pleasant experience. Instead of carrying a bulky DSLR setup I could concentrate more on the fun in taking pictures.
I think the greatest challenge in landscape shooting, especially in midday sun, is the huge dynamic range. As I do not want to spend too much time creating HDR images – shooting bracketed exposures and combining them in Photoshop – the little Fuji X10 proved invaluable.
Was the Fuji X10 perfect? Obviously not – I am still struggling to find workarounds for focusing in direct sun. But it definitely replaced my DSLR in my backpack.
Fuji X10 in detail