I must confess that I'm on an endless quest - in search of a compact camera that has a few key requirements:
1. Portable. I want a zoom for unexpected situations, and it must fit in a pocket or purse when needed. I find cameras like the Canon S95 just a bit too small, without enough control or room to hold them. A Canon G12 is more my size...
2. Quality. I want it to have enough
quality. I understand that a small pocket camera will usually be inferior to a dSLR. Occasionally it will be the only camera I have so I want to have the possibility of taking a shot for stock sales when I'm traveling.
3. No choice. I don't really want an interchangeable system for my compact camera. As soon as you have lenses you start having to decide what to bring. I have system cameras already - no need for another set of similar lenses (i.e. not interested in the Pentax Q or Nikon 1).
So along comes the Fuji X10. It is a very nicely built camera, with a lot of manual dials and controls. Unusually for a camera in its class, it has a manual zoom with a literal twist - the zoom's first rotation turns on the camera. Unusual - but actually quite handy.
Now that I've had it a few weeks, and have a couple of shots from it accepted on DT I thought I'd evaluate it for stock. (I'm really enjoying it for personal use) Here are my thoughts:
1. Lens. The lens is really the best part of this camera. First, it is fast - f/2 to f/2.8 throughout the zoom range. Only a couple of competing cameras from Olympus and Panasonic can boast this speed, and neither add the manual zoom ring.
2. Image quality. It really does deliver some of the best images for a camera of its size. Due to the fast lens I find that when comparing even to micro four thirds cameras with kit lenses it gets similar depth of field and beats those cameras in marginal light due to being 2 stops fasts (i.e. ISO 400 versus 1600). This means I can keep shots at ISO 100 more often. That is a key feature for P&S camera use for stock, in my opinion. The 2/3" sensor should help versus other compacts, but it is still only marginally bigger than the more enthusiast P&S cameras.
3. Controls. The manual controls are very useful. Two dials allow both shutter and aperture, plus another for exposure compensation leave everything at hand without entering the menus. ISO is only found in the menus, but for stock us this is fine as I don't tend to move off the bottom.
Obviously i like using it, and find it fun to work with. But the real question is if it really is better than other compact cameras and recommended for stock. I think the short answer is no, unless you are like me and justifying it for other reasons. I say this because for the price you could basically get an entry level dSLR with zoom PLUS a 50mm prime if you don't get the absolute latest camera. The only reason to prefer using a camera like the Fuji X10 is because you just aren't going to bring a camera unless it is this size.
I don't think the images are startlingly better than other cameras - except in one important case. When the light is low enough that the lens gets you two stops more ISO then this camera can truly deliver better images at a 100% pixel level. I'd even put it up against micro four thirds cameras with kit lenses in that specific situation.
However - I find that for stock I tend not to be in that situation. Personally I am hitting that case with the kids indoors. For stock photos, I'm usually in bright light or using flash, and any compact at the same ISO will be very close to the quality of the X10. Larger sensor yes, but not leaps and bounds.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for truly compact you'll probably do better with cameras like the Canon S95/S100, Panasonic LX-5 or Olympus ZX-1. If you want to get a camera for doing stock I'd go with a small dSLR over this. But if, like me, you just want a fun camera that you get nice pictures with and enjoy using, this is a great option.
Happy shooting. Do you have a compact you love? I have a blog about high fidelity compacts if you are insterested in this topic, but with samples and images that go beyond Dreamstime approved photos: High Fidelity Compacts
. No ads - just for fun.