Review: Fujifilm XP10 rugged digital camera

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Short version: The price is right, and it is rugged, but form factor problems may sink this camera’s chances.

Features:

  • 12 megapixels, 720p video
  • 5x optical zoom
  • Waterproof (3m/10ft), shockproof (1m/3.3ft), freezeproof (-10C/14F), dustproof
  • MSRP: $199

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Seems to actually be rugged
  • Nice long zoom

Cons:

  • Despite ruggedness, feels cheap
  • Buttons are difficult to press

Full review:

The most inexpensive camera in this week’s roundup, the XP10 is no slouch when it comes to specs. In fact, it beats the Casio in terms of video, and is freeze-proof to boot (if you care about that). Its price shows in its build, however; it isn’t slim and sexy like the Casio or bulky and reassuring like the Olympus.

My little field tests showed that at the very least, it can handle being thrown over your shoulder a couple times, and it had no problem at all underwater. Here’s the video:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10544706&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=ff9933&fullscreen=1

I’ve also put it in the freezer while I’m writing this, so we’ll see how it likes that. [30 minutes later] Yeah, it turns on all right, and apart from a very foggy lens and LCD screen it seems to function fine. There is a very alarming clicking noise going on inside, though. We’ll see if that fades.

So its ruggedness has been established; what of the camera? Well, I went ahead and took sample shots for all three cameras at the same time. They’re here in this Flickr set — feel free to poke around. Here’s the drift, though: the Fuji performs at or about the quality of the Olympus, and not quite as well as the Casio. Its underwater shots were perfectly clear, though, perhaps even the clearest.

The $200 price point seems to show in the quality of the lens; it’s not bad, but when you get in close you can see that a lot of fine detail is lost compared with the Casio shots. It has a reasonably close focus, though I wouldn’t call it macro. Its lens was nice and wide and the zoom is quick and focused fine at 5x. Color seemed accurate, though none of these cameras excelled particularly in that area. Overall, I don’t take issue with the image quality.

Video was similarly acceptable, if only in comparison to other cameras of its class. 720p is smeary and slightly choppy, as any “HD” camera under $300-400 will be. Chroma noise is apparent in greys and exposure is rather slow to adjust, but not terribly so. Edges are completely lost to compression, as Here’s a still:

To be honest, it’s a $200 camera and you can’t expect amazing image quality. It shoots just fine.

My issue with the camera was the design, though. I think it’s a bit ugly to begin with, but that’s a matter of taste. There are a number of problems with the functional design, though:

  • Rear buttons are difficult to press
  • D-pad is difficult to use without resorting to fingernail
  • Feet on bottom of camera and asymmetrical shape make it unstable
  • Tripod mount is all the way on one corner of the camera, making tripod unstable

As you can see, I didn’t exactly find it a joy to use. Personally, I would consider these problems are a deal-breaker. I have to compliment Fujifilm on the unlocking mechanism, however. It took me a second to figure out, but it really does prevent any accidental opening of the SD card/battery compartment.

Conclusion:

For $200, it’s actually a bargain to get a 5x zoom, decent image quality, and rugged/underwater capability. I’d recommend it to people who don’t want to invest much or who have a good camera already for serious shooting. But if this is to be your main camera, save yourself some trouble and upgrade.

Product page: Fujifilm XP10

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