Fujifilm has been indulging a recent obsession with retro-ism. First there was the sublime Fujifilm X100 with its fixed 35mm-equivalent lens, and now we have this less niche but no less lovely X10.
Like its more serious X100 stablemate, the X10 is aesthetically stuck in the past. While the X100 is undeniably '50s, looking like a Leica M3 that's been assimilated by the Borg, the black paintwork on the Fujifilm X10 evokes later rangefinder cameras.
The faux-Vulcanite covering and engraved top plate are visual and tactile treats, but the retro-icity extends beyond merely the aesthetic.
The first surprise comes from the manual zoom ring. Not just that it feels gleefully old school twisting the lens to zoom on a compact camera, but that it doubles as the on-off switch. As you twist, you get a satisfying click to announce that X10's powering up, then continuing to turn the ring makes the lens extend.
The only drawback to this is that there's rather a large portion of lens protruding from the body at all times, but the slimness of the rest of the design means it all still feels more compact than the Canon G12 and Nikon P7100.
Other old-school touches include a push-on lens cap – sadly it'll probably go walkies one day - and a threaded cable-release socket on the shutter button.
A clearer vision
There's also an optical viewfinder, and it's easily the best in class – a light-gathering joy to peer through, making the teensy windows on the Canon G12 and Nikon P7100 seem unusable.
The controls are well thought out and it all feels nicely balanced. The EV dial is positioned on the back right corner of the top plate, where it could be easily knocked – a problem we also found with the Nikon P7000 and P7100 - but it's thankfully quite stiff to move.
Shooting down its rivals
The X10's larger-than-average (2/3-inch) EXR CMOS sensor is mightily impressive, pumping out glorious images at almost every ISO setting. The autofocus is pretty quick, and holding your zooming hand on the pin-sharp Fujinon lens helps keep shots reassuringly steady.
The sole disappointment is that video footage could be smoother - but surely you're waiting for a video camera retro-styled like a Bolex to capture any future YouTube moments, no? So are we.
The Fujifilm X10 not only delivers better image quality than its rivals; it makes photography as fun as it should be, so you'll just want to keep shooting.
Fujifilm FinePix X10 review
The best advanced compact around, and a retro-tastic joy to use