The Fujifilm XP10 is available in five fantastic colours, which make the camera immediately attractive. The rounded end does nothing to help you keep hold of the camera, but this is more than made up for by the rubber grips on the front. For a high-resistance model with a metal body casing, the XP10 has a bit of a plastic feel to it. The camera gets on fine in water and none of the shocks it was subject to in our test managed to cause any damage.
On the back, the various controls are protected by a single plastic shell. It's an interesting concept and it definitely makes the camera look reassuringly waterproof, even if the actual result is a little disappointing. The keys all kind of blend together, making it difficult to find the function you want (particularly the zoom) without looking at the camera. Another disappointment is that the four-way controller is too small to be used with the end of your finger and you'll have to use your nails to work the button and navigate through the menus.
The 2.7-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 230,000 dots and, to be honest, it's not the XP10's strong point. For starters, it tends to go black when you look at it from below. It's also covered by a very shiny protective top-screen which causes all kinds of problems in bright sunlight.
The XP10 has a limited selection of connections with one USB output. There's an A/V connection but no cable is supplied, and in spite of the 720p video mode there's no HDMI connection. One other thing I didn't like is that the battery compartment doesn't have one of those little plastic tabs to help you open it. It's a small point, but it's still annoying.
The XP10 doesn't do too bad in this field. Start-up takes 1.4 seconds and the autofocus is responsive in both wide-angle and telephoto modes. In low light the AF is naturally a little slower, but it's nothing major—to be honest, I was expecting worse, as the lens' low aperture in wide-angle mode (f/4) doesn't do it any favours. The good news is that in telephoto mode the lens aperture increases to f/4.8, which is really not bad at all. The burst mode maxes out at 3 frames in 2.25 seconds and the photo-to-photo turnaround time is 2.5 seconds.
The XP10's optical zoom doesn't offer a genuinely wide-angle view. In fact, unlike most competitors' models, you'll have to make do with a pretty tight 36-180 mm. The zoom makes things a little dull (f/4) in wide-angle mode which pushes the camera to increase sensitivity, especially underwater where there's not much light.
In wide-angle mode, lens distortion is marked and remains uncorrected. In telephoto mode, the picture is much more consistent. The lens isn't great, and typically, the edges of the photos are less well defined. The centre of the image is fine, but nothing more.
Although some Fujifilm cameras handle digital noise very well, there's certainly room for improvement in the XP10. The picture already looks a bit grainy at 100 ISO, and with the image displayed as a full-screen view smoothing is noticeable at 200 ISO. Granularity increases gradually with ISO sensitivity but colour noise isn't really a problem. Smoothing and granularity are prominent at 800 ISO and you'd be best off not going any higher than that.
The XP10 displays photos well but the colours are highly saturated, which, although in most cases looks pleasant, doesn't make for accurate colour reproduction. Purple fringes appear on contrasted areas but they're not unbearable. Finally, the optical zoom isn't stabilised and the XP10 suffers as a result.
Videos are recorded in 1280 x 720 pixels and are nothing to write home about. The optical zoom can be used while you film but it's noisy. Plus, as focusing is fixed, you can't follow a subject that's moving towards you. Picture quality is OK but nothing more.