We've moved from pixels to sensor size, which is probably a more reasonable measurement. However not all sensors are equal - there are different designs. For example, Sony is using Exmor-R back-illuminated CMOS, while Fuji is using front-side-illuminated EXR-CMOS.
Here are a few cameras I have, from smallest sensor to largest (sensor size measurement is a bit weird, so just look at the fraction, don't take it as an indication of the actual size)
|camera||sensor size||megapixels||GPS?||viewfinder (OVF)?||zoom||compact?|
|Sony HX5V||1/2.4"||10 MP||yes||no||10x optical||yes|
|Canon S95||1/1.7"||10 MP||no||no||3.8x optical||yes|
|Nikon P6000||1/1.7"||13.5 MP||yes||yes||4x optical||no|
|Fuji X10||2/3"||12 MP||no||yes||4x optical||no (protruding lens)|
The next step up from 2/3 is the Four Thirds System, then APS-C, then "full frame" sensors. Wikipedia's Image sensor format article gives a good overview. You can also get a visual idea of the sizes from this SensorSizes image.
Despite the smaller sensor, I like the features of the HX5V including high zoom and GPS, so it's my main compact camera.
The current (as of November 2011) versions of the cameras above are the Sony HX9V, the Canon S100, and the Nikon P7100 (all with different specs than the models listed above). The Fuji X10 was just released.
I got the X10 for its quick start up time and very high shooting rates (up to 10fps still photo, up to 200fps video). I also wanted to have a viewfinder camera as sometimes staring at the LCD to compose a shot is awkward.
Here are some quick impressions:
The first thing I noticed right away is that the lens cap--which is about 1cm deep--has no loop for a strap. As the camera turns on by turning the lens (there is no other way to turn it on), this leads to a very awkward dance as you take off the cap and then try to hold the cap while turning the lens. Since the cap is deep, it doesn't quickly slip into a pants pocket or a tight shoulder bag pocket. This multi-second dance impedes the theoretical 0.8s startup time for the camera in quick-start mode.
The second is that the auto mode seems quite poor. Instead on the X10 your default auto-shooting mode should be the EXR mode, which is much more intelligent.
Sweep panoramas are under the Advanced mode, unlike the HX5V where it is a top-level dial option.
There are in fact a proliferation of modes, respectively under
EXR - EXR Auto (it will auto choose between many different options), EXR Priority (choose one of: resolution, high ISO with low noise, dynamic range)
Adv - 360 Panorama, Pro Focus (softens the background in portrait shots for pseudo DSLR effect), Pro Low Light
Scene Position (SP) - Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Party, Flower, Text, Natural (2 shots, one with flash, one without), Natural Light
Movie - 1920 (30fps), 1280 (30fps), 640 (30fps), 640x480 (70fps), 320x240 (120fps), 320x112 (200fps)
In general for selection modes you turn the dial, then press menu, then select the sub-mode. This is quite a few steps to go through.
Those are just the modes on the main selector dial on the top.
There is a menu button + up/down/left/right buttons + "sub-command" wheel on the back face of the camera that has two other key modes:
Macro (left) - choose between regular macro and super macro (as close as 1cm) - works in Auto but not in EXR
Drive (up) - high speed still shots - also has various modes but the main ones are related to speed - L (3fps), M (5fps), H (7fps), SH (10fps with image size reduced)
I do like the flash design, in which you have to manually pop up the flash for it to be active (particularly since I see so many people with cameras firing off flash all the time, where it's not needed because of lighting or where it's prohibited e.g. in art galleries).
The optical viewfinder has 85% coverage, and it does zoom along with the zoom you set manually. I like the manual zoom as drive-controlled zoom (e.g. as in the HX5V) is very hard to control precisely.
On the software front, the camera comes with FinePix Viewer, but it is not supported under Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (and will never be). It works fine with Aperture.
UPDATE 2011-11-08: There have been a number of questions online about RAW support. Currently there is limited support on the Mac for the RAF RAW file format, however Fuji does provide a converter on the supplied software CD. Look for the rather obscurely-named "SILKYRFCEXInstaller.pkg" - it will install RAW FILE CONVERTER EX (mine is version 184.108.40.206). It installs fine in Mac OS 10.7 Lion. The underlying engine is from SILKYPIX, which sells a more full-featured software package online. ENDUPDATE
I asked the @fujiguys two three questions on Twitter, here are their responses:
about lens cap strap
"Tried at the last meeting in Tokyo, but apparently lost that battle."
about FinePix Viewer under 10.7 Lion
"Unfortunately, FinePix Viewer will not be supported under Lion. Personally, iPhoto is much better anyways."
is the 12MP EXR-CMOS sensor in the X10 back-illuminated?
"the 12MP EXR-CMOS in the #Fujifilm X10 is a FSI and not a BSI. This allows for Base 100 ISO."
I am still learning the many, many modes on the camera. Here is a cropped picture taken in EXR Auto.
The X10 is available for order from Amazon.com but not yet from Amazon.ca - in Canada I got mine from Henry's. The manual recommends Class 4 or better memory card for video; I'm using a SanDisk Class 10 | UHS-I | 30MB/s card. I found the battery life is not great (the in-device processing uses a lot of power I think), so I got a second battery. Another useful accessory is the lens hood, Fuji model LH-X10 (I plan to order one).