FujiFilm FinePix X20 Full Review - Cameras For Photographers
Specifications 2:

Type:
compact

Weight (inc. Battery) [?]:
353g

Wide Angle [?]:
28mm

Max. Focal Length [?]:
112mm

Zoom Range [?]:
x4

Sensor Size:
1/1.5"

Low Light Support [?]:
well lit rooms

Image Stabilization [?]:
Optical

Raw Format Support [?]:
yes

Manual Exposure [?]:
yes

Video Resolution [?]:
1080p

Optical Zoom In Video [?]:
yes

Stereo Sound [?]:
stereo

Battery Life [?]:
270 shots

Flip Lcd [?]:
none

Touch Screen [?]:
none

Viewfinder [?]:
optical

Freeze / Water / Shock - Proof [?]:
no

Dimensions (w-h-d) [?]:
117 x 69.6 x 56.8 mm

Macro Distance [?]:
1 cm

Built-in Wireless [?]:
none

Built-in GPS [?]:
none

Direct Video Button [?]:
none

Panorama [?]:
sweep panorama

Rank: [?]
67.4

Initial Price:
$599 (change: $100, 17%)

Last Price Change:
$50 (11%) (Jul 17th)

Last Lowest Price:
$499





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FujiFilm FinePix X20 - Full Review

Last Lowest Price: $499
Retro is still the name of the game. And the new X20 plays that game well. But that's not all.
x20
  
FujiFilm FinePix X20 (photos: FujiFilm)
Important Note: the X20 was replaced by the FujiFilm FinePix X30 (compare ).

The X20's Price Watch:

Much has changed in the world of compact cameras since I reviewed the X20's predecessor - the X10. Does the X20, being quite similar to the X10, cut it in today's demanding market? Let's find out.

Strengths & Improvements


There's no doubt as to what style Fuji is aiming for. Retro is so strong with Fuji, it's almost as if they believe it gives their cameras super powers relying on ancient secrets.

Silver metal bodies, coarse black back and front, external buttons, you name it. Fuji's X series has it all.
To my taste, they're over doing it - making their cameras anything but discrete or unobtrusive - qualities desired by those who might buy and use it.


Canonet QL17 (1969) & Fuji FinePix X20 (2013)





But Retro is not only in looks - in some ways, the X20 hasn't caught up with current trends. For instance, when switching to video mode (no, there's no direct movie button) the camera says: "movie recording with sound". As if that's a new, thrilling feature, or as if there's actually an option to record movies without sound.

In terms of unobtrusiveness, the X20 shares Fuji's wonderful silent mode, which sets the camera in stealth mode, much like the helicopter in AirWolf. No sounds, no lights. It's easy to operate, long press on the 'disp' button, but there's actually no reason to turn it off, really.

Build Quality & Handling


Hold the X20 in your hands and you'd immediately see its striking resemblance to ancient rangefinders. But there's no film advancing lever and the back has a small tv screen on it.

Other than that, it's the same basic principals - put your eye to the viewfinder, turn the lens right and left to zoom in and out, choose your aperture, shutter speed and ISO and shoot away. That's what it's all about.

Style put aside, the X20 has a wonderfully sturdy metal body. Its grip is foolishly shallow, it could have been much larger without extending the camera's measurements, since the lens is protruding more than the grip could ever be.

The Q menu is better implemented than the one added to the RAW button of the x10. That one had a funny thing about it - although it was invoked by the RAW button, it had no option of switching to RAW mode. The X20 corrects this and RAW is easily accessible in the Q menu as well as most often used functions.

There are dedicated buttons for Drive, White Balance, Macro, Flash, AF point selection and Timer. Since there's no dedicated button for ISO selection - the Fn is best used set to that option - when pressed, it contains submenus for Auto ISO - including default ISO, Max ISO and Minimum shutter speed. Very convenient.

However, it should have been the other way around - direct access to ISO and the AF point selection as an option for the Fn button.

The x20 quietly hides an ace up its sleeve. It has manual focus peaking - which means high-contrast areas (in-focus) are over imposed in white. While white isn't the best choice for focus peaking, it is still a terrific feature for manual focus. LCD & Viewfinder: Screen reflections are surprisingly strong. In the sun, I often opted for the viewfinder in order to see the scene better. There is a 'sun mode' available, buried deep in the menus, that brightens up the screen, making it far more usable, but it's too cumbersome to turn on every time you need it and a waste of battery power to be left on.

The viewfinder is one of the major additions to the X20 over the X10 - this new one is active, overimposing shooting information in the frame, as opposed to the dumb, empty viewfinder of the X10.
It also colors the whole frame in victory green upon focus lock or in shameful red if it fails.

This welcome and anticipated change makes the viewfinder of the X20 a usable tool, allowing your eye to stay glued on, without having to break your shooting position, as long as you memorize all the buttons' locations.

The lens still appears in the viewfinder when at wide angle, this design flaw hasn't been fixed, and is an unfortunate characteristic of the viewfinder, giving it a cheap feel in spite of its digital innovations.

When zooming, the focal length is conveniently displayed on the LCD screen. I was disappointed to find that it isn't displayed in the viewfinder. Also, for a reason I can't imagine, the viewfinder doesn't function at all in macro mode.

Performance


Focus, Zoom & Speed: The manual zoom lens is terrific. Doubling as the on/off switch, I was able to turn it on and set it to the focal length I wanted in an instant. With other cameras I need to turn them on, then zoom in using their internal engines - that takes precious seconds until they're ready. Also, zooming during videos, while not as smooth as a power zoom, is totally silent.

The 28mm wide end of the lens is ok, but not as thrilling as the 24mm of some other cameras, like the LX7 or the S110. On top that, the 'intelligent digital zoom' isn't as smart as its name suggests - it doubles all focal lengths, instead of being progressive, applying no digital zoom at 28mm and building up to x2 as you zoom in - thus creating an effective x8 zoom. I can only hope Fuji enhances this feature in future cameras or firmware versions. Autofocus in most conditions and situations is very fast. Instantaneous almost. Even in low light, the X20 manages to lock focus better than I expected, even when taking into account that it's a high-end compact.

In macro mode, AF is generally too slow to catch an insect without effort. I had to make several attempts to shoot a bee or a spider up close.


Zoom Capabilities:


Images are shown from the shortest focal length (wide angle) to the longest (telephoto).
Digital Zoom is shown by 'x' factor:


Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Battery Life: Battery life is surprisingly better than advertised. I was able to take about 600 shots before having to charge the battery - that's more than twice the official number. It's probably related to the my shooting style during the review, taking many consequent shots in batches, but even so, the results are fairly impressive.

Image Stabilization: The X20 has fairly good image stabilization - I was able to get a pretty sharp shot after some attempts at 1/4th of a second at full zoom.


Image Stabilization Capabilities:


Here's an example of the same image taken with and without image stabilization:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Image Quality


Colors & Contrast: Colors produced by the X20 are so pleasing to the eye, it's hard to believe this is a compact camera. Images seem alive, rich with natural colors.

Compared with mirrorless cameras, some of which cost about the same, the X20's 2/3" sensor doesn't stand a chance against sensors 4 times larger, but as a compact camera - this is probably as good as it gets.

Shooting RAW enhances color accuracy options and exposure compensations capabilities. Fuji's RAW conversion software has never been friendly or intuitive to use, so bear that in mind.


Raw Format:


Here's an example of a RAW converted image VS. the X20's original JPG:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.


Dynamic Range: Fuji brags about its sensors dynamic range abilities. In real life, they do a good job, but not overwhelmingly so.

The dynamic range menu option (100%, 200% or 400%) adds some detail in the exposed areas of the image, whereas using the special SR+ mode adds some detail to the dark areas. See the examples below.


Dynamic Range Enhancement (in %):


See what effect different dynamic range settings have on the images:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




ISO Range: The X20 gives up a good fight against noise levels - up to ISO 400 looks perfectly fine, with negligible noise levels for most uses.

Noise at ISO 800 is clearly visible and detail level is down, but it's still very good, even when cropping or for printing. ISO 1600 is where things start to get ugly, colors are pale, noise is everywhere and detail level is good only in on-screen resolution.

ISO 3200 is full of color blotches and has a very poor level of detail. It's still usable for on-screen resolutions, and so is 6400, which is even worse. ISO 12800 could be considered either as no more than a joke, or perhaps as an emergency tool.


High ISO Performance:


See how the X20 performs in various ISO sensitivities:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




High ISO Performance - 100% crops:


Here are full size crops of the images above:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




White Balance: The auto white balance of the X20 is truly excellent - under fluorescent light it manages to produce real whites, creating well balanced images. In incandescent lighting it tends to render warm colors, but to a degree which is faithful to reality.

Manual white balance setting is very easy to set. Select it, aim at white object, click - and presto! You're ready to take shots that look like they were taken in daylight.

Depth of Field: In spite of the large f/2.0 maximum aperture at the short focal length of the lens, depth of field is still rather large. It is possible to blur the background a bit, and get some bokeh going on - but you need to get as close as you can to your object.


Depth of Field Performance:


See what Depth of Field the X20 is able to create:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.


Video Quality: First off, the X20 doesn't have a direct video button, so shooting video requires dialing to the relevant mode. Fortunately, it is possible to shoot stills during video using the OK button on the camera's back.

Its quality is impressive - with clean, vibrant colors at full HD resolution. Zooming noises are a non-issue since the mechanism is manual. The down side is that it isn't as smooth as a motorized zoom.

Autofocus during video is ok, nothing more - it locks without much hesitation, but is sometimes takes a couple of seconds to do so.

In spite of its serious photographer inclination, I was surprised that the X20's video has no manual settings. The most you can do to control the video exposure is exposure compensation. Other than that all you can do is set the film simulation and the white balance.


Optical Zoom During Video:






Advanced Features


Sweep Panorama: Unlike other implementation of sweep panoramas Fuji makes you set its direction and angle before you start shooting, instead of identifying your sweep direction and stopping when you stop moving or when you let go of the shutter button. So selecting 180 degrees forces you sweep across 180 degrees of the scene.

Like in all panoramas, it's best to sweep with the camera on its side for more usable proportions, unless you actually like your panoramas long and thin. The results of the X20 are excellent - mostly seamless, overcoming some exposure differences as well.


Sample Panorama:





Continuous Mode: I was initially stunned to learn that the X20 has such a fast continuous mode. With 12 fps (or 6, or 3), there's little action you can miss, I thought, but then I realized that it doesn't include continuous autofocus.

For a camera that takes pride in its high speed hybrid autofocus and its double processing speed, this is quite disappointing.


Continuous Mode:


Here's an example of the X20's continuous mode:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Macro: Macro is high on many people's list of important features a compact cameras should have, and I'm no different. The X20's macro mode is very good, but it doesn't get breath-takingly close.

In terms of detail, zooming into a macro image shows extremely minute elements like cloth threads, pollens, finger prints, etc. There are better cameras in this regard, no doubt about that, but the X20 holds its own.


Macro Capabilities:


Here are examples of the X20's macro mode:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




See an example of a Macro Video:






Artistic Filters: The image effects included are nothing less than obsolete. Yes, there is the miniature effect and the toy camera effect, the low key and the high key, but they are all boring. The X20 is a photographer's camera. For filters like these, use instagram.


In-Camera Effects:


The X20 offers these creative effects, see what they look like:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




The Competition


The X20 faces competition from many directions - first and foremost is Fuji's own XF1 (compare ), which was introduced as a compact alternative to the X10 and shares its sensor. It's maximum apertures are nothing like those of the X20, especially at the longer end of the lens.

Another close rival is the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 (compare ), which offers a wider lens and max apertures larger by around full stop throughout the zoom range, but with a shorter zoom and a viewfinder as a pricey additional option.

Two more adversaries are the Canon PowerShot G15 (compare ) and the Nikon Coolpix P7700 (compare ), both with larger zoom ranges and quite similar apertures. The difference is in the style of the cameras - these other two are high-end compact cameras. The X20, with its protruding lens and manual zoom ring, is more of a mini DLSR.

Score:


Image Quality: 9.5
Performance: 9
Build & Handling: 9.5
Advanced Features: 8
EyalG's Total: 9

Last Lowest Price: $499




Rank:

Automatically compared to similar cameras, based on specifications:

Low Light:
 

Wide Angle:
 

Zoom Range:
 

Weight:
 

Other Features:
 

Price:
 

Total Rank:
67.4


 

Lineage:

FujiFilm FinePix X20 Eyal Gurevitch July 31, 2013 $499 67.4 100

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