An update to the X10 featuring a new 12-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor with built-in phase detection pixels, hybrid autofocusing and 1080p movie recording.

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Featuring the same ‘retro’ styling as its predecessor, the Fujifilm X20 appears superficially identical to the X10. But inside there have been plenty of changes to bring this advanced digicam up-to-date. As with the  X100S we reviewed recently, Fujifilm UK has listed 68 improvements the X20 has over the original X10. We’ve re-published them in a special section of this review, below.  

Available with a totally black body or in silver and black, the X20   has the same rangefinder styling as most of its competitors. And there are now more of them, including the Canon PowerShot G15, Nikon Coolpix P7700, Olympus XZ-10, Panasonic Lumix LX7, Pentax MX-1 and Sony Cyber-shot RX100. (You can find reviews of most of these cameras in the  Advanced Compact – Fixed Lens section of our review pages.)

With its metal body and smart leatherette finish, the X20   is one of the classier looking cameras. It also feels nice to hold and operate. We’ve covered the physical features of the camera in detail in our  review of the X10  so in this review we will focus on the improvements made in the new model.

Improvements
The following list of improvements introduced with the X20 has been produced by Fujifilm UK.

1. 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor without optical low pass filters improves resolution to as much as a 4/3″ sensor.
 2. S/N ratio improved to level similar to Full frame sensors.
 3. Phase detection AF allows for AF speeds as low as 0.04secs (compared to X10 0.16secs).
 4. 1080p HD video @ 60fps (X10 1080p HD video @ 30fps).
 5. Phase detection Autofocus also works during movie recording.
 6. Face detection works during movie recording.
 7. In movie recording, moirø© and false colour are minimised (as in still image shooting).
 8. Start up time of 0.9secs (1.5secs previously).
 9. 12fps continuous shooting at max resolution (compared to 7fps previously).
 10. 0.5secs shooting interval (1.1secs previously).
 11. Stores 14-bit RAW files.
 12. EXR Processor II allows for “Lens Modulation Optimiser” to overcome the limits of optics (diffraction or peripheral aberration).
 13. EXR Processor II allows for great Noise Reduction at high-ISO.
 14. Advanced Optical Viewfinder allows for the following information to be displayed as an overlay on the optical viewfinder:  Focus indicator, Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed + Aperture Value, ISO Setting + Shooting Mode, Flash/Self Timer icons, Focus Area, Parallax Caution, AF Error, Blur Caution.
 15. Eye sensor to change between LCD/OVF automatically.
 16. Two new Film Simulation modes – Pro Neg. Std and Pro Neg. Hi.
 17. X20 has ‘F-simulation bracketing’ function, one shot can produce 3 different Film simulation images which can be pre-set.
 18. ‘Advanced filter’ mode has installed as standard.
 19. ‘Multiplex Exposure’ function. View first shot on LCD then frame second shot over the top.
 20. Q-Button (Quick) for instant access to shooting menus as standard.
 21. Multi-Tab menu system for easy navigation.
 22. ‘Focus Peak Highlight’ function for checking the plane of focus while focusing manually.
 23. Available in solid black or black and silver.
 24. X20 Logo engraved on front.
 25. Strap attachment rings are coated with a stainless-steel layer.
 26. Lens barrel shielded to protect from dust.
 27. You can now directly attach a protector filter to the lens.
 28. Supports external microphone.
 29. Changed the layout of buttons.
 30. Improved using the wide aperture in MF shooting.
 31. WB shift available in any mode.
 32. Able to reset the Custom settings and Camera settings separately.
 33. All camera settings now retained when firmware is updated.
 34. Add ‘MARK FOR UPLOAD TO’ MyFinePix.com.
 35. Support for Eye-Fi cards.
 36. In low light scene, LCD display is sharp and clear.
 37. When holding shutter button, LCD doesn’t freeze.
 38. After release the shutter button you can now immediately use some keys.
 39. In Manual Exposure, the histogram updates faster.
 40. In Post-viewing, eye sensor function can work.
 41. Able to set ISO-AUTO in ISO-TAB.
 42. Changed the location of ‘AF area select button’.
 43. Add the function ‘ADVANCED SR AUTO’.
 44. In movie shooting, Scene recognition function can work.
 45. In movie shooting, D-range expansion function can work.
 46. While movie shooting, you are now able to also capture still photos.
 47. Intelligent anti-blur function has been improved.
 48. High-resolution zoom processing is faster.
 49. High-resolution zoom range has been extended.  
 50. Easy to select the setting of continuous shooting.
 51. Removed dedicated “RAW” button (but can still be set to the Fn button)

Who’s It For?
Like its predecessor, the X20 has been designed as a ‘prestige’ compact camera. So it supports ‘serious’ functions such as P, A, S and M shooting modes and raw file capture. So, let’s look at how well it’s suited to specific tasks serious photographers might use it for.

1. Landscape photography: The 28mm angle of view  at the wide end of the zoom range will be useful, although it may not be wide enough to provide the dramatic coverage some landscape photographers desire. The panorama mode might be handy but it’s JPEG only and has other limitations (full auto shooting and a restricted frame height   of 1080 pixels in horizontal mode).

2. Portraits: Full optical zoom provides a focal length equivalent to 112mm, which is ideal for head-and-shoulders shots. The other focal lengths are wide enough for environmental portraits and some will be handy for candids.

3. Sports and Action: The longest focal length setting won’t magnify enough to allow close-ups of individuals, and the digital zoom may not provide sufficient extension. But the camera could permit some useful group shots.

4. Close-ups and Macro: The close focusing limit of 1 cm in the super-macro mode will allow some dramatic close-ups to be taken. But you must use the monitor screen to frame and focus shots in order to avoid parallax error.

5. Candids and Street Photography: The camera is small enough to be inconspicuous and the manual controls are easy to adjust on-the-fly, although you have to dive into the menu to change ISO settings. The threaded shutter release allows use of a cable to trigger the camera’s shutter inconspicuously. Good low light performance allows ISO settings of 400 and 800 to be used in poorly-lit situations.

6. Indoor Photography: The zoom lens may not be wide enough for cramped situations but the camera’s low-light capabilities are a plus. Manual white balance measurement is necessary when shooting in artificial lighting.

7. Wildlife: Although the zoom range will be good for shooting groups of animals in the medium distance, it can’t get close enough for individual portrait or action shots.

Handling Improvements
The X20’s mode dial carries 11 settings, like the X10. They include two custom memories, a SP (Scene Position) setting with 14 pre-sets and the Advanced (Adv.)  mode. A new SR+ (Advanced SR Auto) mode replaces the EXR mode. It’s JPEG-only and uses scene recognition to set shooting parameters. According to Fujifilm, 64 shooting patterns have been loaded into the processor memory for comparing scenes.

The lens is the same as the X10’s and has the same push-on cover. We noticed an improvement in the functionality of the focusing ring, which is now more sensitive and allows you to adjust the speed at which focus is changed. Turn it quickly to re-focus rapidly, or slowly for greater precision.

Manual focusing is also easier to access, thanks to a dial on the front panel with positions for AF-S, AF-C and Manual clearly marked. Focus peaking, similar to the system provided in Sony cameras, displays a white line around areas of the subject that are in focus, making manual focusing even easier.

The viewfinder has also been improved with a new ‘Digital Trans Panel’. This is a very thin LCD overlay that maintains the brightness of the optical viewfinder, but allows information to be superimposed. It shows details of the focus area, shutter speed and other shooting information, using green LEDs that contrast with the rest of the frame. The focus point is also displayed and the displayed information changes to red when an error is encountered.
 
Display overlays provided by the ‘Digital Trans Panel’ in the new X20 viewfinder. (Source: Fujifilm.)

An eye sensor provides quick switching between the LCD and viewfinder when the camera is raised to the eye. Unfortunately, despite the parallax caution display, it’s much too easy to crop the tops off subjects when shooting close-ups with the viewfinder so it’s best to use the monitor in the macro modes.

The viewfinder is also set up for shooting with the 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes composing shots for the 3:2 or 16:9 aspects difficult when shooting stills. Fortunately the top and bottom of the frame blacks out in movie mode with the HD settings.

A new Q button has been added to the rear panel. Pressing it calls up a Quick View menu for accessing functions like the dynamic range, ISO, white balance, noise reduction, image size, aspect ratio and quality, Film Simulation mode and adjustments to image tone, sharpness and colour. You can also adjust the self-timer settings, AF and stabiliser modes and monitor brightness settings via this button.

A multi-tab menu system makes it easier to locate camera settings that aren’t supported with direct controls. Two new Film Simulation modes have been added. Pro Neg. Std is designed for portraiture and provides ‘soft and smooth skin tonality’, while Pro Neg. Hi preserves ‘natural soft skin tones’ while reproducing ‘harder gradations in the background’.  

A new film simulation bracketing function enables users to produce three different film simulation images with a single press of the shutter button. Other bracketing options are available for exposure, dynamic range and ISO sensitivity.
 The X20 also offers eight Advanced filter modes:  High Key, Low Key, Soft Focus, Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Colour, Dynamic Tone and Partial Colour, the latter with a choice of red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple. The Multiple Exposure mode lets you superimpose a second exposure on an image displayed on LCD monitor. This lets you  position and focus the second shot accurately and see how the end result will look before pressing the shutter button.

The monitor is the same as the X10’s, which is a pity as it’s smaller than average and its resolution is low for a modern LCD panel. For details of other aspects of   the camera’s body design and controls, check out our  review of the FinePix X10.

What’s Missing?
Although Fujifilm has addressed most of the issues reviewers identified with the X10, a few things have still been omitted. For instance, there’s no shutter lock that prevents the camera from taking a picture if the image isn’t focused.

We can’t understand why the maximum shutter speed in the aperture and shutter priority modes is 1/1000 second, while it is extended to 1/4000 second in manual mode. This seems counter-intuitive.

There’s no neutral density filter and in bright conditions with f/2 this often isn’t fast enough so you’re forced to stop down. This limits your ability to shoot with a shallow depth of focus, one of the more attractive features of the fast lens.

The tripod mount is off-centre and, while this has the advantage of enabling you to access the battery/card compartment when using a tripod, it puts the camera’s optical axis off-centre and can cause setting-up issues   for close-up shots. There’s still   no way to tether the cap to either the camera or the neck strap.

You can only fit filters if you buy the optional LH-X20 Lens Hood and Adapter Ring set. No HDMI   cable is supplied, even though the camera has an HDMI port.

 

In summary

Good for:
 – Travel photography.
 – Photographers who prefer manual controls and a viewfinder.
 – Shooting close-ups – provided the monitor is used for shot composition.
 – Candid and street photography.

Not so good for:
 – Sports and wildlife photography.
 – Recording movies.

Rating  

Build

8.8

Ease of use

8.5

Autofocusing

8.5

Image quality JPEG

9.0

Image quality RAW

9.0

Video quality

8.5

OVERALL

8.8

RRP: AU$749; US$599.95

SPECS

  • Image sensor: 8.8 x 6.6 mm X-Trans CMOS II sensor with 12 megapixels effective  
  •  Image processor: EXR
  •  A/D processing: 14-bit
  •  Lens:   Fujinon 7.1-28.4mm f/2-2.8 lens (28-112mm in 35mm format)
  •  Zoom ratio: 4x optical, approx. 2x digital
  •  Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3), RAF.RAW (14-bit), RAW + JPEG; Movies – MOV (  H.264)  with Stereo sound  
  •  Image Sizes: Stills – [4:3] 4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 2048 x 1536; [3:2] 4000 x 2664, 2816 x 1864, 2048 x 1360; [16:9]   4000 x 2248,  2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080; [1:1] 2992 x 2992, 2112 x 2112, 1536 x 1536; Motion panorama horizontal – 11520 x 1080, 5760 x 1080, 3840 x 1080; vertical – 11520 x 1624, 5760 x 1624, 3840 x 1624; Movies – 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720 at 60 fps, 640 x 480 pixels (30 fps & 80 fps), 320 x 240 at 150 fps, 320 x 112 at 250 fps
  •  Shutter speed range: 30 sec. to 1/4000 sec. (min. 1/4 sec. in Auto mode)
  •  Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
  •  Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift optical
  •  Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps  
  •  Bracketing: AE and ISO Bracketing: +/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1EV; Film Simulation Bracketing: Any 3 types selectable; Dynamic Range Bracketing: 100% / 200% / 400%
  •  Focus system/range: Intelligent Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF) with single/continuous modes plus manual focus; multi, area and tracking frame selection and face detection; range 50 cm to infinity; macro 10-300 cm; super macro to 1 cm; AF assist illuminator available
  •  Exposure metering/control: TTL 256-zones metering with Multi-pattern, Spot and Average modes
  •  Shooting modes: AUTO, Advanced SR Auto, P, S, A, M, C1, C2, Movie, SP (Natural Light, Natural Light & Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Underwater), Adv (filter effects, panorama, multiple exposure, Pro Focus and Pro Low Light settings)
  •  ISO range: Auto: ISO 100-800; Manual: ISO 100-ISO 12800 in 1/3EV steps
  •  White balance: Auto,  Fine, Shade, Fluorescent  (x3),  Incandescent, Underwater, Custom, Colour temperature selection  
  •  Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro; red-eye removal available; range 30 cm to 7.0 m   with ISO Auto  
  •  Sequence shooting:   Max. 12 fps for 11 JPEG frames; max. 9 fps for 8 raw files  
  •  Storage Media: 24MB internal memory plus SD, SDHC and SDXC (UHS-I) expansion slot
  •  Viewfinder: Optical zoom viewfinder with Digital Trans Panel; approx. 85% coverage; built-in eye sensor, Dioptre adjustment : -3.5 – +1.5   dpt  
  •  LCD monitor: 2.8-inch TFT colour LCD monitor with approx. 460,000 dots, approx. 100% coverage
  •  Power supply: NP-50 Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 270 frames/charge
  •  Dimensions (wxhxd): 117.0 x  69.6 x 56.8 mm
  • Weight: Approx. 333 grams (without battery and card)

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