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.
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.
1. 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor without optical low pass filters improves resolution to as much as a 4/3″ sensor.
Who’s 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Not so good for:
RRP: AU$749; US$599.95