Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

       Fujifilm’s latest ultra-zoom digicam offers higher resolution, an improved monitor, raw file support and a wide range of video recording settings.Fujifilm’s FinePix HS20 EXR replaces the 10-megapixel HS10 EXR at the top of the company’s ultra-zoom line-up. It has the same 30x optical zoom lens, 3-inch adjustable monitor, manual controls, RAW support and Full HD video support as the earlier model but sports the same 16-megapixel sensor and EXR processing technology as the FinePix F550 EXR (which we reviewed recently) plus a few stylistic modifications. . . [more]

      Full review



      Fujifilm’s FinePix HS20 EXR replaces the 10-megapixel HS10 EXR at the top of the company’s ultra-zoom line-up. It has the same 30x optical zoom lens, 3-inch adjustable monitor, manual controls, RAW support and Full HD video support as the earlier model but sports the same 16-megapixel sensor and EXR processing technology as the FinePix F550 EXR (which we reviewed recently) plus a few stylistic modifications.

      Roughly the size of a typical DSLR, the HS20 EXR could be dubbed a ‘bridge camera’ because while it resembles an interchangeable-lens camera, it falls short of the capabilities of even an entry-level mirrorless model. However, it does offer many SLR-like handling characteristics plus critical functions like PASM shooting modes and support for raw file capture. In these respects, it greatly exceeds the capabilities of a typical point-and-shoot digicam.

      Build and Ergonomics
      The new model is solidly built and weighs a hefty 735 grams with four AA batteries and a memory card installed. Constructed from black plastic, it feels a little more solid than its predecessor and Fujifilm has refined its grip and added a rubber thumb rest to the rear panel and a red ring around the lens for a touch of class.

      Otherwise little has changed in the design since we reviewed the HS10 in April, 2010. The rotating zoom control is retained, giving the HS20 EXR a significant advantage over cameras with lever adjustments, which are usually much less precise.


      Front view of the Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR with the lens in the wide position. (Source: Fujifilm.)
      One of the main improvements has been to the monitor, which has the same tilting range as the HS10’s but offers twice the resolution. It’s a much better platform for reviewing shots. Unfortunately, the EVF remains small and cramped and its resolution and colour accuracy are pretty average.


      The rear panel on the HS20 EXR showing the double-hinged monitor. (Source: Fujifilm.)


      The rear panel showing the control layout. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The control layout is unchanged from the HS10 but a rubber thumb rest has been added just above the arrow pad. The top panel control layout is also unchanged.


      The top panel of the HS20 EXR with the lens zoomed out to the tele position. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      No changes have been made to the built-in flash, which is popped up manually with a button on the side of the housing and lowered by pressing is gently back into place. A hot shoe is provided for external flash units.

      The only change to the mode dial is the replacement of the SR (Scene Recognition Auto) mode with the EXR mode. We’ve covered the settings provided in this mode in our review of the FinePix F550 EXR.

      A dedicated slot for memory cards (SD, SDHC or SDXC) is located on the right hand side of the camera body. Batteries (four AA cells) are inserted in a compartment in the base of the camera that covers slightly more than the grip area.

      Beside it lies the tripod socket, which plastic lined and is about 30 mm offset from the lens axis. You can’t change batteries when the camera is tripod-mounted, although the separate card slot allows you to swap memory cards any time you wish.

      Despite looking like a DSLR and offering most of the same shooting modes as an entry-level model, like the FinePix F550 EXR, the HS20 EXR has some serious limitations in the controls users can access. Although program shift is available in the P mode (with a few restrictions), unlike DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, you can only access the full range of aperture and shutter speed settings in the Manual mode.

      The slowest shutter speed available in the S (shutter-priority AE) mode is fixed at four seconds, whereas the Manual mode lets you extend exposures to 15 seconds and provides a Bulb mode as well (although without a socket for a remote trigger, it’s tricky to use). In the A (aperture-priority AE) mode, the minimum aperture offered is f/8, whereas in Manual mode you can go down to f/11.

      A Custom mode is provided so users can store the current camera and menu settings for quick recall whenever the C mode is selected. Among the functions that can be stored are: image or movie resolution and quality, ISO, dynamic range, film simulation, white balance shift, colour (including white balance), tone, sharpness, noise reduction, face detection, face recognition, movie AF mode, movie mode, Electronic Level, AE bracketing steps, flash, external flash, AF illuminator and raw file shooting.

      The EXR mode contains four settings: Auto, Resolution Priority, High ISO & Low Noise and D-Range Priority. In the Auto mode, the camera automatically selects the scene mode and adjusts the image size to suit detected conditions. The maximum size available is M (equivalent to eight megapixels).

      Eight megapixels is also the upper limit for the High ISO & Low Noise and D-Range Priority modes and the D-Range Priority setting switches ISO selection to auto. Choosing the Resolution Priority setting allows you to shoot at 16 megapixels and provides access to manual ISO selection.

      The Advanced mode lets users choose between Pro Focus and Pro Low Light settings (neither of which supports a ‘professional range of camera adjustments). Both have an upper resolution limit of eight megapixels and neither permits ISO selection. You can opt to save unprocessed versions of shots in either mode but image resolution doesn’t default to 16 megapixels.

      Like the HS10, the HS20 EXR provides two banks of Scene Position settings, each with the same 17 settings: Natural light & flash, Natural light, Portrait, Portrait enhancer, Dog, Cat, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower and Text. Dog and Cat are new additions that provide face recognition for each animal. The Auto Release setting in the self-timer sets the shutter to trigger when the selected pet type is detected.

      The Motion Panorama mode is the same as in the FinePix F550 EXR and provides the same three angles of coverage: 120, 180 and 360 degrees. You can choose between vertical and horizontal panning and sweep the camera up or down or right to left or vice-versa. The shutter button must remain pressed throughout the sweep and no image will be recorded if the sweep covers less than 120 degrees.

      One worthwhile feature lacking in the F550 EXR is the HS20 EXR’s one-touch raw file button, which is located on the arrow pad. Pressing it toggles the camera between JPEG and RAW+JPEG modes. (Unfortunately, a RAW+JPEG pair takes roughly eight seconds to process and the camera is locked during this time, preventing you from taking another shot.)

      A database in the HS20 EXR enables users to store face recognition data plus personal details (name, relationship and birth date) of portrait subjects and assign priorities to the for Intelligent Face Detection. Up to eight entries can be recorded at a time and the database is editable. It can also be used to display subject’s names and details during playback.
      Bracketing options are the same as in the FinePix F550 EXR. The Zoom Bracketing option on the HS10 has been dropped and replaced by Film Simulation and Dynamic Range bracketing modes. Continuous shooting setting are also similar to the F550 EXR.

      The number of frames that can be recorded in a burst varies with the RAW setting in the menu. Up to six frames/burst is possible with the RAW and RAW+JPEG settings for the Top n and Best Frame Capture modes, with up to 32 frames for the former and 16 frames for the latter when shooting JPEGs only.

      AE, Film Simulation and Dynamic Range bracketing aren’t available for RAW and RAW+JPEG shots and there’s an upper limit of three frames/burst with JPEGs. Dynamic Range bracketing also limits the ISO to between ISO 400 and ISO 3200, depending on the image size setting.

      Camera Quirks
      Aside from the limitations on camera settings the review camera had several mildly irritating quirks, which we hope Fujifilm will fix with a firmware update in the near future. For starters, after you’ve popped up the flash, when shooting a sequence of flash exposures, the flash won’t fire – although the shutter will trigger – for every second shot. Occasionally you’ll get an interval of two shots without flash for every one shot with. Either way, shots are wasted and time is wasted also when you stop to delete those that didn’t work.

      The review camera also slipped seamlessly into the EXR mode without us being aware of it. Since resolution can be reduced and few user adjustments are available in this mode, it can cause shots to be taken with the wrong camera settings and a bit of toggling is required to get the controls back where you want them.

      Autofocusing was patchy and hunting was common at long focal lengths, even in quite bright lighting. It was worst with close-up subjects and not improved by switching to the macro or Best Frame Capture modes. There’s no shutter lock when subjects are out-of-focus so you can waste a lot of shots (and time) trying to get a sharp image in these situations.

      Two autofocus modes are provided for shooting movies: Centre and Continuous. But there’s not much difference between them, save with respect to power consumption. The former locks focus on the centre of the first frame so the first second of the clip is affected by the lens focusing.

      It would have been better if possible to focus before recording video using a half-press of the shutter. Since the HS20 EXR has a mechanical lens, it is easily possible to quietly zoom in and out. The only catch is that focus may be thrown off.

      Continuous autofocus mode in video makes the HS20 EXR constantly focus on the centre of the frame and re-adjusts if the camera-to-subject distance changes substantially. It settles after a while but, depending on movements in the scene, videos can easily be more often out of focus than in.

      During a pan for example, the camera is constantly trying to refocus which gives some disturbing results. Given the unpredictable nature of this mode, it is probably better to avoid it and use Centre mode instead

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The HS20 EXR comes with the same sensor as the F550 EXR, which we’ve covered in depth in our review of that camera. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Image size


      File size




      4608 x 3456


      RAW+JPEG (L/Fine)

      4608 x 3456


      L 4:3

      4608 x 3456



      L 3:2

      4608 x 3072



      L 16:9

      4608 x 2592



      M 4:3

      3264 x 2448



      M 3:2

      3264 x 2176



      M 16:9

      3264 x 1840



      S 4:3

      2304 x 1728



      S 3:2

      2304 x 1536




      1920 x 1080



      Motion Panorama 360 degrees (H)

      11520 x 1080


      Motion Panorama 360 degrees (V)

      11520 x 1624


      Motion Panorama180 degrees (H)

      5760 x 1080


      Motion Panorama180 degrees (V)

      5760 x 1624


      Motion Panorama120 degrees (H)

      3840 x 1080


      Motion Panorama120 degrees (V)

      3840 x 1624


      Movie options are also the same as the F550 EXR and the HS20 EXR has a similar one-touch movie record button that initiates video recording. Three resolution settings are provided for normal movie recording, along with three standard definition options for recording slow-motion movies at up to 320 frames per second. Typical recording times are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Frame size

      Frame rate

      Recording time/8GB card


      1920 x 1080

      30 frames/sec.

      76 minutes

      1280 x 720

      99 minutes


      640 x 480

      232 minutes

      HS 640 x 480

      80 frames/sec.

      172 minutes

      HS 320 x 240

      160 frames/sec.

      345 minutes

      HS 320 x 112

      320 frames/sec.

      172 minutes

      You can zoom in and out of scenes while recording video clips, although any associated camera noises may be recorded. If light levels are low, the AF-Assist light may switch on automatically. (You can turn this setting off in the setup menu.)

      Exposure levels and white balance are adjusted automatically while clips are recorded. You can capture a still image by pressing the shutter button while recording a movie but not in the high-speed movie modes. The image size defaults to M when larger sizes have been selected and the shot is saved separately from the movie.

      Playback and Software
      These features are essentially unchanged since the FinePix HS10 and covered in our review of that camera.

      The first thing we noticed in our user tests was the improvement to the stabilisation system, which enabled us to shoot with relatively long focal length settings using shutter speeds between 1/45 and 1/100 second and have a high percentage of images with acceptable sharpness. Hand-holding the camera at 1slower shutter speeds remained unviable, however, even with the shortest focal lengths.

      As in the HS10, the manual zoom lens made precise framing of shots a breeze and autofocusing for well-lit subjects was usually fast and accurate for still shots. However, hunting was common in low light levels and with moving subjects. You have to give the system time to lock on and wait for the confirmation beep to be sure shots are sharp. But misses can occur even then.

      The exposure metering system delivered good results in most modes provided the appropriate metering pattern was selected. Spot metering was slightly more likely to provide well-exposed shots than the centre-weighted or multi-pattern modes.

      Unfortunately, processing times for the multi-shot modes aren’t noticeably shorter and it usually takes a couple of seconds to combine the images when using the panoramic, Pro Low-Light and Pro Focus settings. All controls lock during this processing, preventing you from taking more shots or adjusting camera settings.

      However, the 16-megapixel sensor had the same effect on image quality is we found with the F550 EXR and appears to be excessive for the sensor size and image processor. Twelve megapixels appears to be the upper limit for sensors of this size if users expect good resolution performance.

       Imatest showed resolution to be significantly below expectations for a 16-megapixel camera for both JPEG and RAF.RAW files. Even using Adobe Camera Raw to process the latter failed to bring the top resolution to within a megapixel of expectations.

      Edge softening was less than we found with the FinePix F550 EXR but still detectable throughout the aperture range. The graph below shows the results of analysis of JPEG files at the focal length and aperture settings we were able to test.


      Imatest testing showed only a slight decline as ISO sensitivity was increased. JPEG files lost resolution more than raw files, which remained quite high at the top sensitivity settings. Shots taken at ISO 6400 were usable at snapshot size (or slightly larger). The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


      Lateral chromatic aberration ranged from low to moderate across the tested focal length and aperture ranges. In the graph of our Imatest results below, the red line separates ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA, while the green line marks the border between ‘low’ and ‘moderate’ CA.


      Coloured fringing was evident in many shots, particularly along high contrast boundaries. In some cases, the colour split was yellow/purple, instead of the usual green/purple split. (An example is provided in the Sample Images section below.)

      Long exposures were handled better than in the HS10, although noise didn’t become visible in long exposures until ISO 1600, after which is became progressively more obvious. Both long exposures and flash shots taken at ISO 12800 were soft and blotchy.

      Flash shots were similar to those from the HS10, although noise and softening could be seen in shots taken at ISO 6400. Shots taken at ISO 100 were roughly half a stop under-exposed but the flash proved capable of illuminating an average-sized room at all other ISO settings – and exposures were evenly balanced.

      Auto white balance performance was similar to many digicams we’ve tested. The review camera failed to totally remove the colour cast from incandescent lighting but came quite close with fluorescent lighting. Manual measurement corrected both colour casts completely and there are plenty of pre-sets and in-camera tweaking adjustments to enable photographers to obtain neutral colours under most lighting conditions

      Close-up capabilities were adequate, although nothing to write home about. Framing hand-held shots at full tele zoom was difficult in all but the brightest lighting. Digital zoom shots were as soft but less artefact-affected than those from the HS10. The panorama mode delivered similar results to those we obtained with the F550 EXR.

      Video quality was similar to the F550 EXR’s and significantly better than we recorded with the HS10. However, autofocusing slowed noticeably when the lens was zoomed right in on subjects. Exposure metering was generally good, as was audio quality and the high-speed modes produced similar results to the F550 EXR.

      Response times for the review camera were slow for a modern digicam. It took 2.9 seconds to power-up the review camera ready for shooting and shot-to-shot times averaged 1.3 seconds.

      Capture lag was reduced to 0.55 seconds, with a consistent 0.1 second lag when shots were pre-focused. However, it took 3.1 seconds to process each Large/Fine JPEG file, 4.6 seconds for each raw file and 5.9 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      In the high-speed continuous shooting mode, the review camera was able to capture four Large/Fine JPEGs in one second. It took 9.8 seconds to process this burst. Capture rates were the same for raw file and RAW+JPEG capture in burst mode and it took 12.4 seconds to process four raw shots and 15.8 seconds to process four RAW+JPEG pairs.

      The AA Alkaline batteries supplied with the camera are rated for 350 frames but we still had power remaining after recording 347 still pictures and 12 video clips. This suggests power consumption is quite conservative for a present-day digicam.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a superzoom digicam with PASM shooting modes and support for raw file capture.
      – You want good video performance and would like to record both Full HD video clips and slow-motion movies.
      – You want good wide-angle coverage and image stabilisation for shooting both video and still pictures.
      – You would like a powerful and easy-to-use panorama setting.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You want to be able to access the full range of shutter speed and aperture settings in the P, A and S shooting modes.
      – You require full resolution images in the EXR modes.
      – You want high burst capacity at high resolution (burst capacity is limited by image size/quality settings).
       - You require fast image file processing.
      JPEG files


      RAF.RAW files processed with Adobe Camera Raw to produce 16-bit TIFF files.




      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      4.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/5.


      126mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/420 second at f/8.


      Digital zoom; 126mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/280 second at f/8.


      Close-up at 4.6mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/300 second at f/2.8.


      15-second exposure, ISO 100, 4.6mm focal length at f/3.2.


      2-second exposure, ISO 1600, 4.6mm focal length at f/4.


      1/2-second exposure, ISO 6400, 4.6mm focal length at f/5.6.


      1/4-second exposure, ISO 12800, 4.6mm focal length at f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 100; 23mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/4.5.


      Flash exposure at ISO 1600; 23mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/4.5.


      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 23mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/4.5.


      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 23mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/4.5.


      Horizontal pan of 120 degrees across a scene with a wide brightness range; 6mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/420 second at f/8.


      A 180-degree pan across the same scene; 6mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/450 second at f/7.1.


      A 360-degree pan across the same scene; 6mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/450 second at f/7.1.


      EXR mode, Dynamic Range priority at 1600%; 33mm focal length, ISO 100 1/100 second at f/5.


      16:9 aspect ratio in P mode with 100% dynamic range setting; 21mm focal length, ISO 100 1/210 second at f/4.5.


      Backlighting; P mode, 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/110 second at f/4.


      91mm focal length, ISO 200 1/320 second at f/5.


      Crop from the above image enlarged to 100% showing coloured fringing.


      Auto mode, 72mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/320 second at f/5.


      A mode, 126mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/320 second at f/5.6.


      Converted from RAF.RAW file; 126mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/45 second at f/5.6.


      Converted from RAF.RAW file; 75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/5.


      Stabilisation test: 47mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/18 second at f/5.


      Portrait scene mode; 12mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/75 second at f/4.


      Still frame from Full HD video clip.


      Still frame from 720p HD video clip


      Still frame from QVGA video clip at 160 fps.


      Still frame from 320 x 112 pixel video clip at 320 fps.




      Image sensor: 6.4 x 4.8 mm EXR CMOS sensor with (16 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: Fujifilm EXR
      Lens: Fujinon 4.2-126mm f/2.8-5.6 zoom (24-720mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 30x optical
      Image formats: Stills: JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAF.RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies: MOV (H.264) with WAVE format stereo sound
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4608 x 3456, 3264 x 2448, 2304 x 1728; 3:2 aspect: 4608 x 3072, 3264 x 2176, 2304 x 1536; 16:9 aspect: 4608 x 2592, 3264 x 1840, 1920 x 1080; Motion Panorama: 360 degrees – 11520 x 1624 (V); 11520 x 1080 (H); 180 degrees – 5760 x 1624 (V), 5760 x 1080 (H); 120 degrees – 3840 x 1624 (V), 3840 x 1080(H); Movies – 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames/ sec. with stereo sound
      Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/4000 seconds
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Image Stabilisation: CMOS shift type
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
      Bracketing: AE Bracketing : +/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1EV; Film Simulation Bracketing : PROVIA / STD, Velvia / VIVID, ASTIA / SOFT; Dynamic Range Bracketing : 100% / 200% / 400%
      Focus system/range: TTL contrast-based AF with Centre, Multi, Area, Tracking selection plus face detection; range 50 cm to infinity; macro to 10 cm; Super macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL 256-zones metering with Multi, Spot, Average modes
      Shooting modes: EXR, Auto, P, S, A, M, C, Panorama, SP1/2 (Natural Light, Natural Light & with Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Dog, Cat, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text), Advanced
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100,200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200; ISO 6400 and 12800 at reduced image sizes
      White balance: Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent (Daylight/ Warm White/Cool White), Incandescent light, Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro. (Red-eye reduction available); range – approx. 30 cm to 7.1 m
      Sequence shooting: Max. 8 fps at full resolution; 11 fps for medium and small image sizes
      Storage Media: Approx. 20MB of internal memory plus expansion slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-1) cards
      Viewfinder: Electronic Viewfinder
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch TFT colour LCD monitor with approx. 460,000 dots
      Power supply: 4x AA type alkaline or NiMH batteries
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 130.6 x 90.7 x 126.0 mm
      Weight: Approx. 636 grams (without batteries and card)



      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House


      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro

      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.



      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056


      Ph: 1800 155 067



      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online (www.camera-warehouse.com.au) and an online print service (www.royalexpress.com.au).

      Digital Camera Warehouse

      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse

      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.

      Photographic Equipment & Supplies – Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted’s Cameras



      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.


      RRP: $699

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.0
      • Autofocusing: 7.5
      • Still image quality JPEG: 7.5
      • Still image quality RAW: 8.0
      • Video quality: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.5