Fuji X20 Review
The Fuji X20 is a premium compact with a bright F/2-2.8 wide-angle mechanically linked and stabilized 4X optical zoom lens. This impressive lens is paired with a unique 2/3" X-Trans CMOS sensor with a special color-filter-array which requires no anti-alias filter and incorporates on-sensor Phase-Detect autofocus.
This digital camera is designed for advanced photographers as a compact which offers full manual-controls, including manual-focus, custom white-balance and an infinitely precise zoom. It makes these control accessible with dual control-dials, a direct EC dial and a traditional mode-dial.
The body, reminiscent of an analog range-finder, sports a 2.8" LCD with 460K pixels and a unique optical viewfinder with Eye-Start sensor and internal overlay showing exposure parameters and focus-points.
The all-new sensor is capable of shooting continuously at 12 FPS for up to 11 JPEG images or at 9 FPS for up to 8 RAW files. Its high-speed capabilities are put to good use with features like multi-frame noise-reduction and many composite output such as Motion Panorama, multiple-exposure and shallow depth-of-field simulation.
This detailed digital camera review takes a close look at the Fuji X20 in terms of features, ergonomics, usability, image quality and performance.
Fuji X20 Features
- 12 Megapixels 2/3" CMOS sensor
- X-Trans Color-Filter Array
- No Anti-Alias Filter
- 4:3 Native Aspect-Ratio
- Manual ISO 100 - 12800 sensitivity
- Customizable Auto ISO, 100 - 3200
- Manual 100% - 400%DR 400% only at ISO 400-3200. Dynamic-Range
- Automatic Dynamic-Range selection
- JPEG, RAW or JPEG+RAW Output
- Fujinon 28 - 112mm equivalent lens
- Bright F/2 - 2.8 maximum aperture
- F/2 - 11 Aperture range, 1/3 EV stops
- Optical Image Stabilization
- Mechanical Zoom
- 1cm minimum focus distance at 28mm
- 50cm minimum focus distance at 112mm
- PASM Exposure modes
- 1/4000sFaster than 1/1000s requires stopping down. - 30sLower limit for ISO above 100. Shutter-speed
- Exposure-Compensation, ±2 EV, 1/3 EV steps
- Flash-Compensation, -2/3...+2/3, 1/3 EV steps
- Multi-Segment, Spot & Average metering
- AEB, 3 Frames, ±1 EV, 1/3 steps
- ISO Bracketing, ±1 EV, 1/3 steps
- Dynamic Range Bracketing
- Fixed 1/3 EV exposure steps
- 49-Point Phase-Detect autofocus
- 49-Area Contrast-Detect autofocus, 5 Sizes
- Auto or Single or Tracking focus-point selection
- Single-Shot, Continuous or Manual Focus
- Optional Face-Detect autofocus
- MF Assist with optional Peeking
- Optional AF-Assist lamp
- 12 FPS Drive, 100% DR, Max 11 JPEG
- 9 FPS Drive, Max 14 JPEG
- 6 FPS Drive, Max 20 JPEG
- 3 FPS Drive, Max 39 JPEG
- 3 - 9 FPS Drive, Max 8 RAW
- 12- 3 FPS Pre-Buffered Drive, Max 8 frames
- Automatic Multi-Frame Noise-Reduction mode
- Motion Panorama, 360°, 180° & 120°
- Automatic Focus-Blend mode
- Multiple Exposure, 2 frames
- 2s & 10s Self-Timers
- Automatic, Preset, Kelvin and Custom WB
- WB fine-tuning, 19-steps along 2-axis
- Film Simulation, 5 color, 5 monochrome
- Film Simulation Bracketing
- Adjustable color-saturation, 5 steps
- Adjustable sharpness, 5 steps
- Adjustable highlight-tone, 5 steps
- Adjustable shadow-tone, 5 steps
- Adjustable noise-reduction, 5 steps
- Cropped aspect-ratio, 3:2, 16:9 & 1:1
- 1920x2080 @ 60 FPS 16:9 HD Video
- 1280x720 @ 60 FPS 16:9 HD Video
- 640x480 @ 30 FPS VGA Video
- 640x480 @ 80 FPS High-Speed Video
- 320x240 @ 150 FPS High-Speed Video
- 320x112 @ 250 FPS High-Speed Video
- Adjustable stereo sound, 4 levels
- Optional Scene-Recognition
- Optional Face-Detection
Viewfinder & Displays
- Optical Tunnel Viewfinder, 85% coverage
- Exposure and AF area display in viewfinder
- Eye-Start sensor
- 2.8" LCD, 460K Pixels, 100% coverage
- Digital-Level, tilt-axis only
Body & Construction
- Dual Control-Dials
- Direct Exposure-Compensation dial
- Combined configurable AE-L/AF-L button
- Customizable Function button
- Solid magnesium body
- Metal tripod mount
- Built-in flash, 7m (W) - 5m (T) reach
- Hot-Shoe for external lighting
- Wired remote terminal
- 1080i HDMI output
- USB 2.0 connectivity
- SDXC memory card slot
- Proprietary Lithium-Ion battery
NOTE While the Fuji X20 is nearly identical externally to the Fuji Finepix X10
Fuji Finepix X10, including the same lens, inside it is very different. Ergonomics have changed slightly with a better viewfinder and sensor change.
Suitability - What is it good for?
The Fuji X20 is designed for photographers who require efficient photographic controls yet its automatic ones are equally usable for beginners. Its dual control-dials and numerous external buttons ensure quick operation and reduce reliance on the menu system.
This digital camera features a rather rare mechanical zoom. Unlike electronic zooms found on all other small cameras, a mechanical zoom gives infinite precision to frame subjects. It always responds immediately and completely silently since zooming is done by hand. DSLR lenses and most mirrorless ones work this way.
With a maximum resolution of 12 megapixels, the X20 can capture images suitable for common prints sizes without any difficulty. The focal range of 28 - 112mm is suitable for general subjects from travel to portraits. The wide-angle end is sufficient for indoor events but not so much for architecture. Considering how bright the lens is, a relatively short telephoto end is normal.
The bright F/2 maximum aperture, which only drops down to F/2.8 at the telephoto end, lets the Fuji X20 shoot in lower light than most compacts. Combined with a wide ISO range, the X20 becomes one of the most suitable compacts for social and indoor photography. Built-in stabilization lets it capture still subjects in even lower light.
The Fuji X20 has a 1/4000 to 30s shutter-speed range which is suitable for both action and night photography. The maximum duration lets it capture light trails at night and typical city lighting. The catch is that each stop of ISO above 100 reduces the slowest shutter speed by one full stop. This means that higher sensitivities do not allow this camera to capture more light. On the other side, the leaf shutter prevents the use of very fast shutter-speeds at wide apertures. To freeze rapid action, there better be enough light then.
Outdoors, the X20 is highly suitable too. This particularly true in bright light where most small-sensor cameras struggle. With controllable dynamic-range, the X20 can capture twice the dynamic-range of typical compacts from ISO 200 or four times from ISO 400, up to ISO 3200. After that, dynamic-range becomes fixed at the base-level. While this is a nice performance, it is the only aspect where its predecessor can do better, reaching up to 4 extra stops or 1600% dynamic-range thanks to its special EXR CMOS sensor.
Creativity options are plentiful with this camera. In additional to the full set of manual controls, the X20 provides a choice of three metering patterns plus bracketing for exposure, ISO, Dynamic Range and Film-Simulation. A number of image parameters provide this Fuji with good control over the rendition of images. For the ultimate control over output, the Fuji X20 can also capture RAW data which needs to be transformed into an image by computer later.
There are three Advanced Modes: Pro Low Light, Pro Focus and Motion Panorama. These are multishot modes which take advantage of the high-speed CMOS sensor to create interesting composites. Pro Low Light works by capturing a series of four images and blending them into a resulting image with low noise and higher dynamic-range. Pro Focus captures two consecutive images and blends them together to simulate a shallow depth-of-field. Despite having a bright F/2 maximum aperture, depth-of-field is otherwise never very shallow because the X20 has a relatively small sensor.
Motion Panorama captures a series of images, taken in any direction and covering a field of view between 120° and 360°, to merge them into a panorama photo. This gives a quick way to obtain a sweeping view of a scene without resorting to a computer. Motion Panorama produces an image of relatively low resolution but suitable for web use and online sharing. This mostly works for still and relatively flat subjects without many foreground elements. Since a fast shutter-speed is required to capture images without blur during the sweep, it is hard to do this in low light.
This advanced camera can handle any type of lighting conditions thanks to its custom, Kelvin and preset white-balance settings. It also has a built-in flash and hot-shoe to add its own lighting when desired. Keep in mind that the X20 is lighter than most add-on flashes which would cause it to be unbalanced. It would be preferable to use the hot-shoe for a wireless trigger which would command off-camera flashes.
Fuji X20 Facts
|12 Megapixels Fixed Lens||ISO 100-12800|
|4X Mechanically Linked Wide Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/4000-30s|
|Built-in Stabilization||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|12 FPS Drive, 11 Images||Hot-Shoe|
|1920x1080 @ 60 FPS Video Recording||Stereo audio input|
|2.8" LCD 460K Pixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
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