Fuji X20 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Ultimately a camera is only as good as the images it produces which is why performance measurements from the basis of digital camera ratings at Neocamera. The Fuji X20 is a premium compact with a high-end lens and a relatively small sensor, similar to the most fixed-lens models except for the few large-sensor cameras.
The Fuji X20 produces high-quality images with low noise and sharp details until ISO 400. Even at the lowest setting, noise-reduction effectively removes most noise up to ISO 1600 with a slight detriment to fine-details at ISO 800 and a little more at 1600. This reduces possible print sizes somewhat but matches the image-quality of other best-in-class small sensor cameras.
At ISO 3200 results are still acceptable for medium prints, showing relatively low-noise but also little fine-details when viewed at 100% scale. ISO 6400 seems rather blurry but remains quite usable for small prints. ISO 12800 is a blurry mess and should be avoided. This is completely normal and expected of even the best 2/3" sensor.
Dynamic-range of the Fuji X20 is very good and only exceeded by Fuji cameras with EXR sensors. This makes it better than most compact cameras for use in broad daylight. Exposure is generally good and very conservative. It rarely over-exposes yet has the tendency to produce rather dark images for low-contrast scenes. Such scenes are rarely under-exposed and so details are there and can by brightened up in software which will unfortunately amplifies image-noise. In these circumstances, it is preferable to use EC where +2/3 or +1 usually helps.
Colors are nicely saturated by default in Provia film simulation mode. For a more realistic rendition, set Color to -1. Keep in mind though that this setting is ignored in full outside of PASM modes. Velvia is visible over-the-top but Astia film simulation produces relatively accurate colors with a nice level of saturation.
Automatic White-Balance is good for the most part. In daylight and under simple lighting, it does well. When the camera is confronted with sources of artificial light, it can get very confused and produced incorrect results that are unfortunately not previewed on the LCD. Custom White-Balance gives very good results though.
The sharpness of the Fujinon F/2 - F/2.8 lens is superb. Details are consistently sharp from edge-to-edge with no visible corner softness or vignetting. There is a gentle but noticeable amount of barrel distortion near wide-angle but it quickly disappears after zooming in a little. Purple fringing is virtually inexistent.
The new 2/3" X-Trans CMOS II sensor features built-in Phase-Detect autofocus. This is something pioneered by Fuji on their SuperCCD EXR and they have just brought the technology over to CMOS sensors. This provides the X20 with an AF system which is faster than that on any fixed-lens camera except for the Fuji X100S
Fuji X100S which uses a larger version of the same sensor.
The Fuji X20 focuses extremely quickly and manages to stay fast and accurate even in very low light. Autofocus speed hovers around ¼ - ½s, except in very low-light where it can take just over ¾s. In bright to moderate light though, ¼s is almost always enough to lock focus. This is clearly a class-leading performance.
The X20 is generally fast and responsive. Its performance can be characterized by the following measurements:
- Power On: ¾s. Great.
- Power Off: ½s. Excellent.
- Focus: Usually ¼s. Class-leading.
- Shutter-Lag: Instant. Excellent.
- Black-Out: ¼s. Amazing for a compact.
- Shot-To-Shot: 1s. Superb for a compact.
- Playback: About ½s to Enter and ¾s to Exit. Average.
- Zoom: No speed limit.
Compared to any fixed-lens camera, this is an excellent performance. Focusing is one of its strongest points and it does so with excellent consistency. The shot-to-shot speed is great for its class but will be on the slow side for action photography. Battery life, quoted at 270 shots per charge according to the CIPA standard, is a below average. In practice, the battery drains very fast unless Power Management is configured accordingly.
The Fuji X20 is even more exceptional than its predecessor which is already an excellent camera. While nearly identical externally and sharing the same superb lens, the X20 is a significant upgrade in terms of sharpness, autofocus and speed. The new 2/3" X-Trans CMOS II sensor delivers its promise with lower image noise and better preservation of details while including class-leading Phase-Detect AF.
Image quality is excellent and rivals the best premium digital cameras with similarly-sized sensors. Images show very little noise until ISO 1600 and details are remarkably well preserved until ISO 400, just before noise-reduction kicks in. Colors are very nice and adjustable. Metering and white-balance are good yet not perfect but manual-controls easily allow them to be improved when needed.
The Fujinon lens used on the X20 is both a great technological achievement and a pleasure to use thanks to its mechanical zoom which gives perfect framing precision. The bright maximum aperture and built-in stabilization makes the X20 usable in lower light than most cameras in its class. This camera is fast and responsive under most circumstances.
This advanced digital camera is very versatile given a complete set of manual controls including manual focus, bracketing and a hot-shoe. Plus, dual control-dials and plenty of controls make these features efficient to use. The only letdown of this model is that the LCD preview is often incorrect, showing the wrong exposure or white-balance more than occasionally.
Given its image quality, performance and ergonomics, the Fuji X20 makes an ideal camera for users seeking advanced photographic controls in a compact body. The zoom range offered by its lens makes this camera highly suitable for travel, portraits and social photography.
Fuji X20 Facts
Medium digital camera
|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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