Fujifilm X20 – A mini review

So here I am, back with another review. Just shortly after writing my thoughts on the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0R LM OIS , I aparently felt the need to do yet another Fujifilm equipment review.
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On friday I was at my local photography store, to get some prints done. And there it was…. in the glass showcase. A silver Fujifilm X20. I had not even been able to order one online, so how my dealer got a hold of it, is beyond me!

Anyway, I did 45 min of goofing around at the store, before simply deciding that I could not live without this little camera gem. So home, we went. Since then, I have been bringing it everywhere! I even brought it to work, where it snuggly fit into my doctor coat pocket along with my reflex hammer. I brought it to family gatherings, to the streets, in the car….everywhere!  Because this camera excels at exactly that: Being portable.

This is an initial impression review.It is NOT a technical review, since these have been done already.  I have taken a multitude of pictures in various situations, in colour as well as black & white. This should give an idea how great an all round performer this camera really is. So let’s get to it.

Build/Look and Feel

This camera is nothing short of breathtaking in appearance! I know this is a very subjective observation. But boy, do I love the old retrolook that Fujifilm has going on with the X series! The X20 (as opposed to the X10 which only came in all black) comes in two versions; an all black as well as a silver/black combo. The material is metal, and the quality in hand feel VERY solid and sturdy. It’s light too. weighing in at below 400g, this camera is a great carry round!

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The camera is built to exactly the same dimensions as the X10, so if you already own one of those, you’ll be more than familiar with the layout. I will NOT be comparing the x20 to the x10, since I never owned the x10, so there is no rationality behind doing such a comparison.

The dials are solid and sturdy, with great torque. You won’t accidentally knock the exp. comp. out of place. The zoom control on the lens, is very fluid, and feels good. The pop-up flash seems a little fragile, but compared to the X-E1 it’s solid. The EVF on the back is unchanged from the x10. There are much better screens on competing cameras, but it does the job.

There is a little “thumb” grip on the back. It doesn’t seem like much, but it gives a surprising amount of support.

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Performance

So what would a guy that owns the X-Pro1 use this little compact for. Obviously the image quality is NOT on par with the amazingly performing sensor of the X-Pro1. The X-Pro1 is relatively portable (compared to DSLR’s anyway). So what then?

The X20 is a compact camera. It is placed in that market segment. It’s a bit bigger than most compacts, because of the retrostyling, but it is… a compact. So I will comment on how it performs as… a compact.

And the performance is good!

Taking into consideration that it features a 2/3 inch sensor, noise levels are kept down even at higher ISO’s. The IQ is great! You get the Fujifilm film simulation .jpgs which are gorgeous in colour rendition. And the fujinon 28-112mm (35mm equivalent) lens is nice and sharp, corner to corner.

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ISO: at base ISO 100 there’s no noise. The noise curve is relatively steep, and at ISO 800 you have visible noise. I would NOT go above ISO 1600 with this camera, regardless of what PR reps, salesmen, and the likes tell you. Compare this to other 2/3′s and the x20 is a MUCH better performer. Compare it to the Sony RX100…. not so much!

Good news is that the noise rendered by this camera is very organic looking, reminiscent of film grain.

IQ: The files prouced are rich in color and contrast! Dynamic range is quite good. The film simulation modes like Astia and Velvia are great. I rarely shoot RAW with this camera since the .jpgs are so good. Auto WB does the job, and you have the usual suspects in terms of light metering (spot, multi, weighted)

Lens: The lens on the x20 is the same as on the x10. It’s a 7.1-28.4mm (28-112mm fullframe equivalent) f/2.0-2.8. It’s a great lens. No wonder they stuck to it. It’s sharp, and good corner to corner, with a bit of cromatic aberation wide open. I REALLY miss an ND filter built in for shooting wide open in sunlight. The shutter is silent! as in silent. No audible noise, making it perfect for stealth street shooting.

Speed: This camera is FAST! Autofocus in bright light is instant! In darkness, instant! there is a 12fps burst mode. and the menus and write times are very snappy. This is a HUGE plus for this camera.

OVF: The optical viewfinder now has an overlay that tells you relevant info such as shutter speed, and Aperture. It also shows you the area in focus. Great addition, that really should have been on the x10 in the first place.

Macro: The lens has a macro mode, even a super macro mode, that lets you get within 1 cm of you subject at the widest lens setting. It produces some great results! This was quite a surprise for me, but a really fun feature that I actually enjoy.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Really sturdy build quality
  • It’s FAST! Fast AF, fast menus, fast write times.
  • Great lens
  • OVF Overlay
  • The noise in high ISO’s is VERY good looking. Almost film-like.

Cons:

  • Not the ISO performer its made out to be. The sensor size shows here!
  • EVF quality/resolution is a bit “last season”
  • Battery life is ridiculous.
  • No ND filter built in, like the x100/x100s

Samples

The samples below show the great diversity of this camera. The images have been variously processed in LR 4.3 as I would do with all my other images. This is a “real usage” review so I think the samples should reflect how I would use the camera.

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Conclusion

The x20 is a really good looking camera. It performs really well for a compact. It has its quirks (like most cameras Fuji makes) but it is nothing that will prevent you from enjoying this camera quite a lot.

For me, the camera speed combined with the silent shutter packed in a compact body makes it ideal for street photography. I set one of the custom modes to black and white simulation, auto ISO 800, and the camera acts like a 60′s film cam equipped with an Ilford Delta film. This alone, is the selling point for me.

If you’re in the market for a nice and snappy street camera, which is also cheap, the x20 is just your thing.

It’s a GREAT experience.

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11 thoughts

  1. Pingback: A new review of Fujifilm X20 - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

  2. Wow, pic’s are great.

    What could anyone ask more of this reasonable priced camera???

    The b/w pic of the girl walking is astonishing !!

  3. Pingback: miXed zone: X-settings, X-reviews, X20 promotional video… and Leica or Fuji? | Fuji Rumors

  4. Completely agree the Fuji X20 is a camera you cannot leave the store without :)
    I really liked my old X10 but the new Fuji has so many improvements it’s a big upgrade.

  5. Pingback: New reviews of Fujifilm X20 - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

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  7. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to
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    • Hi Amy. Thank you for reading.

      I tend to use the black and white yellow filter jpeg simulation, then I set highlights to +1 and shadows to +1

      Thats it. Then some clarity in LR 5 :)

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