The new Fujifilm FinePix HS20 updates the popular HS10 model. What Digital Camera has an exclusive hands-on first look preview of the Fuji HS20 superzoom camera at Focus on Imaging 2011u2026

The Fujifilm FinePix HS20 updates the previous HS10 superzoom model. In a similar vein to the Sony HX100V, the Fuji HS20 has a 30x optical zoom that ranges from a wideangle 24mm through to a 720mm telephoto equivalent (the same as the HS10 model). As well as a manual zoom ring, the HS20 also has a manual focus ring. However, the latter is tucked right back towards the base of the ring, and does, as per the HS10, feel a little frustratingly close-up to the camera body itself.

Design-wise and the HS20’s body is more or less a carbon copy of the HS10. One sleek new look is a stylised red ring that runs around the outside of the lens barrel that successfully brings together the overall design.

The Fuji HS20 has a brand new back-side illuminated, 16MP CMOS sensor that’s optimised for the latest EXR processor. Although the sensor isn’t an EXR build as such, the square pixels are rotated by 45° on the sensor itself in order to allocate more light directly into each photo diode. The results should mean a significantly higher dynamic range and better overall image quality as the back-side illumination removes the wired-part of the sensor from the light path for increased clarity – although the HS20’s increase to a more densely-populated 16-megapixel sensor may cause some potential quality issues. As the HS20 is still a pre-production model and there are some six weeks more for the engineers to tweak the processing, Fuji did not permit any sample images to be taken away. We will, of course, bring our image quality verdict as and when we get our hands on a final version of the HS20…

The HS20 has a one-touch movie button on the rear that quickly jumps into 1080p Full HD capture at 30 frames per second using the H.264 compression coded (saved directly as MOV files). It’s perhaps a bit of a shame that multiple frame rates or a 24p option haven’t been made available, but the progressive capture is certainly the right direction and the manual zoom and focus can be utilised during capture too.

One common complaint of the HS10 was that it was awfully slow to capture Raw files – something that Fuji has been quick to rectify. The HS20’s buffer is faster and larger, able to more quickly snap Raw shots and can even shoot at 7.6fps in burst mode (SDXC and UHS-1 cards can now also be used). This is admittedly slower than the HS10’s 10fps, but the increase in resolution explains this shortfall. And once you’ve captured your Raw shots they can now be opened in a full version of Silkypix that’s included in the box – something the HS10 had lacked.

Although the HS20’s shooting modes remain the same and full manual controls also feature, the Panorama mode sees an increase in total resolution. Panoramic images can be takes through a full 360° and the increased height of the files makes for a larger image. Flicking through the various modes on the top dial is easy and the thumbwheel-like dial next to this is a simple and effective way to adjust settings such as aperture and shutter speed (depending on the selected shooting mode).

The FinePix HS20 features the same 0.2in, 200k-dot Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a 97% field of view. This was perhaps another sticking point with the HS10, and it’s a shame that the HS20’s body hasn’t been able to accommodate a larger, more detailed option – but for such a change to be made would require an entire body shape/design adjustment, so could well be something for the next generation of models. In truth having the viewfinder available is a definite benefit to shooting as it helps in keeping shots steady when at the longer telephoto focal ranges and for quick-review in brighter sunlight. The 3in, 460k-dot LCD screen is also mounted on a tilt-angle bracked for shooting at waist-level or overhead and an electronic level also features to assist in shooting a level-horizon.

The HS20’s standard hotshoe fitting has now also been updated to accomodate TTL (Through The Lens) metering for external flashguns. There are two forthcoming flashguns available – the EF-20 and EF-42 – that have Guide Numbers of 20 and 42 respectievly (at ISO 100). In addition, those with the Fuji RR-80 external release can now fire the Fuji HS20 using this cable release method.

Overall the HS20 isn’t actually drastically different to the HS10. The sensor improvement may make for better quality, but the rather unnecessary rise in megapixels is a race we thought had seen its day – but manufacturers continue to increment total resolution. For current HS10 users the HS20 may not provide a fix to every issue, but the increase in Raw capture may be enough to convince some users to step up. For first-timers, however, the HS20 does offer among the best, if not the best, of 30x superzoom solutions. It’s rather impressive indeed.

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  • Julian

    Still got my Fuji S100fs which has a large sensor and 28 to 400 manual zoom and also a manual focus ring.
    If the HS20 can actually manually focus in the same way as a proper SLR then I’ll buy it. I have my suspicions however that the manual focus ring will only focus within the parameters of the auto focus system which relies on contrast and is therefore useless when photographing sky at night. considering the quality of fuji low light capability is a real shame. Please correct me if fuji have sorted this on the HS20.

  • Julian

    I’ve still got my S100fs with it’s ‘big’ sensor and it’s a brilliant camera 28 to 400 manual zoom with buttons in the right place.
    The only thing is there is no way to focus on the sky reliably especially at night, manual focus on these cameras is not manual focus in the same way as a proper SLR. I would be surprised if the HS20 is any better in this particularly annoying fault. The manual focus is based on what the auto focus thinks your subject matter’s distance lies in and not what you want the manual focus to do. It is this one fact that has led me to now consider a full frame Canon as Pentax still don’t seem to want to make one

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  • Tony Mead

    I have had my Fuji HS20 for quite a number of Months now, thus paying closer to its entry price than you can get them for now. Like some reviewers have said, using the camera in any of the normal P,A,S modes the results are fairly average. However, step into the EXR mode and you have a different camera altogether. Unfortunately this means giving up manual control but its the final results that impress me.Bearing in mind that massive lens as an all in one gives my Canon 50D using 3 separate lenses a run for its money. I have used it with a non Fuji flash gun and the separate remote lead ( neither of which were available on my previous Lumix FZ 45 ). Has it got any downsides yes, like all cameras you have to own one for a while in all situations to find out. I found the HS20 not great in poor light but still got results. Auto focussing on fast moving objects like airplanes not brilliant either. For movies the zoom jerks in use so a non starter. However, as its so good in all other respects I have recommended it to friends and they have been pleased with theirs as well. The new Fuji just announced could be even better but at £700 the competition against DSLRs will be too much for it.

    Tony Mead

  • Talos

    @Colin Hughes
    You are right. I had a chance to try out the HS20 and i found its auto focus to be quite sluggish.

  • Tony sturn

    I’ve had my HS20 for about 3 months now and I have to say ‘at first’ I was not over impressed with it,but after trying all the various settings, and ready to accept it as just average ,I discovered manual mode,and it was one of those ‘eureka moments’. Ever since then I love this camera.I’ve had none of the problems with overheating(maybe mine is a later model) and the focusing is fine.I think the 30x barrel zoom is just so versatile and I’ve had some stunning images even at full zoom.Here’s a link to my Flickr page to take a look.
    I would suggest anyone who has this camera and is not happy, to try the manual mode and with some trial and error you will be surprised..

  • Nick

    @ian small world, I was also using the HS10 in Durham City this week. Also impressed with the image quality, but im glad I didn’t go for the HS20 just because of the cramped pixels. I just hope the HS30 if thats what it’ll be named, has a reduced resolution or a major step up in sensor size. Plus VF needs to be larger and a smoother zoom ring. Other than that its a perfect camera.

  • Ian

    I tried out the camera in Durham today using all the zoom range on a church spire across the river which must have been at least 400 yards or more from me. I have just looked at the j pegs and can say I was very impressed by there quality. The only thing I did not like on the camera was the very small veiw finder which for my own taste could be quite a lot bigger. However I dont think that would stop me purchasing this camera.

  • Colin Hughes

    This is a great camera but i find the auto focus really slow compared with my cannon digital SLR. I’d be interested in other peoples comments on this.

  • rao

    HS20 is excel in almost everything you could never found from any other camera as big zoom hybrid SLR alike. Only flaw that kill the entire thing is the pixels output, horrible. The color and features superb with marvelous zoom len even still room to improve. The image chip on pixel output within the camera seems kill the entire camera.

  • Vicente Cardone

    TTL metering for external flash is a VERY IMPORTANT improvement, since good flash pictures are made with the flash head bounced. The compatibilty is the same with Nikon as before? There are third party units as Vivitar, Sunpack? Vicente.

  • Tony Mead

    I first tried the HS20 at Focus in Birmingham but too many on the stand to get some shots to take back with me on my card. I eventually got to handle one at a Jessops branch and the images I took with it were impressive without the best of light. Their price at £429 was I think a try on as I have seen them since around the £50 odd mark. I did actually buy one at Camerbox and their delivery by courier was in a few days at the all in price of £354 inc 5 year Warranty. Having used the camera for a week now and making direct comparisons with my Lumix FZ45 that has a 600mm zoom, things are looking good. I have never been happy with the FZ 45 bought on a friends rave reviews and his own purchase. The HS 20 is amucxh easier camera to use it has many direct access buttons for all your most popular settings without going through loads of menus like the FZ45. Also the hinge screen, manual zoom evf eye control plus a hotshoe for my existing flash guns are all things I dont have wit the FZ 45. It looks like the Lumix will be going on Ebasy soon. While macro is as good as any of my other cameras if it has a weakness its sharpness at full zoom. This to me is the only stumbling block on what is a very impressive camera.

  • Mahesh Jayatunga

    Read the below review (& video) which ranks HS20 extremely low???

  • Ian

    Tesco have HS20 at £399 but their clubcard vouchers can be redeemed at 2x face value until May. I paid £139 plus £130 (doubled) in clubcard vouchers today. Great deal!

  • Jon Cowin

    Any in stock before 11/4, Sun Digital etc, are GREY IMPORTS!!!!! Beware! I talk to the chef, not the dishcloth , in this case, FUJI UK.

  • Robert

    A lot of places seem to have them advertised, but don’t actually have any stock. I spoke to a guy at and they had it in stock at £369 inc P&P. I’m going to ring them again and order mine on Tuesday when I get paid. Can’t wait for it to arrive!

  • sabah

    Katy: and sun digital sell them for £354
    much cheaper than Amazon …by £70
    good luck

  • Jon Cowin

    It is released on the 11th April in the UK. The 25/3 was an Amazon cock up.

  • Saket Bajaj

    It will be out on the 25th March in the UK…

    But I dont know when will this come to India.

    People buying in the UK, please provide feedback and detailed reviews.

  • Katy

    I really want this camera, but have just removed it from their website. It was my birthday last month and I was holding out for this – I wonder how much longer I have to wait? Anyone know where I can get one?

  • doug sinnott

    The main fault with my HS10,was the speed of writing Raw files,and multi shots.This appears to have been sorted,so thank you,Fuji!A BIG IMPROVEMENT!

  • selfmade

    They had a lot of time, range of a full yaer. And what is the result? The produced a cam with more pixels! Same view finder, same display, same lens system. Just sensor + cpu will be changed. Where ist the progress?

  • Snjv

    It indeed includes the sensor.

    “… includes a brand new EXR CMOS sensor…”

  • ML

    Re: “The manual zoom is almost impossible to work smoothly. The microphone picks up all sorts of noise when the focus and aperture are adjusting. Every time you handle the zoom there is a lot of noise.” – same for the HS20 as it’s an identical design. Note: this is only in regard to movie capture.

  • Winston

    What about this HS10 issue?:

    “The manual zoom is almost impossible to work smoothly. The microphone picks up all sorts of noise when the focus and aperture are adjusting. Every time you handle the zoom there is a lot of noise.”

  • ML

    Just to point out – this is not an EXR sensor, it’s an EXR processor. The arrangement of pixels on the sensor itself is the same as any other standard CMOS (albeit rotated). Sure you can use two pixels to output as one (i.e. 16MP sensor shooting at 8MP) for better dynamic range, but you could do that in any camera assuming the processing was optimised for it.

  • Alexander Meredith

    You missed the whole point of the increase in pixels from 10mp to 16mp and that is the use of the exr functions. You will be able to capture low noise, high dynamic range at 8 mp. The s200exr only gave you 6mp.