The Fujfilm X20 is the manufacturer's flagship compact and it arrives with an overhauled feature set on its predecessor. How does it perform? Find out in our Fujifilm X20 review
Fujifilm X20 review – Features
The Fujifilm X20’s X-Trans CMOS II sensor, for example, is newly developed for the model, despite it bearing the same 2/3in dimensions and 12MP pixel count as the one found in the previous Fujifilm X10. Thanks to the X-Trans technology on which it is based Fujifilm has chosen to omit the standard anti-aliasing filter, stating that more random arrangement of its colour filters renders one unnecessary. It’s not the first compact to do so, with the recent Nikon Coolpix A doing the same.
As with many other recent cameras, Fujifilm X20’s sensor includes phase-detect pixels to assist in focusing. Fujifilm claims this helps focusing speeds to be as prompt as 0.06sec, with an Intelligent Hybrid AF system automatically recognising when a scene requires phase-detection AF or the more conventional contrast-detect means of acquiring focus.
All of this is technology on the Fujifilm X20 is helped by a second generation EXR processor, which is claimed to deliver images with over 30% less noise than the Fujifilm X10, while also making a 12fps burst at full resolution possible. The processor also includes a new Lens Modulation Optimiser function, which helps counter effects such as diffraction which becomes more problematic at smaller apertures.
The Fujifilm X20 maintains the same 28-112mm manual zoom optic as the Fujifilm X10, with a respectably bright f/2-2.8 aperture range. Fujifilm has furnished the lens with a four-stop image stabilisation system, while macro photographers will be pleased to learn the X20 can focus as close as 1cm away from the subject when set to its Super Macro setting.
Other features of note include an optical viewfinder equipped with a new Digital Trans Panel to display key shooting information, as well as full HD video capture at 60fps.
Fujifilm X20 review – Design
Just like its elder siblings, the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and the Fujifilm X-E1, the Fujifilm X20 could be easily mistaken for analogue model. The top-plate carries everything we may expect on such a camera, including a built-in flash and a hotshoe for external flashguns (or a microphone), as well as mode and exposure compensation dials.
The Fujifilm X20’s body makes use of die-cast magnesium, around which Fujifilm has wrapped a synthetic leather to improve handling; this serves its purpose well. Despite metal used extensively throughout the rest of the camera’s construction – from the top-plate dials to the zoom ring and even the lens cap – at 353g the X20 isn’t terribly weighty, yet feels as durable as it needs to be.
Sadly, the Fujifilm X20 is one of a growing number of models whose exposure compensation dial – while tremendously useful in itself – is easily knocked out of place as it is taken out of and placed into a pocket or bag. Admittedly, any exposure compensation applied is indicated on the screen, although not quite as obviously as on other models, making any unwanted changes easy to miss.
Fujifilm X20 review – Performance
Thanks to the inclusion of a manual zoom lens – whose turning also serves as the power on/off control – the Fujifilm X20 can be powered up and down with far less delay than some of its peers. This makes the X20 useful for more spontaneous captures, particularly as the camera’s autofocus system also does well to bring subject to focus in rapid time. Particularly impressive is the camera’s ability to find focus against low-contrast subjects without intervention from its AF assist light.
The Fujifilm X20’s viewfinder’s 85% coverage is forgivable but together with the lack of parallax markings it means it’s only really useful when the scene does not need to be composed with absolute precision. This finder itself, however, is sufficiently clear and only suffers from slight distortion at wideangle, with none at telephoto.
Exposure information in the Fujifilm X20’s finder lights up brightly with either red or green lights (depending on whether the camera’s settings are appropriate for that situation), although as it’s overlaid over the scene rather than a dark panel (as on DSLRs) it can be difficult to see clearly in all situations.
The Fujifilm X20’s LCD screen, however, is excellent, with its crisp detail matched by its excellent contrast. While it’s smaller than those on its peers, this is acceptable considering the inclusion of the optical viewfinder.
Fujifilm X20 review – Image Quality
The Fujifilm X20’s images are, on the whole, pleasing, largely thanks to sound metering, appropriate colour and (in JPEGs) fine contrast.
There’s a touch of softness at wider apertures in the corners, but once the lens has been stopped down from its widest few apertures detail is generally high across the frame. Distortion is also pleasingly minimal, although sharpness in JPEGs can be improved a little in post-production.
Noise is low at the lowest couple of sensitivities but noise reduction – even at its lowest setting – leads to an unfortunate smearing of details, with fine details sometimes being lost in a mush.
The Fujifilm X20’s resolution, however, is excellent. Lab testing shows the sensor to capture more detail than rival cameras at its base sensitivity, with string results up until ISO 3200. Past this point the camera can only capture JPEGs, which shows the noise reduction system working aggressively to reduce noise, in turn reducing detail.
Fujifilm X20 review – Verdict
Despite some minor issues with the viewfinder, noise reduction and a somewhat untrustworthy exposure compensation dial, the Fujifilm X20 is clearly more than just a minor upgrade to the Fujifilm X10. With its dependable build quality, impressive AF, excellent resolution and generally pleasing images, it’s a welcome addition to an admittedly crowded market.
Sample Image Gallery
There are just a small sample of images from our Fujifilm X20 review. For a wider selection, head to our Fujifilm X20 sample image gallery.
Although Fujifilm’s X series is just one of a slew of recent
retro-themed camera lines, its authentic analogue styling and
proprietary sensor technology has made a particular impression. The Fujifilm X20
is positioned as the flagship model of the line’s compact offerings,
and it arrives with a significant overhauling of its predecessor’s
feature set. Watch our video review to find out more.