29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
, March 24, 2013
I purchased the previous version of the Fuji X20, the X10, a year ago. I was so disappointed with it that I returned it. Perhaps it was because of the version 1.0 firmware or that I bought a defective unit but the performance, especially the image quality, was very poor, like many other P&Ss. The focusing was sluggish, the pictures were soft, the color was flat and inconsistent, and the visual defects such as chromatic aberrations and the infrequent but dreaded white orbs added to my dissatisfaction. It was a real mess.
However, like many others, I was in awe of its retro design. So, with the new X20 I took another stab at ownership with hopes that these aforementioned problems have been fixed. Fuji said they made more than 50 changes.
Here are the highlights of Fuji X20 changes over the previous model:
* 12MP 2/3″-type X-Trans CMOS sensor => compared to the old EXR sensor, megapixels and size remain unchanged
* On-chip phase detection autofocus, in addition to the contrast detection
=> digital compact cameras usually have only the much slower contrast detect autofocus
* `Advanced Optical Viewfinder' with electronic information overlay
=> the old Fuji X10 has an optical viewfinder with absolutely no information superimposed
* Full HD 1080/60fps movie recording (36Mbps bitrate)
=> for a digital compact camera the bitrate is very good, which should translate into high quality videos with very little artifacts
* Focus peaking display for manual focus
=> give me a super fast autofocus any day, but for those who like to manual focus, this should make things a bit easier
* Faster EXR Processor => faster response time, lower noise level, 12fps continuous shooting vs. the old 7fps.
Fujifilm X20 key features
* 12MP 2/3"-type X-Trans CMOS sensor
* On-chip phase detection autofocus
* EXR Processor II
* 'Advanced Optical Viewfinder' with exposure information overlay
* 28-112mm equivalent, F2.0-2.8 lens with optical image stabilization
* Manual zoom ring and lens retraction mechanism
* Full manual control, RAW format recording
* 2.8" 460k dot LCD
* Full HD 1080/60fps movie recording (36Mbps bitrate)
* Built-in stereo microphones, optional MIC-ST1 external microphone
* Film simulation modes for different color and monochrome 'looks'
* In-camera RAW conversion with all processing parameters adjustable
* 'Advanced Filters' image-processing controls, previewed live on-screen
* Focus peaking display for manual focus using the rear LCD
* Lens Modulation Optimiser for compensation of aberrations
So, what's the verdict? Wow! What a difference a year makes.
First of all, say goodbye to the white orb issue of the first batch of X10s! Since it's a new sensor, no white orbs. I haven't tried in all conditions but so far, no white orbs in my test shots.
But most noticeable improvements are the focusing and image quality. The focus speed is now the same as some of those Olympus M4/3 cameras such as E-PL5. It's really is very snappy and responsive.
The images are top of the class for small sensor cameras. No, you're not going to get the same level of detail and resolution as the larger sensor cameras, no matter what the advertisements seem to suggest. No more than you can get a Honda to drive like a Ferrari. That means you can't really use this as your ONLY camera if you want the best images for your shots. But it fits the bill perfectly for casual photographers looking for a small, carry around snap camera. The pictures are sharp. Color is fantastic, just like the old Fuji film.
The new quick menu is a nice feature. It would be even better if the camera had a touch screen so that you don't actually have to scroll around the quick menu. Perhaps that's a feature they will incorporate into the X30? The quick menu displays all of the most used settings for photo taking on a single page and you can move to each setting individually and use either scroll wheels to change the setting.
The viewfinder is a real lifesaver in bright sunlight. The LCD is almost useless in the sun but the clear OVF with information overlay is definitely helpful (I was just made aware that if you press and hold the Quick Menu button for 2 seconds it will activate the bright setting so that you can see the screen better in the sunlight, hold it for 2 seconds to turn it back off to conserve battery). Although, when in the bright sun it's sometimes difficult to see the information displayed in the viewfinder as it's in a dark gray font. I wish it were a different color to make it stand out more. Perhaps the next firmware update will address this? In dim situations, it's green so it's very readable. The optical viewfinder is somewhat intelligent in that it will focus box around objects not in the center of the screen. This is readily apparent when you're using the multi-focusing mode. When you're using focus tracking mode, the you can only use the LCD as the optical viewfinder won't turn on. That makes sense as you need to first pick a subject to track and it's easier to do that with the LCD.
One other nice feature of the new camera kit is not actually part of the camera. It's the battery charger. It's small, about the same width as the equally small battery, and great to travel with.
What's still a big disappointment is the fact that there's no RAW support for Apple's Aperture or iPhoto for the X10 since it has been out for over a year now. That means that don't expect support for the X20 anytime soon. I'm not sure if the problem is with Fuji or Apple's end but both of them need to get it together. In the meantime, if you want to use RAW on a Mac you'll have to stick with Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop or Finepix/Silkypix, or what I like to call Crappix.
Is it worthwhile for those who own the X10 to upgrade? It depends on whether or not you think the faster response time of the camera, focus, as well as better sensor are important enough. I would only upgrade if I were able to sell the old X10 to recoup some of the expense. Otherwise, wait for the X30.
I've been playing around with the Power Management function. This allow you to chose between Power Save and High Performance modes. Power Save is what I've been using as my default but I have switched it to High Performance to test. Power Save will keep the LCD relatively low while the High Performance will keep the LCD bright as well as boost focusing speeds. It IS slightly faster focusing on High Performance mode. I would say about 25% -30% faster.
One drawback is when you're trying to do quick successive focus on a moving object or trying to focus multiple times on different objects quickly, there is quite a bit of screen lag as you pan. It's quite noticeable.
I also noticed that the camera has a difficult time focusing on objects with essentially uniform color of black or beige and a smooth surface, or even just a cloudless clear blue sky. I'm sure this is not just this camera but a weakness of other phase/contrast focusing cameras as well. Although I hope Fuji continues to improve on this and the screen lag with future firmware updates.
It looks like Apple and Fuji listened and a new RAW Update 4.05 for Macs now has been posted that brings Fuji X20, X100S, X-E1 and X-Pro1 RAW compatibility. Yes!