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Fujifilm X20: First Look


Fujifilm X20: First Look

Well, well…did you see this coming? With all the hype surrounding the release of the Fuji XF1 a few months back, I certainly didn’t. Maybe I should have. Anyway, after well over a year, the upgrade to Fuji’s famous X10 is here…in the form of the Fujifilm X20! As you all probably know by now, I’m a huge fan of Fujifilm’s new products, especially the wonderful X series, and have been covering their new releases in some form of review (or preview) so I obviously had to give the X20 a quick look too!

UPDATE: I’ve now done a complete hands-on review of the Fujifilm X20, check it out!

Fujifilm X20

Fujifilm X20. Image from Fujifilm

At first, the X20 doesn’t really seem much different to the X10. In fact, it seems pretty similar even after spending a few minutes looking for things that make it feel more of an upgrade. And even after doing a bit of research on the product before writing this post, it still feels extremely close to the X10. Then, it hits me (and you?): why is that a bad thing? Almost everything about the X10 was great. I thought so, at least. Why change much? There’s no need to. So instead of trying to change stuff for the sake of upgrading, Fuji decided to keep the good parts of the X10, and get rid of the few flaws. It’s almost like they read my (and many others’) complaints about the previous model and decided to fix ‘em all. And have they? Well, I can’t say for sure until I get one to find out for myself – I’ll go through the details on paper in a bit, and let’s see – but it certainly looks as though they might have

For those of you wondering if I’m going to be replacing my Sony RX100 with this…no, not quite. The Sony packs in a larger sensor, with (probably) noticeably better image quality, in a much smaller package. The X20, like the X10, aims to produce very good image quality too, while providing a better user experience, with its larger, better-handling body, more dedicated controls, the now-useful optical viewfinder, and that sort of thing. There are basically two different kinds of high-end compacts: the really compact compact, and the bulky-but-still-fairly-small compact. The RX100 is the former – the X20 is the latter. They’re different cameras, really

If you decide to get either, get them here from Amazon or from B&H Photo (Silver) / (Black) – and for all of those who have used my affiliate links to buy stuff, thank you so much! Thank you!

Oh, and if you’re getting it, check out the two-tone silver/black version. The X100 look. Classic

Specifications You Would Want To Know

  • Body: Compact, Magnesium Alloy
  • Resolution: 12.0 mega pixels
  • Sensor Size: 2/3”
  • Sensor Type: X-Trans CMOS II
  • Lens: Fujinon 7.1-28.4mm f2.0-2.8 (28-112mm equivalent)
  • Image Stabilization: Yes, optical
  • Shutter Speed: Max 1/4000 sec, Min 30 sec
  • ISO Range: 100-12800
  • Video: 1080p @ 60fps
  • Video Format: MOV (H.264)
  • Metering Modes: Multi, Spot, Average
  • Exposure Modes: P, A, S, M, Scene, Advanced, Auto, Custom (2)
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Forced, Suppressed, Slow Sync
  • Hot shoe: Yes
  • Autofocus: Phase Detection, Contrast Detect, Hybrid
  • AF Modes: Single, Continuous, Tracking, Macro
  • Manual Focus: Yes
  • Macro Range: 1cm (wide-angle)
  • Screen: 3.0” LCD (460k dots)
  • Articulation: None
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Optical Viewfinder: Yes (85% coverage)
  • Max Drive Speed: 12fps
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW
  • Connections: USB 2.0, HDMI (mini)
  • Memory Card Type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 117 x 70 x 57mm
  • Weight: 353g (including battery)

First Thoughts

Right, so when I (or anyone) first saw the X20, there didn’t seem to be much different, and hardly anything new. Spend a few moments looking through the product, and while nothing really major strikes you even then, you start to notice the way Fuji upgraded the X10 in a pretty clever way. Like I said earlier, they left the good bits, and fixed the bad. That’s all you can ask for in an upgrade, isn’t it?

There are basically three new things on the X20 that should make a significant different: the new sensor, the new AF system, and the new viewfinder

The biggest flaw of the X10, the faulty sensor, which was fixed even on the X10 itself, has definitely been addressed, with the brand new X-Trans CMOS II sensor, similar to the ones found on the higher-end X-Pro1 and X-E1 models. This should definitely fix the white-orb/blooming problem that plagued early X10s, while also improving high ISO performance and overall image quality.

Next, the rather useless optical viewfinder that I didn’t love on the X10 has been improved, by adding a digital panel that overlays information, such as exposure info and focus area on top of the finder, much like ones found on DSLRs and the sort. Now that’s something special…and a first for a compact camera. A large, 85% coverage optical viewfinder, with an electronic overlay showing all important shooting data, plus focus area? Very impressive. That’s going to be very useful

The last major improvement that I notice in the X20 is in an area that really didn’t need much work, but is always going to be a good thing: the autofocusing system. AF performance on the X10 was very good indeed, but the X20 has gone a step further with on-chip phase detection autofocusing! Another first on a compact? Not sure, but it’s definitely going to be one of the best in its class if it performs like it should. Nice. Very nice

So while the body, controls, sensor size, lens, and megapixel count don’t seem that different, that’s not where the X10 was lacking (if it did lack anything) – so yeah, why change that? The X20 seems to have left all that alone, and changed a few things inside instead. Smart. Very smart. I’m very eager to get my hands on this little thing now

Controls

As far as I can tell, the body and controls are identical to the X10. And that’s fine. I loved the X10 and how it handled, and how easy it was to adjust anything that I could possibly want to adjust. I often miss this control layout when using my RX100 – it was that good. Anyway, I’ll go through all of it again for those of you who aren’t familiar with the X10, starting with the top

The top panel has got the usual mode dial, the helpful exposure compensation dial, the shutter button, and the useful Fn button. It’s also got a hot shoe, and a pop-up flash

The X20's Top Panel

The X20’s Top Panel. Image from Fujifilm

The back of the camera is obviously where the rest of the stuff is. On the left of the 3” LCD, you have the Playback button, the AE control, the continuous shooting button, and the white balance control. On the other side is the very useful command dial, the AE/AF lock, the Display/Back button, and where the X10 had a dedicated RAW control, the X20 has a new Q menu button. As you can imagine, the Q menu is a customizable menu that allows you access to quite a few (16, I believe) settings with the press of that single button. I like it. Oh, and there’s the four-way directional controller, of course, which also works as a sub-command dial. The four directional buttons are: Macro, Self Timer, Flash, and AF/Delete

The X20's back panel

The X20’s Back Panel. Image from Fujifilm

The front has the magnificent Fujinon lens with the excellent manual zoom ring that also powers on the camera. Also on the front, beside the lens, is the AF selector, which lets you choose between single AF, continuous AF and manual focus. The AF lamp is also on the front. And that’s it. Yes, in this regard, it is identical to the X10. Told you!

Performance

Overall performance on the X10 was excellent. It really was. Power-on time was great. Autofocusing was very quick. Browsing the menus, adjusting settings, and shot-to-shot speed – all very fast. And that’s on the X10. The X20 has its new EXR Processor II, which is supposed to make everything, including startup, shot-to-shot speed, and shutter lag, faster! And of course, with the new phase detect AF system on the new sensor, AF speeds too should be faster – significantly faster. Fujifilm.com has listed a bunch of very short timings that the X20 is supposed to operate at – check it out if necessary – but I think it’s understood that the X20 will be a good performer

What else is there to say here? I haven’t used it yet! Give me one and I’ll write you a couple of pages on performance! 

Conclusion

I admit, although I wasn’t expecting the X20 right now, I was hoping that they’d fit in a larger, 1” sensor in there when they did release it. If they did, it would’ve been an easy decision to switch from my Sony to this one. It’s all about image quality for me

As it is, I’m still tempted – with image quality better than that of the X10 (closer to the RX100), this really great body/control layout, and a very impressive autofocusing system, not to mention the upgraded viewfinder – but I’m going to have to give it a full test before I make that decision

But looking at the X20, I think it’s a very clever upgrade. The X10 was an amazing camera, with a single major flaw, and a few little ones. The X20 isn’t a brand new camera. Instead, it’s a fixed X10. And before the Sony came out, I was dreaming of a camera like this. So yeah, when I say I’m tempted, I really am!

Alright, I keep talking of the RX100 and the X10, but what are my final thoughts on this camera? Forget that it’s a smart upgrade, forget that it’s missing the sensor size of the RX100, forget all that. Just look at it, on paper, on the website, whatever…and you really feel it’s going to be a good product. Right? If the image quality is as good as I’m expecting, with this new X-Trans CMOS sensor, and with its great design, and really nice set of features, I think there’s no doubt that this camera will be great to use. If you find the RX100 lacking in some way, and you don’t think you’ll miss the slight edge it has due to its large sensor, the X20 is definitely your next best bet! I’m considering it now


If you’re interested in getting this awesome camera, you can pre-order it already. Use my links – here and here – please! Until next time

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By Heshan Jayakody
All content is my own, except images (from fujifilm.com)

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Discussion

12 Responses to “Fujifilm X20: First Look”

  1. thanks for sharing your thoughts. sorry to ask, but what is your view if i had to buy one now? X20 or RX100 or something else? thank you

    Posted by George | January 15, 2013, 08:20
    • Hi George. without having used the X20 yet, i can’t comment. but i’m expecting image quality to be better than the X10, and probably closer to the RX100. if that is the case, i find myself leaning slightly towards the X20, due to its better handling and design. If i find the RX100 to be superior to the X20 in image quality, well – i’m gonna be keeping the Sony.

      One key thing that many people ignore is the fact that the RX100’s flash can be flipped upwards, giving a very cool bounce-flash effect. this gives me far more natural night flash shots than i’ve ever got with any other compact. no other compact yet has this ‘feature’, so keep that in mind too! right now, if i was buying, i’d get the RX100

      Posted by pixelogist | January 15, 2013, 08:39
  2. Yes, it should be very interesting to see how it performs. I would have liked to have seen an in-camera NDF. If the dynamic range of this smaller processor matches the X10 in its EXR mode, it will be a very nice camera indeed. I have an x10, I really like it, but EXR sensor takes a bit of figuring out, the new X20 will save many complications as to what is the best mode to use. And to have feedback in the OVF, especially the focus point, if it works, will be a great boon, as I much prefer shooting with the OVF.

    Posted by John Monro | January 18, 2013, 12:45
    • A built-in ND filter would be nice, indeed! unfortunately many new compacts seem to omit this. Regarding the OVF, I wasn’t a fan of the OVF on the X10, the way it is, but I can definitely see myself using the X20’s new finder without a doubt – I look forward to checking it out and reviewing it as soon as possible. Look out for it!

      Anyway, it’s interesting to hear your thoughts, being an X10 user, and it seems you’d definitely be interested in upgrading to the X20, right? I think that’d definitely make sense, as even though the X20 is not a huge upgrade, it’s a very significant one

      Posted by pixelogist | January 18, 2013, 13:19
  3. X20 is a big upgrade from a shooting pictures perspective. Better Af, information in OVF. And the sensor will do better than x10. I looked at web samples from Fuji X photographers. (Samples from all X series cameras) And there all down sized for the web. The x20 samples are better than x10 samples with less noise. But I feel no were close to X pro 1, web samples. Too bad there no full resolution samples or video samples. X20 is sensor is still 6.4 times smaller than Xpro 1. If they wanted the x20 camera to compete with bigger sensor cameras they need more pixel pitch of a bigger sensor. Just my two cents.

    Posted by bluevaping | January 19, 2013, 08:13
    • Exactly. From a shooting perspective, the upgrades are very significant. I too was disappointed that the sensor remained a 2/3″ size – a 1″ would’ve been very nice, and i would’ve run out and got myself one to replace my RX100. but even if they did increase the sensor size, I doubt it would compare with the X-Pro1 or the X-E1. Different class of camera

      Posted by pixelogist | January 19, 2013, 09:21
  4. I’m definitely upgrading my X10 to this new X20 – no doubt about it! I’ll just wait for a few initial reviews to see if there are any problems with the sensor, liek there was with the X10, and if there is any other little issue with it. If not, if it’s everything it says it is, I’m going to pre-order!

    Posted by Alex Tan | January 20, 2013, 07:32

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