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