Fujifilm X20 - Complete Review

Categoria: English Pubblicato: Martedì, 07 Maggio 2013 Scritto da Donato Chirulli

 

 

Let's state this clear, to avoid any misunderstanding: this is not a new revolutionary camera, nor it is an abysmal step forward compared to the X10. It is an upgrade thanks to several innovations aimed to improve some specific areas considered unsatisfactory in the previous model. That's why the cameras look identical and the lens is the same. The only way to spot which is the camera is to see the small logo in the front of the camera or the different names assigned to some buttons on the back. Long story short, what was ok (dimensions, versatility and quality of the lens, the real selling points of the X10) have been retained while the most important upgrades have been made on the inside of the camera, in order to improve the responsiveness of the camera and to satisfy customers asking to be allowed to use the optical viewfinder in a more efficient way. Some functions and positions of the buttons on the back of the camera have been changed also.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/3000 sec. Iso 100 - 0,33 EV - Setting: Provia - Sharpen +1

 

First things first: the most important innovation of the X20 is the Brand New X-Trans sensor. A 12 megapixel, 2/3" sensor. Its presence generated incredible expectations among enthusiasts...great expectations for what concerns the sharpness and the resolution, something that led people to think it could even match the quality of the existing APS-C sensors. Of course, again, this is a misunderstanding. This is a "small" sensor born to be installed on a compact camera, even if on its inside there's a new technology capable of making this camera a real improvement. We're talking about the new hybrid AF system. It introduces the phase detection AF in addition to the standard contrast detection system with the intent of speeding up the camera in all the situations with low contrast or bad illumination. Indeed one of the most important drawbacks of the mirrorless cameras is usually the slow AF in critical situations (again, low contrast or poor lighting) due to the lack of the mirror and its dedicated AF sensors. The introduction of the Hybrid Af (the camera automatically select the best solution based on illumination and contrast) is, without any doubt, a big improvement for the X20 but don't expect to be able to easily shoot a car race or in the dark. As clearly explained since the beginning of this review, when talking about a camera it's crucial to take into account the kind of camera, its real use, its price and what the rivals can offer. However, compared to the X10, the responsiveness is clearly improved, together with the possibility to finally have a reasonably fast and precise AF in many of the situations in which the old x10 couldn't nail the focus. To get the best from it, as usual, it's better to spend some time with the camera. This will allow to understand where to place the AF frame and how big it has to be based on the placement of the subject and the available light.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/125 sec. Iso 160 (Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

 

Another big improvement on this new X20 is the introduction of the new viewfinder or, to be precise, the introduction of the shooting informations and the AF frame in the viewfinder. Again, it's not a DSLR, but it's the only compact camera that allows a real use of the optical viewfinder. The type of the viewfinder has its own pros and cons and that's why it is either hated or loved. It's just a matter of tastes: the rangefinder was, for a long time, the best option among viewfinders but with time the adoption of the reflex system and the introduction of digital lcds it has almost been forgotten. With the new explosion of the "old style" cameras the "old" rangefinder-style viewfinder quickly became a real option because it allows to reduce weight and dimensions and it also allows you to use the other eye while framing (if you are right-eyed) allowing you to be better involved in the scene.The X20's viewfinder doesn't give many informations, it's limited to shutter speed, aperture, mode, AF frame and AF confirm. All the informations are locked when the shutter is half-pressed. There's no ISO indication or parallax correction frame and sometimes the available informations are not so clear depending on the framed scene or the illumination. However, for who likes to shoot it in a traditional way this is a big improvement.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/6,4 20sec. Iso 100 (Auto) +1,33 EV - Setting: Std

Jpeg OOC- f/11 1/210 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

 

Let's move to the "minor" improvements. The most useful is, in my opinion, the new AUTO ISO feature. It's now possible to set a base ISO (together with the maximum value) and a minimum shutter speed. The camera's software will try (if possible, of course) to set the ISO value at the base settiing and at the same time the shutter speed will be forced to be at least at the selected value. This will allow to better face all the situations where the old x10 tipically decided to keep the ISO to the lowest value at the expense of the shutter speed. Another improvement is the introduction of the focus peaking, a very welcome manual focus aid. The edges of the subject are highlighted with a white halo that intensifies when the focus distance approaches the real distance. To be honest its usefullness is not so high in good light, while it can be really useful when the light is not so good and you have the time to use it.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/125 sec. Iso 125 (Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

 

In the new model the buttons layout on the back and the mode dial on top are slightly different from its predecessor. For what concerns the button layout on the back the AF button has been moved to the rotating dial around the menu button. This is a better solution, especially paired with the new viewfinder, since it allows you to shoot and to move the AF area without the need to remove your eye from the viewfinder. The old AF button has been replaced by the drive button. There is also a Q button, a solution already seen in the X series (X-Pro1, X-E1 etc.) that allows you to quickly access all the main settings to fine tune your output.The mode dial now has a new SR+ mode, in lieu of the EXR mode seen in the previous model. Some "art" filters have also been added in the Adv mode.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/4,0 1/350 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,0 1/320 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Velvia

 

In the field

As explained above the improvements over the X10 are more evident in the usability and responsiveness rather than in the pure image quality. The latter is strictly related to sensor size and to the lens quality, more than to the software algorithms or image processors. Given that both elements remained the same it seems pretty obvious to not expect huge improvements in the image quality, also given the high quality already offered by the "old" model. There's a slight improvement in the high ISO settings, 3200 and 1600. Nothing to rave about but at least it's now possibile to finally have good pictures even at these settings and at full resolution. Please note that the old X10 was desiged to be used with the EXR mode in such situations, allowing an acceptable quality at high ISO but at the same time reducing the image size to 6 megapixels.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/2,2 1/60 sec. Iso 2500 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/2,2 1/60 sec. Iso 500 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/30 sec. Iso 3200 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/125 sec. Iso 320 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

 

In general the lens has good performances throughout the entire focal range with little distortion and no moire . The bokeh is pleasant at the widest aperture, the lens has a "soul" in its general rendering. Personally, I think a camera like this should have at a minimum 24mm equivalent focal lenght even if that would mean to have a maximum focal lenght around 90mm/100mm. The jpeg quality is on a high level, as expected, even if we noticed a "smudging" noticeable on faces in the darker areas of the frame. A behaviour already present in the past, probably due to the youth of the camera. In the wait to see a firmware update we strongly recommend to set the sharpness parameter to Flat or "-1". It's always possible to manipulate the files with the PC. The raw files have been converted with the last version of Adobe's Lightroom: LR5 beta, that seems to be sufficiently neutral and allows to have an incredible amount of fine tuning. What is still missing is the the possibility to apply the well known Fuji film simulations to the converted jpegs.In the practical use, as already explained, the camera has proven to be very responsive and there are very little chances to be forced to wait a long time to see the AF frame to become green or red. Don't be lazy, take your time to double check the focus (even using the focus scale in the LCD) especially in critical situations.

 

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/1000 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/5,6 1/480 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/11 1/250 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Raw File - f/8,0 1/125 sec. Iso 1250 (Auto) - Raw conversion: Lightroom 4.4 cr

 

Conclusions

 

With the X20, Fujifilm produced a great effort to improve the performances of the already good X10. A hard challennge that in our opinion Fuji won especially for what concerns the general usability of the camera. Small and big improvements that fixed some of the flaws of its predecessor. As highlighted the image quality doesn't change that much but please take into account the great quality available with the X10 especially considering its essence: a Compact Camera. A wonderful compact camera, with a great build quality, easy to use. Versatile and capable of capturing great images in almost any shooting conditions. Based on all these premises, the risk is ask for the impossible: it's easy to forget what we have in our hands and it's easy to expect to be able to shoot everything with a perfect quality, a quality sometimes impossible even for well equipped DSLRs. On the contrary the X20 refines the photographic approach brought by the X10: a meditative approach, an aesthetical vision rather than technical. The camera is small enough to be always with us, it's convenient, almost invisible and has the quality and the versatility that allows you to face almost any shooting conditions. The technology is there, and it's futuristic, but it's a step behind the "soul". The X20 forces you to look around, to look inside you, to evaluate, to think...Then it takes great pictures of what you seen. To be honest in such a specific segment, we hardly understand how to improve a device like this. A better lens? A bigger sensor maintaining the same size of the camera? Something that can produce cleaner and sharper files? We don't know. Technology has teached us that nothing is impossible: we couldn't have even imagined a camera like this 4 or 5 years ago, but now it's reality and it's affordable. Probably it should be easier to work on the rear LCD, to make it more visible and true, tiltable and touch screen. We'll see...in the meanwhile, enjoy this new X20. Satisfactions won't miss at all

 

 

B&W Street Photography

Jpeg OOC- f/5,6 1/125 sec. Iso 500 (Auto) - Setting: Bg - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/6,4 1/60 sec. Iso 400 (Auto) - Setting: Bg - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/5,6 1/220 sec. Iso 400 (Auto) - Setting: Bg - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/3,6 1/680 sec. Iso 400 (Auto) - Setting: Bg - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,0 1/200 sec. Iso 400 (Auto) - Setting: Bg - Sharpen +1

 

Colours Street Photography

Jpeg OOC- f/5,0 1/500 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/8,0 1/105 sec. Iso 400 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/5,0 1/60 sec. Iso 800 (Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/7,1 1/125 sec. Iso 250(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/5,0 1/80 sec. Iso 200 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/160 sec. Iso 100 (Auto) - Setting: Provia

Jpeg OOC- f/6,4 1/125 sec. Iso 400(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

 

Colors Tests

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/280 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Provia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/280 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Pro Neg Hi - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/280 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/11 1/150 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/8,0 1/340 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/5,6 1/800 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Velvia

Jpeg OOC- f/11 1/125 sec. Iso 640(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/280 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/10 1/125 sec. Iso 640(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,5 1/250 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - EV -0,33 - Setting: Provia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,5 1/250 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Ev -0,33 - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,5 1/250 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Ev -0,33 - Setting: B/N - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/6,4 1/600 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Ev -0,33 - Setting: Provia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/6,4 1/600 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Ev -0,33 - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/6,4 1/600 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Ev -0,33 - Setting: B/N - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,0 1/1000 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Provia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,0 1/1000 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

Jpeg OOC- f/4,0 1/1000 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Setting: B/N - Sharpen +1

 

Some Adv Filters & Macro

Jpeg OOC- f/4,5 1/800 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - EV +0,33 - Toy Effect

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/950 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - EV +0,33 - Toy Effect

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/400 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - EV +0,33 - Toy Effect

Jpeg OOC- f/5,0 1/900 sec. Iso 200(Auto) - EV +0,33 - Soft Focus  Effect

Jpeg OOC- f/2,5 1/850 sec. Iso 200(Auto) - EV +0,33 - Diorama Effect

Jpeg OOC- f/2,5 1/125 sec. Iso 500(Auto) - EV -0,67 - Setting: Velvia - Macro

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/100 sec. Iso 3200(Auto) - EV -0,67 - Setting: Velvia - Macro

Jpeg OOC- f/2,5 1/800 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - EV -0,67 - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1 - Macro

 

Raw/Jpeg Comparisons

Raw File - f/3,2 1/1000 sec. Iso 200(Auto)  - Raw conversion: Lightroom 5beta

Jpeg OOC- f/3,2 1/1000 sec. Iso 200(Auto)  - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

File Raw - f/3,2 1/100 sec. Iso 1600(Auto)  - Raw conversion: Lightroom 5beta

File Raw - f/3,2 1/100 sec. Iso 1600(Auto)  - Raw conversion: Lightroom 5beta - Crop 100%

Jpeg OOC - f/3,2 1/100 sec. Iso 1600(Auto) - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1 - Crop 100%

File Raw - f/6,4 1/140 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - Raw conversion: Lightroom 5beta

Jpeg OOC - f/6,4 1/140 sec. Iso 100(Auto) - EV -0,67 - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1

 

The End.....

Gilles

Jpeg OOC- f/2,8 1/25 sec. Iso 3200 - EV -0,33 - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1 - Post production: Lightroom 5beta & PS

Jpeg OOC- f/3,2 1/30 sec. Iso 800  - Setting: Velvia - Sharpen +1 - Internal Flash

 

Fujifilm Global X20 Promotional Video (Donato Chirulli): Here

Camera: Fujifilm X20 Editor Sample - Firmvare Version: 1.01

All Jpeg files (except if otherwise stated) have been corrected exclusively for luminosity levels in PS. Raw files converted with Lightroom 4.4 cr or 5.o beta standard parametrs.

Locations:

Venezia, Burano (Ve), Villa d'Este (Tivoli - RM). Roma

Thanks to the models: Mara Make UP - Miriam Galanti - Gilles Rocca