I appreciated the Fujifilm X10 in my review of thi nice traditional camera for its user interface, its 2/3″sensor and its high quality fast lens. Today, Fujifilm is back with the replacement camera of the X10 unveiling the X20 which brings many improvements to the concept of high-end digital compact optical zoom camera, an area in which Fujifilm is now a master. This Fuji-X series member seems well equipped to win the favors of many passionate photographers, amateurs of nice images and beautiful objects. It recycles the recipe of its predecessor : the Fujifilm X20 has a 4x optical wih apertures ranging from f/2 at wide-angle and f/2.8 at telephoto, a large 2/3″ sensor but widely redesigned and duplicates the ergonomics I praised of the X10 adopting many buttons and manual adjustment rings that facilitate the use of the Fujifilm X20 in PSAM modes and participate in the pleasure of shooting. The main point isn’t it ?
Fujifilm X20: what’s new?
X-Trans 2/3″ sensor
Building on the success of trans-X technology appeared on the Fujifilm X-Pro1, the designers have adapted on the X20 the X-Trans sensor in a new 2/3″ CMOS 12-megapixel version derived from the X10’s sensor. The Fujifilm X20 receives the new sensor 2/3″ 12 megapixels X-Trans CMOS II which makes its appearance for the first time in the world of photography. I presume that this new X-Trans sensor will be adapted to the X-S1 bridge camera successor in a hypothetical X-S2. Having removed the optical low-pass filter that blurs the image to reduce moiré, we can expect a better definition on the photos produced by the Fuji X20 over the X10 while remaining on a 12 megapixel picture. The sensor’s signal is processed by the new EXR Processor II, shared with the Fujifilm X100S, for a final result which Fujifilm claims that its resolution is improved by 20% and its noise reduced by over 30% compared to the previous generation. I can’t wait to see it for myself and I’ll make sure to check these figures in my Fuji X20 review.
New fast autofocus system : phase detection – 0.06s
In addition to a thoroughly revised sensor, the Fujifilm X20 adopts a new autofocus system. It operates from the X-Trans sensor’s photodiodes to operate a focus by phase detection as on today’s DSLRs in as fast as 0.06 second. In addition to this lightning fast phase autofocus, the powerful EXR II Processor reduces the startup time of the camera to just half a second, and lowers the sgutter lag to a purely imperceptible delay of a hundredth of a second. Between two shots, it only takes 0.5 second to the Fuji X20 to be available again and shoot.
Hybrid diplay viewfinder
The Fujifilm X20’s viewfinder will make an other difference compared to many competitors on the high end cameras market . First, the X20’s optical viewfinder has the merit to exist! And this is increasingly rare nowadays, even on serious cameras. The optical viewfinder of the Fujifilm X10 was by far the “least bad” of all digital compact cameras viewfinders (except of course the gorgeous hybrid one of the X100 which evolves in a different category). The new Fuji X20 viewfinder covers 85% of the actual image captured by the camera. It is certainly small compared to advanced DSLRs offering a 100% image coverage, but still not so bad for a compact camera. The great innovation of this new viewfinder is the addition of a thin translucent panel of 1 mm thick which can display overlay information over the optical image as the shutter speed, the aperture, the ISO value, the area where the camera focused, and any other relevant camera information so that the photographer can continue to shoot quietly keeping its eye stocked into the viewfinder. It reminds me of the the hybrid viewfinder of the X100/X100S and X-Pro1. The display of this information superimposed on the optical image is normally black, then turns in green when you are shooting under low-light conditions to improve their visibility. When the camera wishes to draw your attention to a parameter or an alarm, it displays in red. That should solve the problem of the exposure correction ring accidentally moved while you don’t notice it and spoil an entire serie of photos, like it happens with all Fuji-X cameras. Now, the X20 will alert you in the viewfinder in a visible way if the exposure compensation is applied.
Full HD 60p video recording
The Fujifilm X20 offers video recording in Full HD and 60p (vs 24p on the X10). To give an idea of the quality of the movies, the flow recorded is 36 Mb/s. Fujifilm has thought of a microphone input on the X20 to ensure high quality sound recording via an external stereo microphone. We can use the Film Simulation filters in video mode also and work in manual exposure so you can choose the aperture setting that you want to use for creative purposes and create an aesthetic bokeh.
The ergonomics of the Fujifilm X20 incorporates the standards set by its predecessor the X10 which makes the use of the X20 in manual modes (PSAM) a real pleasure starting with the manual a manual zoom ring, with the most traditional focal lengths marks. I will simply miss a second ring that would set the aperture which is something you do by the rear dial. The Q button is very convenient : it allows direct access to the most used settings. We then navigate through these settings with the directional pad or the rear dial. You can also easily switch from one image ratio to another on on the X20 (4:3 native format of the sensor, 3:2 through 1:1 square format and 16:9). If desired, you can also use Fujifilm X20 automatically with the ADVANCED SR AUTO mode with Advanced Scene Recognition in which the camera detects the scene type and conditions to adapt the parameters to use accordingly and improve final image for optimal results. I use this mode quite often aside aperture priority when when I lack of time to refine the camera settings under certain conditions and to make sure I’ll get a correct snapshot. The ability to shoot in RAW format is also an obvious asset of the X20. But I doubt that the raw files generated by the X-Trans sensor of the Fujifilm X20 will be supported by a majority of photography workflow software processing RAW photos. Because of its unusual matrix pattern, this sensor requires a specific development. I know, vecause the Japanese X series team told me, that Fujifilm has teamed up with Adobe for the X-Pro1 RAW images processing algorythm to have the camera supported by Lightroom and Camera RAW.
Fujifilm X20 – creative filters and film simulation
Fujifilm stimulates our traditional photography fiber providing the X20 film simulation modes that will reproduce the touch of some of Fujifilm’s most famous films like Velvia, Provia or Astia. The X20 also allows to apply the new ones appeared on the X-Pro1, PRO Neg Hi and standard, as well as color filter when using the X20 in black and white photography. In addition to these film simulation modes, the X20 has different artistic filters:
- Colors pop
- Effect model
- Your dynamic
- Partial Color
- High Key and Low Key
- Soft focus
Fujifilm X20 preview : first impressions
As the X100S replaces brilliantly the X100, I warmly welcome the X20 as an excellent successor to Fujifilm X10. It brings interesting improvements, in the first place in terms of image quality with the latest sensor technology adapting the X-Trans sensor on the 2/3″ unit, which neat and quite a surprise for me considering the developments that must have been needed for realtively modest sales volumes (due to the X20 premium camera DNA and price tag). Its image quality should make a leap forward thanks to the new sensor, but also thanks to the new EXR II processor which will probably be responsible for another share of image improvement but also for the responsiveness of the camera, and more particularly its focusing system that we are promised as ultra fast like on the X100S. Finally, the addition of shooting information overay in the optical viewfinder should improve a bit further and make the use of the X20 even more enjoyable than the X10. The Fujifilm X20 is obviously a well born camera and I have little doubt it won’t meet a successful career. It combines the qualities of its predecessor with inspired changes.
Main features of the Fujifilm X20
- Sensor: 2/3 “- X-Trans CMOS II
- Lens: 4x f/2.0-2.8
- EXR Processor II
- LCD 2.8 “/ 460,000 dots
- Autofocus : hybrid intelligent – focuses in 0.06 s
- Optical Viewfinder with Trans Digital Panel”
- Flash “intelligent” pop-up flash
- Starting time in 0.5 s
- Super Macro mode focusing distance : 1cm from the subject
- 360° sweep panoramas
- 8 Creative Filters
- “Q” button for quick access to key settings
- Programmable Fn button
- SR Auto Mode with Scene Detection among 64 cases