April 28, 2013
Review for Fuji X-20
The camera received a very good press; I bought it precisely because it was a CORRECTVE version, not an incremental one! I mean that X20 promised to solve the bugs of the previous model, X10, which was revolutionary but did have some weaknesses both in design (slow focusing in low light, it was not certified for. Eye Wi, the optical viewfinder did not offer any indications) and in practice, the in famous "white orbs".
That's why I purchased the X20, which is not cheap, because it is a corrective version, right? Not incremental, not trying to raise any resolution or zoom factor, to provide useless bells and jungles, but to remedy the problems. It was expected for more than one year, so it seems natural that my review starts … with the negative aspects of X20, since the positive ones, the advantages are self-evident, have been widely advertised by the manufacturer. I mention here what I did not like about it!
- Size : it is sort of "mule", being bigger than a normal compact so it does not fit anymore in my shirt pocket or jacket, but considerably smaller than a DSLR, so it does not stay fest in the bag pt. DSLR.
- The grip clips for the carrying belt are elaborate and good, but installing them is laborious and takes a while. You do not have a functional unit as soon as you take it out of the box, as is the case for an usual compact where you immediately insert the hand strap.
- The lens cover does not screw it securely on it, but only stays when it is in the closed position. The cover has no hole for a thread to be tied to camera body, you must keep in your hand or it will be lost!
- Connectors (USB and HDMI) have no hinged door, and no rubber sealing element, as in other, cheaper cameras. The plugs are covered by the same black plastic, which is the body of the machine - retro style reminds me of Soviet camera Fed, for example. There may be problems with sealing the connectors, the Fuji camera looks semi-professional and it ought to withstand rain
- The display in the optical viewfinder is succinct and hardly legible. It is a step ahead of X10, which had nothing, but how well is it working? Theoretically it even changes color from black to green and red if there is anything bad, but in practice guidelines are hard to read ... maybe if instead of being right at the bottom of the viewfinder, the display was in the overlay in middle of the picture, it was better! Since the digital display is transparent, the indications do not disturb the image you see in the viewfinder ...
- Adjusting the viewfinder dioptrically is hard. The vertical adjustment wheel is right next to the viewfinder, if my eye + eyeglasses is glued to the viewfinder, how do I reach the control?
- The battery capacity is low. Fortunately, I already had another Fuji NP50 (A)battery. It is necessary to have at least two batteries and preferably also two chargers and! A single battery only lasts about 250 shots, by far not enough for a whole day. OK, some people do not take thousands of bad pictures, like me, just a few high quality photos, still you must go with the camera turned on, it drains the battery, it is always necessary to have a full battery with you as backup. Charging takes up to two hours, so even when you're home and you have a charger with you, you must have a spare battery, otherwise the camera becomes unavailable for several hours. This is why I said two chargers, in order not to have to always wandering around with the charger on me, now one is at work, another at home!
- Of course, the low capacity is not the fault of the device, but rather the battery used. And note please that I did the preliminary testing in normal Spring conditions - temperatures of 10 ... 20oC. In the cold of the winter it will be worse!
- The more so because, owing to its size, you can not keep it in the inside pocket, to the heat. Again, an additional battery charger may be a luxury, but a spare battery to have with you is a necessity. An ordinary low-cost 4GB memory card can store about a thousand photos (if not using RAW), but the battery only last for 2-300 image!
- Bug or firmware problem in my 64-bit Windows 7 installation?
There is a considerable delay in downloading images from the camera to your computer!
I want to download pictures, connect the camera to the computer with the cable in the package (if it was my first Fuji, I would have cursed since it is a non-standard cable with micro-USB connector that is specific only to that company, but fortunately X20 is my fifth Fuji camera so that although I’ve lost a connection cable, I have enough of them!) and nothing happens ... yet!
- You have to remove the cable from the socket and to plug it in once again for Windows to detect the new device and install the driver for it successfully. It takes forever until I see this :
- Turing On / off by twisting the lens requires a bit of habit. I'm not saying that is bad, on the contrary! It completely eliminates the possibility of accidental turning off or starting the camera, just that sometimes I still want to press the non-existent Start button. More unpleasant is when it shuts down automatically to reduce consumption - to restart, you twisted the lens first to the right, then left again!
- Minor inconvenience, pressing Macro brings up a sub-menu, not directly the Macro function. .Such a menu should naturally have the options to Off (normal operation without macro) Mountains (landscape, focus to infinity, the opposite of macro), Macro and Super Macro. But here the "landscape" option is missing, of course I can select and adjust the manual focus distance to infinity, but it is laborious and slow! And if you leave the default of Off, the first option that appears is not macro like it would be normal, but instead Super macro! If you just want Macro, you need to press the button once again …
- I'm shooting in natural light, with exposure bracketing. The machine makes three successive photos with different exposures. If I go inside or in a heavily shaded area and want to use the flash – tough luck! It is not enough to raise the flash, or press the button to "forced flash"! have to go into the menu and disable multiple shooting (bracketing), the flash can be activated only in the Single image mode …
- The software limitations imposed some strange restrictions, in modes with aperture priority or time, maximum shutter speed of just 1/1000 of a second, which is too little! Of course, the camera goes up to 1/4000, but only in the Full Manual. 1/4000 is very good, allows me to fully exploit the advantages of very wide aperture of f/2.0, which is maintained at a remarkably even f/2.8 at telephoto end of the zoom, the focal length of 112mm!
- When speaking of diaphragm very open - it bothers me that does this advanced camera NOT include neutral filter (ND)!
Built-in neutral filter is not a fad but a necessity, especially in a camera in this price category and who provides an aperture of 1:2! I’ve had several e compact hyper zooms that never have more open aperture of 1:5,6 so there the problem was that too little light enters, but for X20 at maximum aperture the daylight is simply too bright, so an internal neutral filter was necessary. The neutral filter, internal or screw-on, is even more of a necessity since the minimum ISO is 100 X20. My older Canon A70 back in 2003 had the option of ISO 50, but for X20 the minimum sensitivity is 100!
What I’d like very much, of course in a more expensive follow-up model:
- LCD screen not bigger, but with higher resolution, and certainly articulated (hinged) on both axes, as in Canon, not just vertically, like in Fuji, Sony and others
- Same great lens, but with wider focal range, both at the wide end (28mm is really needed but 24mm would be better!) and the tele end, as far as possible, of course with the same great aperture of around 1:2. After seven year of using superzooms, only 112 mm is really not enough!
- To have in the viewfinder a better Trans Digital Panel, this is highly visible and closer to the wealth of information generously displayed on the LCD. As it is placed now at the bottom of the viewfinder, what good are the color changes from black to green or red, when you fail to see it!?
- I really do not understand why the optical viewfinder only covers 85% of the actual image!
- More pixels resolution? A camera with 16 or 20 M pixels at identical optical quality would be good, but I do not think that is possible! Inevitably the sensor must be lager, so the lenses should also be larger and heavier. On a small sensor, at high ISO the noise would be unacceptable! For now, Fuji has done very well when it kept the same resolution of 12 M pixels ...
Enough about the weaknesses, now let me tell you about the good points:
- It fells good in hand, it is all right even if it has no proper grip, there are elements that provide a good grip.
- It has buttons and dial functions you are not compelled to do everything from the menus, like other cheap compacts or bridges. And the menus are well structured and easily accessible! (OK, I am not absolutely un-biased, use Fuji cameras since 2005, so I’ve become accustomed to their style of menus)
- The LCD display provides a wealth of information! It is no very large, has only 2.8 inches, nor high resolution (460,000 pixels is good, but the professional ones have over a million!)
It is clear and visible in daylight (not direct sunlight, of course). The display shows a grid of 6x4 framing, aperture value, shutter speed and sensitivity, real-time histogram. Two useful items that I have not seen before in other cameras are the artificial horizon (the electronic level) and the distance indicator that graphically illustrates the plane of focus. A red line indicates the distance of focusing and a white area, the depth of field! When you adjust the aperture, you see how to change the depth - I find it fascinating, even on my entry-level DSLR I do not have it. Back in the 1960s I had books about photography featuring detailed tables telling the DOF for various setting of aperture and distance, but now for the first time can see live the "depth of field" of the camera!
- The manual zoom ring is properly placed and easy to use. But it requires two hands! What's wrong with that? Well, since 2003 I got used to compacts, which operated motorized zoom using the toggle contacts located around the shutter! Not a single hand, a single FINGER was enough for zoom and shutter! In addition, for X20 you have always one hand busy holding cover the lens, which does not have a string allowing it to hang freely ...
- The lenses is excellent, I refer especially to the large aperture that is maintained at f/2.0-2.8 throughout the zoom range of 4x (DSLR users with high performance lenses will say that this is normal, but after you've had a lot compacts that provided 1:3.5 aperture at the wide end but going down to 6-7 at the tele end, you can appreciate more the X20's performance!)
- The Metal casing is solid without being bulky or cumbersome
- The machine is really very fast, as promised the start time is only 0.5 seconds and shutter delay only 0.01 seconds. And closure is quick by turning the lens clockwise. Mentioning the shut down time seems strange!? I do talk about the time needed to STOP the camera because in 2005 I had a Fuji F10 which boasted that it is very quick to start and to focus (for a compact in its class). The manufacturer’s statement was perfectly true, but incomplete – yes the camera was faster at startup and normal shooting, but did have a large delay while shutting down, and focusing while in Macro mode was really slow
- X20 is focusing fast (very quick!) and firm, even in low light conditions. Obviously if you want to focus on clouds, smoke or blue sky without details there will be trouble ...
- The lens mount is threaded, you can attach filters, lens hood or other accessories. Of course, you have to buy an adapter, you can not directly screw 52mm filters.
- In the closed position, the lens is not prominent, the camera is not bulky l
- It has both optical viewfinder and built-in flash and also external flash shoe! What more could you want? A few years ago when mirorrless cameras appeared, I did appreciate the Olympus PEN which besides flash shoe also had a built-in flash, you could use the shoe for mounting an external optical viewfinder. The competition had compacts that had no flash, no viewfinder, so you did not know what to put first the shoe – a flash or a viewfinder?!
- Yes, I noticed the mentioned “bug”- in the wide angle position, in the lower right corner of the viewfinder the barrel of the lenses is visible. It is inevitable in such a wide angle, and where to put the optical viewfinder? Even if there was place on the camera’s body, IF the sight was shifted to the left, the distance from the optical axis of the lens would increase, so would the parallax error!
- You can directly set the ISO "how you want" but it does not make much sense. The "ISO Auto" is doing great, allow you to set: ISO Starting (100), maximum ISO (800 or 1600) and minimum exposure time that the camera will try to provide (1/30 or 1/60 of a second)
- I tried the compact cameras at ISO3200, and the results are poor. Disappointment? Not really, for a sensor so small, it was expected! It is very important to know the exact amount of sensitivity that admissible and the one that is not! Therefore I generally leave the camera on Auto ISO 1600. It features better noise processing unit and does treat sensitivity properly, I mean it is very difficult to be smarter than the X20 and get perfect results by manually adjusting sensitivity to each image!
- The Auto ISO is good and it allows fine-tuning of sensitivity when I require aperture or shutter speed (like all cameras, I can manually set the sensitivity to standard values such as 100, 200 or 400, but in Auto mode it can set also, when required by light conditions, intermediary values such as ISO 140 or 250!).
- Former Raw button on X10 is now called Q, that is used to access the Quick Menu, which is familiar to me from my entry-level DSRL
-The Quick Menu on the LCD displays a 4x4 matrix of icons, 16 parameters can be easily modified, sensitivity, white balance, mode, etc. Each of them can be quickly and easily adjusted from the Quick Menu by using the navigation wheels - it's almost as good as if the X20 had a touch screen!
- Thread for the tripod is located eccentrically, which absolutely does not bother at all for a camera so small and light . On a full-frame DSLR camera, which a 10 kg lenses attached, of course there are other requirements, but fort. X20 the tripod mount is really "overkill" with its metallic thread. Also it is located away from the compartment for. memory card and batteries, so you can change the memory or replace the battery with the camera mounted on a tripod!
It is an advanced feature, because there are entry-level DSLRs that lack this finesse.
- In addition to the classic Macro, it has “super macro setting that allows you to get as close as 1 cm to the subject! It's just too much, at 5 cm already the built-in flash is not only useless, but also the camera body and lens shade the subject, even if you are out in full sunshine ... you need a ring flash or LED illuminator to fully use the Super-Macro mode!
-The Flash is optimally located on the upper left, minimizes red eye, and has a good manual operation button. Canon had a model where the flash pops up automatically when the camera is turned on, which is extremely annoying, they rushed to correct this ...
-The button for raising the flash is facing towards you on the camera body. This is very good, on the F660 EXR the button was just around the corner - easy to use, but at night when I wanted to do long exposure photos using for supporting the camera a tree or other vertical surface, I did press it inevitably and the flash pops up!
- Manually adjust the distance is easy, even if it is not a mechanical lens ring for focus! The LCD increased detail to verify the clarity and displays clear focus distance, both in manual and automatic. I have glasses, the Soviet SLR cameras that I used in the 70-80 years lacked raster with micro prisms so I found it very difficult to adjust, the focus. This is why I really appreciate the manual adjustment of focus on X-20!
WB - absolut ely superb!
It has a dedicated button, you can acces it directly, you don’t ned to enter the Menu and navigate several settings pages;
You can also set a color temperature of or your own choice, such as 8300K. Thsi is an advanced, professional feature, seldom used, but very good to have around!
More commonly used is the two-axes adjustment (such asa red +2, blue -1) of WB once you have selected one of the standard settings: Daylighst, Shade, and so on
The camera box – it is made in Japan, not in China:
The cover for the connectors has no hinges and is made of the same plastic material that covers the metallic body of the camera:
Lens cover – no holes or eylets to be able to tie iot to the body of the camer or to the fastening lugs for the holding strap, like I did with other lens covers!
The charger for the NP-50 lithium battery si small and versatile, you can plug it directly in the mains outlet on the wall or use a standard power cord (two wires, no grounding).
The previous pictures OF the X20 were, obviously, talken with ANOTHER camera.
Nov come the pics taken by X20 itself! Her is th charger with battery inside, at ISO 3200, low light conditions, image resized:
Crop of the above image at ISO 3200, noise is visible!
Bus 123 at the stop, by night – anothe crop of image at ISO 3200:
The noise is high, but not hideosus, rather paint-like, the noise reduction system acts aggresively and cuts down the actual resolution, the image becomes like a mozaic or like the poiltillist paintings!
Macro photo at ISO 3200:
Outdoors, at ISO 200 – it the street. Resized whole image followd by a crop of the full-size image
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