Fujifilm X20 review
X-ceptional: re-vamped version of the X10 keeps the same gorgeous outer shell but adds under-the bonnet performance tweaks
The Fujifilm X20 premium compact with a ‘classic’ design updates the previous X10 model and in doing so clashes with the likes of the Samsung EX2F, Olympus XZ-2, Pentax MX-1, and much pricier Nikon Coolpix A and Leica X2, the last of which the Fuji very closely resembles design wise, yet for a third of the price. OK, so the Fuji makes do with a smaller 2/3-inch sensor rather than an APS-C sized chip the same as found in a DSLR, but its suggested £499.99 feels fair, particularly with street/online prices cheaper still.
Whilst the 1960’s styling with rangefinder-like knobs and dials plus 4x optical zoom of the X10 remains, a new 12 megapixel sensor, new processor and new viewfinder – of the optical variety, yet with a clever digital overlay that displays settings at eye level – deliver substantial tweaks to an already impressive beast. Though it very much resembles an interchangeable lens compact, the attached lens offers a focal range running from a wide 28mm to 112mm in 35mm terms. Which may not sound that special, yet the bright f/2 maximum aperture allows for funky shallow depth of field effects at one time only achievable via a DSLR. A small manually raised flash is set into the top plate and, if you want to forego that to shoot with available light instead, a broad sensitivity range runs from ISO100 to ISO12800 which can be accessed instantly via a customisable button on the backplate.
As the sophisticated look of the camera suggests, plenty of manual features are squeezed in alongside the fully automatic, with Fuji’s regular ‘film simulation’ modes adding the ability to tweak the look and feel of shots at the point of capture rather than in Photoshop later. You could just point and shoot, but this camera offers that many more options, including the ability to shoot uncompressed Raw files along with JPEGs. A cool feature is the eye sensor alongside the viewfinder that switches off the main screen 2.8-inch, 460k-dot back screen as you bring an eye level with it. A quirk however is that the camera is activated by a twist and extension of the zoom barrel rather than a dedicated on/off switch. This takes some getting used to at first as it messes with convention.
More standard is a Full HD 1920x180 pixels video mode, yet at a fast 60fps capture rate plus with stereo sound too, which is again impressive. Best to use the LCD for framing in this mode, as whilst that displays a 16:9 image, the optical viewfinder obviously remains in 4:3 format.
Still photos don’t always have the same wow, as when the camera was left on auto we occasionally ended up with either under or overexposed shots as we’d expect from a £200 snapper, something that could be solved by a built-in neutral density filter on future iterations. In favourable conditions however you could be fooled into thinking a full sized DSLR had been used.