The new Fujifilm X100s and X20 have started to ship, and I received a X20 late March.
For all my professional work I’ve been shooting full frame Nikon DSRLs and so using a small point-and-shoot/viewfinder type camera is quite a change.
Why the X20?
I have been looking for a small camera that I can just pop into my pocket and carry around every day, when I don’t want to lug a big heavy DSLR and lenses. I’ve had my eyes on the X10 for a while and of course the X100, as well as Sony’s NEX series, especially since these have so much larger sensors. But then I felt the X100 might be a little limiting with a fixed prime, and at the same time the NEX or XE-1 meant you’d be buying into a system -including lenses and speedlights, and before you know it, I’d be carrying as much gear around as before, just in a smaller bag.
For me, to pick the X20 was to pick the best compromise, a great design, zoom lens for just a bit more flexibility, but with the small sensor, tiny viewfinder etc. I knew this would be quite different. Perhaps even challenging. Well, here’s to new challenges!
What trumps has Fuji dealt us with the X20? – Fuji X20, JPG straight out of camera, B&W setting, ISO 400, 22.8mm, f2.8, 1/25th
New Camera you say? It looks like my old Leica. Fuji X20, IS0 400, 15.4mm, f2.5, 1/25th, JPG straight out of camera, b&w setting
The X20, a winning hand of cards? – Fuji X20, JPG straight out of camera, B&W setting, ISO 400, 7.1mm, f2.0, 1/55th
Fuji X20 So Far
I’ve basically just used the X20 camera for a couple of days now. Mainly indoor stuff, but also a bit of outdoors. Let’s address a few questions:
Q) How fast or slow is the Autofocus? A) I find the X20 AF really responsive, yes its slower than a DSRL, its also slower than the unbelievable NEX speed, but it’s not really slowing me down. It works well, both at ISO 100 in daylight, as well a in ISO 4000 in near darkness. No problems.
Q) How quiet really is the Shutter? A) The X20 shutter is THE QUIETEST thing I’ve ever hardly heard. It is unbelievable. If you switch of the silly artificial shutter sounds, the shutter is almost inaudible. It’s amazing. In quiet mode, a whisper would sound like a scream in comparison. It is super quiet! I’d called it silent.
Q) what’s the Depth of Field like? A) Well, as with any small sensor camera, like the Fuji X20, your shallow depth of field suffers, so to speak. This ain’t a full-frame camera. It means that an F2.8 at 35mm (equiv) probably compares to the Shallow Depth of field ‘look’ of an F4 or higher. (Please note, my completely non scientific approach to this. You can do the maths if you care)
Q) How about image sharpness? A)The images are incredibly sharp, at any aperture, the AF locks on, and this lens/sensor combo produces some very crisp, razor sharp images! Top notch!
Fuji x20 at 100 iso 7. 1mm f4.5
Colors in PROVIA standard, jpg straight out of camera, ISO 100, 9.6 mm, f6.4, 1/110th
Fuji X20 at f4 7.1mm iso 100
Shooting some X20
The above means of course that shooting is slightly different, as what you might expect from an full frame DSLR. If you are looking for ‘Bokehlicious’ shots, you will be disappointed. The better way of shooting the X20 is the old street photog style. F8 and be there. Focus on those image design elements. Composition, Light, Leading Lines, patterns, etc. All of the good stuff, that are challenging and so easy to neglect, when everything around the subject is thrown out of focus.
That’s why I set it on JPG and Fuji Black and White setting for most of my shots over these last few days. Love that look.
Q) How about color rendition? A) Some of the color film simulation settings seem a bit murky and dull to me – But I guess that’s to be expected ‘for that look’. The best setting for crisp and punchy renditions of colors is to me the PROVIA standard setting “Ideal for a wide range of subjects” .-) Ideal it is. Great colors.
Fuji X20 ISO 200 f2.5 11.3mm
Fuji X20 f5.6 9.4mm iso200
Is it your cup of tea? – Fuji X20, JPG straight out of camera, Pro-Neg-Standard-Film Simulation, ISO 100, 7.1mm, f2.0, 1/320th
What’s not so great about the X20?
- Viewfinder: Well, I had higher hopes for the X20 viewfinder to be a bit better, brighter, sharper, larger. It’s a tiny hole and quite a pain to use really, but if you’re like me and need to look through that hole, it can be tricky. Not sure how long it’ll take to get used to that or until I switch to shooting just via screen. (Which I am starting to do, it seems) It would be great to have some adapter that increase the ergonomic fit and function of the viewfinder.
- Battery: The X20 battery actually sucks – they run out of charge in no time! Exclamation mark. It doesn’t get you very far at all. 2-3hrs I’d say. Maybe less. I am surprised by this. Fuji has got some work to do here. (Free new batteries for early adopters perhaps?)
- Video: I played around with video, the X20 shoots full 1080p HD at 60 frames (at least you can downsample that to 24fps .-) – sounds good, but focusing is buggy and the X20 looses the subject quickly, especially in not so bright light, like ambient indoors. My Guess: It’s not a videographer’s choice.
Fuji X20 f4 9.6mm ISO 200
Fuji X20 f8 7.1mm ISO 200
Fuji X20 f8 7.1mm ISO 200
Some bugs, I found so far
- ON/OFF Problem: Weirdly, the on/off turning switch doesn’t always work. In some circumstance, it might be set to ON, but remains switched OFF. And if you leave it on (when it’s running) and the auto switch off kicks in, it doesn’t always seem to respond to turning it OFF and ON again. Go figure. Doing it a few times seems to sort it out though. Still not what you would expect, and hopefully fixable with a firmware upgrade.
- Manual Focus Point Selection: The other bug I seem to have is when trying to select the focus point manually. When set to AFS-S and AREA is selected as AF Mode, I should be able to manually choose a focus point with the selector command dial. This doesn’t seem to work reliably for me (maybe its just me). But, a bit of disappointment, since that’s the way I shoot my DSLRs.
ISO 200 f4 5mm Fuji X20
Fuji X20 8.6mm f2.5 ISO 200
Well, here you have my first thoughts and impressions.
Can’t wait to hit the streets a bit more. Overall good work Fuji! Nice lil’ cam overall.
Would be interesting to compare against the X100s.
Now, what’s your experience with the X20? Or are you planning to get an X20 or X100s? Have you had some of these or other bugs? Let us know your thoughts below.