x20

The light in the garden

I don’t do this very often but, given that so many people are interested in the Fujifilm X20, I thought that I’d share a picture that I took yesterday ‘just for the fun of it’. No story, no real importance – just a bit of fun…

©Neil Turner April 2013. The light in our garden yesterday afternoon.

©Neil Turner April 2013. The light in our garden yesterday afternoon.

This was shot as a RAW file and converted with almost no help using Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop CS6. The camera was in programme mode (yeah I know!) and handled the exposure remarkably well.

1/800 sec;   f/5.0;   ISO 100

Fujifilm X20 – the first update

So here is what I’ve decided to do about writing an X20 review: it’s actually going to be a series of short (ish) updates as, and when, I have got something new to say about it.

Typical UK road sign: the weight is given in metric units whilst the distance is in imperial. Are we European or aren't we? ©Neil Turner, April 2013

Typical UK road sign: the weight is given in metric units whilst the distance is in imperial. Are we European or aren’t we? ©Neil Turner, April 2013

I have been shooting with the new camera as much as I can and in as many different situations as I can. I’ve even used it as a third camera on a live commission. Most of the time I have been using the Fuji RAW mode so that I can get the most out of the files and so that I can compare the different ways that you can choose to work with the images. Most people prefer not to have to read long and drawn out musings when they look at reviews – they just want to cut to the chase and so here are a few likes and dislikes in the form of bullet points:

LIKES

  • The colours – straight out of the camera you have clean, realistic and accurate colours. This shouldn’t be a surprise from the company that brought you Fujichrome all of those years ago.
  • Smooth tonal range – at low ISOs the files have a wonderfully smooth tone
  • Handling – the X20 feels good in my hands and it is very easy to hand hold down to some pretty slow shutter speeds.
  • The manual zoom – it is a model of how other manufacturers should be building cameras – enough said.
  • Buttons and dials – related directly to handling but I felt that the way that Fuji have kept the number of buttons down whilst giving you a lot of freedom to customise deserves credit.
  • The optical viewfinder –  it works really well and the addition of shooting information in the viewfinder is a big bonus.
  • Auto Focus – it is good for a compact and tracks moving subjects rather well.

DISLIKES

  • The battery life is not good when shooting with the LCD screen on. It’s a good job that after market NP-50s are so cheap.
  • The Fuji RAW format (.RAF) takes a lot of computing power and a lot of getting used to.
  • Low light performance – I was expecting this camera to be a couple of stops behind a DSLR but I would estimate that it is at least fours stops worse than a Canon EOS5D MkII
  • Video – it is just not that good or easy to use… and don’t get me started on playback!
  • Battery clip – if the small clip that holds the battery in place lasts as long as I tend to keep my compacts I will be surprised.
  • Buil-in flash – it is as weak as consumer models and you have to remove the lens hood if you don’t want horrible shadows across your pictures when shooting flash.
  • Auto white balance – it isn’t that bad actually, except under mixed lighting when it is a bit unreliable.

I like this camera… a lot. That having been said, I am genuinely disappointed with the files at anything over 640 ISO and there is a build quality question mark on the battery clip – especially as you are going to be swapping the battery out for charging with great regularity. If I needed to, I could shoot some editorial assignments with the X20 and that isn’t something you could say about many compacts. More importantly, I would quite enjoy doing so and that isn’t something you could say about any other compact that I’ve used. Professional photographers talk about their “walk about” cameras and the X20 is certainly my choice for that task. It isn’t the “best” at anything but it does represent a good set of compromises and that, at the end of the day, is what you want from a small camera.

As I said in the opening paragraph, this will be a series of updates rather than a single “this is my opinion” review. At the recommended selling price the Fujifilm X20 is a little expensive but the price is coming down on a weekly basis and once it dips under £400 it will become a well-priced piece of kit.

130411-fuji_x20-002

New toy in the house… a Fujifilm X20

If you get a few professional photographers together there are a few topics of conversation that you are almost guaranteed to experience. One of those is compact digital cameras – the cameras that they carry around ‘just in case’ and take out when they are off duty. I am certainly no exception and it is always an exciting day when a new camera appears on my desk either on test or (in this case) that I have spent my hard earned pennies on.

Fujifilm X20

Fujifilm X20

I am a very fortunate guy because I get to test, review and play with all sorts of new equipment but it takes something quite special for me to put my hand in my pocket and commit to buying anything. I loved the Fujifilm X10 and I have owned and used a vast array of Canon G series digital compacts but the new X20 seemed to tick all of the boxes. I was never that keen on the way that Adobe Camera RAW (or any other RAW converter for that matter) handled the X10 files and so I held off buying the X20 until Adobe released a version of their RAW converter for Photoshop CS6 that handled the Fujifilm RAW format properly.

I will write more and post lots of pictures when I have truly had time to get to grips with this new camera. So far I have been through the menus, tested a few RAW files with the new Adobe converter as well as the SilkyPix application that comes with the camera. It has only been a few hours but I am really loving the feel of my new toy. I guess that the big change from the X10 is the viewfinder information which has transformed a good idea into a really useable tool.

Another interesting feature is that even if you select the 3:2 aspect ratio in the camera menu, the whole area of the chip is still there when you import the RAW file and so you can easily recompose the frame if you made that tiny error!

Such a geek! More to come soon…