Just another PnS? No! It’s the Fujifilm X20!

Yes. I traded in my trustworthy X-Pro1 set and got myself a Fujifilm X20. It was a hard decision that involved nights of tossing and flipping. My X-Pro1 was a stunner and has given me hours of delights with its portability and great colors. It has incredible ISO control surpassing that of a high-end APS-C or full frame camera. The colors are iconic Fuji-style, and its black and white astonishingly striking.  But still, I’ve let it go because as great a camera as the X-Pro1 may be, it lacks a range of versatile lenses and a good autofocus system.  I did not get much choice over the past year playing around with a Carl Zeiss 35mm and a Fuji 35mm. These two are fantastic glasses, especially the legendary Carl Zeiss f/1.4, but sometimes as a photographer, you will yearn for more versatility and range.  As for the autofocus, it’s a decent one but in low light, it kinda sucks…

image taken from Fujifilm Singapore website

Of course the Fuji X20 will not be my primary system. I will be looking out for a suitable one. My heart tells me to wait for a X-Pro2, hoping with a full frame sensor and blazingly fast AF , like the XE1 or 100s. My head tells me to go for the Canon 6D.  In any case, I am not in urgent need and the new X20 will fill the void in this period.

The Fuji X20 cost me $770 Singapore dollars or about $610 USD. This is slightly more expensive than the US set which goes for 599 USD at B&H. I was torn between this, the Sony RX100 and the Canon G1X. The Sony and G1X are cameras that received rave reviews, and their prices are not exactly that far from the X20 i.e. $640 USD for RX100 and $699 USD for the G1X. But the sample images from these 2 cams lack the emotive factor which the Fuji colors give. For me, Fujifilm have a strong color character – deep and arousing. Contrast that with a Leica which has a classic and refined character. But Sony and G1X just doesn’t emit those kind of sensation though they have very high quality built and glasses, and a much bigger sensor than the X20 (X20 only has a 2/3 inch sensor, compared to a 1 inch for Sony and a 1.5 inch for G1X) Find out more about the difference in sensor sizes here.

Anyway, it is naive to assume that the X20 can match up to its big brother X-Pro1 or the X100s. But it would also be silly to belittle this beast of a Point and Shoot (PnS). Technologically,  Fujifilm has somehow managed to shrink all the great stuffs from the X-Pro1 into this handsome retro-looking box  that weights only about 300+ grams. The upside is that you get the Fuji look with a cheaper and lighter package that rivals the performance of entry DSLR. The downside are the limited ISO performance, the limited DOF/bokeh and a missing BULB mode for those long exposures.

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I just got the X20 two days ago and gave it a test run out in the field yesterday – to see its speed, IQ and ISO performance. It’s neither scientific nor professional, just your average street testing with the naked eyes. And I must say that I am mightily impressed. The autofocus performs well in challenging conditions, and the IQ was very good. The ISO performance is about the same as a mid-range mirrorless or entry DLSR (usable up to ISO3200). This is where you realised that as mighty as the Fuji sensor may be, its 2/3 inch sensor still fails to match the  ISO prowess of a RX100 or Canon G1X.  Anyway, pictures speaks a thousand words, so  here are some of the image samples from yesterday.

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I ran a few tests at night to test the ISO from 800 onwards till 6400. I find the images very usable at ISO1600. However 3200 and 6400 is more suitable for black and white given the noise and artefacts. And don’t think about ISO12,800, it’s not palatable even in black and white, unlike the X-Pro1 which is usable even at ISO25,600!

Here are some images at ISO800, under low light.

800-1

800Here are some at ISO1600

1600-2

1600

1600-1

Here are those at ISO3200

3200-2

3200-1

3200

And finally, these are the ISO6400

6400-1

6400

So the verdict?
Small? Checked
Light? Checked
Great IQ? Checked
Fuji? Checked
This cam is staying!

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8 thoughts on “Just another PnS? No! It’s the Fujifilm X20!

  1. Pingback: Just another PnS? No! It's the Fujifilm X20! | The Fujifilm X20 | Scoop.it

  2. Stephen Ung

    I have got my X20 at the end of March. I must say I am amazed by the performance of this small camera

    Reply

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