Fujifilm X20 Review

Focusing

In this section we take a look at autofocus as well as manual focus.

Autofocus

Autofocus is very fast, the fastest we have seen from a compact camera. The following test shows the speed from focusing on a far subject (about 30 meters away) to focusing on a subject less than a meter away, and vice versa. The speed rivals that of a DSLR.

The X20 clearly benefits from the phase detect sensors embedded into the imaging sensor. Autofocus is not only fast but also accurate. 

Autofocus Modes

The X20 has three autofocus modes: Area as selected by the user, auto (the camera focuses on the high-contrast parts of the scene), and tracking (focus will follow a moving object).

The mode desired is set from the main Shooting Menu or, easier, from the Quick Menu.

AF sub-menu accessed from the Shooting Menu
AF mode setting accessed from the Quick Menu (here showing Tracking selected)

Adjusting the Focus Area

Clicking on the AF part of the four way controller brings up a screen to set the position and size of the area that will be used to determine focus.

Setting the position and size of the autofocus area

The area is moved around with the four way controller and the size is set by the main command dial. The size shown above is as large as it can get.

This method is very easy to use.

The same approach is used to set the area which get enlarged in manual focus mode. Here the size is fixed, though. The camera stores the position and size of the AF area separately form that of the MF area.

Setting Macro Mode

Clicking on the macro part of the four way controller brings up the macro options.

Macro mode ranges from 10 cm to 3 m at 28 mm eqv. focal length and from 50 cm to 3 m at 112 mm (eqv.).

The range of Super Macro mode is from 1 cm to 1 m. It can only be used at 28 mm (eqv.) focal length.

Manual Focus

Manual focus mode is set with the switch on the front. Focus is then set by the wheel around the four way controller on the back.

There is no indication in the viewfinder for manual focusing; instead the X20 has three features on the LCD monitor that support manual focusing:

  1. A distance scale on the LCD monitor (scale customizable to show meters or feet). Given the wide depth of field that the lens produces it may often be sufficient to just estimate the distance to the subject and dial that into the camera
  2. Automatic enlargement of the live image when you start focusing
  3. Focus peaking, i.e. bright edges appear around subjects in focus

Method number 2 could have benefitted from an LCD monitor with higher resolution. The image doesn't get really sharp on the 460,000 dot LCD monitor. Method 3 is therefore preferable, the highlights created by focus peaking are very easy to detect:

Manual focusing screen, notice the distance scale Center enlarged and with focus peaking

Here is a 100% crop of the manually focused image shown on the screen above:

Manual focus, F5.6, 1/20 s on tripod, ISO 100

Although manual focus is doable with this camera it will only seldom see any use due to the accuracy of autofocus and the wide (and forgiving) depth of field. We could easily match the sharpness achieved with autofocus by using manual focus, but we were never able to better it.

Manual focus still uses the autofocus motor to set the lens to the distance chosen. A truly manual focusing ring would be faster to use.

Refer the section above for how to set the area that gets magnified during manual focusing.

Verdict on Focusing

Autofocus is very fast and accurate so much so that we don't see a need for manual focus. But the X20 does have a useable manual focus mode, where the area being focused on can be enlarged and enhanced with focus peaking.

Even in macro and super macro mode the autofocus is accurate and fast.

The X20 excels in this area.


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