Fujifilm X20 Review


The Fujifilm X20 is a solid performer with excellent image quality for a compact camera. We see it as a worthy DSLR companion for the enthusiast more than an entry level camera. The many buttons and dials make it easy to change settings in the field. At the same time, these many buttons and dials may seem intimidating to users looking to acquire their first digital compact camera.

Autofocus is very fast and accurate and exposure is mostly spot on. We found, though, that the light meter can more easily be fooled by high-contrast scenes than we have experienced with other cameras.

The optical viewfinder with information overlay sets the X20 apart. Although the viewfinder only covers about 85% of what the sensor captures it beats having to use the LCD monitor for framing in bright light.

Another difference between the X20 and most other cameras in its class is the manual zoom which facilitates precise framing. This is much preferred to the sometimes sluggish behavior of the traditional power zoom on compact cameras. Unfortunately, the manual zoom impacts handling negatively. Two hands are required to operate the camera, but the camera body is too small to allow for two hands in any comfortable way.

The X20 is vastly improved over the X10, but it still has a few quirks and is therefore better suited for the experienced photographer than for the novice.

Responsiveness is fast enough for most shooting as long as shooting modes requiring a lot of processing are avoided (like film simulation bracketing and best frame shooting). The image buffer is small, and at 9 fps it fills up in about one second.

The movie quality is average and there is no manual control (other than zooming) available during recording. Autofocus is painfully slow in movie mode.

What makes the X20 shine is the image quality in still photography mode and its viewfinder, which makes the camera actually useable also in bright light.

The price tag of $599 is reasonable for the image and build quality you get with the X20.


  • Optical viewfinder with exposure and focus area overlay
  • High-quality lens, fast, sharp and hardly any optical flaws
  • Convenient zoom range
  • Manual zoom allows for precise framing
  • Excellent build quality
  • Excellent image quality at low ISOs
  • Fast autofocus for stills
  • Responsive in most shooting modes unless you're bracketing
  • Focus peaking in manual focus mode
  • Shake reduction (lens-shift)
  • Handy 1cm macro mode
  • Fun slow-motion videos
  • Large array of features and customizations
  • Capture stills while recording videos
  • Fast maximum shutter speed and flash sync
  • Hot shoe for external flash
  • Exposure compensation dial
  • Many buttons and dials allowing convenient access to settings


  • LCD smallish and of low resolution by today's standards
  • Requires two handed operation but the camera is too small for that
  • Some interface quirks
  • Some settings (self timer for example) do not "stick" but resets when the camera goes in sleep mode
  • Has the potential to produces great JPEGs but some experiments and tweaking of the image customization is required
  • Limited noise reduction settings
  • 1/3 EV steps only for shutter and aperture means annoyingly many 'clicks' required to shift over a good sized range
  • Poor JPEG performance above ISO 1600
  • No dedicated button for quick video recording
  • Slow video autofocus
  • No manual video controls
  • High-contrast scenes fool the exposure meter
  • Small image buffer severely limits usefulness of continuous shooting
  • Short battery life and poor power management
  • User's Guide doesn't explain all restrictions and customization features


Overall the numbers place the Fujifilm X20 alongside the Pentax MX-1 just above the Pentax Q and below Pentax DSLRs.  The X20 is an excellent choice for those looking for an all-in-one package!

Build Quality 
User Interface 
Auto Focus 
Image Quality 
HD Video 
 7.0 (Good)

Buy Now (USA)

As of May, 2013, the X20 is available in both black and chrome at B&H Photo for $599.

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