Fujifilm X20 Review

Image Customization

The image finishing can be customized in various ways so that shooting in RAW and postprocessing isn't necessarily required.

Film Simulation (Custom Image)

The color balance, contrast, etc. of the JPG images can be tweaked. Pentax calls this feature image finishing tone (natural, bright, vivid, etc.) whereas Fuji calls it film simulation. It is a bit odd in this day and age that Fuji is hanging on to the characteristics of their film variants as the means to adjust the image finishing tone. How many of the potential owners of the X20 would know the difference between a Velvia and a Provia?

The X20 can even bracket the film simulation. In that mode the camera will take one image and process it in three different ways. Below we illustrate the effect of simulating Provia, Velvia, and Pro Negative Hi. The X20 users guide pegs Provia as the standard setting, Velvia is vivid, and Pro Negative Hi is for portraits outdoors.

The images were shot at ISO 100. Click any thumbnail to browse a large version.

Velvia (vivid)
Pro Neg Hi
Provia Velvia

The processing takes a good while during which the camera is locked up. For performance reasons you're better off picking just one of the film simulations and forego film simulation bracketing. We used Provia throughout this test except for the example above. 

We found the Velvia simulation a tad unnatural in its color balance, and Provia too subdued. Were we to use the X20 regularly we would experiment with the customization of color density and highlight/shadow tone to get a result somewhere between Provia and Velvia.

Extended Dynamic Range

The dynamic range can be extended on the X20 to preserve the highlights (the X20 has no shadow expansion mode). This feature is set on the Quick menu screen, and the choices are Auto, DR100 (no adjustment), DR200 and DR400, with the latter having the strongest effect. For D200 to work the ISO must be set to 200 or higher, and for DR400 to work the ISO must be set to 400 or higher. This is unlike your Pentax DSLR, where the camera adjusts the ISO as required when extended dynamic range is engaged. With the X20 you must remember to adjust the ISO yourself. If you leave the ISO at 100 extended dynamic range is not available, not even with the setting at Auto.

With that said, this feature works very well as illustrated below. Click on any thumbnail to browse 100% cropped images.

DR100 DR200 DR400

Other Customization

There are three additional image parameters that can be customized:

  • Highlight tone
  • Shadow tone
  • Color density

The effect is not described in the User's Guide, so we set out to test these settings. For film simulation we used Provia, dynamic range expansion was off (DR100), and the sensitivity was set to ISO 100. Click on any thumbnail to start browsing:

No customization Highlight tone +2
Highlight tone -2 Shadow tone +2
Shadow tone -2 Highlight and shadow tone both +2
Color +2 Color -2
Highlight tone, shadow tone and color all +2

Highlight and shadow tone appear to be about contrast, with positive values increasing contrast and negative values decreasing contrast. Shadow tone also influences brightness and negative values work like extending the dynamic range in the shadows.

Positive values for color increase saturation and looks very pleasant.

With some experimentation it should be possible to get the look one prefers.

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