Steven Brokaw Photography

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FujiFilm X-20 - So Far I'm Liking It!

I recently purchased a FujiFilm X-20.  So far I’m happy with my purchase.  I’m a long time DSLR (previously SLR) user.  However, what I don’t have, except for my film cameras, is a “walking around” camera.  And, hey, film isn’t really walking around ready.  

There is tons of buzz, press & reviews about options I had from simple point & shoots, to micro four thirds, to Interchangeable Lens Compact systems, along with others.   I did a fair amount of research on various cameras, and came to 5 basic conclusions.  They were:

  1. I did not plan to replace my DSLR, but compliment it,
  2. Although my iPhone has a very capable camera, I wanted more control,
  3. I want a moderate amount of zoom,
  4. I wasn’t currently looking at a camera with interchangeable lenses (because, I know I would want the next cool lens),
  5. And finally, I wanted a rangefinder / optical viewfinder.

There is a considerable amount of shrill press about a system being better than the next and other dogma, but bottom-line I wanted to make my decision based upon my current photographic needs.   So I went looking at my options.

Surprisingly, the feature that gave me the most challenge was the viewfinder.  There are several cameras and camera systems with a viewfinder, but few with optical viewfinders.  I’m OK with an electronic viewfinder, but if there is a choice then optical it is.  Also, I could get used to shooting only with an LCD, but right now that’s not my sweet spot.  Call me old school.

I ended up narrowing my choice to a FujiFilm X100s or an X20.  I did have a chance to try an X100s, and loved it.  The ONLY thing I didn’t like was the fixed focal length (which some people love) and the price.  Wowser, it’s expensive.  I didn’t have a chance to try an X-20, but I heard both good things and bad things about it.  Some blogs and reviews heaped praise on it, and others didn’t.  And recently 2 trusted photographers I know said I should avoid it.  Even my local camera store said I was being inflexible not trying other options (shall I say, one salesman did this too me…I guess he didn’t know I kind of know what I’m talking about when it comes to cameras.  I’m not some noob off the street, but I’m not going to rant) Anyway, it didn’t really matter because no-one had them in stock to try.

So on a whim one day I went to my local camera shop, and they had one in stock.  My heart fluttered, so I gave it a test.  I liked it.  Small, tight, easy to handle controls, reasonable zoom, and a price more in my range for this type of camera.  SOLD.

So far, so good.  I really like it.  I’ve used it primarily in “snapshot” mode.  Just capturing moments, and so far only in jpg.  I’ve photographed a business lunch in low light…spot on.  I’ve photographed it at a gamer’s convention with mixed lighting…spot on.  I’ve also played at dusk and at night during a motorcycle event.  This was primarily with P mode.  Again, spot on.  As of yet I haven’t used the more controlled settings, in studio, or more serious shots.  That will come, and again, I’m not trying to replace my DSLR.

One thing that really helped.  I bought a Mobi Eye-Fi card.  This card is amazing.  It turns your camera into a WiFi hotspot so you can transfer your photos (jpg only) to your connected device.  There you go, I’ve solved one of the big advantages of a cellphone camera.

Here’s what I like about the X-20 so far, and some of the basic specs:

  • Good sensor, a 2/3”, X-Trans CMOS-II sensor giving you 12MP output.
  • Shoots RAW & jpg
  • Optical viewfinder
  • 28-112 effective zoom lens
  • Excellent aperture from f/2.0 to f/2.8
  • Native ISO range from 100 – 12800
  • Hotshoe (I was able to use it to fire remote flashes with an Elinchrom trigger)
  • Silent mode (I mean at first I didn’t even know it was working, I mean there is NO sound)
  • Movie mode at 1080p
  • All the normal DSLR control settings including WB & PSAM

The thing I don’t like or need to get used too:

  • Need to figure out how to keep the LCD off all the time.  I only want it on when I push the view button,
  • The on/off switch is by turning the zoom ring.  I found I hadn’t turned it off a few times when in fact it was still on,
  • Flash doesn’t work in silent mode (very strange),
  • The battery “seemed” to drain on me pretty quickly, which I understand is a same problem as the X100s.

I’m going to practice with this camera more and try to keep it with me as much as possible.  So far, completely happy.

Front on view.  Mine is all black

Front on view.  Mine is all black

Control dials are well laid out.  Easy to figure out.

Control dials are well laid out.  Easy to figure out.

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