Thursday, April 25, 2013

Living with the Fujifilm X20 (and letting your spouse use it) vs Fujifilm X10 (Updated April 25, 2013)

f/5.6 @ 7.9 mm,1/125, ISO 800, No Flash
Would my wife really be excited enough about the X20 to give up her X10?
Her findings might surprise you!

In the last part of my review entitled COMPARISON: Fujifilm X20 vs X10 – Have I found my 2013 P&S of the Year?, I talked about what I liked about this camera. In this part of the review I focus on what it is like for both me and my wife (who is not a camera geek) to live with the X20. My wife was skeptical of the X10 when I first introduced it to her, but she quickly fell in love with it. Despite my reviewing many compact cameras, none caused her to want to give up the X10 – until we got the X20. The big question I had though was “would she like it more than the X10”, and I would I agree with her “field test” findings?

Moonhee Observations

Moonhee - my wife and real world camera testing mom
Moonhee - my wife and real world camera testing mom
X20, f/2.5 @ 16.7 mm,1/250, ISO 400, No Flash

My wife is a no-nonsense gal who tells it likes it is. Here’s a few of her random thoughts about the X20 (from a X10 user / fan):

  • She really didn’t really care about the black vs silver appearance. She said that the x20 may be the same size but this one was felt more bulky than the x10.
  • When she first used it she thought it was a lot faster
  • She still thinks the lens cap is annoying and it not being a “one hand”camera sucks. What she means here is that you have to use two hands to turn the camera on/off. She wished it had the RX100 form factor.
  • She stayed in SR+ mode the whole time but did use / appreciate the exposure compensation dial.
  • She couldn’t see the LCD very well outdoors (had to remove sunglasses)
  • She wished for a longer zoom at the zoom (digital zoom was disabled by me)

Ron Observations

After over 1000 shots with the X20, here’s what I observed when thinking about X10 as the golden standard:

  • I kept having a problem when twisting the power on where it wouldn’t come on. I’d have to twist it to off and try again. This happened about 20% of the time. I wondered if it had anything to do with the new power saving mode. On the positive side though the battery life seemed MUCH better than the X10 (before the v2 firmware update).
  • It was doing WAAAAY too much skin soften in-camera. I’m not sure why or how, but it was a BIG problem
  • I bought the silver case this time in the hopes that it would be a little less obvious at showing scratches vs black case I had for my x10. The x10 was very durable, but case and LCD scuffs were above average. To be fair though, the x10 did live in my wife’s purse with keys and other sharp junk. The Silver’s controls are MUCH harder to read in bright and low light conditions, so I’m thinking about returning mine for a black one again.  
  • I hated the viewfinder proximity sensor because it would blank out the LCD. I know it can be disabled but somehow I found it getting reset, so it annoyed me. I never used the viewfinder for real world shooting.
  • Access to flash exposure compensation still a PIA. Why is this not on the Q menu?!!!
  • I REALLY miss EXR mode. As similar as the Scene Recognition (SR+) mode is supposed to be, I still feel like the old EXR mode did a better job of balancing the exposure brightness and shadows.
  • Panos seem tougher outdoors. This one below is tough due to different exposure and focus requirements of the scene, but the X10 seemed to do a better job (could be related to the video performance).

ADV Mode - Motion Panorama 180
f/2 @ 7.1 mm, 1/125,ISO 160, No Flash

Video – Yes, it really does suck – BAD

Part of the video problem seems to be the over abundance of noise reduction, but there’s a lot more than that. The focus tracking sucks and the in-camera stabilization seems non-existent. This is easily the worst video performance I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been writing on this blog. Here’s a few examples:

A video taken by my wife in perfection conditions
She felt the video quality sucked too and relied on her iPhone instead for video

A video taken by me in low light

In camera noise reduction sucks

After my Noise Reduction Series, I became a bit of an expert on camera noise reduction. As a result, I was flabbergasted at how awful the in-camera noise reduction is on the X20. I use the –2 (Low) setting now for my own shots, but I used 0 (Standard) for most of what you see in this article. Personally I think even that is just way too much and it obliterates details without doing an especially great job on the noise. My advice is DO NOT use the in-camera noise reduction and rely on Noiseware or Dfine (in the Nik Collection by Google – discount here) instead.

More Real World Photos taken by Ron

See COMPARISON: Fujifilm X20 vs X10 – Have I found my 2013 P&S of the Year? for details about how I do these and for more images.

ALL Images are Copyright Ron Martinsen – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED! Please do not save on your local system or print without written permission (on paper with a ink signature).

f/3.6 @ 7.1 mm, 1/30, ISO 400, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation
Felt a little underexposed here, but overall it passed the
“look how great this dinner looks, I’ve gotta take a picture” test

Good, but not great - I thought the X10 handled shots like this better than the X20
f/3.2 @ 9.6 mm,1/300, ISO 100, No Flash, SR+ Mode

Aperture Priority with Velvia Film Simulation using Auto ISO was my favorite mode
f/6.4 @ 7.9 mm, 1/60,ISO 320, No Flash

Super Macro Mode still makes this a fun macro P&S camera
f/2 @ 7.1 mm, 1/200,ISO 160, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation, Aperture Priority

ISO 3200 with Standard Noise Reduction creates very soft mushy images
(Click here to compare with ISO 2500)
f/7.1 @ 10 mm, 1/52,ISO 3200, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation

The in-camera JPEG’s felt like they had aggressive skin softening on.
It works for this shot, but shot but ruins others.
f/2.5 @ 13.2 mm,1/60, ISO 400, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation

SR+ mode just feels dull and boring compared to the X10's EXR mode

I was missing the X100s's built in ND filter for Waterfall
(No tripod, so X20 was resting on rock – hence the crooked angle and annoying branch)
f/9 @ 7.1 mm, 0.4s,ISO 100, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation, 2 sec timer

This shot reminded me why I love the X20
f/4 @ 8.6 mm, 1/160,ISO 200, No Flash, Shade WB, Velvia Film Simulation

This is NOT a mini X100s - there's loads of diffraction / softness at f/11
f/11 @ 28.4 mm, 1/85,ISO 100, No Flash, Shade WB, Velvia

Super Macro Mode never gets old with the X20
f/2 @ 7.1 mm, 1/60,ISO 500, No Flash, Std Noise Reduction, Velvia

The Wife’s Real World Snapshots

Taken from a SUV moving 60 MPH by my wife (the passenger)
f/6.4 @ 24.6 mm,1/800, ISO 100, No Flash, SR+

AF and Exposure was a bit off on this SR+ shot
f/4.5 @ 10.4 mm,1/300, ISO 100, No Flash, SR+

It did okay for the "kid at the aquarium" test
f/2.2 @ 7.6 mm,1/160, ISO 250, No Flash, SR+

Lots of nice detail and sharpness in this SR+ shot
f/5 @ 28.4 mm, 1/250,ISO 100, No Flash, SR+

Moonhee was happy with the playground performance in backlit scenarios (better example here)
f/2.5 @ 7.1 mm,1/850, ISO 100, No Flash, SR+

Tulip test passed, but small sensor limits the bokeh even at f/2
f/2 @ 7.1 mm, 1/200,ISO 1000, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation, Manual Mode
Click here for ISO 320 version


The previous article entitled COMPARISON: Fujifilm X20 vs X10 – Have I found my 2013 P&S of the Year? has my final thoughts about this camera as a reviewer. This article has my comments as a x20 owner.

I will say right now that I’m glad I upgraded from the x10. I’ve kept my x10 because of the EXR mode and video is better, but the x20 is the one we use 100% of the time now. I don’t think this camera takes better images, but it seems faster with much better AF performance so I get the shot more often with the x20 than with the x10. When noise reduction is off (for in-camera JPEG – irrelevant for RAW), I find the results to be excellent up to ISO 1600. However, the way SR+ handles strong mixed light and shadows scenarios (in both DR Auto and DR400 modes) just is not as good as the x10’s EXR mode.

The removal of the low pass filter hasn’t been a problem in my real world testing, but diffraction still exists (unlike the x100s which seemed to be diffraction free even when closed down to f/16). The lens is plenty of sharp with lots of detail so the image quality is still sure to please.

My only regrets are that I should have got the black version instead of silver, and I will really miss my EXR mode.

Where to order

Click here to order the Fujifilm X20 from B&H web site. Amazon has it here and Adorama has it available here.

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mhaik said...

Ron ... I really like your reviews, especially for the X10/X20, because you own them and show real world results.

I'm not a "photographer" but I like taking photos. My earliest photos were taken using a couple of all manual slr's that my dad gave me. They're pretty much all I used for years, except for the occasional disposable. I eventually got a P&S film (Yashica T4) and later a digital P&S. These days though, it seems like all I use is my iPhone. I've recently been interested in getting back to using a regular camera that's easy to carry around, I'm not interested in DLSR. My searches led to the Fuji x100 and then the x10/x20. These two fit my budget better and I like the ability to zoom plus all the manual options. (Also, having an OVF is a must.) I really miss selecting everything to take a shot. And while I like all the optional photo control, I have absolutely no interest in messing with files on my computer. In camera stuff like choosing which color mode or b&W are cool, but no PP work.

So my question is, based on just getting OOC JPEG's, which of these would you suggest? I'm most interested in JPEG IQ. Cost, the x20 being faster and having info in the OVF, etc. are all considerations if IQ is equal but it seems like even in your comments that the x10 may still have better JPEG's.

Matthew said...


The X10's EXR mode is pretty awesome and there's nothing like it on the X20. From an image quality standpoint - after you get the v2 firmware on the x10 - they both feel the same.

I do like the faster performance of the X20 so I'm x10's just collecting dust now, but for your needs I think you'll be very happy with either the x10 or x20.

Your deciding fact needs to be speed and your budget. If speed is important and the x20 is within your budget, I'm sure it will please you but you can also save a lot by going for the functionally equivalent x10 (with the added bonus of EXR mode) for less money.


mhaik said...


Thanks for the quick reply. I read your post from yesterday after I sent my message and wondered if/when you might read it. I totally understand your post from yesterday. I'm 47, my first child was born a few years ago and that has completely rearranged my life and priorities.

Regarding these cameras, it sounds like I can't make a bad decision as far as IQ, which is good to know. I plan to go back over your reviews again. Right now I'm leaning towards the x10. Cost is one reason but also, a lot of the photos I see from the x10 look more "film-like" to me. The x20 is almost too crisp. Anyway, glad I found your blog. Thanks again, matthew. said...


The extra piece of data you added in your last reply is very relevant - you have a kid. If you plan on taking pics of kids you want a x20- not an x10.

The photo processing in-camera is IDENTICAL between x20 and x10. There are different film simulation modes but Velvia is my personal favorite despite the fact that many of my review pics are in the Provia film simulation mode.

No Fujifilm camera is especially great for kids, but my wife's keeper rate with the x20 increased over the x10.