Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Camera Review: Fuji X20

Last time I went on a long trip (~8 weeks), I was traveling very lightweight, and prepared for diverse environments: ice climbing through to tropical water leisure.  On that trip, I used a pocket-sized, waterproof camera.  It was awesome, delivering all the photos on this blog from 2008, mostly in India, Alaska, and the 2008 New Zealand posts.  As well, it shot all of my “Places Not To Fall Down” videos – which showcased it’s horrible microphone system.  
This time, I had different goals for a camera.  (Caveat: I’m just a beginner at true photography, but learning more.)

Wanted: one camera

requiring minimal size & weight,
for multi-month world-travel trip,
exhibiting respectable zoom range,
delivering excellent low-light operation,
capable of operating a gamut of full-manual control to full-automatic modes.
Specifically, I didn’t want something with multiple heavy, sensitive interchangeable lenses (DSLR), but I wanted better quality.

Found: Fujifilm x20 Camera
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Ironically, these pics taken with a mobile phone camera, not the camera in question.

photo 1

This camera is awesome because of its small size, incredible picture quality, and variety of options for shooting photos, as well as recording them.  Shooting modes include full manual, aperture priority, speed priority, full-automatic, some enhanced modes (night portrait, fireworks, beach, etc.), and some ‘advanced’ modes (panorama, multi-exposure, etc.).  Photo recording has myriad options including JPEG and/or RAW, and even some film simulation modes).
photo 4
The camera’s lens is 28 – 112mm, F2.0 – F2.8, fixed (non-removable), works very well in low light (especially when compared with other cameras its size).  I ended up getting a swanky lens cap that folds out of the way when the lens is twisted (to turn the camera on), and springs back into place when finished.  Also, I’ve been using a half-case that protects the camera (mostly), without getting requiring removal for use.
One area the camera does fall a bit short is for recording movies.  Though the recording is quite high resolution (Full HD, and up to 60 fps), and easy to operate, it doesn't work amazingly well in low light (just average).  More importantly, it has a bad habit of losing focus after a few seconds and struggling to find focus again mid-movie.  I haven't found a work around for this yet.

Overall, I love this camera.

This is the extra battery I bought - it's actually two batteries, a charger (smaller than the stock one), and a cigarette lighter adapter, for $22, can't beat it.  Allegedly the battery life on the camera isn't great, but I think that's from pro photographers who are taking lots of pictures.  In my experience, the battery is fine for a half day of quasi-active shooting (think one BBQ or art gallery).  They say the life is ~250 shots, which seems like plenty per day, for me.  But I bought extra battery anyway, due to the low price.
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In hindsight, I would have gotten this case, which is a half-case and allows tripod, and removal of SD card and battery.   And this is the case that I got.  It's cheap.  It's 'okay'.  It's a half-case, as well as a 'full' / over case.  Downside: have to take off to get to battery / SD card.  Pro: very easy to take off (designed with this in mind).  Case I’d recommend:
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I also bought this cap, which doesn't work with the full case (above), but works with the half case, obviously.  Reason: the lens cap that comes with it doesn't have anywhere to go, except your pocket when removed.  And it's bulky.  Some people add a lanyard and let it hang.  This thing works beautifully (springs back into place when lens retracted). Downside: doesn't work with full camera case I got.
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For more reviews, check out the following from the experts, and do a websearch:

http://www.dpreview.com/products/Fujifilm/compacts/fujifilm_x20