The Fujifilm X20 is considerably faster than its predecessor, in nearly all respects. The camera starts up as soon as you twist the zoom ring past the 'off' position. With the Quick Start mode turned on (which puts an additional strain on the battery), the camera will be ready to shoot in just half a second. With Quick Start off, you'll wait for closer to a full second.

Shot-to-shot delays range from around 0.5 seconds for JPEGs and 1.0 seconds for RAW+JPEG, which is noticeably better than the Canon PowerShot G15 and Nikon Coolpix P7700. If you're using the built-in flash, the delay between shots will slow to around three seconds.

One area in which the X20 is less impressive is the time required to wake the camera from sleep. As with most digital cameras, the X20 goes into sleep mode after a couple of minutes, to conserve power. To wake it back up, you must hold down the shutter release for around a second, which is long enough to miss a shot. In addition, if you're turned the camera off (via the lens) after it's hibernating, it won't wake up again when you turn it on - you must hold the shutter release down.

Autofocus Speeds

In our review of the Fuji X10, we wrote:

... for a camera with such unabashed enthusiast-oriented aspirations (not to mention steep price point) we can't help but wish for faster AF performance that rose above, rather than simply matched, its peers.

The good news is that focusing on the X20 is noticeably faster, thanks to its new Hybrid AF system (described earlier). In best case scenarios (wide-angle, lots of light), the X20 feels about twice as fast as its predecessor. The difference isn't quite as dramatic when the cameras are placed in more challenging situations like the one below, but you'll see that the X20 is still a step up:

In this example, we first focus on a subject in the foreground, and then to another in the distance. The lens at full telephoto, wide open. Here the X20 shows that it's just a bit faster than the X10. Also notice the focus failure toward the end of the X10 sequence - something that did not occur with the X20 in our numerous attempts at recording this scene.

Fujifilm doesn't make a lot of noise about the X20's Hybrid AF system being well-suited for subject tracking (an area in which Hybrid systems can offer improvements over constrast detection alone). While the camera does offer AF tracking, it didn't perform particularly well in our testing.

Continuous Shooting

The X20 can shoot continuously at four different speeds, with promised frame rates ranging from 3 to 12 fps. Do note that the photos recorded at the highest speed are taken at a lower resolution (6M), and RAW is not available, either.

Here's how we measured the X20's continuous shooting performance:

  Fine JPEG Raw Raw+JPEG
Low 20 shots @ 3.0 fps 10 shots @ 3.0 fps 9 shots @ 3.0 fps
Medium 11 shots @ 6.2 fps 8 shots @ 6.0 fps 8 shots @ 6.0 fps
High 9 shots @ 9.6 fps 8 shots @ 8.8 fps 8 shots @ 9.3 fps
Super High * 9 shots @ 13.9 fps N/A
* Images saved at medium (6M) resolution

Test performed with a SanDisk Class 10 UHS-I SDHC card

In nearly all cases, the X20 exceeded its advertised speeds. Buffer capacity is quite large when you look at Raw capacity, though we were surprised at how quickly things slowed down when shooting JPEGs. It takes the camera a while to flush the buffer - over 20 seconds if Raw images are involved - during which time you won't be able to enter playback mode (you take, however, access menus or take more photos).

While the LCD doesn't display photos in real time while shooting a burst, obviously the optical viewfinder allows you to track a moving subject. The X20 is unable to focus continuously while shooting a burst of images, despite its Hybrid AF system.

The camera also has a 'Best Frame Capture' mode, which starts capturing when you half-press the shutter button and lets you save up to seven photos that were buffered before the shutter release was fully pressed. The frame rates are the same as above.

Battery Life

The Fujifilm X20 uses the time-tested NP-50 lithium-ion battery. This 3.6 Wh battery promises 270 shots per charge (per the CIPA standard), which is considerably below most of its competitors. In the real world the camera struggled to pull off a full day of shooting, so picking up a spare battery isn't a bad idea. This is all the more necessary since like the X100S, the X20's battery indicator seems to go from showing full to a blinking red 'I'm about to die!' with almost no warning.

The NP-50 is charged externally, taking about 110 minutes to be 'filled up'.