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The enthusiast compact sector has undergone a distinct revival in recent years, with every major manufacturer now producing a model or two that offers full manual control and Raw recording, aimed as a second camera for enthusiasts who usually carry an SLR. In general these have split into two camps - small, slimline 'shirt pocket' cameras designed for portability, and larger models with more external controls, flash hot shoes, and large aperture zoom lenses. The X20 is Fujifilm's latest offering in the latter class.

Fujifilm X20 key features

  • 12MP 2/3"-type X-Trans CMOS II sensor
  • On-chip phase detection autofocus
  • EXR Processor II
  • 'Advanced Optical Viewfinder' with exposure information overlay
  • 28-112mm equivalent, F2.0-2.8 lens with optical image stabilization
  • Manual zoom ring and lens retraction mechanism
  • Full manual control, Raw format recording
  • 3" 460k dot LCD
  • Full HD 1080/60p movie recording (36Mbps bitrate)
  • Built-in stereo microphones, optional MIC-ST1 external microphone
  • Film simulation modes for different color and monochrome 'looks'
  • In-camera Raw conversion with all processing parameters adjustable
  • 'Advanced Filters' image-processing controls, previewed live on-screen
  • Focus peaking display for manual focus using the rear LCD
  • Lens Modulation Optimizer for compensation of aberrations

At first glance, the X20 looks just like its predecessor (the X10), although it's now available in a very pretty silver-and-black finish, alongside the conventional all-black. But inside it offers a couple of very significant differences. The first is a brand-new sensor, a 2/3" type 'X-Trans CMOS' design that uses the same novel color filter array as Fujifilm's recent APS-C cameras. This sensor also has phase detect autofocus built right into it - not new to Fuji cameras, but a change from the X10. The second big change is an updated 'Advanced Optical Viewfinder' that includes a detailed information overlay, showing key exposure data and focus confirmation. This isn't the same as the hybrid viewfinder found in the company's X100/X100S and X-Pro1 models - there's no electronic viewfinder - but it's never been done before on a compact camera.

The X20 is available in silver/black and all-black bodies

Aside from this, the X20 retains most of the same features that made the X10 so appealing. It uses the same fast zoom lens, with a 28-112mm equivalent angle of view and F2.0-2.8 maximum aperture, which is operated by a mechanically-coupled zoom ring that also retracts the lens and turns the camera on and off. It has plenty of external controls, including an exposure compensation dial and two rear dials, and a hot shoe for external flash. One feature notable by its absence is a direct movie record button - the X20 is clearly designed for still photography first, and video second.

We'll cover all of those - and more - throughout this review. The X20 has some tough competitors, such as the Canon PowerShot G15, Nikon Coolpix P7700, Olympus XZ-2 iHS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, Pentax MX-1, and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100. Read on to see how the Fujifilm X20 performed in our tests.