Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR review

Attractive photos but less impressive videos, and the superb controls aren't accessible while photos are being saved

2 Nov 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT


1/2in 16.0-megapixel sensor, 30.0x zoom (24-720mm equivalent), 730g

The HX20EXR looks and feels uncannily like an SLR. It's just as heavy at 730g and its lens rings for zoom and focus give a much more tactile experience than other ultra-zoom cameras' levers, buttons and dials. It has dedicated buttons for ISO speed, metering mode, focus mode, autofocus area and white balance, arranged in a strip to the left of the 3in articulated screen. Changing settings simply involves holding one of these buttons and turning the command dial – a seriously quick and intuitive system.

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR zoom

There's a flash hotshoe, raw capture and even an on-screen digital spirit level. We're not so impressed by the use of four AA batteries, though, which are much more fiddly than a single Li-ion battery.

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR LCD

We're big fans of Fujifilm's EXR sensors, which use an unusual pixel layout that allows the camera to halve its resolution to reduce noise levels and boost the dynamic range of photos. Focus from the 30x zoom lens wasn't always sharp enough to do justice to the 16-megapixel sensor, and even when it did deliver the goods, details had a slightly blocky, pixelated appearance. However, switching to 8-megapixel mode gave better pixel-level sharpness, reduced noise levels, rescued clipped highlights and still captured enough detail for A4 prints. Overall, image quality was excellent but it couldn't quite match the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 or Canon PowerShot SX40 HS.

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR sample 1

16-megapixel photos don't look particularly sharp when viewed up close - click to enlarge

Performance was a mixed bag. It didn't live up to its claimed 11fps burst speed, but 9fps for 16 shots at 8 megapixels is still pretty good. There are lots of other options that balance speed, resolution and number of shots. The four-second start-up time is less impressive, though. Worst of all, virtually all of the controls are inoperable while the camera is saving photos, which undermines the benefit of those quick-access buttons.

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR sample 2

Switching to 8-megapixel mode gives much better pixel-level sharpness - even at the full zoom extension - and renders noise virtually imperceptible in bright conditions - click to enlarge

Video quality was disappointing, too. Details didn't live up to the 1080p resolution, autofocus was clumsy and spoiled the soundtrack, and the lack of stabilisation for videos made handheld telephoto clips unwatchable.

We loved the HS10 and, while the HS20EXR is only marginally better, its price has dropped significantly. Its ergonomics remain in a league of their own, but its zoom range, image quality and performance fail to stand out in today's company, and its video mode is disappointing.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 16.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2in
Viewfinder electronic (200,000 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 460,000 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 30.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 24-720mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,608x3,456
Maximum movie resolution 1920x1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 20MB internal
Battery type 4x AA
Battery Life (tested) 400 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 730g
Size 88x132x128mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £243
Supplier http://www.amazon.co.uk
Details www.fujifilm.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2.8-11 (wide), f/5.6-11 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controls colour, tone, sharpness, noise reduction, dynamic range
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, film simulation bracket, dynamic range bracket

Read more