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Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR review

Ben Pitt
2 Nov 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
243
inc VAT

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

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Specifications

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 megapixels16.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2in
Viewfinderelectronic (200,000 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution460,000 pixels
Articulated screenYes
Live viewYes
Optical zoom30.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent24-720mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,608x3,456
Maximum movie resolution1920x1080
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)

Physical

Memory slotSDXC
Mermory supplied20MB internal
Battery type4x AA
Battery Life (tested)400 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution1080i
Body materialplastic
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplierN/A
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight730g
Size88x132x128mm

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB
Price£243
Supplierhttp://www.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.fujifilm.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/2.8-11 (wide), f/5.6-11 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controlscolour, tone, sharpness, noise reduction, dynamic range
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus1cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, film simulation bracket, dynamic range bracket

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