**Back**The back of the camera is dominated by the 2.5-inch LCD screen, which has 153k pixels. On the right hand side we have (from the top down) the zoom control, tiny bumps for a thumb grip next to an indicator light, the playback mode button, the "F" menu button (which kicks off the FinePix menu), the multi-selector control, the display/back button and the picture stabilization button. The latter kicks off the picture stabilization mode, where the camera automatically adjusts the ISO rating and shutter speed to minimize camera shake. The center of the multi-selector has a Menu button in it. Icons surround the multi-selector on all sides noting the double duties of the selector in recording and playback modes. Starting from the top and moving clockwise are the following icons: delete/LCD gain up, flash, self-timer, and macro.
**Left Side **The only excitement on the left side is the cover for the A/V out and USB port, plus the DC power port.
**Right Side **If you thought that the left side was boring, the right side may send you to sleep: the only thing on this side is the lanyard loop. In our photo, this is occupied by a meta cable that stops evildoers from swiping the camera from Fujifilm’s booth at Photokina; the standard lanyard is plastic.
**Top **On the top of the camera are three buttons: the shutter button, the still/video mode switch, and the power button.
**Bottom**The only excitement on the bottom of the Fujifilm FinePix F20 is the tripod socket and the cover for the battery and xD-Picture card compartment. The small grill below this is for the speaker.
**Viewfinder**No optical viewfinder is present on the F20; everything is done through the LCD screen. ** ****LCD Screen The amorphous silicon TFT LCD screen is a sizeable 2.5-inch TFT model with 153k pixels. The resolution is much less than other similarly sized screens, and this shows in the image quality: images look grainy and lack detail. The screen does have a nice anti-reflective coating which works well, blocking all but direct sunlight from blanking the screen out. This screen is also unusual in that you can control the frame rate: you can set it to display 60 frames per second, 30 frames per second or a power saving mode with an unspecified frame rate. This is very useful, as the lowest mode is noticeably jerky and wouldn’t work for sports photography. But you could run it in the power saving mode most of the time to save battery power, then speed it up when you need it. The LCD screen’s brightness can be automatically boosted with a touch of the top of the multi-selector when in a recording mode. This is especially helpful for snapping shots outdoors when a little extra light and contrast is needed. ****Flash The small flash is located above and to the right of the lens. Fujifilm claims a range of 2-21.3 ft in wide angle mode, and 2-11.5 ft in telephoto. In the macro mode, the flash is effective from 1-2.6 ft. These stats are coming from an automatic ISO setting, so this is quite impressive for such a small flash. The Fujifilm FinePix F20 is equipped with a more sophisticated flash system than most compact digital cameras. The i-Flash system has a longer range than most, but we were not able to test the veracity of these claims within the confines of the convention center. The power of the flash can be ramped up or down by two stops with the flash compensation menu option too. The i-Flash system is credited with measuring ambient lighting and adjusting the flash output automatically to keep details in the background. The Fujifilm FinePix F20’s flash has the following modes: Auto, Red-eye Reduction, On, Off, Slow Sync, and Red-eye Reduction with Slow Sync. ****Zoom Lens**The 3x zoom lens is a Fujinon model with a focal range of 8-24mm. That would be equivalent to a 36-108mm range on a 35mm camera: an acceptable, if slightly limited, range. At the wide end of the scale, it’s not wide enough to capture a large family group shot, and the telephoto isn’t long enough to pull in distant objects.
**Model Design / Appearance**The F20’s appearance remains consistent with the other FinePix F-series digital cameras. Its housing is plain and unassuming, especially when considering the sophisticated imaging technology inside. The F20 is available in either silver or gunmetal grey: the model we looked at was silver. **Size / Portability**At just 6 oz, the F20 is a lightweight camera. It measures 3.7 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches and is small enough to fit into a coat pocket or bag. It’s a little large for shirt pockets and tight pants. The camera’s depth is increased somewhat when the camera is in use and the lens is extended to about two inches. ** ****Handling Ability**The F20 handles well, with the camera body fitting comfortably into the hand and the shutter button falling under the index finger. The zoom control also falls under the thumb. When users aren’t zooming, there is a set of tiny rubber bumps below the control. These bumps add some substance to an otherwise slick body, so they keep the camera from slipping out of fingers. The front of the camera has a metal bump meant to keep fingers in place there. It is wide enough for about one finger. **Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size The control buttons are well-placed for use; it’s just possible to reach them with the thumb when using the camera. Besides the positioning, the size of the buttons is also decent. My only complaint is the abundance of icons in a relatively small space. Some of the icons are easy to decipher – such as the delete and flash functions. Beginners may wonder about the picture stabilization and "F" icons and buttons though. ****Menu**The Menu system on the F20 is simply designed and well executed: it doesn’t take long to find the features you need. In particular, the FinePix menu (accessed by pressing the F button) has many of the more commonly tweaked settings quickly available. **Ease of Use The F20 is an easy to use camera; the FinePix menu (accessed by hitting the "F" button) puts most of the options that users are going to need into one convenient spot. Most users of this point-and-shoot won’t need to delve into the more complex options, but they are still reasonably easy to access.
Auto Mode **The full auto mode of the Fujifilm FinePix F20 puts the camera into a point-and-shoot mode where most of the important settings are controlled by the camera itself. This seems to do an effective job in our limited testing, setting the various controls to appropriate values.
**The movie mode of the F20 is basic, but adequate. Videos are recorded at resolutions of 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, both at 30 frames per second as Motion JPEG files. Mono sound is also recorded with the movies. The picture stabilization mode button is a bit deceiving. Most cameras allow an image stabilization mode to work in the movie mode, but the Fujifilm’s "picture stabilization" mode boosts ISO settings and quickens shutter speeds rather than shifting the image sensor or even digitally correcting hand shake. Thus, Fuji’s so-called "stabilization" can only happen while shooting still images – and even then it isn’t a true image stabilization system. The lack of an image stabilization system in the movie mode means that clips will catch a lot of bumps from normal hand shake. In the playback mode, movies can be clipped into two files.
**Drive / Burst Mode**A good selection of drive modes are offered, although they aren’t particularly fast. The top-3 and final-3 record respectively the first or last of the frames after the shutter is pressed. There is also a long period mode that can record as many frames as will fit on the card. The first two modes can record a maximum of three frames at a speed of 2.2 frames per second, while the long period mode is limited to a rather pedestrian 0.7 frames per second.
**While the LCD screen is pretty bright, the low resolution doesn’t loan itself to playing back images that well. But it’s good enough for a casual viewing of images, and the playback mode is reasonably flexible. One or nine images can be viewed at once on a screen, and images can be added to a list of favorites and played back in a slideshow. This is a pretty basic slideshow, but it should suffice if you want to show off family photos to friends. Pictures can be protected and erased, although there is no way to quickly and easily scroll through a lot of pictures and select some for deletion and some to save. Images can be rotated and copied from the internal memory to a memory card or vice versa. Up to 30 seconds of audio can be attached to each file too. Videos can be split into two files with the camera’s Trimming feature.
**Custom Image Presets
**A wide selection of scene modes are on offer: the user gets to choose from Natural Light, Natural Light & Flash, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower Close-up and Text. The Natural Light & Flash mode is unique to Fujifilm FinePix digital cameras. This mode, also called the Dual Shot mode sometimes, snaps two pictures consecutively – one using the camera’s i-Flash system and one without. The camera saves both images so users can later decide which exposure looks best. The Fuji F20 also has a Picture Stabilization mode that has its own button to activate it on the back of the camera. This mode boosts the ISO anywhere up to 2000 and quickens shutter speeds, and sometimes uses the flash, to reduce blur. The title of the mode sounds deceivingly similar to an image stabilization system, which this camera does not have. The Fujifilm FinePix F20 does not have an optical or digital stabilization system; the Picture Stabilization mode is quite gimmicky and tries to attract consumers with its name.
**Manual Control Options **The F20 is on the lowest level in the Performance series. As such, it has all kinds of great technology but limited means to control it. There are no manual or priority modes, but there are a few parameters that can be tweaked like ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation.
Auto Focus – The auto focus on the Fujifilm FinePix F20 seems to be reasonably snappy and responsive, and there are a variety of modes to help get the most out of it. The Center mode examines the center of the image and picks a spot to focus on, while the multi mode examines a number of spots on the image and picks one to focus on. The spot mode does what you would think: focuses in on whatever is in the center of the image.
Manual Focus – There is no manual focus mode on the F20 – it’s all automatic.
Although there is no full manual mode on the FinePix F20, there is an exposure compensation setting available, which allows for up to two stops of over- or underexposure, in one third of a stop increments.
Fujifilm refers to metering as photometry for some reason, but it means the same thing: measuring the amount of light in the frame. A standard selection of metering modes is on offer with multi, spot and average metering modes.
The dual shot mode is an interesting idea: when this enabled, the camera takes one shot without flash, then another with flash. That’s a nice idea for those situations where you aren’t sure if you need the flash or not: with the dual shot mode you get both quickly and easily. This would be helpful when a subject is backlit and you’re not sure whether to use the flash.
The white balance controls of the F20 are above average: along with 6 presets, there is an option to get a custom white balance using a white card. There is no way to enter a white balance value directly, though, and you can’t store a white balance setting for later use. But the automatic white balance mode is generally good enough for most users, so this limitation won’t affect that many users. The preset modes include Fine, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, and Incandescent. There are several fluorescent modes that lean toward different shades of red and blue. It’s always tough to remember which is which exactly, but the live view in the menu shows how the lighting is affected anyway – which is probably more helpful than a name anyway.
In the auto mode, ISO settings in the range of 100 to 1600 are available, but this goes up to 2000 when you use the Picture Stabilization button. You can’t manually set the ISO higher than 1600. Two automatic ISO modes are available: Auto(400) and Auto (1600). The former keeps the ISO setting below 400, thus avoiding problems with noise if there is sufficient light. We’ve reviewed the Fujifilm FinePix F10 and Fujifilm FinePix F30 in our testing studios and both have performed extremely well when it comes to snapping a crisp shot without noise. We expect good things from the F20 because it is equipped with the same sensor and processor, but we’ll wait for the results when we get to fully review this camera.
The shutter speed ranges from 4 seconds to 1/2000th of a second, which is a good spread for most uses. Users cannot manually control the shutter speed, but can slow it down with scene modes like Night and Fireworks and quicken it with Sport and Picture Stabilization.
The aperture range is from f2.8 to f8 at the wide angle setting and f5 to f8 at the telephoto end. That’s a pretty reasonable spread, but don’t expect pin-sharp images with great depth of field from a minimum aperture of f8.
**Picture Quality****/ Size Options**Image sizes range from 6 megapixels to 0.3 megapixels. The options are 2848 x 2136 (Fine quality), 2848 x 2136 (Normal quality), 3024 x 2016, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200 and 640 x 480. There are no separate settings for image quality, but the top resolution is available at two compression settings. With a 1GB xD-Picture card, you could store about 341 of the largest, finest quality images.
Picture Effects Mode
Fujifilm provides some basic picture effects for recording from their FinePix menu: you can take photos in a mode called Chrome (which boosts the color saturation) or in Black & White. That’s fine with us: the other fancy effects on other cameras generally produce nasty results that are best avoided. Still, some consumers who like to tweak their pictures in the camera and print them directly may be disappointed with this setup.
**Connectivity***Software*Version 5.2 of the FinePix Viewer software is bundled with the camera, along with the ImageMixer video editing program.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs
*Both the USB cable and the A/V output cable connect to the single socket under the plastic cover on the left side of the camera. While this isn’t a huge problem (you aren’t going to want to connect both at the same time), it is a little annoying as the special socket means that if you lose the USB or A/V cable, you’ll have to buy a new one from Fujifilm.
*Direct Print Options
*The usual suspects are here: DPOF print ordering lets you decide which images to print when you take the memory card out and pop it into a printer, while PictBridge allows the camera to connect directly to a printer without a PC in between them.
*The small lithium-ion battery fits into the compartment next to the memory card, and Fujifilm claims a battery life of 300 shots. We weren’t able to test this, but previous Fujifilm cameras of this type have proven to be very efficient. This battery is different than the one included in the F30, which can snap more than 500 shots per charge. The camera comes with a battery charger too.
*A rather paltry 10MB of memory is built into the Fujifilm FinePix F20, which explains the limited performance with shooting more than one image in a sequence. xD-Picture cards of up to 1GB are supported, and a 1GB card could hold up to 341 images at the maximum size and quality settings. Images and videos can be copied from the internal memory to the xD card and vice versa within the playback mode.
**Other Features***Picture Stabilization – The F20 includes a picture stabilization mode, but this does not use any form of electronic or optical image stabilization. Instead, it increases the ISO rating of the camera up to 2000 and increases the shutter speed. We were not able to test this feature, but we would be surprised if it was as effective as the electronic and optical stabilization systems found on more expensive digital cameras. ** ***
**Value**At $299.99, the F20 underlines how fast the digital camera market moves: a couple of years ago, a 6-megapixel camera would have been an expensive, semi-pro model. Now, it’s a cheap model for point-and-shoot users. The attractive price gets consumers a digital camera that seems to perform well without much hassle.
**Who It’s For
***Point-and-Shooters* - Users who want a simple photographic experience will like the F20 – it takes good pictures when you let it do all of the hard work.
Budget Consumers - At a retail $299 and street $250, the F20 is a good deal for those looking to get decent resolution at a decent price.
Gadget Freaks - Although it does have the picture stabilization mode, the rest of the camera is a gadget-free zone.
Manual Control Freaks – The lack of a full manual mode makes this an unattractive camera for those who like to control every part of the picture-taking process themselves.
Pros/Serious Hobbyists – A pro would pass on this one. The drive mode isn’t fast enough to catch supermodels on the runway, and the lack of manual control is a no-no for the studio.
**Conclusion**The Fujifilm FinePix F20 has obviously been built on a budget, with a poor screen and a very limited amount of memory. But it’s still a nice camera if you’re on a budget too. The F20 is a good choice if you’re looking for a simple to use, straightforward camera with reasonable resolution. We’ll have to wait and see how the image quality works out, but it looks promising, as previous Fuji models with similar imaging chips have performed very well.
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Richard Baguley is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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