Same, same, but different! That’s what Fujifilm’s new X20 compact camera is for those who know its predecessor, the X10. From the looks of it, the X20 and X10 are quite the same, so X10 users will immediately feel at home. However, it’s a new and different home, one with a more conventional X-Trans sensor. Yep, compared to EXR even an X-Trans sensor is pretty old-fashioned. So in order to get the best results from an X20, you might want to shoot it less like an X10 and more like a X100(S), X-E1 or X-Pro1.
In order to compare the image quality of the X10 and the X20, we have to shoot with image resolution M, aka 6 megapixels. That’s because the X10 is an EXR camera with a split-sensor of 2 x 6 MP. Sure, you can also use it in HR mode to get full-size 12 MP output, but why would you buy an EXR camera in the first place if you weren’t interested in its unique features, such as hardware-based DR expansion, or pixel binning to reduce noise and artifacts under low light?
So I took both cameras and shot a series of samples. Click here to open the X20 vs. X10 shootout set on Flickr. While you are at it, you might also want to take a look at my ever growing X20 samples set.
In order to get comparable results, I put both cameras in 6 MP (size M) mode, set DR to Auto (or DR100% for some shots) and also used matching film simulation modes (Astia, Provia and Velvia). Noise reduction was set to -1, the rest was all default settings. After completing the series, I redeveloped each X20 image in 12 MP resolution using the camera’s internal RAW converter. This way we got two versions of each shot from the X20, one with 6 and one with 12 MP.
Looking at the full-size samples, you will recognize that even at 6 MP, the X20 is able to resolve better midtone and highlight detail while keeping noise levels lower and the image cleaner. Have a look at this example:
However, it’s a different situation when you look at dark shadow details in images that were shot with DR200% and, even more so, DR400% dynamic range expansion modes: