Fujifilm FinePix XP20 review: Fujifilm FinePix XP20

As for shooting features, the XP20 is a fairly standard point-and-shoot. Really the only shooting options that differ from one of Fujifilm's basic ultracompacts are the three underwater modes. There's a Program mode if you want a little more control over things like ISO and white balance, but I found the SR Auto mode reliable enough to use most of the time when shooting in sunlight. White balance is warm under incandescent light, so you may want to switch out of it then and use Program or subject-specific scene mode.

Shooting performance is fairly slow, so I can't recommend this for regularly shooting active kids and pets. From off to first shot is 2.4 seconds. The average shot-to-shot time is 2.2 seconds; with the flash it's 3 seconds. Its shutter lag--the time it takes from pressing the shutter release to capturing a photo--is 0.8 second in bright light and 1.3 seconds in dim, low-contrast conditions. That means even if you're shooting in full sun, your subject will need to remain still for nearly a second to get the shot you want. About the fastest thing it does is shoot a burst of three photos in 1.3 seconds.

Of course, the major reason to consider the XP20 is its rugged build quality. Despite all its promised protection, the camera is small and attractive. Its controls are simple: power and shutter release buttons and a zoom toggle on top, and on back, a directional navigation pad with a menu/OK button, and movie record, playback, and display buttons. All shooting modes and setting changes are done through the menu button, which makes them easy to find and operation simple.

The camera is designed to take some abuse, but, like all rugged devices, you have to follow some guidelines to keep it up and running. Even then, things can fail. I read a lot of user reviews saying the XP20 failed after getting wet two or three times. In my testing, which included use in both surf and still water as well as drops onto 2-inch plywood, this was not my experience; the XP20 held up. However, I wasn't impressed by the little latch that secures the door protecting the battery, SD card slot, and Micro-USB port. It's small, and even if you press the door firmly closed, it's difficult to tell if the door is really locked unless you try to slide the latch. It's just too easy to mistake a click from the door latching for it actually being secured.

As a primary point-and-shoot, I can't recommend the Fujifilm FinePix XP20. Its photo quality and shooting performance just are not good enough. However, as a secondary camera for those times when you need a pocket camera that can get wet, dusty, or cold, or might need to survive a drop, it's an OK option. That is, as long as you're shooting in good lighting and your subjects are not moving.

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