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Noise and JPEG processing

Despite its advanced sensor technology, there's no getting around the fact that the sensor is small; as a result, the Fujifilm X20's photos generally look about the same as those of competing cameras from Canon and Nikon. JPEGs look okay to ISO 200, but when the noise reduction kicks in at ISO 400, artifacts become obvious.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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ISO 100 JPEG

The camera does produce nice detail at low ISO sensitivities.

(1/125 sec, f4, AWB, multi metering, ISO 100)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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Sharpness

While I occasionally think some of the images are oversharpened-looking, it does handle detail like this well.

(1/1900 sec, f4.5, AWB, multi metering, ISO 100)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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X20 vs. RX100

The RX100 delivers better results, in part due to its higher resolution. (Caveat: the shots have slightly different angles of view despite attempts to frame them both at 50mm equivalent.)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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ISO 200, raw vs. JPEG

Here you can see the difference in sharpness. I think the JPEG looks a little artificial, but the tradeoff is the stippling artifacts in the red on the left side. Still, the JPEGs are fine at ISO 200.

(1/125 sec, f4, AWB, multi metering, ISO 100)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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ISO 400 JPEG

There's a big increase in softness and noise between ISO 200 and ISO 400. Using raw helps maintain some sharpness, but the tradeoff is increased graininess.

(1/80 sec, f3.2, AWB, spot metering, ISO 400)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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ISO 800 JPEG

Part of the X20's problem is that its processing algorithms seem to treat all areas equally, so there's noise in all but the most blown-out areas. That said, I still obtained a print of another ISO 800 scene with no noticeable artifacts.

(1/125 sec, f2.5, AWB, spot metering, ISO 800)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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ISO 1600 JPEG

This is pretty typical for a camera in this class.

(1/60 sec, f2.8, AWB, spot metering, ISO 1600)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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ISO 3200

Despite all the artifacts in the out-of-focus areas, the text is surprisingly sharp.

(1/80 sec, f3.2, AWB, spot metering, ISO 3200)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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Color

The camera produces pleasing, reasonably accurate colors at its default settings.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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Film simulations

Here's a comparison of the three major film simulation settings. None of them quite got the right red, though. I really wish there were a neutral color setting.

(1/125 sec, f5.6, AWB, spot metering, ISO 100. -0.3 EV)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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