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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Noise and JPEG processing

ISO 100 JPEG

Sharpness

X20 vs. RX100

ISO 200, raw vs. JPEG

ISO 400 JPEG

ISO 800 JPEG

ISO 1600 JPEG

ISO 3200

Color

Film simulations

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.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The camera does produce nice detail at low ISO sensitivities.

(1/125 sec, f4, AWB, multi metering, ISO 100)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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.)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
This is pretty typical for a camera in this class.

(1/60 sec, f2.8, AWB, spot metering, ISO 1600)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The camera produces pleasing, reasonably accurate colors at its default settings.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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