Fujifilm X20 review - Quality

Quality

Fujifilm X20 vs Sony RX100 II vs Nikon COOLPIX A quality

 

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Fujifilm X20, the Sony RX100 II, and the Nikon COOLPIX A within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; RAW results will follow on the next page.

The Fujifilm X20 and Sony RX100 II were set to their maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle field of view to match the 28mm equivalent fixed lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A.

All three cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the senstivity set manually to the base ISO sensitivity setting.

  Fujifilm X20 results
1 Fujifilm X20 Quality JPEG
2 Fujifilm X20 Quality RAW
3 Fujifilm X20 Noise JPEG
4 Fujifilm X20 Noise RAW
5 Fujifilm X20 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Fujifilm X20. The X20 was mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was turned off. Aperture priority mode was selected with the aperture set to f4, which produces the best result from the fixed lens. With the sensitivity set to 100 ISO the camera metered an exposure of 1/2000. At its base 160 ISO sensitivity setting the Sony RX100 II also selected 1/2000 at f4. The fixed 28mm lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A produces its best quality results at f5.6; at that aperture and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity the COOLPIX A selected an exposure of 1/1000.

The cameras were left on their default settings for this test. On the Fujifilm X20, Film Simulation was set to Standard, White balance was set to Auto, and Dynamic Range was set to Auto. On the Sony RX100 II White balance was set to Auto, DRO was set to Auto, and the Creative Style was set to Standard. On the COOLPIX A White balance was set to Auto and Active D-Lighting was off. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

Before we look at the crops, it’s worthwhile just noting what we’re comparing here in terms of resolution and sensor size. At 20.2 Megapixels, the Sony RX100 II has the highest resolution sensor of the three models compared here, but its 1 inch sensor isn’t physically the biggest, that title goes to the Nikon COOLPIX A which has an APS-C sensor the same size as found in most consumer DSLRs. The COOLPIX A’s sensor is lower resolution than the Sony, though, at 16.2 Megapixels. So the Sony RX100 II has more pixels packed into a smaller space than the COOLPIX A. Finally, the Fujifilm X20’s 2/3 inch sensor is the smallest of the three and also, at 12 Megapixels, the lowest resoIution. The other thing to bear in mind is that the X20 sensor uses Fujifilm’s X-Trans design which has a radically different architecture to the Bayer-type sensors used in the RX100 II and COOLPIX A.

What about the crops? Generally the X20 looks quite impressive. There’s a decent level of detail, crisp edges and punchy contrast. You can make out the door and windows in the chapel of the first crop, but the stonework is a little bit indistinct as are the figures at the bottom of the frame. In the second crop the lighthouse is very clearly defined and the edges of the window frames in the foreground are nice and crisp, but you can’t make out individual tiles in the foreground roof.

There’s no softening of detail or distortion in the third crop from close to the edge of the frame, neither is there any colour fringing, so at the wide angle setting at least, the lens performs well with consistent results across the frame. In the final crop, once again, the window frames and balcony dividers are crisply defined, but where you might expect to see finer detail in the roofs and brickwork in the foreground and middle distance it’s hard to make out.

Compared with the the Sony RX100 II the Fujifilm X20 crops put up a pretty good show, but at 100 percent they don’t quite resolve the same level of detail as the larger 1 inch sensor in the RX100 II. Edge detail is nice and crisp, but if you compare the chapel in the first crop, the foreground roof in the second and the tiled roofs in the foreground of the fourth crop, there’s clearly fine detail in the Sony RX100 II crops that is absent in the Fujifilm X20 ones.

The same goes for the Nikon COOLPIX A crops, only more so. With its APS-C sensor, bigger still than the 1 inch sensor in the Sony RX100 II, the COOLPIX A makes a better job of resolving fine detail than the Fujifilm X20. Both the RX100 II and COOLPIX A sensors are higher resolution than the Fujifilm X20 so as well as resolving finer detail, it’s bigger and easier to see.

Given the different physical sizes of the sensors, the quality difference between the Fujifilm X20 and the other two models isn’t as big as you might expect though. Fujifilm has managed to deliver really excellent image quality from the X20’s 2/3 inch X-Trans sensor that far exceeds what you could expect from a typical 1/2.3in compact sensor. It doesn’t quite match the quality of the Sony RX100 II or Nikon COOLPIX A, but it comes close.

You can see how these differences are reflected in my Fujifilm X20 RAW quality results on the next page. Alternatively you can see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Fujifilm X20 Noise results.

 

Fujifilm X20
 
Sony RX100 II
 
Nikon COOLPIX A
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Fujifilm X20
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Fujifilm X20 vs Sony RX100 II vs Nikon COOLPIX A quality RAW

 

To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Fujifilm X20, the Sony RX100 II, and the Nikon COOLPIX A within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes.

The Fujifilm X20 and Sony RX100 II were set to their maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle field of view to match the 28mm equivalent fixed lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A.

All three cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the senstivity set manually to the base ISO sensitivity setting.

  Fujifilm X20 results
1 Fujifilm X20 Quality JPEG
2 Fujifilm X20 Quality RAW
3 Fujifilm X20 Noise JPEG
4 Fujifilm X20 Noise RAW
5 Fujifilm X20 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Fujifilm X20. The X20 was mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was turned off. Aperture priority mode was selected with the aperture set to f4, which produces the best result from the fixed lens. With the sensitivity set to 100 ISO the camera metered an exposure of 1/2000. At its base 160 ISO sensitivity setting the Sony RX100 II also selected 1/2000 at f4. The fixed 28mm lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A produces its best quality results at f5.6; at that aperture and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity the COOLPIX A selected an exposure of 1/1000.

The cameras were left on their default settings for this test. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles .

I processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes.

Before we look at the crops, it’s worthwhile just noting what we’re comparing here in terms of resolution and sensor size. At 20.2 Megapixels, the Sony RX100 II has the highest resolution sensor of the three models compared here, but its 1 inch sensor isn’t physically the biggest, that title goes to the Nikon COOLPIX A which has an APS-C sensor the same size as found in most consumer DSLRs. The COOLPIX A’s sensor is lower resolution than the Sony, though, at 16.2 Megapixels. So the Sony RX100 II has more pixels packed into a smaller space than the COOLPIX A. Finally, the Fujifilm X20’s 2/3 inch sensor is the smallest of the three and also, at 12 Megapixels, the lowest resoIution. The other thing to bear in mind is that the X20 sensor uses Fujifilm’s X-Trans design which has a radically different architecture to the Bayer-type sensors used in the RX100 II and COOLPIX A.

The first thing that’s clear from these crops is that there is more detail being recorded by the Fujifilm X20’s sensor than we saw in the JPEG crops. The question is whether it can be teased out without introducing other artifacts. These highly sharpened crops display a non-uniform granular structure (it’s most obvious in the fourth crop) that isn’t noise but looks a little like reticulation in film processing. This might be a consequence of the X-Trans sensor’s unorthodox architecture, whatever the reason, the X20’s RAW files will need careful handling to tease out the extra detail without introducing other problens.

On the comparison front, I’d say these results confirm what we saw with the JPEGs though. Quality and detail resolution is in line with sensor size with the COOLPIX A on top, followed by the Sony RX100 II and the Fujifilm X20 a close third.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Fujifilm X20 Noise results.

 

Fujifilm X20 RAW
 
Sony RX100 Ii RAW
 
Nikon COOLPIX A RAW
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Fujifilm X20
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Fujifilm X20 vs Sony RX100 II vs Nikon COOLPIX A Noise RAW

 
  Fujifilm X20 results
1 Fujifilm X20 Quality JPEG
2 Fujifilm X20 Quality RAW
3 Fujifilm X20 Noise JPEG
4 Fujifilm X20 Noise RAW
5 Fujifilm X20 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Fujifilm X20, the Sony RX100 II, and the Nikon COOLPIX A within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Fujifilm X20 and Sony RX100 II were set to their maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle field of view to match the 28mm equivalent fixed lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A.

The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO sensitivity set manually.

The above shot was taken with the Fujifim X20 in Aperture priority mode. The camera was mounted on a tripod and tonal enhancement features were left on their default settings. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle.

I processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

These RAW results pretty much bear out what we saw with the JPEGs and there are no real surprises. They also confirm what you’d expect to see based purely on the physical size of the sensors. The Nikon COOLPIX A has the lowest noise levels, followed by the Sony RX100 II and then then the Fujifilm X20. One other important difference is that COOLPIX A offers RAW shooting throughout its sensitivity range, as does the Sony RX100 II, albeit with a lower top setting of 12800 ISO (for 25600 ISO you need to switch to Multi Frame Noise Reduction mode). The Fujifilm X20, however, only goes up to 3200 ISO. Do remember the caveats noted on the previous page concerning maximum apertures where a brighter lens can allow lower ISOs under the same lighting and the same shutter speed. This allows the X20 to use lower ISOs than its rivals, especially when zoomed-in, but again any advantage in its light gathering can be over-turned by the benefit of a bigger sensor.

Now head over to my Fujifilm X20 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Fujifilm X20 RAW
 
Sony RX100 II RAW
 
Nikon COOLPIX A RAW

100 ISO

100 ISO
100 ISO
160 ISO N/A
160 ISO
160 ISO N/A
         
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO Not Available
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO Not Available
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
25600 ISO Not Available
25600 ISO Not Available
25600 ISO


Fujifilm X20
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Fujifilm X20 vs Sony RX100 II vs Nikon COOLPIX A Noise JPEG

 
  Fujifilm X20 results
1 Fujifilm X20 Quality JPEG
2 Fujifilm X20 Quality RAW
3 Fujifilm X20 Noise JPEG
4 Fujifilm X20 Noise RAW
5 Fujifilm X20 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Fujifilm X20, the Sony RX100 II, and the Nikon COOLPIX A within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings; RAW results will follow on the next page.

The Fujifilm X20 and Sony RX100 II were set to their maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle field of view to match the 28mm equivalent fixed lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A.

The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO sensitivity set manually.

The above shot was taken with the Fujifilm X20 in Aperture priority mode. The camera was mounted on a tripod and tonal enhancement features were left on their default settings. Dynamic range was set to Auto and Noise reduction was set to 0. On the Sony RX100 II DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) was set to Auto, High ISO noise reduction was set to Auto and Long exposure Noise reduction was on. On the COOLPIX A Active D-Lighting and Long exposure noise reduction was off. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle

The aperture on the Fujifilm X20 was set to f4 and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting it metered an exposure of 1/7. The Sony RX100 II , also at f4, metered 1/6 at its base 160 ISO setting. The COOLPIX A produces its best results at f5.6, where it metered 1/3 at 100 ISO.

The Sony RX100 II has a an ISO range of 160 to 12800 ISO with an extension at the lower end offering 100 and 125 ISO. I’ve included a 100 ISO crop for reference, but you’ll almost certainly experience reduced dynamic range at these lower ISO settings, so for comparison purposes at base ISO settings, the 160 ISO crop is the one to compare with the 100 ISO crops from the Fujifilm X20 and the Nikon COOLPIX A.

The 20.2 Megapixel sensor on the RX100 II is higher resolution than the 16.2 Megapixel sensor of the COOLPIX A which itself is higher than the 12 Megapixel Fujifilm X20. So the RX100 crops show a smaller area with bigger detail than those from the other two models. The other major difference is the physical size of these sensors with the Nikon COOLPIX A sporting the biggest APS-C sized sensor, followed by the 1 inch sensor of the Sony RX100 II, then the 2/3 inch X-Trans sensor of the Fujifilm X20. We’ll see what impact all of these differences has on the noise performance of these three models momentarily.

First lets look at the Fujifilm X20 crops. At its base 100 ISO sensitivity the X20 produces a very good result. There’s just a little bit of texture visible in the flat colour of the wall but it isn’t distracting and doesn’t interfere with detail. The noise increases marginally at 200 ISO, the text isn’t quite so clear and the edges soften a little. Then at 400 ISO there’s another visible increase in noise textures that obscures more of the fine detail in the text and nibbles at the edges of the memorial panel. Up to this point though, the noise is well in hand and results are easily good enough for 100 percent reproduction.

At 800 ISO things take a turn for the worse though. This is more than the cumulative result of each step up the sensitivity ladder; the difference between 400 and 800 ISO is much more obvious than the earlier changes, noise is now very visible over the entire frame and contrast and detail are suffering as a result.

At 1600 ISO the text is only barely legible and full sized prints or larger screen images are going to be borderline quality. 3200 ISO looks ok at smaller sizes but from there on up there’s more noise than image data and the 6400 and 12800 setting really are for emergency use only.

Compared with the crops from the RX100 II, at the base ISO sensitivity there’s little between them. As soon as the sensitivity starts to climb, though, the Sony’s advantage begins to tell. The Fujifilm X20 200 ISO crop has a little bit of texture, but at 400 ISO there’s a good deal of noise around that’s absent, or at least a lot less visible in the RX100 II crop. From there on up the gap widens at every step and by 1600 ISO the RX100 II has at least a 1EV advantage over the Fujifilm X20.

As we found with the outdoor test results, the COOLPIX A’s bigger sensor also gives it the upper hand where noise is concerned. At the base ISO sensitivity there isn’t much in it, but from 400 ISO up the COOLPIX A opens up a gap that just keeps on growing as you go up the sensitivity scale. The RX100 II keeps up with the COOLPIX A until around 1600 ISO but from there it suffers the same fate and just can’t compete with the bigger sensor of the COOLPIX A in the upper half of the range. That advantage also gives the COOLPIX A an additional 25600 setting that the Fujifilm X20 and Sony RX100 II lack.

One final thing worth pointing out is that the focal ratio, or maximum aperture is a big practical factor when it comes to ISO sensitivity. At its wide angle setting, the Fujifilm X20’s maximum f2 aperture is a stop wider than the f2.8 aperture of the Nikon COOLPIX A. That means that under the same conditons using the same shutter speed with both cameras set to their maximum aperture, you could shoot at 400 ISO on the X20 where you’d be using 800 ISO on the COOLPIX A. So in the spirit of fairness, you should shift the X20 results down a notch in the table below so that the 100 ISO sample is next to the Nikon at 200 ISO and so on. The same goes for the RX100 II, which has an f1.8 maximum aperture, when comparing with the COOLPIX A. It’s also worth remembering the X20 enjoys an almost two stop advantage in aperture over the RX100 II when both cameras are zoomed-into their longest telephotos, allowing it to use lower ISOs under the same conditions and shutter speeds.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Fujifilm X20 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Fujifilm X20 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Fujifilm X20
 
Sony RX100 II
 
Nikon COOLPIX A

100 ISO

100 ISO
100 ISO
160 ISO N/A
160 ISO
160 ISO N/A
         
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
25600 ISO Not Available
25600 ISO Not Available
25600 ISO


Fujifilm X20
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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