FinePix S20 Pro ($999) is a kind of hybrid camera. It takes
the design, lens, and expandability of the FinePix S7000, and
combines it with the SuperCCD SR sensor of the FinePix F700.
The result is a 3.1 + 3.1 megapixel camera with a 6X zoom,
excellent movie mode, and professional-looking body.
do I mean by 3.1 + 3.1 megapixel? To understand that, you need
a better idea about how the SuperCCD SR sensor works.
hexagonal photosite has two smaller sensors on it. One sensor
captures the dark areas, and the other captures light areas.
The camera combines the data from both, producing photos with
higher dynamic range than your typical CCD (that's the promise,
at least). Due to the design of the sensor, the native image
size is 6 Megapixel, which means that some pretty heavy interpolation
goes on to get them to that size. The "true" resolution
of the camera has been hotly debated - is it 3 or 6 Megapixel?
I tend lean toward the 3MP number.
that out of the way, learn more about the S20 Pro in our review!
Do note that since the cameras are so similar, I will be reusing
some text from the S7000 review here.
in the Box?
FinePix S20 Pro has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll
6.2 effective Mpixel FinePix S20 Pro camera
xD Picture Card
AA alkaline batteries
cap w/retaining strap
(IEEE 1394) cable
featuring FinePix SX and HS-V2 software
page camera manual (printed)
includes a rather small 16MB xD card with the camera, which doesn't
hold too many photos at the highest quality setting. So plan
on buying a memory card right away. The S20 Pro can use xD cards,
as well as higher capacity CompactFlash cards, including the
Microdrive. A few weird notes about CompactFlash support on this
camera. First, Fuji only officially supports the use of Microdrives
in the CF slot, though regular cards will work as well. Secondly,
the S20 Pro is not FAT32 compatible, meaning that it can only
see 2GB of data on a memory card.
are something else that you'll need to buy right away. Fuji includes
four non-rechargeable alkaline batteries along with the camera,
which will quickly find their way into the trash (or should I
say, recycling bin). Buy yourself two or more sets of NiMH batteries
(2000 mAh or greater) and a fast charger, and you'll be set.
estimates that you can take about 350 pictures using LCD (50%
flash use) with a set of 2100 mAh batteries -- not too shabby.
Using the Microdrive knocks about 10% from those numbers.
includes a lens cap and retaining strap in the box with the S20
Tele and wide conversion lenses
terms of accessories, you have quite a few options. First, you
can add a wide-angle or telephoto lens to the camera (both are
around $140). The WL-FX9 wide-angle lens brings the wide end
of the lens down to 28mm, while the TL-FX9 brings the top end
to 315 mm. Both of these lenses include the required AR-FX9 lens
adapter ring. If you want to add filters (55mm) to the camera,
you can buy the adapter ring separately ($45).
S20 Pro can also use nearly any third-party external flash. More
on that later. Other accessories for the camera include an AC
adapter ($39), camera case ($38), and NiMH battery kit.
it didn't come with my camera, I think it's safe to assume that
FinePixViewer will be included with the camera. Buyers of the
camera may also find the HS-V2 Hyper-Utility in the box (otherwise
it's $135). I'll describe both below.
is for basic image organizing and editing, and is no substitute
for something like Photoshop Elements. Fuji also includes a RAW
File Converter, and ImageMixer VCD2 (for making video CDs) on
the CD. While ImageMixer VCD2 is (finally) Mac OS X native, it
does not support direct CD-R burning on the Mac -- you'll need
Roxio's Toast to do that.
HS-V2 Hyper-Utility software is an advanced version of FinePix
Viewer that has two important functions: RAW conversion and camera
are actually three ways to process RAW files. You can quickly
extract a 1280 x 960 JPEG, convert to TIFF, or you can take full
advantage of the RAW format and tweak the properties of the photo
you've taken. To do this, you use the RAW File Converter EX part
of the package. You can see everything you can adjust in the
screenshot above (note the dynamic range slider). The great thing
about the RAW format is that you can adjust these properties
and it's as if you took the photo again. If you've got a big
memory card, and don't mind post-processing every shot, then
RAW mode is a great way to get the most out of the S20 Pro.
thing you can do with the Hyper-Utility software is control the
camera from your Mac or PC. You can change the camera settings,
including the zoom and focus, right on your computer. To take
a picture, you can hit the button on the camera, or in the software.
One huge annoyance of the camera control feature is that you
can't preview the image on your computer screen before it is
taken -- you need to preview it on the camera's LCD first.
camera manual is typical of those included with digital cameras.
It's complete, but finding what you're looking for may be difficult.
There are lots of small "notes" on
page, as well.
a few exceptions, the S20's body is identical to the S7000's
(I'll cover the differences below). The S20 Pro's body is a nice
mix of high grade plastic and metal, and it feels very solid.
While you can hold and operate the camera with one hand, you'll
probably find two hands to be more comfortable.
official dimensions of the S20 are 121.0 x 81.5 x 97.0 mm / 4.8 x
3.2 x 3.8 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs
500 grams / 17.6 ounces empty. It's not a compact camera by any means,
but it's not a camera I'd get tired of carrying around.
get right into our tour of the camera now!
lens on the S20 is the same as the S7000 -- F2.8-3.1, 6X zoom.
This lens has a focal range of 7.8 - 46.8 mm, which is equivalent
to 35 - 210 mm. The lens is threaded, though you'll need to pick
up the conversion lens adapter to do anything with it (see previous
above the lens is the same passive autofocus sensor that the
S602 and S7000 use. It allows for more responsive focusing than
traditional contrast-detection AF systems. Whether it helps in
low light situations is unclear.
upward, we find the pop-up flash, with the flash sensor to its
right. The S20 Pro's very powerful flash has a working
range of 0.3 - 8.5 m at wide-angle and 0.9 - 7.9 m at telephoto.
If that's still not enough flash for you, you can also attach
an external flash to the hot shoe you'll see in a moment.
the upper-right of the lens is the camera's microphone. The self-timer
lamp can be seen on the opposite side, at the top of the grip.
new S20 feature can be found below-left of the lens. That's a
PC flash sync port, which is protected by a plastic cap in this
photo. The S20 can sync as fast as 1/1000 sec.
the back of the camera, you'll find a high resolution, 1.8" LCD
display. The LCD has a respectable 118,000 pixels, and images
on it are sharp, bright, and fluid. LCD brightness can easily
be adjusted by using the shift + display buttons.
the LCD is a large and sharp electronic viewfinder (0.44").
The resolution of 235,000 is higher than the LCD, and it shows
-- this is a high quality display. As with the LCD, images on
the EVF are sharp and fluid. It does get a little hard to see
things on the EVF in low light situations, as the camera does
not attempt to brighten the image on the screen like on some
other cameras. There's also a diopter correction knob, which
helps focus the image on the EVF.
the right of the LCD are three buttons. EVF/LCD toggles between,
well, the EVF and LCD. The display button toggles what is shown
on the LCD/EVF, including a framing guide (perfect for people
like me who seem to only take crooked pictures).
Photo mode menu
next button down, which has an "F" on it, opens the
Photo mode menu. It
has the following options:
quality (6M/Fine, 6M/Normal, 3M, 2M, 1M)
sensitivity (Auto, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
(Standard, chrome [high contrast & saturation], B&W)
thing I like about the photo mode menu is that it tells you how
many photos you can take at a given image quality setting (see
cameras tend to have higher ISO sensitivities than your typical
digital camera, illustrated by the S20's starting ISO of 200.
If you need more sensitivity (at the expense of noise), you can
bump it up to 400, 800, or even 1600. Note that ISO 1600 is only
available at the 1 Megapixel resolution. The ISO Auto mode (which
selects from 160-800) is only available when the mode dial is
on "Auto". I'll have a comparison of the various ISO
sensitivities later in the review.
to our tour now. To the right of the "F" button, we
find the four-way controller (with Menu/OK in the middle), the
Focus Check button, and the back button. The Focus Check button
enlarges the center of the frame, so you can make sure the subject
is in focus. You'll probably use this exclusively in manual focus
mode, which I'll touch on in a bit.
the top-right of the photo is the S20 Pro's zoom controller.
This moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in 1.8 seconds.
Quick presses of the button allow for precise zoom adjustments.
You can also use the ring around the lens (that you'll see in
a minute) to adjust the zoom.
the right of the zoom controller is the AE Lock button. Keep
it held down to lock the current exposure.
the top of the camera, you'll find even more buttons. There are
plenty more where that came from, too.
the center of the picture is the S20 Pro's hot shoe. As I mentioned,
the camera can sync with an external flash as fast as 1/1000
sec via the hot shoe or the PC sync port. You will probably need
to manually set the settings on your flash, as the flash doesn't
communicate with the camera.
next item over is the mode dial, which has the following options:
mode - more on this later
position mode (portrait, landscape, sports, night scene)
record - point and shoot, some menu options locked up
mode - still point and shoot, but you have access to all camera
priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera picks appropriate
aperture. Shutter speed range is 3 - 1/1000 sec; I don't like
it when the full shutter speed range is not available in this
mode, as is the case here.
priority mode - you choose aperture, camera picks shutter speed.
Range is F2.8 - F11, depending on focal length
manual - you choose both the shutter speed and aperture; same
aperture range, shutter speed range expands to 30 - 1/10000
sec; this is a larger range than on the S7000
- described later
Program mode, you can do something called "program shift",
by using the command dial. You can cycle through sets of shutter
speed/aperture combinations, which lets you use a faster shutter
speed (when you don't have a tripod) or a smaller aperture (for
more depth of field) than what the camera chose.
next thing to see is the command dial, which is located to the
right of the mode dial. You'll use this to adjust manual settings.
that is a button for continuous shooting. The S20 Pro has an
impressive set of continuous modes (even better than on the S7000),
10-frame - camera takes up to 10 shots in a row at up to 4.5
bracketing - Camera takes three shots in a row, each with a
different exposure. Choose from ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV
10-frame - Hold the shutter release button down to take up
to 40 shots at up to 4.5 frames/sec; camera saves the last
ten shots taken before the shutter button is released
continuous - camera takes up to 40 shots at 1 frame/sec at
the 1M resolution
toward the upper-right of the above photo, we reach the flash
and exposure compensation buttons. The available flash settings
are auto, auto w/redeye reduction, forced flash, slow synchro,
and redeye reduction + slow synchro. The exposure compensation
range is the usual -2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV increments. The exposure
compensation button is also used to adjust the aperture when
in "M" mode.
should add that you adjust all these items I just discussed by
holding down the appropriate button, and turning the command
dial. This may be a little different than what you're used to.
final item on the top of the S20 is the shutter release button,
which has the power/mode switch around it. This switch moves
the camera between the powered off, record, and playback modes.
side of the S20 Pro is covered with buttons. But before I get
to those, let me tell you about the focus/zoom (FZ) ring. When
the camera is in autofocus mode, you can rotate this ring to
adjust the zoom setting. It's a "fly-by-wire" control,
meaning that you're telling the camera to move the lens, as opposed
to mechanically moving it yourself. The zoom ring didn't seem
terrible sensitive to me. It takes too much twisting to move
Manual focus + Focus check
the camera into manual focus mode, and the zoom ring becomes
a focus ring. The camera shows a hint as to your current focus
distance on the LCD/EVF, and the Focus check function lets you
enlarge the center of the image to make sure you're focused properly.
One thing missing here is a guide showing the current focus distance
-- that would've been useful.
they did on the S7000, Fuji puts a fairly misleading zoom number
in big print on the side of the camera. They should have "6X" in
big letters, and have the 2.2X digital zoom in small print. This
is not a 13.2X zoom camera, and I wish they'd stop doing this.
that label is the macro button. I'll have more on that later
in this review.
to that is the Shift button, which is a quick way to get to commonly-accessed
camera settings. You hold it down and press one of the other
buttons to change a setting. You can see what you can change
in the screen shot above.
next buttons over are info and focus. Pressing the info button
(in record and playback modes) shows the current camera settings.
focus dial has three choices: Continuous AF means that the camera
is always trying to focus (you'll hear it). Single AF is the
usual half-press to lock focus thing that most of us are used
to. And I already described manual focus. If you press the button
in the middle of the switch while in manual focus mode, the camera
will autofocus, and then you can fine tune things manually.
that, under a plastic cover, is the DC-in port, which is where
the optional AC adapter is plugged in.
more I/O ports, just move your eyes to the right. There you'll
find USB 2.0 high speed, FireWire, as well as video out ports,
which are covered by a sturdy plastic door. Your eyes are not
deceiving you -- the S20 has both USB 2 and FireWire -- hurrah!
that is the camera's speaker.
find the S20 Pro's dual memory card slots behind a big plastic
door. The slots include CompactFlash Type II as well as xD. The
IBM/Hitachi Microdrive is supported.
included 16MB xD card is shown.
the bottom of the S20 Pro, you'll find the battery compartment
and metal tripod mount. The batteries are under a sturdy plastic
cover, keeping with the overall high quality construction of
tripod mount is inline with the lens.
the Fuji FinePix S20 Pro
S20 takes a little over 3 seconds to extend its lens and "warm
up" before you can start shooting.
No live histogram in record mode
speeds were very fast, thanks to the passive AF sensor on the
front of the camera. The S20 locked focused in under 1/2 second.
In dim lighting, the camera was able to focus if there was enough
ambient light. If it's too dark, the camera won't focus -- an
AF-assist lamp definitely would've helped in that situation.
did notice that both the LCD and EVF pause for a second when
you halfway-press the shutter release button, which may be a
problem for action shots. The S7000 was the same way.
lag was not an issue, even at slower shutter speeds.
speed is superb -- you can take another shot as fast as you can
compose it (assuming the post-shot review is turned off). Fuji
definitely has the shooting performance thing nailed on their
higher end cameras.
setting the "image view" option in the setup menu to "preview",
the camera will let you decide whether to keep or delete a photo
after it is taken.
let's take a look at the resolution and quality choices available
on this camera.
photos on 16MB card (included)
(2832 x 2128)
(2048 x 1536)
(1600 x 1200)
(1280 x 960)
discussed the RAW image format back in the first section of the
camera names files as DSCF####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The
camera maintains the numbering even if you erase the memory card.
FinePix S20 Pro has a attractive, easy-to-use menu system. It
doesn't have all the crazy manual features like some Canon, Minolta,
and Nikon cameras, but they've got the important things covered.
The menu items are:
(Off, 2, 10 seconds)
balance (Auto, custom 1/2, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x3,
incandescent) - see below
mode (Area, center, multi) - more below
[metering] (Multi-pattern, spot, average)
(±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV) - choose the interval
for AE bracketing
(Hard, normal, soft)
exposure (on/off) - overlays two images on top of each other
to create one image
brightness (-0.6EV to +0.6EV, 1/3EV increments)
S20 Pro lets you store two custom white balance settings into
memory -- very nice. Custom white balance lets you shoot a white
or gray card, allowing for perfect color in even the most unusual
multi AF mode lets you choose exactly what the camera focuses.
You do this by holding down the one-touch AF button and using
the four-way controller. There are 49 points to choose from (7
turning the mode dial to the "set" position, you can
access the setup menu. It has the following options:
display (On, off, preview) - post-shot review; preview will
confirm that you want to save each photo to memory
(xD, Microdrive) - select which slot to use when both have
save (2, 5 mins, off) - turn off camera automatically after
a few minutes
(Off, 1-3) - volume level
(Off, 1-3) - volume level
(yes/no) - turn this on when you're using a conversion lens
number (Continuous, renew)
(on/off) - take shots in 6M/RAW mode
(Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese)
system (NTSC, PAL)
mode (DSC, PC-Cam) - the latter option lets you use the S20
Pro as a webcam for videoconferencing; Windows only.
mode (DSC, control) - set this to control to let operate the
camera from your Mac or PC
- discharges NiMH batteries
- settings to defaults
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
S20 did a nice job with our usual macro test subject, which was
taken at the 3M setting. The subject is sharp and detailed, and
the colors are both accurate and saturated.
S20 has two macro modes. In regular macro mode, the distance
from the subject is 10 - 80 cm. The zoom is limited to the 35
- 80 mm range (2.3X), though. In super macro mode, the distance
drops to just 1 - 20 cm, and the zoom is fixed at the full wide-angle
position. I was able to get a 32 x 25 mm subject to fill the
frame in super macro mode.
from the fact that I can't take a level night shot, the S20 did
a pretty nice job here. Do be warned that the camera won't shoot
any slower than 3 seconds in shutter priority mode -- you'll
need to use manual (M) mode to get at the full range. There's
a bit of purple fringing here, and I suggest closing down the
aperture (by using a higher F-number) to reduce it. Noise levels
are quite low in this 3M shot -- click
here to view it at 6M (which is still pretty nice).
let's a look at how changing the ISO sensitivity affects image
S20 does a pretty good job at keeping noise under control, even
at the higher ISOs. As with all my test shots, I took these at
the 3M resolution.
S20 did a great job with the redeye test. There's a slight reddish
glow, and a bit of flash reflection, but no "demon eyes" can
new distortion test shows mild barrel distortion at wide-angle,
and no sign of vignetting (dark corners).
you view the S20's image quality depends a lot on your expectations.
Can it compete with a true 5 or 6 Megapixel camera? I don't think
so, there's just too much noise that destroys the fine detail
in images. I say: save the 6M modes for large prints only. That's
because I got much nicer looking photos at the 3M setting. Images
still seem a little "fuzzy" at times, but they hold
up well against 3 Megapixel cameras with traditional CCD sensors.
for dynamic range, the S20's results were not surprisingly the
same as they were on the F700, which uses the same sensor. That
is to say that dynamic range is improved over "regular cameras",
but it's not the revolution in digital photography that Fuji
would have you believe. Here's an example:
View Full Size Image
Full Size Image
S20 Pro was able to pull out just a little more detail in the
highlights (and the shadows too) than the C-8080WZ. Don't expect
miracles with the SuperCCD SR sensor, but do expect a slight
improvement in dynamic range in your everyday photos (and greater
improvements in situations where highlights tend to get "blown
out"). In certain situations If enjoy such things, there are
that let you play with the dual images in the S20's RAW images
(one for the
each of the sub-sensors).
image quality notes: color is good, as is usually the case with
Fuji cameras. Purple fringing is above average, which is fairly
common on longer zoom cameras.
don't just take my word for all this. Have a look at the photo
gallery and see if the S20's photos meet your expectations.
You are encouraged to print them, as well.
was the case on the S7000, the movie mode on the S20 Pro is as
good as it gets. You can shoot VGA quality video (640 x 480)
at 30 frames/second, until the memory card is full. Sound is
recorded as well. A 320 x 240, 30 frame/second mode is also available.
can store a grand total of 13 seconds of VGA video on the included
16MB xD card (or 26 seconds at 320 x 240). Stuff in a 1GB Microdrive
and you can record over 15 and 30 minutes, respectively.
you'd expect, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a sample movie for you -- be warned, it's a big download.
to play movie (12.2MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
mode on the S20 Pro is pretty standard-issue. Basic features
here include slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection,
thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled
for direct printing to compatible photo printers.
zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge your image anywhere
from 8-18X, depending on the resolution of the photo, and then
move around in the zoomed-in area. When you enlarge an image,
you have the option to trim (crop) it down.
S20 Pro allows you to add 30 second voice clips to each image.
S20 Pro doesn't normally show you any exposure info while in
playback mode. That can quickly be resolved by pressing the Info
button on the side of the camera. You'll then see the info and
camera moves though photos quickly in playback mode, with about
a 3/4 sec delay between high res images.
Does it Compare?
Fuji FinePix S20 Pro's conclusion is much like the one I wrote
for the F700. The S20 is a very capable camera whose main disadvantage
is its price: this camera is priced way too high at $999. As
with the F700, the camera does its best at the 3 Megapixel resolution
-- at the 6M setting things are just too noisy. Dynamic range
is slightly better than your typical camera, but don't expect "night
and day" differences between the two in your everyday photos.
At the 3M setting, images are colorful and sharp, though do expect
purple fringing and a little noise as well.
you like a feature-packed camera, then you'll love the S20. It
features a 6X zoom lens, hot shoe and PC flash sync port, manual
controls, a great burst mode, support for the RAW image format,
and a VGA movie mode. Fuji gets big bonus points from me for
having both USB 2.0 and FireWire support. With the included Hyper-Utility
software, you can control your camera from your Mac or PC, though
you still must frame the shots on the camera's LCD. The camera
can focus down to just 1 cm in its super macro mode, making it
a nice choice for those who love close ups. Performance is good
in general, though an AF-assist lamp would've greatly helped
in low light situations.
frustrating part of low light shooting on the S20 is that neither
the LCD nor the EVF amplify what's on the screens, making them
pretty useless when it's getting dark. I also would've liked
a larger range of shutter speeds in shutter priority mode, as
well. If you want to shoot slower than 3 seconds, you must use
manual (M) mode. The manual focus feature is also a little disappointing:
the camera gives you no hint as to the current focus distance.
And finally, image quality choices at the lower resolutions,
and not just at 6M, would've been nice.
S20 Pro would be a camera I'd seriously recommend if it cost
about 50% less. But it doesn't, and the image quality does not
compare to other cameras in the S20's price range (which includes
D-SLRs). As was the case with the F700, I expect the S20's price
to drop rapidly, at which point it would be a much better buy.
optical zoom lens
AF system helps camera focus quickly in good lighting
rate movie mode
macro mode lets you get 1 cm from your subject
continuous shooting modes
shoe and flash sync port
for conversion lenses
2.0 high speed AND FireWire ports
can be controlled from your Mac or PC
I didn't care for:
too noisy at 6M setting
SR technology improves dynamic range, but only noticeable in
too dark in low light situations (and low light focusing isn't
shutter speed range only available in "M" mode
ring not sensitive enough; takes too much turning to move the
guide in manual focus showing current focus distance
like to choose compression levels at ALL resolutions
rechargeable batteries or decent-sized memory card included
(especially bad given the price of the camera)
not sure what "class" the S20 falls into, so I'll just
list off a bunch of other cameras that I'd also consider. These
include the Canon
PowerShot Pro1, Konica
Minolta DiMAGE A1, Nikon
Coolpix 8700, Olympus
C-8080WZ, and the Sony
Cyber-shot DSC-F828. You can spend a lot less than these
and still get a nice camera as well, so check out the Reviews & Info
section to see what other cameras are available.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the FinePix S20 Pro before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our photo
another review at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking
for a personal recommendation.
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