Introduced at the 2011 CES, Fujilim's Finepix HS20 EXR ultrazoom compact digital camera (henceforth the HS20) is the replacement for the HS10. The new camera gets a hefty bump in resolution to 16 megapixels from 10 in its predecessor. More significantly, the resolution increase is accompanied by a slight increase in the physical size of the new sensor, which is of the backside illumination variety (BSI) that offers the promise of better high ISO performance over conventional designs.
BSI technology isn't unique to Fuji, but EXR is and Fuji isn't shy about touting their newest iteration of this technology: "The unique EXR pixel and color arrays are key to image quality." Rotated by 45 degrees, the EXR pixel array increases both horizontal and vertical resolution. By using the diagonally-aligned twin pixels of the same color, the sensor can switch between HR (High Resolution), DR (Wide Dynamic Range) and SN (High Sensitivity and Low Noise) modes depending on the scene, ensuring that every moment is captured with the highest image quality."
The sensor is accompanied by a newly developed dual CPU, EXR core and reconfigurable processor that powers a host of functions including high-sensitivity HD movies and continuous shooting as well as expanded scene recognition and pro shooting modes. Continuous shooting rates can go as fast as 8 frames per second (fps) at full resolution and up to 11 fps at 8 megapixels. A new vector graphics accelerator drives the enhanced image quality of the rich user interface to "dramatically improve" the appearance of camera menus. Some additional attributes claimed for the processor include the ability to recognize 27 scenes when shooting in EXR mode, spot and reduce chromic aberration (purple fringing), and improve the resolution of the corners of an image for more uniform image sharpness. Full resolution ISO sensitivity range runs from 100 to 3200; 6400 and 12800 sensitivities are available at reduced resolution.
The 30x zoom lens covers the 24 to 720mm focal range (in 35mm equivalents) and is manually zoomed in contrast to the powered systems of most other compact digitals. Here's a look at that focal range at both ends of the zoom lens.
Wide Angle, 24mm
Fujifilm is also talking up quick shutter lag and autofocus (AF) performance in the HS20, claiming an AF acquisition time of 0.16 seconds. Along with the obligatory automatic and scene modes, there are full manual controls and a RAW shooting option; an articulating 3.0-inch LCD monitor and advanced anti-blur technology. The camera is powered by four AA batteries and accepts SD/SDHC memory media; SDXC media is compatible in the UHS-1 configuration. There are approximately 20MB of internal memory. Fuji includes four alkaline batteries, USB and A/V cables, a lens hood, camera strap, basic printed user's manual and CD-ROM software with each camera.
The specifications and ad copy for the HS20 make interesting reading - a big lens, good shutter and autofocus performance and a BSI sensor which is the latest in compact digital camera noise performance. Fuji pulled no punches in the camera's press release, stating "...this latest addition to the range of Fujifilm bridge cameras represents the perfect picture taking solution for photographers who want the specification and picture quality of an SLR without the heavy camera bag and huge dent in their bank balance." Let's get the HS20 out into the field and see if the performance lives up to the advanced billing.
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