Hands-On With The Fujifilm X100S And X20: In Stores March 2013 For $1299 And $599

Fujifilm had its press event today at CES 2013, and it showed off two new entries to its X-series line of cameras. The X100S, the successor to the X100, which we already detailed in an earlier post, and the X20, the X10 follow-up. Both are cameras that impressed initially, with major updates that bring even better performance to these prosumer and professional-catering shooters.

The specs included updated X-Trans CMOS II sensors and EXR II Processors, which bump up everything from auto-focus, to image quality to power-up and operation times. And in our hands on testing, the new Fujifilm cameras, which share the same throwback good looks as their predecessors, delivered on all the promises Fujifilm is making about them.

Both the X20 and X100S are surprisingly light cameras, and while they’re bigger than a lot of their compact equivalents from other camera manufacturers, they still feel extremely portable compared to, say, a full-frame DSLR, which the X100S at least is said to be able to rival in terms of image quality with its APS-C 16.3 megapixel sensor, which now also includes phase detection to aid in autofocus. The X20 has a 2/3″ 12 megapixel Xtrans CMOS II under the hood, which also dramatically improves its ability to shoot in low light and autofocus quickly.

Both cameras sport electronic viewfinders that provide lots of information on a heads-up display type of interface, and the X100S offers 100 percent viewfinder coverage, meaning what you see is what you shoot. The EVF worked well in my hands-on testing, and you can definitely see how these are improved over past versions, even if the changes are mostly slight.

Where the cameras really shines in hands-on testing is with autofocus. Both the X20 and X100S lock on quickly, despite less than ideal lighting conditions in the darkened banquet hall room where we got to try them out. I did experience some issues with the camera not detecting that I’d raised it to my face every time and dimming the live screen display, but other than that, they seem to be close to what I imagine we’ll see in production hardware.

Fujifilm’s cameras have been an attractive proposition thanks to the wealth of manual controls they option, excellent IQ and stunning good looks, but they always remained hard to recommend to the average user because of the AF issues that can prove frustrating if you’re not a pro or someone with a lot of patience. Now, however, Fujifilm seems to have listed intently to what its users were saying, and delivered a product that dramatically improves the most notable failing their X-series has had. When these cameras arrive, which should be in March according to Fujifilm, at an MSRP of $600 for the X20 and $1300 for the X100S, I’m sure they’re going to have lots of fans, both among new and existing Fujifilm camera owners.

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