Having now had the Fuji HS20EXR for a little over four months I have grown to like the performance and output of the HS20.
Initially I had reservations ( large ones) when the HS20 first came onto the market. The biggest worry appeared to be overheating and build quality. This has since be rectified with a firmware update and the overheat warning and its attendant sensor warning has been re-calibrated with the new firmware.
My HS10 was built in Malaysia and was very well put together. Like the HS10 the HS20 zoom barrel was a little stiff and had that little bump feeling at about the halfway point. That has now eased with use and I'm happy to say the zoom is nice and smooth in operation now. My HS20 was built in China with a serial number starting at 1AAQ, so its an early model, but the build quality was every bit as good as my HS10. The battery cover as reported by others has never been anything other than a snug and tight fit. No complaints there.
My biggest worry was more to do with the sensor and the amount of noise created by 16 megapixels on small (albeit not a small as the HS10's), sensor, and the amount of noise created. I'm happy to report that the noise isn't as big a factor as I had first imagined. In its native 16mp mode noise starts to show up from ISO 400 upwards, but depending upon mode and conditions isn't as overwhelming as it sometimes was in the HS10. At base ISO & ISO 200 images are crisp and noise free. For a 16mp sensor on such a small footprint its far quieter than I originally expected it to be. Shooting in full frame at 16mp yields very nice imagery and resolution.
Shot @16mp EXR Res Pr (HR) mode.
Image size 4:3 Large fine.
Cropped to suit PP work.
Little noise evident at this resolution.
Printed at 5" x 7 "
Sep 6, 2012
1600×1555 pixels – 1167KB
Model: FinePix HS20EXR
Exposure: 1/220 sec
Focal Length: 54.6mm
Flash Used: No
Switching to other modes in the EXR range yield even quieter images as well as good low light performance. The low light performance (SN mode) was a major feature of the new sensor, so has it lived up to the hype. By and large yes it has. I would always suggest using the lowest ISO that is appropriate for the conditions to maintain good noise control. If you want improved dynamic range though you need to decide if the lift in ISO and noise is going to detract from the shot. When the HS20 is used in the EXR modes, Auto, SN & DR to my eye at least there is a small trade-off in image IQ (detail resolution) when compared to images shot in the sensors native 16mp mode. These differences are slight but do on occasion appear in higher ISO shots. The tradeoff for increased dynamic range above 400% and a quieter image is the slightly less crisp result from shooting in these modes. Does it detract from the overall look of the image. Generally no, you would in a lot of cases have to pixel peep to see the differences.
If you are Pixel_peeping then its likely that the image you are intending to print is a poster. Prints at A3 and A4 from the HS20 are usually crisp and clean and noise free. I doubt that the image printed larger than this would always hold up. At this point you need to be thinking about a good DSLR.
Next we will update some of the shooting modes and settings.