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- Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR
- Fujifilm's flagship HS20EXR offers sophisticated design and a rich feature set.
Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR Digital Camera Review$499.95
Let's start with a history lesson. A short one, don't worry.
At the earliest stages of amateur digital photography, one single specification, megapixel count, was used–for better or worse–to quickly convey the quality of a camera. The megapixel resolution of a digital sensor was seen as a holistic indicator of a given model's worth. Of course this is mostly untrue, there are many factors that indicate a camera's quality, and raw resolution is just one of them.
Slowly, the public became more aware of megapixels as a small part of a larger system, thanks consumer education by marketing departments and even media outlets like ours. Meanwhile, another single statistic has risen to take its place: optical zoom. To meet demand, the "ultrazoom" category was born. Fixed lens cameras, more affordable than digital SLRs, that prioritize extreme zoom ratios over all other qualities.
So you've got to respect Fujifilm for ignoring another silly, fleeting trend, and aiming to deliver a more feature-rich model than its predecessor. The company could've easily slapped another 5x onto the FinePix HS10 and called it a model year. Instead, they kept zoom right where it was, and tried to improve their ultrazoom flagship in other ways.
The reason we say all this is to contextualize a tragic truth. The Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR, despite adopting a strategy that we respect, is barely an improvement over the HS10, and lags behind current competition. Images are noisy, blurry, and unflattering. Sharpness has dropped, and since the glass has remained the same, this defies explanation. Fringing was worse in our lab test, though admittedly not quite as bad in the real world.
It's a sad situation. We want to love the HS20EXR, with its robust feature set and serious, professional design. But this camera just doesn't take very appealing photos. We don't recommend HS10 owners upgrade, and we recommend new ultrazoom customers take their business to Panasonic, Canon, or Nikon this year.