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While the Fujifilm FinePix F31fd is definitely one of the better digital compact cameras on the market, especially for its low-light performance, its £180 price tag may be a little high for some people. Therefore it’s nice to know that there is a cheaper alternative that offers many of the same advantages. That alternative is the FinePix F20.
Launched last July at the same time as the S6500fd, the F20 is a 3x zoom compact which features a 6.1-megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor, 2000 ISO maximum sensitivity and 300-shot battery duration. In other words, it’s almost the same specification as the FinePix F30, the camera that first showed us the benefit of Fuji’s unique high-ISO capability. The F20 is currently available for under £110 from a number of retailers, which compares well with similarly-specified cameras such as the Kodak EasyShare C653 (£100), Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S600 (£120), Nikon Coolpix L2 (£140), Canon PowerShot A540 (£140) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX3 (£160).
Despite its low price, no compromises have been made in the design or construction of the F20. Build quality is of a very high standard, with a strong aluminium body finished in a semi-matt texture that resists finger marks and scratches. The design is very clean and stylish, sharing many details with its big brother the F31fd, such as the clever battery hatch design that won’t come open in your pocket. The monitor screen is 2.5in diagonally, which is big enough, and has a good non-reflective coating making it easier to use in bright daylight. With 153k pixels it’s not the sharpest ever, but it’s better than some.
With a raised grip on the front and a textured rubberised grip panel on the back the F20 is very comfortable to hold, and the controls are all very easy to operate. Like most Fuji cameras it has an ‘F’ button that gives quick access to ISO, image quality and colour options. Flash mode, macro, self-timer (2 or 10 secs) and monitor brightness are controlled via secondary functions of the D-pad, while everything else including exposure compensation is relegated to the main menu. This makes the basic operation of the F20 very simple. In Auto mode it is just point and click, and the camera’s capabilities mean that you’ll seldom be disappointed with the results.