The HS20 EXR is the latest superzoom bridge camera to grace the Fujifilm range and arrives almost exactly a year since the launch of its predecessor, the HS10.
While Fujifilm is well established as one of the leading players in the superzoom-bridge market, it’s fair to say that sector has found itself in a bit of a tight spot in recent years. Traditionally positioned as a sort of halfway-house between a regular short-zoom compact and a fully fledged DSLR, superzoom-bridge cameras have found themselves up against increasingly stiff competition from the new breed of interchangeable-lens compact system models in recent years.
Yes, it’s certainly true that compact system cameras aren’t able to offer the 30x or even 20x optical zoom power of a traditional superzoom, however they do have the advantage of bigger sensors that result in better overall image quality. The latest compact-bodied models of this type – for example, the Lumix GF3 or Sony NEX-5 – also have the advantage of being smaller and lighter than any current superzoom-bridge models.
Clearly aware of this increasing threat from compact system cameras, manufacturers have responded in two primary ways: by extending the telephoto capabilities of their models even further, and by packing all kinds of innovative technology and useful features into them. While this certainly benefits consumers, can models like the HS20 also deliver the image quality to match their undoubtedly impressive feature-set and DSLR-like form factor?
The HS20 picks up pretty much where the HS10 left off, bringing a number of notable specification upgrades to the table. Chief among these is sensor resolution, which has been upped from 10- to 16-megapixels. The 3in rear LCD monitor also benefits from a hike in resolution from 230k- to 460k-dots.
Of course, these aren’t the only tweaks and changes – there’s a notable increase in dynamic range performance from 400% to 1600% too – but elsewhere the headline specs remain much the same, with the HS20’s 30x optical zoom, 1080p Full HD movie recording and Raw still image recording abilities all carried over directly from the HS10.
With its huge fixed zoom the HS20 is primarily a camera of convenience; there are no heavy camera bags to cart around, and no awkward lens changes to make in dusty environments either. It’s essentially an all-in-one camera – something that can be counted on, no matter how near or how far your subject is. For many this flexibility is undoubtedly its biggest appeal.