alternatives to Fuji X20: the competition

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Fuji X20 review

The Fuji X20 has a lot of great features. I think it is a great upgrade from the earlier model. But the premium digital camera category has become crowded. When I purchased my old Fujifilm X10 the only alternative was the Olympus XZ-1. In the meantime things have changed with Sony, Canon, Panasonic and Olympus coming with new offerings.

I really love the Fujifilm cameras, but some of these other cameras might be a better choice. There is no best camera for everything, and rarely two photographers like the same features on a camera.

Fuji X20 ready to face the competitors
Fuji X20 ready to face the competitors


Before the Fujifilm X20 became available at Amazon, I had time to spend  and  look at the alternatives. Some of the cameras below I tried in a camera shop and others I researched online. Although I have a Fujifilm X-E1 which I love, I usually carry a second camera with me. Until recently my travel  camera has been the Fujifilm X10, and now I need a replacement.

Fujifilm X20 alternatives

This depends on what features you consider the most important. For me these are

  • great image quality, followed by
  • a bright lens and the ability to separate subject from background.
  • I like external controls, and
  • I found out when using the Fuji X10 that I need a viewfinder.

The Fuji X20 alternatives are:

fuji X20 vs Sony RX100

More compact body, a great movie mode and larger sensor size are big pluses. Fuji X20 versus Sony RX100 gets complicated though because the Sony lens is “slower”. Compared to the F2.0-F2.8 of the Fuji, the Sony has a modest F4.9 at telephoto. This makes blurring the background harder. Luminous-landscape has a good review of the Sony RX100.

I think the size of the Sony RX100 (smaller than the Fuji) is great, yet when I tried the Sony in a camera shop I felt the camera lacks a sufficient grip. Sony RX100 is about 30% lighter and smaller in every dimension. The lens on the Fuji X20 gives the camera better stability, yet takes away the pocket-ability

Sony RX100 strong points:

  • 1” Exmor® CMOS sensor with 20.2 MP
    Larger sensor than the one in the X20 (surface is about double). This gives very good low-light capabilities!
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens that starts at F1.8
    …but unfortunately reaches F4.9 at telephoto. I think a wide aperture at telephoto is more important than at wide-angle.
  • USB charging so if you shoot less than 300 pictures per day you get rid of a charger. If you shoot more it is a liability.
  • fun HDR and Panorama modes
    and by fun I mean very useful features, but not essential

The price for the being small and light is the lack of an integrated viewfinder.
The Sony RX100 at Amazon retails for $648, slightly lower than the Fuji X20.

the ageing Fujifilm X10

This comparison only makes sense if you have the older model. Fuji X20 brings a lot of  improvements so If you want a more useful viewfinder and faster autofocus an upgrade is a good idea. A new sensor and the great movie mode in the Fuji X20 are also important differences.

This also means that if you feel the Fuji X10 is enough camera (and I really loved mine) you can get a good price second-hand. If you get a used Fuji X10 you should check if it has the annoying “white orbs”. They were a problem in the earlier sensors – you can find a bit more in this DPReview article.

There is one very important feature of the Fujifilm X10 that is no longer present in the X20. On the X10 you can set the EXR sensor in DR400 (high dynamic range mode), the resolution at only 6MP and get beautiful well exposed images. I always used this mode on my old Fujifilm X10, and I sorely miss it even from the X-E1.

Olympus XZ-2

Lack of integrated viewfinder is a problem for me.
However, the Olympus XZ-2 has a few very interesting features:

  • tilt LCD with touchscreen
    I find an tilt-able LCD very useful: shooting over the crowd at a concert, macro photography at ground level, very discreet street shooting. I really like a tilt-able LCD, and also that the Olympus XZ-2 has touchscreen operation. This is less important as a feature, but it is a very fast method of choosing a focus point!
  • integrated neutral density filter and an even faster lens
    The F1.8-F2.5 lens has a bit more light gathering ability than the Fujifilm X20. However in normal light you cannot use such a fast aperture. Most cameras cannot shoot so fast (we are talking 1/2000s or faster), and you have to close the aperture down a bit. The Olympus has an ace up its sleeve: a neutral density filter. I really wish the Fujifilm X20 would get one.
  • Olympus colors and white balance
    If you like Olympus colors, the XZ-2 delivers them.

I feel the Olympus XZ-2 is a very interesting choice if you used a smartphone for taking photos. My friends that have iPhones as cameras always got annoyed by my Fujifilm X10 for not having touchscreen.

The price is lower than when launched, and at $599 it is a good value. I feel the camera is a bit small, but feels like a very good digital camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7

My father owns a Panasonic LX3, i tried a Panasonic LX5 and followed the launch of the Lumix LX-7 with a lot of interest. The Panasonic Lumix LX7 sells at Amazon  for $399 and this makes it the best value camera in my opinion!

Panasonic LX7 has some string points

  • a wide-angle lens that starts at 24mm
    I really enjoy shooting wide-angle, more than telephoto. 4mm at the wide end make a world of difference. This is a very strong-point for the Lumix LX7, that cannot be matched by most digital cameras.
  • F1.4 – F2.5 LEICA lens
    I always say that a picture is as good as the lens, and the lens on the Panasonic LX7 is both sharp and renders beautifully. It cannot match a DSLR, but all the digital cameras on this page can only act as companions to one.
  • click-able aperture ring and time-lapse shooting
    I now shoot with a Fuji X-E1, so I really like aperture rings. After my long history of Canon DSLR I didn’t think too much about an aperture ring, but now I find it great. And I think that time-lapses are fun. And I wish they are implemented in firmware by other camera manufacturers.

I think the LX5 was sluggish in operation, but the Lumix LX7 is fast and responsive.

Canon G15

A large camera, which has no dream of being pocketable. But it is the only non-Fuji in this list that has an optical viewfinder! The solid construction, with external controls, makes the Canon G15 an interesting alternative to the Fuji X20.

The most important feature is the long zoom range (28-140mm) with fast aperture: F1.8 – F2.8. I found out that I am not shooting a lot of pictures at long focals.  When I was still using Canon DSLRs I ran some experiments in Lightroom and discovered that only rarely I shot above 100mm. But if a big zoom range is a requisite for you, the Canon G15 is a good choice at $449.


Do you think other digital cameras would fit here?
leave a comment and I will put it in the list.

Series Navigation« is the Fuji X20 a worthy upgrade to my X10 ? my short reviewmy Fuji X20 review conclusion – strong points and who is it for »

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