Small Camera. Big Picture. Fuji X20.

Today I am introducing a topic that I expect over the year(s) will become a featured column here at imaginegnat.com.  I often get the question “what camera do you use while riding” or “how do you carry your camera while riding?”.   These questions come up a lot and quite honestly, the answer to those questions really depends on my plan for the day and my expected use for any images I might capture. Those two things drive what camera, or tool, I carry as well as how I carry it. Today I am going to dig into my small camera that I often carried in 2013, a Fuji X20 compact point and shoot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Part of me writing this is because I recently read a post at http://www.stevehuffphoto.com about a reader who loved his Fuji X20. It made me look back to see just what I had captured with the camera. When I did, I was surprised and realized that I really got some good images with that camera. In fact, a few of the images I captured with it are my most popular images over on my Tumblr blog. The following one has 300 notes and reblogs.  Crazy!

And the path revealed itself

And the path revealed itself

So what is so special about the Fuji X20 and why did I pick it as a cycling camera?

  • Size – It is pretty small actually. Easy to fit in a jersey pocket or in a Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag
  • Weight – Related to size, it is pretty darn light
  • Sensor – It has a small 2/3 sensor, but that is larger than most. This gives me a bit more light gathering capabilities. Not much, but compared to other premium point and shoots, I find it superior and can use it to ISO 800 in a pinch. Other point and shoots top out for me at 200 or 400.
  • Lens – Fuji is a great lens maker and for a point and shoot, this one is very nice. 28mm f2 through 112mm f2.8
  • Viewfinder – When I ride in bright sun, I sometimes need that.
  • Rangefinder – I love the rangefinder look of the camera. I know it is a tool, but I’d be lying if I said that the overall look and feel of the camera isn’t important to me

When do I pick this camera to join me on my bike rides?

  • When I want to feel faster. If I carry a bigger camera, I often have to use some type of back pack or hip pack to carry it. That adds weight and bulk that I feel while riding.
  • When I just plan to use the images for myself, my blog, FB or print 8×10 or smaller. I’ve printed larger, but the point is when I don’t have big plans for the images.

But…Let’s cut to the chase. Here is a collection of some of my favorite cycling shots of 2013 captured with the Fujifilms X20.

Morning light

Morning light

A country roll

A country roll

Things I like. Bikes. Flowers. The color orange.

Things I like. Bikes. Flowers. The color orange.

Minneapolis - I can see the old HHH metrodome in this pic!

Minneapolis – I can see the old HHH metrodome in this pic!

Horsethief

Horsethief

Getting on it

Getting on it

This is not a road!

This is not a road!

Storm rolling in

Storm rolling in

The perfect puzzle piece

The perfect puzzle piece

My favorite kind of road

My favorite kind of road

Frozen

Frozen

I like dirt and fatbikes

I like dirt and fatbikes

While I have gotten some of my favorite cycling images of 2013 with this camera it certainly isn’t perfect. Here are few things I don’t like about it.

  • It requires 2 hands to turn it on. This is my number one beef as a cycling camera. I need a camera that turns on and is functional with a single hand. One hand on the handlebars at all times please!
  • It does have a smallish sensor and the more I get into photography, the more I appreciate the IQ of a larger sensor
  • I find it more difficult to get sharp images taken “while in motion” compared to other point and shoot cameras I have used in the past
  • Battery life – If I were to use this on multi day adventures, I’d need a battery for almost every day I was going to be out. Just not enough battery life.
  • Lens cap – It is a press fit metal cap. Really nice, but not ideal. I bought a threaded UV filter for the lens and don’t use the cap while riding. Yes, the filter can get scratched, but that is the price I pay to carry a camera I like on my bike rides.

All in all though, it is a great camera and looking at the images I’ve captured with it, it is hard to ignore that it can capture some meaningful moments and is a powerful little tool!

One last tip on how I sometimes like to use the camera off the bike. I like to turn the EVF off. Set the camera to RAW + JPEG (in monotone), auto ISO with a max of 800, and use it as a quasi film camera shooting experience. Compose with the viewfinder, shoot and Don’t chimp (review the pictures on the LCD). Then at a later time, I download and view the images on my computer. It makes you think and learn about your photography and take things just a bit slower. I like it.

Anyway, if you are interested in one of these cameras, I’ve seen them used in mint condition for about $399 (I like to buy used stuff), even less $$ in EX condition. I think they are well worth the price but that is for each of you to decide on your own.  Also,  if you are looking and see an X10 at a good price, that is a great camera too. Everything I write here applies except for the viewfinder part. I had a similar experience with that camera and only sold it to buy the new X20 with viewfinder. Here a few of the snaps from that camera.

Morning miles

Morning miles

Point Loma Light House

Point Loma Light House

Hallelujah - My kids - San Diego 2012

Hallelujah – My kids – San Diego 2012

Drop me a comment if you have a question or want to know more. FWIW, I have no affiliation with Fujifilms or any retailer. I just find it a great tool and one that I think many cycling, and non cyclists, will enjoy for many years.

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6 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Simply that.

    Reply

  2. How does the X20 compare to the Panasonic LX7??

    Reply

    1. Vito it is very similar and I have always loved the Panasonic LX series. The sensor capturing the image is bigger on the X20. This gives it a little better ISO capability. All in all though very similar performance with the 1 big difference being the optical viewfinder on the Fuji.

      Reply

  3. Nice post and great photos Jason. I now want to figure out a way to cary a camera bigger than my iPhone on the CX bike. I’ve tried taking my X100 when i have a backpack on the MTB but it’s too much of a pain to get in and out of the bag quickly.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Wade. The x20 is sure a nice compromise. You suffer with IQ as the sensor is very small compared to your x100 but a good picture on a small camera is better than no picture!

      Reply

  4. […] these pics are taken with my Fuji X20 pocket camera I wrote about here. I had put it away for months until I wrote that article and was reminded just how awesome it is. […]

    Reply

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