Fujifilm FinePix S20 Pro
Review Date: 29th June 2004
Ease of Use
The Fujfilm FinePix S20 Pro is virtually identical to the FinePix S7000 Zoom in terms of its design, so most of the comments that I made about the S7000 apply equally to the S20 Pro. It is definitely not in the pocketable category of digital cameras - you will need to carry it in a camera bag. What can only be described as the chunky hand-grip on the right of the camera makes it very comfortable to hold with just one hand, although you may want to use your left hand to steady things. The zoom buttons are very well positioned in a recessed area just where your right thumb naturally sits, with the exposure mode and aperture/shutter speed dials handily positioned above. The Fujfilm FinePix S20 Pro is one of the heavier digital cameras on the market, weighing 500g without batteries and storage cards fitted, but this I think this actually counts in its favour, as it has a reassuring balance to it without being too heavy. Although it's not the smallest or lightest camera around, the Fujfilm FinePix S20 Pro instantly feels intuitive to hold and use.
There are quite a lot number of external controls and buttons on the camera (around 20), but most of them are clearly labeled and common to most mid-range digital cameras. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the manual before you start is a good idea. For more experienced users, a quick look through the manual for the few functions that are not so self-explanatory is all that's needed. There's a fairly traditional dial on the top of the camera that lets you select the different exposure modes; Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual. This dial is a typical feature of SLR cameras, and enables you to quickly change between the various modes. Fuji have wisely integrated all of the scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Scene) into one option on the dial, called SP. Choosing this brings up an on-screen menu, from which you can select a particular scene mode. The other two options are Movie and Set, which allows you to change various functional settings of the camera, such as date/time and whether RAW mode is on or off.
As with a lot of Fuji's other digital cameras, the Fujfilm FinePix S20 Pro has a Menu button on the rear of the camera which, as you would expect, gives you access to the software menu system. This lets you set various parameters including focusing, sharpness and white balance. There is also a small silver button with an F on it which opens the Photo Mode menu and allows you to control the file quality setting, ISO speed and colour settings (B&W, Chrome or Standard). I'm not really sure why these 3 settings alone should fall under the heading of Photo Mode, and things like white balance and sharpening are just part of the standard menu. And I'm undecided about whether it is a good idea or not. The F button does give quick access to certain features, but you do have to memorise what another button does.
One of the issues that I had with the Fujfilm FinePix S20 Pro is linked to the EVF and LCD displays. The camera makes a distinct mechanical noise when you move it around, as it tries to focus on whatever you are pointing it at, until it has locked on the subject. This noise is loud enough to catch someone's attention and spoil a candid moment at close quarters, although in most situations it will probably annoy you more than the subject! It's definitely one of the noisier auto-focusing systems that I've used and is especially annoying if you leave the camera turned on all the time.
On the whole the Fujfilm FinePix S20 Pro is a very well-built, easy to use digital camera that successfully mimics the feel of a 35mm film or digital SLR. The menu system is well-designed and very clear, perfect for both the beginners and more experienced photographers alike that will be interested in buying it. I would have no hesitation in highly recommending this camera from an ease-of-use point of view.