Wednesday, 10 September 2014

X20 - The Ideal Vacation Camera?

On Vacation - Is it worth the hassle?

I know we're in a minority these days if we take a real camera on vacation with us, everywhere I looked people were taking snaps with their phones. They seemed to be getting OK pictures, but I was far happier snapping away my arcane looking Fujifilm X20 with it's bright but modest zoom lens. I knew my photos would be far better, but was it worth the inconvenience?

Lets start off with the battery life,.. it can give up a bit short notice, so I took advise and purchased a spare. But the charger's very traveller friendly, being small and light, with no annoying cables to tangle up, and I found that with my moderate use I didn't need it.

I still haven't bought a case so I tended to have it hung around my neck. It made me feel like a tourist (that's for sure) but it's great for those impromptu shots like this one as I was crossing the tarmac to board the plane.

ISO:100, 1/850 sec at F6.4 - EMA Control Tower

Remove the cap, give the lens a quick twist and you're ready to go,.. and the optical view finder worked well in the bright sunlight. There were a few times that I didn't have the camera available and I was forced to reach for my iPhone. But aside from the lower quality the phone was just slow and cumbersome.


Everyone likes sunsets don't they, and the good weather and tropical scenery make for some great opportunities.
It's in low light conditions that I also found the optical view finder helpful. I'm not sure why, but it helps you concentrate on the job in hand, allowing you to check you've framed everything correctly and there's nothing in the picture that shouldn't be. The nearer you get to the equator the quicker the sun goes down so I found it a bit of a mad scramble for those last few moments. Here's one of the shots I took standing on top of the kids water slide. I tried different focal lengths in quick succession and this is the one that worked the best.

ISO:100, 1/300 sec at F5 - Sa Caleta, Menorca
The results are pretty good, giving a good mix of light skies and some detail on the ground without making it too busy. I could have used the Sunset mode which supposed to improve the colours but I was just shooting in regular auto.

Action shorts - 8fps shooting

Aperture Priority

All attempts to shoot in aperture priority mode caused me to get vastly over exposed pictures (even after setting the compensator to -2). At the time I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong and so mainly stuck to auto mode.

ISO:100, 1/1000 sec at F2.8 - (over exposed)
It was a very bright sunny day, the camera was (later) found to be in spot metering mode which left the background very over exposed with most of the rock blown out. Every picture I took in this mode came out this way and I didn't know how to fix it.

The fix is actually pretty simple, press the AE button and select MULTI. (I wish I'd known that at the time)

Panorama Drama

With some great scenery I couldn't resist taking a few panoramas, and once again the X20 makes this an easy process. But it did get take a few attempts to get it to work. The camera kept telling me I was panning too slowly and refused to save anything. Kinda kills the spontaneity and the kids were getting fed-up of standing still, but I got the knack in the end.

ISO:100, 1/450 sec at F10
 But I'm very happy with the results, no visible joins and a good even exposure across the whole width of the picture.

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