I bought my Fujifilm XT20 a week or so ago, and I spent a couple of days testing, to see how I could work with it. I bought the Fuji XT20 as a small inconspicuous street camera, which meant that it had to focus fast to capture fleeting moments. As can be seen the testing was not successful, something was wrong. About 30% of my images turned out this way.
I had setup the camera according to the manual and online videos here. I had to assume either the lens or the camera were at fault, and got ready to return the camera to Wex Photographic. However because it is a bit of a drive to Norwich, I decided to do some research first. What I uncovered was that this issue is not uncommon with the X cameras, and the Fujifilm 18-55 lens. The forums were full of woe. How was it that all the reviewers thought this camera was brilliant, but lots of new users thought it was crap?
The key was that the blurry pictures were usually from new users, which could mean that my XT20 setup was at fault. I spent a day researching and gradually changed the setup. The next day this picture was shot quickly from across the street.
I was pleased to discover that it was sharp. I shot over 400 shots that day and nearly all were successful. How was it done?
My Notes on the Fujifilm XT20 Setup to Achieve Sharp Images.
These are my notes / instructions to myself, on the setup I have used to stop getting blurry images with the XT20:
Shoot Aperture Priority
This may seem counter intuitive, why not shoot shutter priority and select a high shutter speed that will ensure that there will be no motion blur?
Shutter priority leaves control of the aperture to the camera. I lose creative control. I may want to blur the background with wide aperture. I may want to ensure there is sufficient depth of field so that all the people in a group are in focus. I may want to focus on a feature in a landscape.
So long as I keep an eye on the shutter speed in the viewfinder, I should be able to control both.
Set Focus Mode to single shots i.e. AF-S using the dial on the front of the camera. P78 in the manual. This will ensure that the camera will refocus before taking the next image when the shutter is pressed half way. NB S on the dial on the right of the camera. However if the subject is moving then switch to continuous. AF-C and CL or CH on the dial on the right of the camera.
Set High Enough ISO
I don’t trust the Fuji auto ISO to move up as the scene demands. Try it! So I set the ISO at around 640 to ensure that there is flexibility in aperture and shutter speed. Most cameras today can handle higher ISOs. Better a slightly grainy image, which can be recovered in post production, than a blurry one. Q>ISO>rear command dial.
Single Point AF Mode
There are three selectable Focus Modes. Zone and Wide Tracking are designed for moving objects, Single Point AF will however provide pin point control of the focus point if the subject is static. Menu/OK>AFMF>AF Mode>Single Point.
Select the Smallest Size Focus Point
The smaller the focus point the more accurately the camera can be shown exactly what to focus on. Menu/OK>AFMF>AF Mode>Single Point. Use the rear command wheel to select the smallest size a single sensor. P83 in the manual.
Control the Focus Point
Once the smallest focus point is selected, then to quickly move the focus point around the EVF (Electronic View Finder) or screen set the selector buttons around the Menu/OK button to move the focus point. Note that pressing the DISPBACK button will always return the focus point to the centre. Menu/OK>Wrench>Selector Button Settings>Focus Area
Shutter AF On
To ensure you get what you see. Set the XT20 to lock the focus when the shutter is pressed half way. Menu/OK>Wrench>Selector Button Settings>Shutter AF>On
High Performance On
There is a power management setting that speeds up the auto focus, but it does drain the battery a little faster. However buy some spare batteries and go for sharper images. Menu/OK>Wrench>Power Management>Performance>High Performance.
Facial Recognition Off
Facial recognition is great for just that e.g. photographing the family in the back garden. However don’t leave it switched on or the auto focus will be hunting for faces in all scenes, and may override the chosen focus point. Menu/OK>AFMF>Face/Eye Detection Setting>Off.
AF+MF enables the manual focus (MF) to be used when the auto focus (AF) is being used. Just touching the MF dial accidentally while using the zoom could throw out the focus. . NB if AF+MF is switched on the camera will shoot in Release Priority (see below) even if Focus Priority is on. Menu/OK>AFMF>AF+MF>Off
Focus Priority On
Release / Focus Priority: This simple setting could be the cause of many out of focus images. Release prioritises the shutter over focusing. So the shutter can fire before focus is achieved. Focus priority ensures that focus is achieved before the camera will fire. Menu/OK>AFMF>Release/Focus Priority>AF-S Priority Selection>Focus
IS Mode Shooting Only
As a default the image stabilisation is set to continuous which is good for movies, but can induce some shake on single images. Set to Shooting Only and the OIS is only engaged when the shutter is pressed half way. Menu/OK>Shooting Setting>IS Mode>Shooting Only
AF Beep On
The focus square will turn green if focus is achieved, but it is very useful to have additional confirmation of focus lock. Menu/OK>Wrench>Sound Set-up>AF Beep Volume>Three on options
Check Focus On
If Focus Check is on, then pressing the rear command dial zooms the display to the focus point to confirm focus. A useful feature if the scene is busy. Menu/OK>AFMF>Focus Check>On
With Pre AF on, focusing will continue even if the shutter is pressed half way. To be in control of auto focus then Menu/OK>AFMF>Pre-AF>Off
Check that the OIS image stabilisation is switched on.
Modern cameras are brilliant because they can be configured to cover a multitude of situations. This is my setup to get sharp images of people in the street. If you are into sport or wildlife photography your setup will be different, but be assured this is a good basic setup that will help you and the Fujifilm XT20 deliver sharp images.
Try it, I hope it works for you.