I have used 22 count on many projects and I love the way it works up. I don't find it bulky and for the blended stitches I think the detail is wonderful.
I use size 26 needles with the 22.
I haven't used fiddlers so I am not able to comment on that hopefully someone else will be able to chime in on that.
I am using 22ct for mine, and I will admit, it is "full", but not uncomfortably so, not bulky. I wanted to keep it as small a count as I could to keep the finished size down (so I could reasonably afford to frame the finished thing), and also the smaller the stitches, the finer the detail (less chance of it looking pixellated).
I use both strands at the same time, in a 28 petite needle. I parked for a while, decided I didn't like to work that way, and went back to my follow-the-symbol method.
I have nothing against 18ct - it's just bigger than what I wanted the finished thing to be, my personal preference. IF I could have found some 20ct, that would have been a good choice, too - but I haven't seen any of that in some time...