Camera Review: Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Camera
November 7, 2017
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Though the sentiment is Steve Jobs’s, the ethos applies to Fujifilm. For the past several years, the company has hit on a design esthetic that fuses form (albeit a distinctly nostalgic one) with function. With the X-T20, the company looks to maintain that fusion of form and function and compete in the increasingly competitive market for mirrorless cameras.
The X-T20 is the successor to the well-received X-T10. It features a new APS-C sized 24-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro image processing engine. The new sensor/processor duo combine to push the camera’s ISO settings up to 12,800 and deliver double the autofocusing performance of its predecessor.
The X-T20 has 91 AF points (up from 49 in the previous model). Phase detect AF pixels cover approximately 40 percent of the imaging area. There are five continuous AF modes to help shooters better match the action unfolding. The modes enable you to emphasize subject tracking for various types of objects (accelerating or decelerating) as well as those suddenly appearing in the frame or moving erratically.
Beyond better AF, the X-T20 does another trick the X-T10 couldn’t manage: 4K video recording. The X-T20 can record at 3840 x 2160 at 30p for up to 10 minutes at a clip. It can also record full HD at up to 60p using one of the camera’s nine film-simulation modes.
There’s also a new Grain Effect to mimic film grain with selectable strengths (strong or weak). The Grain Effect can be used in conjunction with the camera’s film simulation modes. There’s also a new multiple exposure feature, available on the mode dial, that combines two separate subjects into one photo. You’ll enjoy Wi-Fi for remote control and image transfer, and an electronic shutter capable of speeds up to 1/32,000 sec.
The X-T20 has a stylish but distinctly analogue feel, with a dedicated dial for shutter speed and an on/off switch that resembles a film-advance knob. Fuji tweaked the body design from the X-T10 to add a video recording option to the drive dial, along with the new multi-exposure mode. The Exposure Compensation Dial now has a C position for exposure compensation up to ±5 stops.
Its weather-sealed build is light and compact—it’s lighter than Olympus’s E-M5 Mark II, Sony’s a6300 and Panasonic’s GX8. There’s one customizable function button that’s wedged a bit tight on the top of the camera and is hard to press.
The LCD display can be pulled from the camera body and tilted up or down. The display supports touch focusing and touch shutter but you can’t use it to adjust focus points when peering through the viewfinder—and there’s no joystick control over AF points either, which is a shame.
Both the memory card and battery slip into the same compartment at the bottom of the camera and when you attach a quick release plate to it, you won’t be able to open the memory card/battery door.
Straight-out-of-camera JPEGs are deeply saturated, particularly greens, and look terrific. Skin tones can be a bit wan but on balance we were very pleased with the image quality from the X-T20. We noticed in some RAW images that pulling down the exposure pushed some whites into bluish territory, but otherwise the RAW files showed a fair amount of flexibility in recovering shadow and highlight detail.
The camera isn’t class-leading when it comes to high ISO performance but we enjoyed strong results through ISO 6400.
The X-T20 can burst at up to 8 fps for up to 63 JPEGs using a mechanical shutter. Switch to the electronic shutter and you can hit a continuous shooting rate of 14 fps. The autofocusing system proved up to the task of catching most of the action, though it did struggle a bit more than we were expecting in low light when set to C-AF. There was a noticeable lag in image playback as well.
Battery life clocks in at 350 shots per charge, behind Sony’s a6300 but ahead of Olympus’ E-M5 Mark II.
The X-T20 is an example of what Fuji does best. It’s a sharply styled, functional and high-quality mirrorless camera. But the competition at the $900 range is intense, with equally solid mirrorless rivals in the Sony a6300, Olympus E-M5 Mark II and Panasonic’s GX8. Each model brings its own unique strengths and weaknesses to the market—it’s impossible to crown a clear winner.
We’d give Sony’s a6300 the nod if you want a modern design sensibility and value speed/autofocusing above all else. The E-M5 Mark II has excellent in-body stabilization, making it a great option for street shooting and low-light uses. The X-T20 delivers a nice blend of excellent image quality, analogue-inspired design and a good feature set for the price.
PROS: Excellent design; solid image quality; consistent autofocusing.
CONS: Lacks easy AF point selector; 4K recording capped at ten minutes; dynamic range lags rivals.