Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Camera

Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Camera
Fuji’s latest little brother, the Fujifilm X-T20, has hit the streets and I’ve finally managed to get my hands on one and put it through its paces. It’s a great little camera with some noticeable improvements and a few of the same flaws as its predecessor. It feels like Fuji has really tried to differentiate their double-digit line this time and created an interesting option for those not needing all the additional features of the X-Pro2 or X-T2, but possibly wanting a more consumer-oriented camera. Let’s dive right in and take a look.

The New Sensor

The X-T20 has been upgraded with the new 24mp X-Trans III sensor and X-Processor Pro. This gives much wider coverage of PDAF points and faster focusing overall. On top of that, with the new processor, the X-T20 gets a much bigger buffer than the X-T10 and the ability to save compressed raw files. You will no longer fill the buffer in less than a second at full speed. This is great for when you need to catch the perfect moment in a fast moving scene.
One major difference I noticed compared to the X-Pro2 and X-T2 is that the horrible purple flare issue in back-lit situations seems to have been all but rectified. In the week I have had the camera, I have been pointing it at every light source from every angle I can, and haven’t managed to get anywhere near the amount of the flare and patterning I have seen in the other bodies. This is a marked improvement that I wish had been carried out as a recall for the pro-level bodies.
You also get 4K video recording in both 24 and 30fps, but not the down-sampled variety you get from the X-T2. This means that it is not quite as sharp, but still adequate for occasional shooting. Let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t a video camera.

EVF and LCD

The EVF and LCD of the X-T20 have, as with each of the new bodies, been improved over previous generations. Both are great, and I was able to shoot with either - given that the conditions were right. The EVF is, similar to its predecessor, less magnified and slightly slower than its big brother, the X-T2. As with the X-T10, it doesn’t have a shaded eye-cup, which means it can be tough to see in bright daylight. However, the LCD is also quite reflective, so I found myself using the EVF and shielding it with my hand quite often.

The Touch Screen

In short, the touch screen could use some work. It can be used to select focus points, shoot, and interact with images in playback mode. That’s it. You can’t control the menus, or access any other functions on the screen.
One of the most annoying things that is enabled by default is a small button on the right-hand side of the screen. The trouble with that is, whenever you’re using the LCD, it’s there. With a body this small, that button gets randomly pushed as you're holding the camera. I found myself shooting off bursts of images accidentally as I was walking along. I thought the camera was broken until I figured out what it was! I wanted to love the touch screen, but simply couldn’t. In the end, I fought with it repeatedly until I figured out how to turn it off. Moving this feature to the opposite side of the screen, I believe, would solve this issue. 
I feel like some of these issues could be fixable with a firmware update if the touch screen is accurate enough to, for example, operate the menus. For now, though, it feels like a gimmicky implementation.

Handling

Here’s where there have been the most changes compared to the X-T10 from a usability standpoint. For starters, the X-T20 contains the new menu system found in the X-Pro2 and X-T2. This does make things far easier to find by categorizing them rather than having one big list.
Just like the other new bodies, the exposure-compensation dial has now got a "C" setting which allows you to compensate 5 stops over or under. I’ve honestly never found myself needing more than the three stops that Fujifilm offered originally, but it is nice to be able to change exposure compensation to the jog dial for ease of movement.
The function button that was in the bottom right-hand corner of the body has disappeared in this release and the record button from the X-T10 is now labeled as a function button. I miss the extra function button on this body. Below we’ll see why.
Both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 got the addition of a dedicated focus joystick. Even the X-100F got it. The X-T20 did not. When you use the camera, it feels like this is a deliberate move to separate the X-T20 from the X-T2. When the X-T10 was first released, it was a mini X-T1. Fujifilm have certainly not done this with the X-T20. One of the biggest usability upgrades on the new bodies is the focus joystick, and its noticeable absence from the X-T20 keeps the body in the realms of the previous generation when it comes to speed of use. Not only this, but you now have one less function button, which means if you dedicate the selector pad to moving the focus points, you’ll be digging through menus to get to essential settings.
One really great update is the dedicated video setting on the mode dial. This is much better than the X-T10 implementation which required you to start recording before getting a preview of your video. If you're going to use this for simple video recording, this is a useful addition.

Things Unchanged

Although much of the body has been updated to catch up with the two larger offerings from Fuji, a few things have been left behind.
The shutter doesn’t offer the 1/8000 second mechanical shutter of the X-Pro2 and X-T2. As someone who loves to shoot wide open, this means ND filters (which thankfully I have for my flash work). It also retains the old 1/180 second sync speed which suggests that this is the same shutter found in the previous models. 
One of the things that really bugged me from the X-T10 was that the diopter dial would get moved around in my bag and I would be constantly having to reset it every time I took the camera out. The X-T20, unfortunately, still has the same problem. I have missed several shots in just a week of shooting because of this. Perhaps taping it in place is a solution for now. 
The tripod mount is still right next to the battery compartment. For most of us, this means removing the quick-release plate if we need to change a battery or memory card. As the mount is not centered on the body anyway, it seems that it would be possible to have it on the other side of the lens.

In Conclusion

Whereas the X-T10 felt very much like a mini X-T1 is terms of use, the X-T20 feels like a different camera. Now you really have to make a choice based not just on features like weather sealing and dials, but speed of operation (especially with simple tasks like moving focus points). It is no longer a backup for the X-T2, but sits in a class of its own.
Don't take all the nitpicking above to suggest this isn't a great camera. Overall, just like the X-T10, this is a fantastic little camera. If you’re using it for walkabout shooting and hobbyist work, you’ll be really happy. Aside from a few usability issues, it is a capable camera with the same image quality and access to X lenses that the other bodies have. However, for fast-paced professional work, I would consider looking into the X-T2.

What I Liked

  • Tiny and light
  • New sensor and processor
  • Improved purple flare issue
  • Tighter dials
  • New menu
  • Larger buffer over X-T10

What I Didn’t

  • Lack of focus joystick
  • Removal of extra function button
  • Tripod mount still right next to battery door
  • Memory card still in battery compartment
  • Touchscreen
  • 1/4000 second shutter-speed limit
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10 Comments

Dylan- how about this as a travel camera for the professional? Coming from a D800, which is more than I want to carry around or be seen with.

It's a great option, for sure. All of the image quality in the X-T2/X-Pro2 but a lot less weight. Technically, it's a fantastic camera. I would head down to a shop and play with one for an hour or so to decide if you like the way it works. I'd have no issues recommending it for what it's capable of, but it is a VERY big difference in handling from the D800.

Dave Mallari's picture

The XT-20 is a great little camera. It will take great images, discrete, and super light (with the proper lens).

The biggest downfall However, is the battery life. It is just terrible! You can be walking around and 1 or 2 hrs later you are halfway through your battery life and possibly less.

You will need to carry extra batteries and make sure all of them are at full charge just before you leave your doorstep. It doesn't hurt to learn a few battery saver tricks as well.

Hope this helps!

I think the battery life concerns are a little overstated by most. I will typically go through about 1-2 batteries in a full day of shooting. Each battery will allow for around 5-600 shots if shooting lightly, and most of the time upwards of 1000 if shooting in continuous mode. Although this is nothing compared to a DSLR like the D800, most scenarios are not going to require you to shoot any more than that.

Dave Mallari's picture

I'm not sure if I'm doing anything anything different than you are Dylan. But my battery life is about 300 - 400 shots per charge. And this is while turning off the camera while not in use.

The drain is most likely from using the LCD screen constantly. I find it a better than the Electronic viewfinder, which I find has a bit of a lag (maybe it takes a while to get use too).

Saying that, I still love the camera! Street photography and portrait work, it's flawless. Having short battery life has made me a bit more selective on what I shoot as well. Thats a positive. :)

It could be the LCD. I don't use the LCDs on these cameras unless I am shooting at odd angles. I find that they have too much glare. My X-T2 gets much heavier use than the X-T20, so I'll give an example here. I had a two day (9 hours per day) corporate event a couple of weeks ago where I shot 3500 images over the course of two days. I used just over 3 batteries by the end of that entire session. It was warm weather, and I was only using the EVF.

It is great!! I have used Nikon SLRs for 35 years, and have always brought a big kit with me. Due to some shoulder problems, I got a X-T20 plus 4 lenses and left my SLRs for the first time, for a trip to Prague with my wife (she was very happy about that one). It fit inside a small backpack together with a Gorillapod, and I never felt is was there, for 3 long days (about 2 kilos). The camera was a joy to use, quiet in the churches, and nobody noticed it. It was just a relief, and I never missed the Nikons. I have done some testing against them in many situations, and the Nikon D750 still wins in high ISO (> 6400). But I only need that for stage work, and then the Fuji is silent. Otherwise the Fuji is equally good, at least.
Good primes are essential for best result, and also most fun to work with. I especially love and recommend the new weather resistant f2 primes, I have the 23 + 50mm. Battery is not as bad as I feared, I used it for a wedding and it lasted about 750 frames, Raw + jpg, i.e. it will last about 400 shots. On my trip it usually lasted a full day.
I find the touch screen very useful for setting focus point quickly. A grip/L-plate from ebay improves the handling a lot.
The detail level is just amazing with good lenses, at least as good on my Nikon D750. In overall, I am very happy with it and will probably get a X-T2 also for more havy use. I have included a night shot from the Prague trip. It retains colors very well on high ISO.

Thanks for the review. I ordered one last week and it should be here Wednesday. I wanted it as a second body for shooting with my X-T1. I would have ordered the X-T2, but I love shooting landscapes backlit, and I had read about the purple fringing and pattern, and despite losing the joystick and new screen mount which allows you to shoot potrait mode low to the ground (which I also like to do), I felt the most important thing was the photo integrity. The difference in price and smaller, lighter body was a bonus.

The issues you brought up that might make me return the camera might be: too much light leakage into the non-replaceable eyecup compared to the X-T1, the diopter problem you mentioned (would drive me mad). Or if the viewfinder is disappointing compared to the X-T1. I HOPE they will improve the touch screen functionality though software updates...including allowing you to select the focus point while your eye isin the viewfinder, like other manufacturer's allow.

The battery/sd card being blocked by the tripod plate will be a non-issue for me, because I plan on always having an l-bracket/grip attached to the camera as I do the X-T1. These quite inexpensive l-Brackets/grips like the one I have for the X-T1 solve this problem, support Arca Swiss tripod heads without the need for an additional plate, and in fact have a female screw socket which can even be used to mount a manfrotto style plate without interfering with the battery door.

Yes, that makes the camera a bit bigger, but it's an acceptible trade-off for the X-T1, and I bet (will know soon) the X-T20.

I look forward to your thoughts on it, Neil. As I said, it's just a few small annoyances that prevent it from being another baby X-T2.

Tim Green's picture

A note for glasses wearers: I thought the X-T20 would be perfect for me as a walkabout always-in-my-rucksack camera and just tried it out at my local shop. I had a bit of difficulty using the EVF with my glasses and then compared it with the X-T2. Bad idea. By comparison with glasses, I found the EVF to be quite frustrating, even when perfectly adjusted for clear focus. I just found it difficult to evaluate the image I was seeing. In contrast the X-T2 EVF was an instant joy, perfectly clear and detailed. This should be taken with a bit of a grain of salt, since everyone's eyes and preferences are different, but if you do wear glasses it might be worth making the comparison. For me, unfortunately, it meant not being able to get the camera yet...