Fujifilm’s X Mount baby is all growed up as the new X-T20 gets a higher-res sensor, faster processing, a significantly upgraded autofocus system, 4K video and much more.
Fujifilm has been hitting home runs with its X Series camera ever since it stunned us with the original X100 at the 2010 Photokina. However, the first foray into a more affordable entry-level X Mount model, the X-T10 was a bit of a miss… well, not exactly a miss, but not exactly a hit either. There was certainly nothing wrong with the way it looked, but it lacked the usual pizzazz that we’ve come to expect from Fujifilm’s X files.
With the X-T20, things are back on track with significant upgrades which make it a pretty attractive proposition while still maintaining a respectful distance from the X-T2. It moves up in pricing too, making it now more mid-range than entrylevel, but if you’re in the market for an ‘APS-C’ mirrorless body, the X-T20 looks like A Very Good Thing.
Importantly, while the internals have been given a thorough overhaul, Fujifilm hasn’t changed too much externally so you still get what’s arguably the most retro-looking SLR-style body of the current mirrorless brigade, even more so than the very classical X-T2. The wider central housing for the X-T20’s EVF – and also its pop-up flash – is very reminiscent of the Fujica ST901’s flatter pentaprism housing and the fairly deep bodyshell is also a characteristic of this mid-1970s 35mm SLR. The top deck’s control layout is pure 1970s SLR with a
trio of knurled dials, lever-type switches and even a cable release socket set into the chromed shutter release button. As the one-time owner of a Fujica ST605 – my first ‘serious’ 35mm SLR as a teenager – the X-T20 really does take me back, although of course, that camera only actually had one dial and the other positions on the top plate were occupied by the film advance lever and film rewind crank.
The X-T20’s trio of dials are for shutter speeds, exposure compensation and drive modes including associated functions such as auto bracketing, multiple exposures (actually still only for double exposures) and in-camera panorama stitching. Logically, this dial also sets the movie mode and, for good measure, the incamera filter effects… something the Fujica ST605 definitely didn’t have. The shutter speed dial is marked with the manual speeds from 1/4000 second down to one second with the ‘T’ for accessing the slower speeds (and not to be confused with a ‘T’ setting for timing longer exposures, which is done here via the standard ‘B’ setting). Turning the speed dial to its ‘A’ position engages aperturepriority auto exposure control – just like in the good old days – and fully programmed exposure control operates if the lens aperture collar is also set to ‘A’. Leave this on ‘A’, but set the shutter dial to a manual speed setting and, of course, you have shutter-priority auto exposure control. Some XF lenses don’t have an aperture control, in which case, there’s a switch for selecting auto or manual control, the latter performed from the camera body.
Both these main dials have selector switches located at their bases – the one below the drive dial pops up the built-in flash while the one below the speed dial engages either the X-T20’s fully automatic control via a set of subject/scene modes or ‘Advanced SR Auto’ operation which extends to automatic scene mode selection (and controls a whole host of other functions). The exposure compensation dial is marked from +3.0 EV to -3.0 EV (in one-third stop increments), but as on the X-T2 and X-Pro2, there’s a ‘C’ setting which accesses an extended range of +/-5.0 EV, selected using the front input wheel.
There’s also a rear input wheel – both are actually inset into their respective panels for more of a period look – but the X-T20’s rear panel is obviously pure digital-era, complete with a four-way navigator key cluster, various function buttons and a monitor screen which, as before, is a 7.62 cm, 3:2 aspect LCD panel adjustable for tilt, but with an increased resolution of 1.04 megadots and, more importantly, the provision of touchscreen controls.
The viewfinder is largely unchanged from the X-T10 and uses a 1.0 cm OLED panel (so it’s smaller than the X-T2’s) with a resolution of 2.36 megadots and a magni- fication of 0.62x (35mm format equivalent). A proximity sensor on the eyepiece enables automatic switching between EVF and monitor, but either can also be manually selected via the ‘View Mode’ button alongside the eyepiece.
Also as before, the main body covers are magnesium alloy components, and without any weather sealing. As noted earlier, there’s an imperative not to encroach too much into X-T2 territory – especially given there’s still a fairly substantial price difference between the models – and weather-proofing will be an important consideration for many enthusiast-level buyers.
That said, two of the X-T20’s key components are shared with the X-T2 – its 24.3 megapixels (effective) ‘X-Trans CMOS III’ sensor and the ‘X-Processor Pro’ processing engine. The ‘X-Trans’ architecture does away with the need for an optical low-pass filter so the sensor’s 24.3 MP resolution is optimised, while the extra speed and power of the pro-grade processor delivers 4K video recording – important for a camera competing against comparable Panasonic and Sony models – and continuous shooting at up to 14 fps. Like its big brother, the X-T20 has both a conventional focal plane shutter and a sensorbased shutter which gives a third or hybrid shooting option… the so-called ‘electronic first curtain shutter’. The 14 fps shooting speed is only attained with the sensor shutter, but a respectable 8.0 fps is still possible with the focal plane shutter. Both these speeds are only achieved by locking the AF and AE measurements to the first frame, but with continuous frame-by-frame adjustment, the top speeds are 11 fps and 5.0 fps respectively, so the X-T20 is no slouch.
Apart from the increased shooting speed, the other advantages of the sensor shutter are silent shooting and a faster top shutter speed of 1/32,000 second… which is a little more significant here, as the FP shutter’s top speed is 1/4000 second (versus the T2’s 1/8000 second).
The X-T20 only has a single card slot for SD format types - which is another important difference to the X-T2 - and UHS-I speed only. Maximum size JPEGs and RAW files are captured at 6000x4000 pixels, the latter with 14-bit RGB colour and the option of being
The X-T20 siTs very nicely in The hand. The grip is quiTe small, buT iT’s acTually all you need.
either uncompressed or using lossless compression (for a smaller file size). There’s the choice of 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios for JPEGs, and proper in-camera stitching of panoramas to give wide images sized at 2160x6400 (i.e. 1:3 aspect) or 2160x9600 (1:4.4). The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200 to 12,800 with expansion down one stop to ISO 100 or up two stops to ISO 51,200.
The X-T20 has the full complement of ‘Film Simulation’ presets which currently number 15 and include the recent additions of the Kodachrome-lookalike Classic Chrome and ACROS black and white with the option of adding yellow, red or green contrast control filters. As the name suggests, Fujifilm’s picture presets have been designed to mimic the visual characteristics of popular colour films such as Provia, Astia and Velvia – and now ACROS B&W – so they don’t have individually adjustable parameters. Instead, ‘global’ adjustments are provided for colour saturation, sharpness, highlight tone and shadow tone. Also added to the mix is a ‘Grain Effect’ adjustment with the choice of Weak or Strong settings, and which generates a more random film-like graininess.
There’s a choice of three manual settings for dynamic range expansion processing – called 100%, 200% and 400% – or an automatic correction which assesses the brightness range in the scene and tweaks both the exposure and the tone curve accordingly. The X-T20 has Fujifilm’s ‘Lens Modulation Optimiser’ (LMO) processing which detects and corrects for diffraction blur, an intervalometer (for up to 999 frames) and a selection of eight ‘Advanced Filters’ effects which is quite conservative by current standards, but includes the popular settings such as Toy Camera, Miniature, Soft Focus, Partial Colour (with six variations) and Pop Colour. You’ll note that there’s no lens corrections included in this run-down as this is something Fujifilm leaves to the camera, although logically these are provided for manual adjustment when using a non X-mount lens via an adaptor.
The X-T20 inherits Fujifilm’s latest hybrid contrast/phase-detection autofocusing system as available on the X-T2 and the X-Pro2 via a firmware upgrade. Consequently, there’s a total of 325 focusing points – arranged in a 25x13 pattern – of which 169 are phasedetection arrays.
Focus mode selection is done manually via a control on the camera’s front panel, and then there’s a choice of singlepoint, zone or wide/tracking area modes. Single-point selection is possible over the full array of 325 points, but there is the option of switching to using only 91, and there’s a choice of five point sizes. However, the X-T20 goes without the dedicated joystick control so navigating the points is via the fourway key cluster. The zone focus can be set to 7x7, 5x5 or 3x3 points clusters which are selected from the 91 points. There’s also faceand eye-detection capabilities, plus ‘AF-C Custom’ menu from the X-T2 which provides five subject movement scenarios to enable fine-tuning of the focus tracking.
These five options are labelled Multi Purpose, Ignore Obstacles & Continue To Track Subject, For Accelerating/Decelerating Subject, For Suddenly Appearing Subject, and For Erratically Moving & Accel/ Decel Subject. While this model doesn’t have the T2’s sixth ‘AFC Custom’ setting for manually customising the tracking, the five presets are still a big step forward at this level, especially as autofocusing performance – particularly in continuous mode – is one of the last bastions of the D-SLR.
The X-T20 also offers interlocking of the AF point and spot metering, an AF+MF function for full-time manual override, and a Pre AF mode in which the camera is continuously autofocusing even without the shutter being depressed to its half-way position.
The assists for manual focusing comprise a magnified image (also available with AF too), a focus peaking display (with a choice of colours and levels) and Fujifilm’s ‘Digital Split Image’ facility. This can be either superimposed over the centre of the image or fullframe when the ‘Focus Check’ magnification is active plus there’s the option of colour (i.e. transparent) or mono displays. It works just like the old optical split-image rangefinder except that there are three splits rather than just one. These splits are misaligned when the subject is out of focus, so focusing the lens brings them together. We’ve criticised this feature in the past because the splits have been very hard to see, but it’s much better implemented on the X-T20 and actually works rather well, especially in mono.
The X-T20’s exposure control system is pretty much standard X-Mount fare, starting with 256-segment metering which drives multi-zone, centre-weighted average, fully averaged or spot measurements. As noted earlier, the standard set of program, semi-auto and manual exposure modes are supplemented by a set of subject/ scene modes and the option of auto scene mode selection. The built-in flash is very neatly integrated into the central housing, but is fairly low powered with a metric guide number of seven at ISO 200 and just five at ISO 100. However, there’s a host of TTL control features, including slow-speed sync, first or second curtain sync and an optical commander mode for the remote triggering of compatible off-camera flashes. The maximum flash sync speed is 1/180 second. In manual mode, the flash output can be turned all the way down to 1/64.
Auto bracketing is available not just for exposure, but also the ISO, white balance, the ‘Film Simulation’ presets and the dynamic range correction. All operate over three frames. On the subject of white balance, the X-T20 has auto correction supplemented by a selection of seven presets (including for underwater), fine-tuning, provisions for creating up to three custom settings and manual colour temperature control over a range of 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin.
In The hand
Smaller than either the X-T2 or X-Pro2, the X-T20 sits very nicely in the hand. The handgrip is quite small, but it’s actually all you need and is supplemented by a thumbrest - which is handy given how often you need to use the rear input wheel.
The external control layout is exceptionally efficient with some very well-thought-out little features such as the full-auto switch mentioned earlier, but also the provision of two auto bracketing positions on the drive dial and also two for ‘Advanced Filter’ effects. Once assigned, these settings are the twirl of a dial away so you don’t have to go diving into the menus every time. A total of eight controls are customisable –including all four navigator keys and the rear input wheel – from a selection of 33 possible functions. There’s also a customisable ‘My Menu’ which can be stocked with pretty much anything you like from the main menus and then ranked in order of importance.
An alternative control system is the ‘Quick Menu’ which has 16 default functions, but again can be customised as desired from a list of 28 assignable options… from which no fewer than seven banks can be created. Curiously though, touchscreen control isn’t available here so you have to navigate the function tiles conventionally via the four-way key cluster.
If you’re makIng buyIng decIsIons on Image qualIty alone, the X-t20 Is rIght up there wIth the best there Is In ‘aps-c’ mIrrorless cameras.
As on the other X-Mount models, Fujifilm also offers a lot of scope for customising the X-T20’s EVF and monitor displays. Both are adjustable for brightness and colour balance, and then you can add or subtract elements as desired and these include a level display (only single-axis here though), battery power indicator, focusing scale, guide grids (3x3 or 6x4), a real-time histogram and a whole host of status indicators.
However configured though, both displays are the same, but the main monitor also has info-only display which is primarily designed to be used in conjunction with the EVF. It provides a host of information including the AF point grid, a realtime histogram, exposure settings and a total of 15 capture settings.
In reality, the touchscreen controllability is fairly limited, although it does include autofocusing and shutter release. However, it’s not available with the menus or the ‘Quick Menu’ so it’s actually most useful in playback for browsing or zooming.
There are three image replay/ review screens which include a full frame image with capture data or thumbnails accompanied by capture data, a highlight warning, a brightness histogram and, very usefully, the focus point used. Pressing the rear command dial instantly zooms in on this point for checking the focus.
Alternatively, conventional zoom playback is available or, in the opposite direction, pages of nine or 100 thumbnails.
The in-camera editing functions include RAW-to-JPEG conversion (with 13 adjustable parameters), red-eye removal, cropping, resizing, Fujifilm’s ‘PhotoBook Assist’ feature (which allows for up to 300 images to be organised for reproduction in a photo book) and direct printing to an Instax instant print device via WiFi.
Fujifilm is steadily improving its WiFi connectivity. It was pretty clunky at the start and setting up is still not as smooth as it could be, but the Fujifilm Camera Control app is pretty capable and allows for remote camera operation as well as wireless image transfer.
Speed And performAnce
With our reference memory card – Lexar’s 128 GB SDXC UHS-II/ U3 (Speed Class 3) Professional – loaded up, the X-T20 (using the focal plane shutter) captured a burst of 100 JPEG/large/fine files in 12.585 seconds, giving a shooting speed of 7.94 fps. This pretty well matches Fujifilm’s quoted spec for speed, but significantly exceeds the quoted burst length. For the record, the average test file size was around 15 MB and so the X-T20 processed close to 1.5 GB of data in under five seconds.
We’ve already seen how Fujifilm’s combination of the 24.3 MP ‘X-Trans CMOS III’ sensor and ‘X-Processor Pro’ engine perform in the X-Pro2 and X-T2, so it’s no surprise here that the X-T20 is similarly excellent. In fact, it’s in the area of image quality that the X-T20 sails perilously close to its big brother and starts to make the price difference worthy of much closer scrutiny, particularly in light of the fact that the autofocusing performance is so good too, both in terms of speed and accuracy. So… exactly what am I getting with the X-T2 then? Well, as we know, there are quite a few important extras, but if you’re making buying decisions on image quality alone… well, the X-T20 is right up there with the best there is in ‘APS-C’ mirrorless cameras. In fact, it’s right up there with the best there is in mirrorless cameras full stop. Yep, good.
The best quality JPEGs exhibit excellent colour fidelity and definition with a wide dynamic range. Fine details are very crisply
Given how well the X-t2 performs at hiGh iso settinGs, it’s not surprisinG that the X-t20 is equally accomplished here too.
resolved and the tonal gradations are seamlessly smooth so moresubtle detailing is handled well too. As we noted with the two higher-end cameras, Fujifilm’s ‘Film Simulation’ presets are far more sophisticated than most, having been designed to balance colorimetric colour – or real colour – with expected or ‘memorised’ colour. This results in a defter handling of both the colour saturation and contrast, combining realism with a more pleasing rendition. Bracketing an image in the Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid and Astia/Soft presets illustrates the point… it’s not just about dialling one or other parameter either up or down, but about creating an overall look. It’s what we used to call the “palette” in the film days. With the newish ACROS presets, Fujifilm is now doing the same with B&W capture, giving more scope to work with tonality and grain. Importantly too, the ‘Film Simulation’ presets are proper profiles so the parameters can be adjusted post-capture when shooting RAW files.
Given how well the X-T2 performs at high ISO settings, it’s not surprising that the X-T20 is equally accomplished here. Noise simply isn’t an issue up to ISO 3200 and is still minimal at ISO 6400 or even ISO 12,800 - although there’s now some very slight graininess in areas of continuous tone. This becomes more noticeable at ISO 12,800, but in practice the whole the standard sensitivity range is actually useable without unduly compromising IQ at the high end. So, as with the X-T2, the T20 is one of the outstanding high ISO performers in the ‘APS-C’ format, either D-SLR or mirrorless camera.
If the X-T2 is the best mirrorless camera money can buy right now then the X-T20 has to stake a big claim for being the best value. True it certainly lacks quite a few of the T2’s higher-end features, but in the areas which matter the most – headed by the image quality – it’s right up there. But a whole lot more affordable… a whole lot more.
In addition to the IQ, there’s the AF performance and the continuous shooting capabilities which all contribute to this little camera punching well above its weight. And is it the prettiest of the current X Mount crop? Well, compared to the business-like X-T2 and the slightly austere X-Pro2, most certainly. Throw in the ever-expanding XF lens system – with a growing list of more ‘exotic’ models – and the company’s clear dedication to eventually beating all its mirrorless rivals, and it all adds up to the X-T20 being another piece of Fujifilm X Mount brilliance.
Viewfinder eyepiece incorporates a proximity sensor for auto switching between the EVF and the monitor screen. Menus are well designed and logical to navigate. LCD monitor screen has adjustment for tilt and introduces touch controls.
Drive mode dial has two positions for setting ‘Advanced Filter’ effects and also auto bracketing functions. Lever below the shutter speed switches the camera to fully auto operation via either subject/scene modes or ‘Advanced SR Auto’ control. Exposure compensation dial is marked up to +/-3.0 EV, but up to +/-5.0 EV is accessed via the ‘C’ position.
Top deck layout is a classic mix of milled dials and lever-type switches.
Live view screen can be extensively customised as far as data displays and components such as a real-time histogram are concerned. The display shown here also includes a single-axis level indicator.
Replay thumbnail screen includes a brightness histogram and a neat arrangement of key capture info.
‘AF-C Custom’ menu provides five subject movement scenarios to enable fine-tuning of the focus tracking.
‘Quick Menu’ screen can be customised and up to seven banks of functions can be created.
Available in both black and silver finishes, the X-T20’s bodyshell comprises magnesium alloy covers. Styling is very reminiscent of the 35mm-era Fujica ST901.