24MP APS-C X-Trans III image sensor. 8fps burst rate. 14fps with electronic shutter. Big, sharp EVF. Tilting touch LCD. Loads of physical controls. Film Simulation options. 4K video capture. Wi-Fi.
Omits in-body stabilization and weather sealing. No dedicated focus select control. Shooting buffer could be larger. 4K footage suffers from rolling shutter effect.
- Bottom Line
The mirrorless Fujifilm X-T20 delivers the same image quality and focus capabilities as the pricier X-T2, but drops weather sealing and some other pro features to hit a lower price point.
By Jim Fisher
Fujifilm's X-T20 ($899.95, body only) exudes style. The retro-chic mirrorless shooter is loaded with physical controls, sports a touch screen, and packs a top-notch image sensor backed by a strong autofocus system. But it faces some very stiff competition from a pair of Sony cameras, including the less expensive Alpha 6000 ($649.99), which omits 4K video but is an otherwise excellent performer, and the slightly pricier Alpha 6300 ($999.99), which adds weather sealing and matches the X-T20 in 4K capability. But both Sony models offer strikingly different approaches to controls and handling, making the X-T20 an appealing alternative for photographers who prefer the physical dials around which Fujifilm has designed its control system.
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The X-T20 shares much of its technology with the company's flagship model, the X-T2, but sells for nearly half the price. It also takes design cues from its sibling, with a look that harkens back to old film cameras, in either a two-tone chrome-and-black finish, or an all-black version.
Like other mirrorless models it features an image sensor as large as you get in a consumer SLR, but it's not nearly as thick. The X-T20 measures 3.3 by 4.7 by 1.6 inches (HWD) and weighs just 13.5 ounces without a lens. Compare that with our favorite SLR in this price range, the Canon EOS Rebel T6s, which is 4.0 by 5.2 by 3.1 inches and 1.2 pounds.
There's no vertical shooting grip available, like there is with the X-T2, as that's a feature usually reserved for pricier models. Nor is the body sealed against dust and moisture, like the X-T2 is. The Sony Alpha 6300 is, but only when paired with larger, pricier, full-frame FE lenses.
The face has a couple of controls. There's the standard front dial, nestled into the modest handgrip, and a switch to change the focus mode between Single or Continuous autofocus, or Manual focus, located at the bottom left corner.
Up top you'll find a Drive dial to the left of the hot shoe. It lets you switch between Single or two speeds of Continuous capture, and also provides quick access to in-camera panoramas and double exposures, art filters, exposure bracketing, and video. A switch to raise the built-in pop-up flash is at its base.
The shutter speed dial is just to the right of the hot shoe. It can be set from 1 second to 1/4,000-second, with options for Automatic operation, Timed exposure, and Bulb capture, which keeps the shutter open for as long as you hold down the release. It also has an integrated switch—it changes the camera from customizable operation to full Automatic mode, which is a plus for photographers who may want to let the X-T20 take control to grab a shot.
The top plate also houses the shutter release, which is threaded and can accept an old school mechanical release cable, and the power switch that surrounds it. There's a programmable Fn button, and an EV compensation dial with physical adjustments from -3 to +3EV in third-stop increments, and a C setting that supports five stops of adjustment via the front control dial.
Delete and Play buttons sit on the rear, at the top left corner next to the eyecup. The EVF itself has a physical diopter control and a View Mode button that switches between the finder, rear LCD, or activates an eye sensor for automatic switching. The rear control dial is located to the right of the viewfinder, directly in line with its front counterpart. It's flanked by AEL and AFL buttons to its left and right.
The other rear controls are toward the bottom, under the thumb rest and to the right of the LCD. There's a Display/Back button, a Q button, and a four-way control pad with Menu/OK at its center. The directional controls are all programmable. By default the top direction sets the active focus area, the right controls the flash output, the bottom activates the system to adjust the active focus point (when the focus system is set to a mode that supports manual point selection), and left brings up the Film Simulation mode, which allows you to change the look of your JPG shots.
Film Simulation is a feature that's exclusive to Fuji cameras. It gives you the option of emulating one of the company's classic film stocks—Velvia for saturated colors or Acros for a classic black-and-white look. You can even control the amount of extra grain added. If you're not an analog aficionado you can also stick with the Standard mode (which Fujifilm has named after its Provia slide film) if you want a modern digital look. Personally, my favorite option is Classic Chrome, which takes its cues from Kodak's discontinued Kodachrome slide film.
You can also use the Q menu to select a Film Simulation. Pressing Q launches an on-screen menu with 12 options, including image quality settings, ISO, the self-timer, and display brightness, among others. If the default options don't suit you, rest assured that you can customize what's shown in the Q menu to your liking. Despite having a touch display, Q is only navigable using the rear buttons and the front and rear control dials—touching an option does nothing.
There's one control that's noticeably absent from the X-T20: a joystick to select the active focus point. It's included with the X-T2, and even on the X100F premium compact. If you miss it as much as I do you can change the four-way rear controller to a mode that always moves the focus point, but you'll lose use of those four programmable control buttons for other purposes. You can also also tap the rear display to set a focus point, which is a solid option when using the LCD to frame a shot. The X-T20 doesn't support the ability to use the rear LCD as a touchpad to move the focus point around when using the EVF, an option in many other recent mirrorless cameras. I'd love to see Fujifilm add that functionality via a firmware update.
The rear display itself is fairly standard in quality, which is a good thing. It's 3 inches in size with a 1,040k-dot resolution. It's mounted on a hinge, so it tilts up or down, but it doesn't swing out to face right like the X-T2's LCD.
The eye-level EVF is also very strong. Its 0.62x magnification ratio means it isn't as large as the X-T2, but it compares well with others in its class—the Alpha 6000 sports an EVF that's a little bit larger (0.7x), but not as sharp. The Sony has a 1,440k design, which lags behind the crisper 2,359k dots in the X-T20's EVF. The EVF can't keep up with the X-T2 in terms of speed, however; it refreshes at about 55fps, while X-T2 is 60fps at a minimum, with 100fps available when shooting with the add-on grip.
Wi-Fi is built in. You can use the free Fujifilm Cam Remote app to transfer images from the X-T20 to your Android or iOS device. True to its name, the app also serves as a wireless remote control. The phone screen shows a Live View feed in real time, and full manual controls are available. You can even tap on your smartphone's display to focus on a subject.
A flap on the left side covers three ports—a 2.5mm jack that supports microphone input or a wired remote control, and micro HDMI and micro USB for video output and data. Images are stored on SD, SDHC, or SDXC media—there's a single card slot at the bottom, in the same compartment as the battery. The card slot supports UHS-I speeds at most.
Performance and Autofocus
The X-T20 powers on, focuses, and fires in about 0.8-second, a solid mark. Its autofocus system is quite fast, locking on in about 0.1-second in bright light, and it notches a speedy 0.2-second in very dim conditions—a focus assist light brightens your target when necessary.
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The top burst rate when using the mechanical shutter tops out at 8fps. The X-T20 can keep that pace for 22 Raw+JPG or Raw images, or 40 JPG shots. Because the memory slot is just UHS-I, it can't take advantage of the latest 280Mbps memory cards—even with the fastest card available, you'll need to wait a while for all of the images to commit to memory. I clocked 40 seconds for a full burst of Raw+JPG, 32 seconds for Raw, and 16 seconds for JPG. There's also an electronic shutter option, which boosts the capture rate to 14fps at maximum (11fps, 8fps, and 5fps are also selectable), with the same maximum capture rates and similar recovery times.
The autofocus system is shared with the X-T2. It supports 8fps when using the mechanical shutter, with tracking. And there are five operation modes available. In addition to a general purpose mode, there are specific modes to continue to track subjects even if something else passes in front of them, to track subjects that accelerate and decelerate, to lock on to subjects that quickly enter the frame, and to track subjects that move and change speed erratically. Unlike the X-T2, you can't customize the sensitivity and behavior of each of these settings.
In real-world testing, the X-T2's focus system performs admirably, even when paired with a relatively dim lens, the XF 100-400mm zoom coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter. It tracks moving subjects when the focus area is set to the wide portion of the frame, and by selecting the full 325-point focus system and setting the single point selection box to its smallest size, I was able to work around crowded tree branches and lock focus on small birds with relative ease.
The focus system covers almost the entire width of the sensor, with just the very outer left and right edges, and a larger area at the top and bottom of the frame lacking coverage. The more sensitive phase detection points are only in the central third of the active focus area—you'll recognize them when using the camera as they appear larger than the contrast points that flank them.
In lab tests I was surprised to see more out-of-focus shots in our standard moving target test than expected. Our test moves the camera back and forth at a steady pace while firing on a target. Short bunches of shots in our test sequences are out of focus, but once the X-T20 reacquires it keeps up a strong hit rate until the next bunch of missed shots.
The X-T2 performed admirably on the same test. I did set the camera to place priority on acquiring focus rather than placing emphasis on burst speed, but even so the rate slowed to just 7.8fps. The camera also has an electronic shutter option, with a maximum burst rate of 14fps. In the same test it had an excellent hit rate, only missing the occasional shot, but because I had the camera set to prioritize focus, it also netted 7.8fps. What's happening here, from what I can tell, is that the X-T20 is doing a better job adjusting focus with the electronic shutter because data is streaming to the focus system constantly, even as an image is being captured.
We've seen better hit rates on our lab focus test in cameras with a mechanical shutter, including the Sony Alpha 6000 and 6300, both of which fire at 11fps. But while the X-T20 can't keep up with them, it still runs circles around comparably priced SLRs. The Canon T6s, a strong performer in its class, tops out at 5fps. The X-T20 has no problems getting every shot in focus at that rate in our lab test, and I enjoyed a strong hit rate at 8fps in the real world.
Image and Video Quality
The 24MP X-Trans III CMOS sensor used by the X-T20 has already appeared in other cameras—notably the X-Pro2, X-T2, and X100F. It's one of the best sensors of its type on the market, and it sets itself apart from competing cameras in the way it captures color. The X-Trans color filter array is unique to Fujifilm products, and uses a more complex repeating pattern of red, green, and blue filtered pixels to capture color—a six-by-six grid, in comparison to the four-by-four grid used by the more common Bayer sensor design.
When shooting JPGs at default settings, the X-T20 curtails noise, keeping it under 1.5 percent through ISO 6400, and shows just 1.7 percent at ISO 12800. Similar to what we've seen in other models with this sensor, image quality holds up quite well through ISO 1600. There's some slight smudging of fine detail at ISO 3200, and a bit more blur can be seen at ISO 6400. Images shot at ISO 12800 are more noticeably blurred, and that trend increases at ISO 25600 and 51200. The amount of noise reduction applied to images is adjustable, so you can tone it down if you prefer more detail, but with that comes more noise.
Raw capture is also an option. Some photographers have complained about the way that Adobe Camera Raw (the engine that powers Lightroom CC) has handled X-Trans images in the past, particularly with complaints of a mushy look to foliage. That's largely in the rear view, as the improved resolution of the last batch of 24MP Fujifilm models and improvements in Adobe software have addressed many complaints. Still, you may want to consider another software option to get the absolute best detail out of the X-T20's Raw files—Iridient is a popular choice.
I used the latest version of Lightroom CC to convert the Raw images included in the slideshow that accompanies this review. Raw images are strong in quality through ISO 3200. There's a little loss of visibility in the finest lines of detail in our test image at ISO 6400, and results are similar at ISO 12800. Pushing to ISO 25600 is a bit much—rough grain starts to overtake detail, but it's not overwhelming. Noise is more of an issue at ISO 51200, the maximum ISO setting. As is true with the other 24MP Fujifilm cameras we've reviewed, the X-T20 delivers image quality that's among the best you'll get from the APS-C sensor size.
The camera records video at up to 4K UHD resolution at 30fps or 24fps for clips up to 10 minutes in length. Detail is excellent, but footage does show some skew when panning or shooting a subject moving across the frame—the bottom half of the image appears to advance slightly faster than the top. The other drawback for moving images is the lack of in-camera stabilization—Fujifilm offers lenses with stabilization, but not every lens is stabilized. You'll enjoy smooth handheld capture when using a zoom like the 18-55mm F2.8-4, but handheld video with a non-stabilized prime like the 35mm F2 WR will appear jittery. Models with in-body stabilization will net smoother results with almost any attached lens, although they too suffer when trying to steady long telephoto glass.
You can also shoot in 1080p at 24, 30, or 60fps for clips up to 15 minutes in length. Skew isn't a big issue with the lower resolution footage, especially if you opt for a faster frame rate. Regardless of the resolution you choose, the camera refocuses quickly and smoothly as the scene changes, and you can apply any film look to video just as you do with still images. You also have the option of connecting an external mic to pick up clear, professional-grade audio—just remember the X-T20 uses the smaller, non-standard 2.5mm connector for microphones.
If you're shopping for a mirrorless camera, you should pay close attention to the Fujifilm X-T20. It offers a few things that others in its class don't, including a number of film looks, solid physical controls, a tilting touch LCD, and an excellent electronic viewfinder. It's also backed by a robust lens system, with zoom options covering ultra-wide angles to extreme telephoto distances, some with pro-grade f/2.8 apertures, and a good number of compact prime lenses that pair quite well with its svelte body.
The camera faces some really stiff competition in this price segment, however. The Sony Alpha 6000 captures images with very similar quality and as a pretty fantastic autofocus system in its own right—it's EVF isn't as good as the X-T20's, but it sells for a couple hundred dollars less. And, moving up in price, the Alpha 6300 is almost the twin of the 6000 in design, but matches the X-T20's 4K capabilities and EVF quality, and adds weather sealing when paired with certain lenses.
The X-T20 fits in as an excellent choice for the right photographer—someone who values the way it feels in the hand and its lens system. But it's not as crowd-pleasing as the more affordable Alpha 6000, which remains our Editors' Choice for entry-level mirrorless cameras.
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By Jim Fisher Senior Analyst, Digital Cameras
Senior digital camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H Photo, where he wrote thousands upon thousands of product descriptions, blog posts, and reviews. Since then he's shot with hundreds of camera models, ranging from pocket point-and-shoots to medium format… More »
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