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Mar 25

Review: Fujifilm X-T20

Image Quality

Due to the identical sensor and image quality, portions of this section were duplicated from the X-Pro 2 and X-T2 review.

The X-T20 features the same X-Trans III CMOS Sensor that first debuted with the X-Pro2 and is also featured in the X-T2.  This is a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor that proved to have excellent dynamic range and detail, with good noise control for an APS-C sensor.  While there is nothing new to report with regards to the X-T20, it still holds up today as an excellent APS-C sensor that gives image quality close to many Full-Frame sensors.

Color and Dynamic Range

The dynamic range of the sensor is largely in line with the earlier X-Trans sensor, though with some slight improvement from the X-Trans II sensor in the X-T1 and X-E2. The range of the sensor is excellent, and it can capture the complete range of tones in the vast majority of shooting situations. Fuji has allowed you to tweak the tonal curve a bit more than earlier cameras, however, offering greater latitude in adjustment in camera to push and pull highlights and shadows to create the contrast curve best desired for the final image.

Cedar Falls - Fujifilm X-T20 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 @

Cedar Falls – Fujifilm X-T20 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 @ 18mm, f/11, 1.6 sec, ISO 200

The X-T20 still has the same outstanding color response that the X-Series has become known for, with rich color and fantastic tonal response. RAW files take adjustment very well with regards to color and tonal transition, while JPEG files are simply outstanding in their color reproduction.  The Fuji Film Simulations produce very pleasing colors that attempt to emulate their popular film stocks, and for the most part they succeed well. I’ll talk a bit more about JPEGs and film simulations a little later on this page.

Noise and Detail

The X-T20, like the X-Pro 2 and X-T2 before it, joins what appears to be the sweet spot in sensor resolution for APS-C sensors: 24 megapixels.  This 50% increase in total pixels adds a bit more than 1000 pixels in the horizontal direction to give a nice boost for fine detail for larger reproductions.  The Fuji lenses continue to be excellent on this sensor, and fine detail is noticeably increased over the 16 megapixel Fuji bodies.  As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, the X-Trans filter array can sometimes cause some artifacts that are often called the ‘watercolor effect’ on fine foliage or grass details with certain RAW converters. With the 24 megapixel sensor in the X-T20, the effect isn’t as noticeable in most situations as it was with the earlier 16 megapixel sensor.

That said, the effect is still present with this sensor in some situations, but how prominent it is depends largely on your RAW converter. For a comparison of how current RAW converters handle X-Trans detail, check out the shots in the image quality section of my X-T2 Review.

Fire Escape - Fujifilm X-T20 with Fujinon XF 50mm f/2 @

Fire Escape – Fujifilm X-T20 with Fujinon XF 50mm f/2 @ f/3.6, 1/89s, ISO 12,800

One fear of increasing sensor resolution is the potential to increase noise due to lowering the size of the pixels.  Thankfully, Fuji has avoided this on the X-Trans III sensor.  While there isn’t a huge leap in high ISO performance, the noise at the pixel level is very similar to that of the X-T1.  With the higher resolution, that means that more detail is recorded, and the noise will be smaller than earlier Fuji bodies for the same reproduction size.  The result: a little better high ISO performance overall.  It’s not a large improvement, but is somewhere around a half stop at the highest ISOs, while lower ISOs show a more negligible advantage. The result is enough that I was able to get quite usable images at ISO 12,800, with ISO 25,600 usable in the right circumstances for small prints. The X-T20 also exhibits essentially zero color shift at 25,600, which is fantastic. ISO 51,200 is still a step too far.  In all, a nice improvement from the previous generation of sensors.

JPEG Quality

The X-T20 continues the Fuji tradition of producing excellent JPEG images.  JPEGs are low compression with excellent tonal range and color reproduction.  Fuji cameras have the best JPEGs in the industry in my opinion, and things have even gotten a bit better with this latest generation.  First of all, the one JPEG downside to the X-Trans II sensor Fuji cameras was a tendency to soften skin detail at high ISO in the JPEGs.  Thankfully, that processing quirk is gone, and high ISO shots of people low look quite natural.

Exit Only - Fujifilm X-T20 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 @ f/16, 1/15s, ISO 200 (Out of camera JPEG, Classic Chrome)

Exit Only – Fujifilm X-T20 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 @ f/16, 1/12s, ISO 200 (Out of camera JPEG, Classic Chrome)

Second, Fuji has added two new things to their JPEG processing.  The first is a new black and white film simulation called ACROS, which first debuted on the X-Pro 2.  This simulation, with the better control over highlight and shadow tones, is the best black and white JPEG engine I’ve seen in a camera.  Shots with ACROS have excellent tonality, great punch and a simply fantastic look. Color filters can be assigned to ACROS for different situations, giving the shooter great control over the final image.  If you’re looking for a great camera to shoot black and white photos like you would film, this is a great camera to pick up.  Short of a Leica Monochrom, I don’t think you’ll find a better black and white camera at this point in time.

The second change on X-Trans III cameras is a film grain option for the JPEG output, which can really give the film simulations a true film-like look.  There are two strengths of film grain that can be added, but I preferred to keep it on low when I shot with it.  It adds a very nice grain to the images, and modulates the strength and size based on ISO.  I generally didn’t use it much, but I think it can definitely fit well with the ACROS and Classic Chrome simulations in the right circumstances.

In all, the X-T20 has the same excellent image quality as the X-T2, and puts it right with the top APS-C cameras on the market with regards to sensor quality.

Video

The X-T20 becomes the second Fuji X-Series camera to gain 4K video recording, though it does so in a different manner than the X-T2.  The X-T20 utilizes line skipping to achieve its 8 megapixel resolution for 4K video rather than full sensor sampling and resizing on the fly. Video quality is pretty good in 4K mode, but not quite as detailed as the X-T2.  The same rolling shutter can be induced if panning quickly.  1080p output is quite good, and while Fuji cameras aren’t going to be the main choice for serious videographers, it’s nice to see them continue to refine their video capabilities.  One nice feature the X-T20 can utilize, is pulling focus in a scene using the touch screen to switch between areas of focus – a big plus.

Continue: Conclusion and Image Samples

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

26 comments

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  1. schralp

    I wanted this to be my next Fuji camera and was able to tolerate the change from the EVF of the X-T1. However, i found that I could not hold the camera with any lens besides my 35 f/1.4 without pressing the right button on the D-pad with the base of my thumb. The only solution was to lock them but that lockout takes a few seconds and toggling on/off to move the focus point was a disaster. Ideally, the focus point movement would be tied to a joystick and the D-pad locked independently. Alternatively, the touchscreen could be active when using the EVF (it works great when using the LCD and I really love that functionality and the haptics in my X70) but of course that brings up another set of issues I would expect; moving the focus point with your nose. Even with my smallest lens (the aforementioned 35) I struggled to keep from pushing the buttons with the base of my thumb. I guess that means it’s the X-T2 for me or stick with the X-T1….

    1. Jordan Steele

      Interesting. I can’t say I’ve ever accidentally hit that button when holding the camera. I will say that the add-on grip helps quite a bit in the handling of the camera…it is finicky due to its size without the grip. Still, the X-T2 is definitely going to feel better in the hand, especially if you have bigger hands.

  2. Stefano

    Thank You Jordan for your detailed review. I really appreciate your work.
    What you say about the EVF will maybe help me solving my doubts: I’m going to upgrade from XT1 and I’m not so happy to spend 1600 euros for the XT2. I think that the XT20 will fit most of my needs. My biggest concern was the smaller EVF indeed.

    I do hope that a future firmware update will allow the touch screen to be used for changing the focus point while looking into the EVF.
    I also hope that some of the features just announced for the next XT2 firmware update (up to 15 minutes exposure in “T” mode in particular) will be soon available for the XT20 as well.

    1. Jordan Steele

      It is definitely notably smaller. If you’ve used any of the X-E series, it’s the same apparent size, though you need to be closer to the optics to see the whole thing…some people don’t like that, I actually don’t mind at all because I position my eye that distance anyway, and it feels a bit more immersive that way. The only way to tell is to try yourself.

      1. Stefano

        Thank you very much.
        To me, the smaller size and direct usb charging (perfect features for a travel and hiking/trekking camera) are major pros for the XT-20.

        You wrote that the X-T20 has replaced the X-T1 as your primary Fuji body.
        Eventually, was the XT20 a worthy upgrade from the X-T1 for you, despite the smaller EVF and worse grip?

        Thank you!

        1. Jordan Steele

          I think so. The EVF is a fairly easy adjustment to be honest. Since I review lots of cameras, I’m used to jumping around different EVFs, so while the drop in magnification is certainly noticeable, you get accustomed to the smaller finder pretty quickly. It’s also the same resolution, so you’re not giving up any detail, just size.

          The extra detail and better AF performance were the big things for me, so in that realm I like it. If I shot exclusively Fuji, I probably would have sprung for the X-T2, but I shoot both Fuji and Sony primarily, so I couldn’t justify the extra cost, and I think it’s the right choice for me.

  3. Craig

    Jordan,

    Always appreciate your reviews for the practical and detailed considerations of a camera’s merits. Plus your photos are awesome. Really appreciate you using with a variety of lenses to show the possibilities. My X-T20 has been on back order for three weeks. Oye vey the anticipation!

    Craig

    1. Jordan Steele

      Thanks! Hope you enjoy it like I have!

  4. andi

    Hi Jordan
    I shoot with a XT-1 now, and I’m quite satisfied.
    If you compare the same pictures from the XT-1 and the XT-20 :
    is it a tiny or quite a huge difference?

    Andi

    1. Jordan Steele

      It’s not a huge difference. Noise wise, they’re fairly close…perhaps a half stop difference to the X-T20. The X-T20 definitely has more detail available, and while visible in a print, it’s not a massive difference. I did a comparison of the X-Pro2 to the A7 II, and at the end, to the X-T1 (for noise), but you can see the crops there. Image quality is the same for the X-T20 and the X-Pro2. http://admiringlight.com/blog/fuji-x-pro-2-vs-sony-a7-ii-noise-comparison/

      For the detail difference between them, see this crop from that test: http://www.admiringlight.com/2017/xt1-pro2.jpg

  5. Tiago

    Jordan
    Great pratical review.
    Inhave following your site for 2 years and this is my first post
    I have bought my xt-20 weeks two weeks ago and really like the camera. Coming from a XXD canon camera is really nice to have such high quality pictures (iso 12800 acros is really usefull for small prints and very film like), nice af tracking , nice video with film simullations, wonderful film simulations in a very small package
    I really agree with your pros and cons list: my main cons is the function button on the top plate is really mushy. The first i used it I was not sure if it was ok or Broken
    Two questions:
    What noise reduction settings do you Prefer?
    How would you classify shooting with manual portrait primes on it (with a nikon 85 mm)?
    Thank you and keep up the excelent work

    1. Jordan Steele

      I shoot RAW for the most part, so the noise reduction doesn’t get used unless I am using the the in-camera RAW conversion to share. Generally I leave it on -1, as I generally prefer a more detailed result with some noise than a smoothed image.

      I’d definitely recommend the grip for shooting with larger primes, but other than that, it works great. I think the clear EVF with focus peaking + magnification makes locking in on the focus point fairly straightforward, and certainly easier than on a DSLR.

  6. Jim Murray

    Hi Jordan, just found your site and and find it very informative.

    Have you any experience using the Thumb rest/grip made by Lensmate?
    They are not inexpensive but do look very well thought out and made.

    I do find the camera to be very compact, one of the attractions but do agree that holding it is cramped and also find myself hitting the four way switch with the heel of my thumb.

    Just wondering if the Lensmate thumb grip has worked for anyone.

  7. Jerome Froese

    I tried to like the X-T20 but found the grip to make this probably the most uncomfortable camera I’ve held in a very very long time. I tried it for 2 weeks but ended up returning it along with the 3 lenses I bought with it in exchange for a Sony A7II. Much more comfortable in hand for me.

  8. Gary

    Excellent review, very thorough.

    What wrist strap is that on your X-T20? It looks like a must have.

    Please let us know.

    Thank you.

    1. Jordan Steele

      That’s from Gordy’s Camera Straps. I have one for my Fuji and one for my Sony A7 II, and I love them. They are slightly stiff when you first get them, and then they break in over time and become very soft and supple. The one in this picture I’ve had for around 4 years and it’s holding up great.

  9. dunsun

    Hey Jordan,

    I really love your practical reviews.

    Please could you tell me if you had any troubles with auto white balance on this camera ?
    I’m thinking about getting this camera (I shoot m43 + Fuji X-A1).Fuji X-A1 produces excellent out of camera jpegs.
    From what I have seen auto white balance is not right (greenish tint) on this camera. For me it’s a very important criteria since I’m partly color blind and always fight with WB setting.
    This greenish tint is mentioned in many reviews (for example):
    http://mirrorlesscomparison.com/fujifilm-vs-olympus/omd-em1-mark-ii-vs-fuji-xt2/#Colours-white-balance-and-JPG-settings

    Regards

    1. Jordan Steele

      I can’t say that I noticed a tint in any of my shooting. Of course, I didn’t notice a green tint in my shooting with the X-T2 either. That said, I will often adjust white balance to taste in RAW, which may not be particularly useful for you, given the colorblindness, so I apologize I may not be of more help!

  10. Red Slater

    Great review. I have ordered one to replace my X-T10. I am quite satisfied with the 16M sensor, and am getting the T20 for other enhancements. My question is, if I switch the IMAGE QUALITY from FINE to NORMAL, so I get a 16M JPEG instead of a 24 JPEG, will the image match the 16M JPEG from the X-T10 in quality and print size?

  11. simo

    Hi jordan
    what about the gird artefact (inside the purple flare) with the x-t20.
    I readt that x-t2 and x-pro2 have the problem, did you see that problem with x-t20.

  12. Justine

    Which camera would you choose? The XT20 or the Oly EM10II? Curious to know :)

  13. Jonathan

    Terrific review and photos, thank you. I am seriously contemplating buying one. May I ask what software you use for converting X-trans raw files? Do you have a recommendation?

    Thank you
    Jonahan

  14. Ash

    Hi Jordan,

    Great review! It helped me make the decision to trade in my trusty X-T1 for an X-T20.

    I’m relaly happy with the video ease of use improvements, as well as the autofocus. The T1 as a great camera, but the T20 is a better fit for me.

  15. Pavel

    Thus far,I find that the best aspect of a touch screen is the ability that most manufacturers provide to turn it off. I’ve been very disappointed in the choices that my nose makes in focus point selection.

    The focus point joy stick on the other hand seems like the best idea of the last ten years.

    Dang. That will cost me some extra dollars, it would seem.

    1. Zoltan

      I feel 100% the same about the touch screen ! My nose was constantly moving the focus area. Had to turn it off when was using the viewfinder. I hoped you could use it for the Q menu , it would be great for that! Future firmware update might could enable that I hope!

  16. Dave

    Thanks a bunch for this. I live in poverty and was recently awards monies in court. Over the last few days I did extensive research on lenses, bodies, prices, image quality and concluded that my best option would be with Fujifilm. Canon came in at second place and SONY 3rd (only because most people cannot afford the Alpha a7rii). I think I will be very happy with the X-T20 and the 18-55mm f/2.8…it will make an excellent start.

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