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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.