Thursday, January 19, 2017

FIRST LOOK: FUJIFILM X-T20 review

The new year is off to a great start for Fujifilm! Beside the announcement of the first mirrorless Medium format (GFX), a new 50mm f2 lens, the new rangefinder like X-100F review here), Fujifilm also announced the X-T20 today! 


When the X-T2 (review here) was released 6 months ago, it didn't go unnoticed in the photography community! As of today, a lot of the camera shops are still having the camera on backorder. Personally I believe it is probably the best and most featured camera in the X-series line, as of today. 

Immediately after the announcement of the X-T2, some people started speculating whether the fine people of Fujifilm Japan, would make a scaled down version like they did with the X-T1. This little brother was appropriately called the X-T10. 

Well just after Christmas 2016, a black Fujifilm box from Japan was delivered to my home; courtesy of the great guys of Fujifilm Middle East. Inside I found an all black sample copy of the X-T20!



As I got the camera pre-release, it obviously comes with the usual disclaimer that the image quality and camera firmware might not be final; the hardware did however look pretty close to the final product.


The camera comes in both a silver and black version; personally I find the black which I tested, more stealthy but that is of course a personal choice.

HOW DOES THE X-T20 COMPARE TO X-T10?
Size and weight wise, the camera is very similar to its older brother; for all practical purposes I will call it identical. Weight with SD card and battery is 383gr; significantly lower than the 507gr of the X-T2. 

Externally both cameras look almost identical. Differences at the top are that the drive button now has a video setting (like the X-T2) and that the old video start button has now become a Fn button; a good thing! The Exposure compensation now also has the new C (Custom up to 5 stops) position. 


The back of the camera has virtually the same button layout except for the lack of bottom right Fn button which has moved to the top (old video button position). 


Just like the other newer X-series, it also has a fourth metering mode called center weighted, but the camera does not have a specific metering knob/dial. 


The camera will ship with the newer NP-W126S battery; although it has the same battery capacity (1260mAh), it does manage heat better, which especially is much needed for 4K videoI was easily able to achieve the advertised 350 shots on a single NP-W126S battery; even slightly exceeding it. The older NP-W126 batteries will work just fine with the camera.


The biggest change happened under the hood; as expected the X-T20 has the same 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X processor Pro as the X-T2, X-Pro2 and as of today on the X-100F!





For those of you that don't like the idea of having more megapixels and therefore potentially larger files, the following average file size overview might make you change opinions:


X-T10 with X-Trans II sensor (16Mpx)


  • Fine jpeg 6-8 MB 
  • RAW average 33 MB
X-T20 with X-Trans III sensor (24Mpx)
  • Fine jpeg 11-14 MB
  • RAW Lossless compressed average 23MB
  • RAW Uncompressed average 50 MB
Since the X-Pro2 (and XT2), the RAW Lossless compressed are my new go to RAW files. I personally don't see any loss in image quality when using the lossless compressed files. As always some pixel peepers might think differently but I surely appreciate being able to shoot more pixels in a smaller RAW file package!

While the X-T10 shoots at 3 fps (frames per second) in CL mode and 8fps in CH, its younger brother gives us a few more options; the Drive setting menu allows one to choose between 3,4 and 5fps for CL Low speed burst and 8, 11 and 14fps for CH High speed burst. The last two frame rates being limited to the Electronic Shutter only. 

One of the most important advantages of a mirrorless camera is having an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) It allows one to see the shot before clicking the shutter. The 0.39 inch EVF is identical to its predecessor; with its 0.62x magnification factor it is less than the 0.77x of the X-T2. The refresh rate remains at 54 fps. Disregarding all the numbers, the EVF is good but clearly not as bright and large as the higher end X-T2 one. 

The camera comes with 
a slightly higher resolution (1040K instead of 920K) 3 inch tilt screen which is now also touchscreen! While the X-70 has three options (OFF, SHOT, FOCUS), the X-T20 has 4; OFF, SHOT, AF and AREA. The last one (AREA) being the new one. It allows to place the focus point on a new area without focusing. 
In playback mode one can zoom in and out (pinch two fingers), double tap to zoom in on the focus point used, drag across the frame when zoomed in and swipe across the screen to view the images.






The number of focus points has been increased from 77 (X-T10) to a staggering 325 (contrast and phase detect). The option to "only" have 91 and move faster across the screen with the D-pad, is available as well. The 169 (13x13) focus points in the center of the frame (40%) are of the better Phase detect system; AF points cover about 85% of the total of the frame; similar to the X-T2.

WHAT IS MISSING COMPARED TO THE X-T2?
While shooting the new camera, one of the first obvious comparisons to the X-T2, is that the EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) is not as bright and large. It is very good and fast enough but once spoiled with the X-T2 EVF, it is really hard to go back.

Not immediately obvious but important if you are an all weather shooter, the X-T20 is not weather sealed


While it has a nice tilt screen (unlike the X-100F and X-Pro2), it isn't a 3-axis tilt screen like on the X-T2; not a big deal but a nice feature to have.


I do highly recommend using a metal hand grip if shooting with the larger lenses such as the XF50-140 and XF100-400. The Metal Hand grip for the X-T10 should work fine on the X-T20; not tested but I've been told my Fujifilm.

The camera does not have a dual memory card slot; more than likely because there is not enough space for it! Like the X-T10, both the battery and memory card live together at the bottom right of the camera.


The tripod mount at the bottom of the camera doesn't sit below the center of the lens, again probably because of lack of space in the bottom section of the body. I
f using a separate camera plate to mount it on a tripod, one will need to remove it in order to access the battery compartment; another reason to invest in a Metal Hand grip!




I've quickly a fan on how the top buttons of the X-T2 are set-up and work. As its smaller brother does not have a dedicated ISO dial, you will have to use one of the function buttons and/or revert to using the Auto ISO function, which by the way does a great job! 


Unfortunately the camera does not have the newer 1/8000s maximum mechanical shutter speed the X-T2 and X-Pro2 have; I guess this is one of the reasons why we pay more money for these cameras... It also doesn't have the great new 
X-T2 (and X-Pro2) "soft shutter sound". Although I no longer have an X-T10 to test it side by side, I suspect the sound is very similar to its older brother. As this camera will make for a great street photographers camera, I'm somewhat disappointed that it is not a bit quieter. Having said that, it is definitively not as loud as a classic clunky DSLR body neither. 



Lets talk buttons and dials: as the new camera has a touchscreen (one of the only things the X-T2 does not have!), the great new joystick at the back is missing. The four way D-pad looks and feels very similar to the X-T10 one. It is definitively not as clumsy to use as the one on the X-T1. 




While the X-T2 is clearly marked as being made in Japan, the little label at the bottom back is missing and small print on the battery cover shows made in China. The camera does might feel a little less sturdy than the X-T2 but does by no means feel plasticky; it clearly is still a quality X-series camera.


AUTO-FOCUS

When the X-T2 came out its excellent auto-focus and more importantly focus tracking functions, rocked the mirrorless boat with its AF-C Custom settingsI was pleasantly surprised that it has pretty much the same functionality since the X-Pro2 does not have it. One difference I noted was that their was no possibility of customising the AF-C settings like in the X-T2 (custom setting 6); only the 5 presets were available to choose from. A specific Fujifilm website explains the details of the new Autofocus system here

As an aviation photographer my ultimate test when it comes to auto-focus tracking, is photographing an airshow with long glass. As there were virtually none in the Northern hemisphere at the time of writing, I wasn't able to fully test it. A quick shoot at a 24hr car race in Dubai with my XF100-400 super telephoto lens, showed very similar results and keeper rates, compared to shooting with the X-T2. A few images below can be found below:



1/1250s, f8,  ISO 1250, with XF100-400 lens


Panning shot, 1/250s, f8,  ISO 200, with XF100-400 lens
Single shot focus feels at snappy as on the X-T2, even in low light as long as the newer lenses are used. Main testing was done with the XF23 and XF35mm f2 lenses.

IMAGE QUALITY 

It's a well documented fact, that the high ISO image quality of the new X-trans CMOS III sensor is at least one stop better than on the previous X-Trans II sensors. Something that we can't take for granted since the megapixels have increased quite a bit and which often leads to less optimal high ISO performance.

I will not hesitate to shoot at ISO 6400 and will increase up to the maximum native ISO of 12800 if needed. Yes, 12800 has some noise which can be easily removed but I actually often leave it in as it gives an more organic look than on the X-Trans II sensors. Below are two images shot right after each other at ISO 12800 and ISO 6400 with no noise reduction in post-editting.




1/60s, 5.6, ISO 12800
1/30s, 5.6, ISO 6400
VIDEO
First of all I'm a still photographer and not a videographer; so no expert video reviews here. The good news is that the X-T20 is able to shoot 4K, at the usual frame rates (29.97, 25, 24, 23.98p) at 100Mbps for about maximum 10 min and 15 min at 36Mbps. As the camera comes with the new NP-W126S battery it should be able to deal better with heat management. 

The LCD touch screen allows "touch to AF" while using the video function and all Fujifilm Film Simulations can be used when shooting video as well. 


SAMPLE IMAGES

At the time of publishing, an external RAW converter was not available for the X-T20 so all images below are in camera jpegs. Most color ones were shot in Classic Chrome, the few Black and White are using the newer Acros Film Simulation. Almost all were shot with the XF23mm f2, a few with the XF35mm f2 and some other good quality glass.

Images can NOT be used for any other means or publication. 






1/250s, f8.0, ISO 500


1/250s, f13, ISO 640


1/250s, f5, ISO 640


1/80s, f4, ISO 6400


1/250s, f6.4, ISO 640


1/250s, f4, ISO 640


1/250s, f4.0, ISO 2500


1/320s, f4, ISO 6400



1/250s, f2.8, ISO 400



1/420s, f5.6 ISO 6400


1/60s, f5.6, ISO 6400


1/200s, f4, ISO 6400


1/200s, f4, ISO 6400
1/1250s, f8, ISO 1250

1/340s, f11, ISO 400



1/160s, f5.6, ISO 6400


CONCLUSIONS
First of all my usual question; "Who is this camera for?". Well I guess the answer is not that straight forward. I see a few main markets; first of all, it is definitively a camera I would recommend to somebody who is either new to photography or to an experienced DSLR user who wants to have a lighter mirrorless camera for travel and street photography.

Secondly, I can see some Pro shooters looking for a back-up body which is cheaper and smaller than their main X-T2 camera. 


Last but not least, I really see the X-T20 as a near perfect "Street Photography camera"; pair it with a 23mm f2 (or 35mm f2 if you prefer) and you pretty much have the perfect fit. Want to go even smaller; throw a 27mm f2.8 pancake lens on it! I especially like the touch LCD for candid street photography. 
Only thing I wish for, is that the shutter would be a little bit more silent.




We tend to think about the X-T20 as a less featured and scaled down version of the X-T2 but it does however also have few things the more expensive body does not have! The LCD touchscreen being the main one, it also has a pop-up flash. The smaller form factor will definitively be appreciated for a lot of travel/street photographers. 


Will I buy it? Today I still have my perfectly fine working X-T1 as a back-up to my X-T2. If I would find a good new owner for it, I will definitively consider picking up an X-T20. Expected launch price is expected to be 899USD.  Overall I do give it a "Recommended" tag!



The above review can be shared on Social media and Blogs without prior approval, as long as credit to Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY (www.bjornmoerman.com) is given.  



BJORN



10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review and my first look at the real thing! Does the little pop up flash also tilt up for bounce flash? Have you done any portraits with this yet and could you share a few examples? (Portrait with natural light as well as fill flash and or bounce flash if possible.) I'm not into studio photography but do enjoy capturing interesting faces and expressions. Landscape, also macros of everything from mushrooms to tree bark, to flowers are what I do most. Just a hobby photographer looking for a lightweight system, I've been following the Fuji film simulations and results from X photographers for over a year.

Bjorn Moerman said...

You are welcome!

No the flash can not be used to bounce of the ceiling. Unfortunately, I don’t have any specify portrait images to share.
If interested in portraits, the new XF50f2 lens with the X-T2 will definitively not disappoint! But it comes with a warning…. Buying Fujifilm gear is addictive!

Best regards,
BJORN

Yep said...

Excellent review, thank you!

Question: what is the flash sync speed of the X-T20? Is it 1/180s like the X-T10, or is it 1/250s like the X-Pro2 & X-T2?

Sam said...

Thanks for the great review! Quick question: Since there's no joystick on the back, can you use the touchscreen to change the focus point while using the EVF?

swallero said...

My question is the same as Sam's. Using the touchscreen to set the focus point while using the EVF for shooting would be a great added value and would make lack of the joystick less important. Is it possibile to do so? Thank you, great review.

Bjorn Moerman said...

Presently, you can not do this.

As I explained before, as soon as you take your eye to the viewfinder, the LCD is de-activated. Using the D-pad is easy enough, I find.
Even if it would work, sticking your fingers between your face and the LCD while looking at the EVF, would be a bit weird, if you ask me…

BJORN

Ben said...

I've read on some forum that the command dials lost its fn-button abilities, meaning the X-T20 has 3 fn buttons less than its predecessor. Is that true?

Bjorn Moerman said...

Ben,

Just returned the camera to FUJIFILM today.
Can't remember having seen such a loss of Fn buttons. Only the bottom Right button is gone.
Where did you find that info?

Denis Martín Barroso said...

Hi Ben,

I just ordered my new X-T1 a few hours ago... However, now I have read your article, I am thinking about return it back and wait for the new X-T20. What do you think? The kit X-T1 + 18-55 and X-T20 + 18-55 have same price (because of the Fuji cashback) here in Spain. Would you rather wait for the new X-T20?

Thank you so much!
Regards!

Pavel Najman said...

Its much better to wait for x-t20. The difference is only not-weathersealed body and larger evf. In this time i would not buy x-t1, if i were you. Some pics from x-trans cmos II have bsd details, like oil painting with artefacts. Higher resolution probably solved this problem