Like probably any photographer out there who is not a Fuji shooter, I was curious about the system and how it compares to what I currently use (I own a Sony A7II with a collection of „cheaper“ lenses). Fuji as a system really stands out from the bunch, not only in how their cameras are designed and operated, but also with their camera sensor, whereas all other camera mainstream manufacturers (including some lines of Fujifilm cameras as well) use the Bayer RGB pixel distribution, Fuji decided to go their own way and created their own X-Trans sensor, now in it’s third iteration, which produces results unlike other cameras, the famous Fuji colors (described here) being the most prominent effect. This of course enables Fujifilm to produce its original colors, it however also has its drawbacks, like wormy foliage or purple fringing.
The colors, the handling (aperture rings on lenses, shutter speed dial) and the retro design of the cameras, coupled with an array of dedicated, premium quality lenses makes for a really tempting proposition, especially given the price of the system as compared to other manufacturers (granted, except GFX, Fujifilm is all APS-C while others‘ flagship products are mostly full frame, but still the price compares favourably also to the newest micro 4/3 offerings).
And so I sucummed to the temptaion, treading lightly at first, with the Fujifilm X-T20.
Why did I decide to go with X-T20 instead of X-Pro2 or X-T2? The answer is rather prosaic – money. I simply did not want to invest too much in the system I am not sure of.
I understand the perils of judging the system based on the lesser models it has on offer, but in case of the Fuji the image quality should remain the same across the new generation of products, as the 24megapixels X-Trans III sensor remains the same. Fujifilm X-T20, being a newer model, also provides some advantages in the IQ area, as getting rid of purple fringing (hopefully the new Fujifilm X-E3 has that correction also).
This review will not touch much on the results the the X-Trans III sensor produces, for those I will write a separate article after I have a chance to use some other Fujifilm cameras, so please look out for this in the future. I am also writing a series comparing the output of the Fujifilm cameras with the Sony full frame A7 II, more on that here), therefore this article will focus mostly on camera‘s features as compared to other Fujifilm cameras.
From the outside the camera reminds me of a miniature version of an old soviet Zenit camera, it is angular and a little bit awkward, maintaining very little slickness of it’s older and bigger sister, the X-T2. Like the X-T2 is has a faux prism where the EVF is stored. The viewfinder itself is small and a bit dark to my tastes, so if you really think that this might bug you, go with X-T2, where the EVF is bigger and brighter (X-E3 unfortunately shares ist viewfinder with X-T20)
The prism also contains a pop up falash, very useful to control other speedlights in slave mode. What is interesting ist hat I managed to use my Nissin speedlights dedicated for Sony hotshoe, something I wasn’t able to do with e.g. Olympus system). The flash folds downwards, which is somewhat of a bummer – in the a6xxx Sony camera series it folds up which makes it possible to hold it with a finger and bounce the light of the ceiling, a very, very useful unintended feature.
The LCD screen tilts up and down (but not sideways), which ist he camera’s main advantage over the X-E3. I also has touchscreen (X-T2 doesn’t) which helps a bit, but the touch focus feature leaves much to desire, as you cannot simply drag your finger across the screen as you would do in Olympus or Panasonic cameras or choose focus point when using EVF. If you want to compare the touchscreen experience to something, live view on DSLR cameras would come the closest.
The screen is also a tad dark, which made me worry alot about the quality of the pictures when I first used the camera. All my worries were gone when I inserted my SD card into my computer – photos look much better on my monitor than on the camera’s LCD.
The camera has no joystick (the only X-Trans III member not to have that feature). You can use the D-Pad to set focus points and camera features or just disable ist functions and only use it as quasi „joystick“ and access functions through quick menu (which is what I did). This however doesn’t really help, given the camera’s small size.
The camera size is in my opinion actually ist weakest point and also the reason why I decided to sell it and switch to X-E3. Here of course you might have 2 questions form e, and here are the answers:
Why not X-T2? – fist of all, I am still not convinced to sell the Sony and fully switch to Fujifilm, and in such situation I’d rather have big Sony and small Fuji rather than big both. Also, if I decide to switch, I will wait for the Fujifilm X-T2s with in body image stabilizaion, (hopefully) touchscreen and no purple fringing.
Isn’t X-E3 the same size as X-T20? – it is more or less, but it’s a bit thicker, also the lens and the EVF are to the left, which leaves much more room for the hand as well as access to the back panel. On the X-T20, with EVF in the middle and D-Pad as joystick, you are really crammed back there.
I really haven’t found a way to hold the camara comfortably in my hand and to operate it onehanded, I always have to do something with my 4th and 5th fingers, which always leaves them with pain from pushing on some sharp edge or other.
Another thing that made me swith to X-E3 is something I really wasn’t aware of until I got the X-T20, and to be honest, It was really dissapointing. The feature in question is the „Time“ shutter mode. Both X-T2 and X-E3 can haave their shutters open for up to 900 seconds. Yes, that is 15 minutes!!. No remotes, Wi-Fi connection issues in the middle of the night, no cables or remotes being blown by the wind destroying your photos. No additional stuff to take with you, no empty batteries. Just you, your camera and a shutter opened for as long as you need it.
Other than the issues mentioned above, I am really happy with the what the images that Fujifilm X-T20 produces, as well as the overall egronomy concept, maybe just not its this particular execution. In my opinion, and mostly because of my personal anatomy (I really have big hands, I have problems buing gloves), the camera this size must either have a joystic, enabled dragging of the focus point with touch screen or the side EVF in order to enable smooth operation, especially when shooting with one hand. This camera simply doesn’t cut it form e. Luckily the Fujifilm X-E3 gives me all of what the X-T20 lacks (albeit withough the tilting screen), and so I switch.
Who is the X-T20 for then? If you really cannot live without the moving LCD (it really is handy), don’t want to splurge on X-T20, and of course if what you want is a small camera, by all means go for it. If however you’re into long exposure or want someting with better ergonomy, go with the X-T2 or, if you’re patient, wait for the X-T2s (or a discounted X-T2) hopefully only until Q1 2018.