Does the junior model to the award-winning X-T2 pack a punch? Michael Topham finds out if the Fujifilm X-T20 advances enough on the X-T10
Fujifilm X-T20: Performance
We were mightily impressed by the X-T2’s focusing performance when we reviewed it last year. Just like its bigger brother, the X-T20 shaves 0.02secs off its acquisition speed and focuses accurately when it’s asked to lock onto fast moving subjects. The updated AF algorithm and X-Processor Pro pair up well and present an evidently snappier autofocus performance. It’s new AF-C custom settings will be appreciated by those who’d like to fine tune how the camera reacts to the way the subject moves within the frame, how fast the subject moves and where in the frame it prioritizes the focus. They are purposefully designed to enable the autofocus to perform at its best in a host of different circumstances and whereas Set 1 is the default multi-purpose mode that’s used when no specific AF-C custom setting is selected, Set 2 is designed to ignore obstacles that come between a subject that’s in the process of being tracked. Set 3 is proposed for focusing on subjects that accelerate or decelerate towards the camera, while Set 4 should be used for erratic subjects that suddenly enter the frame. The last option, Set 5, is intended for obtaining optimum settings for accurate subject tracking. When you use the X-T20 to shoot fast-moving subjects, you quickly realise how far its autofocus performance has come on from before.
Just like the X-T2, you’ll find a plethora of options in the menu to aid with day-to-day shooting. Having the option to take images in silence by activating the electronic shutter is one example, which can be very useful when you’d like to work discreetly without interrupting your subject or those around you. The status screen, which provides a general overview of all shooting settings, is also useful to refer to and presents a clear indication of the remaining battery power as a percentage. On the subject of the battery, you can expect to shoot approximately 350 frames or 50 minutes of 4K footage on a single charge, but if you transfer images via Wi-fi you’ll find the battery will deplete considerably faster. Packing a couple of spare batteries is absolutely essential if you’re planning a full on day of photography and you don’t have easy access to mains power to recharge.
The quality of the images straight out of the camera are excellent when it’s used in the Standard/Provia mode and the same can be said for the way the X-T20 handles its JPEGs. Colour is resolved faithfully from the X-Trans CMOS III sensor, but if you feel your results are a little too flat for your liking in Provia mode it’s easy enough to give them a bit more energy from the suite of film simulation modes on offer. When challenged by high-contrast scenes you can turn to the X-T20’s dynamic range (DR) modes to help preserve detail in images, which works by underexposing the shot, then applying a brightening tone curve to the dark parts of the image.
Alternatively, you might prefer to customise the default tone curves using the highlight tone and shadow tone options that you’ll stumble upon in the Q menu or the main menu. The difference here is that these allow us to maximize the dynamic range in JPEG images but not at the expense of raw data. The important thing to remember is that increasing the highlight tone value to +1 or +2 brightens the highlights and decreasing it to -1 or -2 retains detail in bright areas. With regard to the shadow tone, increasing it to +1 or +2 darkens the shadows, whereas decreasing the value to -1 or -2 retains detail in the darkest areas. Though it’s fun experimenting with these settings to get the best possible tonality straight out of the camera, a majority of the images that support this review were edited from raw files in Lightroom CC using the new Camera Raw 9.9 update for Creative Cloud subscribers.
Interested to know how many frames the X-T20 can rattle out in a single continuous burst compared to the X-T2, it was loaded with an identical Lexar Professional 633x SDHC card that was used to test its big brother. Like the X-T2, which managed to shoot 24 raw files at 8fps in Normal mode without the power booster, the X-T20 is capable of shooting the same number of raw files at 8fps when its mechanical focal plane shutter is used. The X-T20 rattled out 104 frames at 8fps when the file format was changed to JPEG (Fine). Employing the electronic shutter demonstrated it can shoot 21 raw files at 14fps or 35 Fine JPEGs at 14fps before the camera shows signing of slowing. To offer some form of comparison, the X-T2 managed 42 JPEGs at 14fps with its power booster attached.
The only minor niggles I picked up on during my spell of testing were that SD cards can be quite fiddly to insert and remove due to the fact the slot is tucked up so tightly to the edge of the battery door, and the icon to activate the touchscreen at the edge of the screen is rather small.