Late last year while visiting Japan, I was fortunate enough to test the FUJIFILM X-T2. Now I’m delighted to have its little sibling before me, the X-T20, which was first announced at the beginning of 2017. I certainly had some expectations in regards to the video capabilities from this little camera, especially knowing how well the bigger X-T2 preformed. Here’s my FUJIFILM X-T20 review, where I will focus on its video performance.
If you have been following the latest developments in our industry, you might agree with me that something good is happening regarding all things FUJI. Besides FUJINON – their optical devision that now brings us quality cinema zoom lenses at a reduced price – FUJIFILM now offers high-quality 4K video throughout their new APS-C line, an indicator that the company is listening to their customers. If I can be a fool and look into the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if FUJIFILM’s ambitions eventually merge, and what we will see is a proper high-quality filming tool to accompany their high-quality glass.
But back to the FUJIFILM X-T20. I was surprised to see how small (yet stylish) the camera is. What I really liked about this camera (and this is true across the board with other FUJIFILM cameras), is that a number of essential functions take the form of actual buttons rather than being buried inside the menu. A good example is the physical “view mode” button for cycling between the EVF/LCD or eye sensor. Another is the camera’s triple focus mode function – with the flip of a button you can choose between M, AF-S and AF-C modes. I was truly impressed with the AF-C (Continuous) focus mode: when using it, the changes are fast and seemed to be accurate. People using handheld gimbals would greatly benefit from this continuous AF mode. AF-S also showed good accuracy, but what I truly missed when using this mode was an “AF point joystick” (à la GFX50S) to allow you to simply move the stick to your desired focus point. Currently, you can either tap on the touch screen and choose a focus point (even while recording), or press the shutter release button half-way. Note that you can’t really change between focus points in a Sony a6500-style, i.e. using your finger on the LCD screen and dragging while recording to change focus points. All actions are done by tapping.
A bit larger than the Sony a6500 and with a solid grip on the right hand side, the FUJIFILM X-T20 feels decent to hold for my small hands. Note that you won’t find the number “50” on the mechanical shutter wheel – which is relevant if you come from a PAL country – although you can select this option electronically by turning a different back wheel. The shutter release button acts as a dedicated REC button and, alternatively, you can start filming by programming the LCD touch screen to become your recording trigger. The screen does not swing out, but can be tilted up and down and, as with other slim-body FUJINON cameras, attaching a standard or long tripod plate is a hard thing to do. With the supplied FUJINON XF 16-55mm f/2.8 lens, there is no way to use either of those.
FUJIFILM X-T20 Menu
The FUJIFILM X-T20 maintains the menu structure found on other latest FUJIFILM cameras, but I still doubt its usefulness for the occasional video shooter. On the one hand, one would think the MOVIE SETTING menu clearly indicates where to navigate to for basic video-shooting functions. On the other hand, there are still many other possible video functions scattered all over the place. I truly hope that the day will come when all manufacturers decide to make it possible to see all video-related functions under a dedicated menu.
FUJIFILM X-T20 Video Features
When it comes to camera frame rates and resolutions, the FUJIFILM X-T20 allows recording in 720 up to 60p, 1080 up to 60p and 4K (UHD) up to 30p. Note that this is a “world camera” and changing frame rates and resolutions is fairly easy. While I did not test the quality of any of the 1080p shooting modes, I was pleasantly surprised with the 4K picture quality. Being a notch less sharp and less detailed than its larger sibling the X-T2, the outcome is still very nice and pleasant to look at. One set back that should be taken into consideration when shooting is the restricted 10-minute recording time in 4K, 15-min in full HD and 29-min in 720p. And while on the subject of restrictions, bear in mind that this new camera does not support F-log either internally or externally, leaving you to use all other FUJIFILM film stock simulations instead.
On the audio side, this camera is very similar to the FUJIFILM X-Pro2 camera (see my review here). With a 2.5mm remote/audio jack and no headphone socket, it leaves a lot to be desired. On the positive side, audio levels can be adjusted while recording.
I’ll start with charging the battery. This is something that I keep mentioning across all of my other FUJIFILM camera reviews: how many times have you put a battery in the charger to charge and the light goes green immediately? That was the case here and it was a bit confusing. Apparently, in FUJIFILM’s philosophy, green light is “charging” and no light is “battery charged.” Way to take a global standard and flip it on its head!
By now, I’m pretty familiar with the FUJIFILM menus and I must say that assigning video related functions to the various buttons and in particular the “Q” button is very straight forward. However, my two major concerns when working with the camera are as follows:
- After pressing the REC button, some necessary elements can’t be changed. ISO, White Balance settings or even how to monitor the video (via the LCD or EVF) are good examples. Whatever your settings were when you pressed record, that’s what you are stuck with for the rest of that take.
- The White Balance presets looks a bit off. For example, in order to get an accurate 5600K, I had to tune my settings to 4500K. Also, for whatever reason, matching the camera to the FUJIFILM GFX 50S on the same Film Simulation settings was not possible. The outcome yielded a completely different picture tonality.
On the positive side, ISO 3200 and anything below is VERY clean (ISO 6400 is still OK, with some noise in the shadows). The EVF is nice and easy to work with, though I wish the rubber eyepiece was more comfortable for video work, and the light meter is accurate and effective.
Comparing the FUJIFILM X-T20 to the Sony a6500
The obvious thing to do is to compare the video performance of these 2 APS-C sensor size cameras (see my Sony a6500 review here). While their physical size, and overall picture quality is pretty much the same, Sony has the advantage of accommodating an XLR audio attachment for better audio connectivity, it has a Log recording mode, 5 axis in-body stabilization function, a longer 4K recording functionality and overall better low-light performance. The X-T20, on the other hand, offers FUJIFILM’s out-of-the-box Film Simulation mode, looks cooler and, more importantly, is available for $500 less.
Fujifilm X-T20 Pros (in no particular order)
- Mirrorless APS-C sensor, exchangeable lens camera (FUJIFILM X mount)
- Nice color rendering and 15 in-camera film simulation modes (available options:PROVIA / Standard, Velvia / Vivid, ASTIA / Soft, Classic Chrome, PRO Neg.Hi, PRO Neg.Std, Black& White, Black& White+Ye Filter, Black& White+R Filter, Black& White+GFilter, Sepia, ACROS, ACROS+Ye Filter, ACROS＋R Filter, ACROS＋G Filter
- Sharp OLED viewfinder
- LCD touch screen (for those who like it) that allows you to to control focus points and activate video recording
- Good low-light performance: ISO 3200 and anything below is VERY clean (ISO 6400 is still OK with some noise in the shadows)
- Fast and accurate autofocus system
- An assortment of focus-aid tools to ensure easy focusing while filming (peaking, magnification).
- World camera and up to 4K (UHD) 30p (use a card with UHS Speed Class 3 or higher for 4K recording). Video clips exceeding 4 GB will be recorded into separate files
- External recording via HDMI is possible (HDMI micro connector)
- Camera light meter is accurate and helps in exposing correctly
- Manual audio recording is possible, including sound-level adjustment after pressing the REC button
- Mic/remote jack (but with 2.5mm jack instead of the standard 3.5mm)
- Battery life is good (if you remember that the green light means “charging,” not “battery full”!)
Fujifilm X-T20 Cons (in no particular order)
- 10-min limitation for 4K clips (15 min in HD)
- Tilt-only LCD screen
- No aspect ratio marker display. It would be nice to have 2.35:1 and 1.85:1 markers
- No Log picture profile (even on an external recorder)
- No joystick for quick and accurate focusing positioning
- White Balance presets seem not to be accurate. For 5600k, set you camera to 4500k
- No headphone jack
- Severe rolling shutter when shooting in 4k. (comparable to the Sony a6300) but much better in HD
- You CAN’T change various camera settings or values AFTER pressing the REC button
- Changing the battery or removing the SD card will always require the extra step of moving the tripod plate first
- Automatically switching between the LCD or EVF when looking through them is possible only before recording. Once you press the REC button, you are stuck with your last monitoring choice
Regarding the lens used in this video, it was the FUJIFILM XF 16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR. It is FUJINON’s flagship “XF standard zoom lens” with a Full Frame focal length equivalent to 24mm – 84mm and a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the range. Here is a quick list of the Pros and Cons I found while combining it with the X-T20:
- Excellent sharpness throughout the zoom range
- Constant f/2.8 aperture
- Weather-sealed design
- Speedy focus motor
- No optical stabilization
The FUJIFILM X-T20 offers a good combination between affordable price, video picture quality, fast accurate autofocus in video mode and portability. It’s a pity that FUJIFILM did not include log picture profile support as this would have made the camera truly shine! All in all, if you are on a budget and looking for an affordable high-quality mirrorless stills camera that can shoot video, this is a camera for you to consider.
Camera settings for this review: 4K (UHD) 25p. Film Simulation: Pro Neg Std. Sharpness -4, Shadow Tone -2, Highlight Tone -2. Edited on Adobe Premiere Pro latest edition. Color corrected with FilmConvert set to make: default, model: default, film setting: FJ Ast 100. No sharpening added to the final video. A bit of the green cast in the above video was caused due to the studio’s working LED light.
Many thanks to Julia and Markus from LOOOPS candles. You can visit their site by clicking here