When we reviewed the Fujifilm X-T10 compact system camera, we felt that its retro style was just right. Now Fuji has introduced the X-T20 which maintains that touch of retro appeal - and you can take that "touch" aspect literally, thanks to the addition of touchscreen controls this time around.
The X-T20's arrival was no surprise, fresh off the heels of the higher-end X-T2 launch in the middle of 2016. And with that camera setting a new benchmark for mirrorless cameras, just how well does the X-T20 handle?
We got to try out a final production X-T20 ahead of launch day at a Fuji launch event to see whether this is the affordable system camera to go for.
Fujifilm X-T20 preview: What's new vs X-T10?
- Adds touchscreen control to tilt-angle LCD
- New 325-point autofocus system (49 phase-detection points)
- Higher-resolution 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor
The X-T20 isn't drastically different looking to the X-T10. The movie button has moved from the dedicated button up top to the drive dial, while the easy-to-knock function button on the rear takes over that former movie button up top. That's about it.
The most critical change to the X-T20 are the addition of touchscreen controls on the tilt-angle LCD screen on the rear. The latest camera doesn't embody the tri-angle hinge of the X-T2 so the screen can move in any direction, but its vertical motion is plenty good for us.
Under the hood there's a new 24.3-megapixel sensor, of the X-Trans CMOS III variety - a push on from the second-generation 16.2MP sensor in the earlier X-T10 model. That 50 per cent bump in resolution puts the X-T10 in line with both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras also in the range; Fuji doesn't differentiate by sensor across its range, rather by other defining features.
The new sensor means a more powerful processor, too, which also unlocks the door for 4K movie capture.
Just like with the also-announced X100F the X-T20 comes with Fuji's latest autofocus setup. That means 325 focus points, available in full or 91-point arrangements; 49 of which are phase-detection points arranged to the centre 40 per cent of the focus area. That's a big jump compared to the X-T10's 15 phase-detection points.
Fujifilm X-T20 preview: How does it perform?
- Built-in 0.39in 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- 3-inch LCD tilt-angle screen resolution now 1.04m-dot
It was only at the end of our Fuji shooting day we got to handle the X-T20 - we'd invested a heap of time into using the X100F compact and GFX 50S medium format system - to get a feel for the camera. In the fading light, however, it was tricky to capture a great deal - so good job we had the 50mm f/2.0 prime lens attached to the front.
The new autofocus system is an impressive arrangement though. Of its 325-points, there's a 91-point option, while the centre-most 49-points are phase-detection based for optimum performance. The more sensitive points are outlined as distinct, larger squares so you know what's what, while that touchscreen control makes it ultra-easy to nab the focus position as you please.
That's what really makes this Fuji standout from its peers. Even the higher-end X-T2 lacks the touchscreen provision, so it's obviously viewed as a more "entry" feature by the Japanese company. Or perhaps not, as it's also featured in its £6,500 medium format camera. Either way, we're glad it's here and think it should be in all of Fuji's cameras.
The key thing the X-T20 lacks that the X-T2 and X100F feature is a focus lever to the rear, thus touchscreen is made all the more important here. It's a shame both features aren't available, as this little thumbable stick is really handy for delicately sifting between focus points.
The Fujifilm X-T20's biggest issue is nothing to do with its own performance: it's the presence of the Panasonic Lumix G80, which can be bought with a lens for the same body-only price as this Fuji. That makes for a tough decision.
But while the Panasonic is like the brains of the mirrorless camera world - it's hugely capable, with 4K modes, Pinpoint autofocus and weather-sealing - the Fuji X-T20 is the heartfelt, retro-styled champion. And sometimes it's better to listen to your heart, right?
As a standalone camera, the X-T20 delivers the optimum image quality in our view. It's the same quality as you'll find from X-T2 or X-Pro2, which is nothing short of exceptional (although 24MP is heavier to work with on a laptop).
Sure, it might lack the weather-sealing or the lower price-tag, but the overall look, feel, performance and results make for a surefire success - even with just the kit lens attached to the front.
Just like its X-T10 predecessor, the X-T20 is retro done right, with all your modern technological wants embedded within.
The alternatives to consider...
Panasonic Lumix G80
If you're after a DSLR-style mirrorless camera than, pound for pound, Panasonic offers the most viable option on the market in the G80. It's feature packed, just like the Fuji, which makes the choice between the pair all the trickier.
Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix G80 review: Affordable foray into 4K
The bigger brother model might be pricier than the X-T20, but it comes with a handful of higher-end features that may be of more interest: weather-sealing, twin card slot, a more substantial buffer, plus with the optional grip attached a burst mode and continuous autofocus ability like no other mirrorless camera on the market (we're ignoring Sony's A99 II as that has a mirror...)
Read the full review: Fujifilm X-T2 review: A new benchmark for the mirrorless market
Canon EOS 80D
Ok, ok, so it's not a mirrorless camera. But whether you use the 80D via its rear LCD screen or via its viewfinder the results are still great. If you're more finder inclined then perhaps this is the savvier option to choose of all, given just how snappy its to-the-eye autofocus setup is. You'll have to forego the 4K capabilities which all the others above include, however.
Read the full review: Canon EOS 80D review: The mid-range master