Last Updated on 05/24/2023 by Chris Gampat
For a while now, I’ve been dreaming of more Fujifilm SLR-style cameras without a pronounced grip. For that, I really like the XT30 style of camera. There are lots of photographers that would really prefer the newly announced Fujifilm XS20, though. Specifically, we think that there are vloggers who wish for the Fuji ergonomics and colors. But even if you’re not shooting video, there’s a fair amount to like with the new Fujifilm XS20.
Editor’s Note: The Phoblographer received a pre-production sample of the Fujifilm XS20. All previews you find on the web are probably with similar units. We’re very forthright about letting people know this, and our full review is coming only after we have a production sample. You can read more about our policies here.
- No weather sealing
- New vlog mode with better touch screen capabilities
- Single card slot
- Folding and swivel LCD screen
- It has a joystick
- All the AI scene detection of Fujifilm’s newer cameras.
- Claims of 7 stops of IBIS
- 26MP X Trans APS-C 4th generation sensor, so it’s not the newest one
- 5th generation processor, which is working in tendem with the older sensor.
- Body is $1,299. 18-55mm kit is $1,599
- Claims of significantly improving the autofocus
- Insect and drone detection was added
- Film simulation Auto mode
- 2.36 million dot EVF with a 100 fps refresh rate
Here’s a look at the Fujifilm XS20. As you can see, there are no controls on the front of the camera. But there is a big, chunky grip if you’re into that kind of thing.
Turn to the top of the camera and you’ll spot various controls. Here you’ll see the new vlog mode on the dial as well as a filter mode like its predecessor. The camera also has the ISO button, quick menu button, record button, and controls up top.
On the back of the Fujifilm XS20, you’ll find the big LCD screen, joystick, and a few buttons to help you accomplish what you want. You can also use gesture swipes on the touchscreen to access more controls.
The LCD screen tilts out and swivels.
Also on the side, you can spot another dial in addition to a pop-up flash control. By default, this dial is set to film simulation control. But it would’ve been incredible to give it control to select the various subject detection options. Even if you try to wire it via custom settings, you’ll see that it’s impossible.
The new Fujifilm XS20 is not weather resistant, so don’t even bother there. The XS20 has a comfortable grip for when you’re walking around shooting photos. But I also kind of yearn for a smaller camera body without the grip. Fujifilm had a few of these over the years in the SLR style. Theoretically, if they’re targeting this camera at the vlogging market, they’re going to put it on a tripod or a gimbal anyway. So why would the grip matter?
Despite my indifference towards the grip, I’m aware that so many will love it.
Overall though, this camera feels like a retro-style camera that has been stripped of its retro identity. It makes me wonder if Fujifilm really learned anything with the XH2 and XH2s sales being made into a ming tree compared to the XT5.
Ease of Use
For the life of me, I cannot understand why Fujifilm wouldn’t give the XS20 a fully touchscreen menu system. When you switch the camera into vlog mode, it gives you a few more options like product-priority focusing mode, face detection, and more. Fujifilm displays all of this with big, beautiful icons that are enough to make the most stoic Fujifilm photographers believe themselves deficient for requesting it for several years.
The Fujifilm XS20 also lacks buttons and controls in sensible places. For example, the joystick should be higher around where the buffering light is positioned. The button around the viewfinder is odd as well. However, the pleasant surprise comes with the pop-up flash. Fujifilm missed an opportunity here to have it double as an LED light for videographers.
Alas, the Fujifilm XS20 will leave the most experienced Fujifilm photographers wanting more.
One more fun addition: Fujifilm removed the filters from the drive setting. Instead, it now has its own mode.
The really cool thing here is the focus. Even with an older lens like the 35mm f1.4 R, the camera focuses very quickly. We tried it during street photography situations. And despite knowing that many other cameras can do it better, we weren’t bothered too much with the autofocus performance here because of just how nice the image quality is. Despite this, the autofocus has stuff like animal detection, planes, and more.
These are all JPEGs from a pre-production Fujifilm XS20 camera. Overall, the rendering is very nice. And we think that this is what photographers will be least concerned about, considering that Fujifilm already does such an exemplary job.
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
So far, I think that the Fujifilm XS20 is a capable camera. But it’s designed for those who don’t reach for the higher end fruits that we do. We’ve seen more camera manufacturers try to get back into this market after taking a break from them during the pandemic. And I’m very curious to see how the budget market responds.