Fujifilm XT20

I’ve been obsessed for years with having a camera I could carry with me at all times. My normal cameras are too big. For awhile I carried a Canon 6D with a pancake 40mm 2.8 on it, but I kept finding myself leaving it behind because it was still too big. A couple of years ago, I purchased a Fuji X100T and it had the size and image look I wanted, but the controls were dismal. I found myself using my phone instead, because I have my iPhone rigged up for quick and easy control. I sold the Fuji X100T and just adopted my iPhone.

This year I revisited this idea of having an everyday walk around camera. I fussed about it for a while. I wanted a camera that was light enough to would allow me to forget it was on my shoulder. I wanted a camera that could shoot jpgs that were super close to what I wanted from my final images. I wanted a camera that could connect to my phone for easy sharing. I needed it to be able to have a profession application in some capacity. I think YouTube was worn out from all the videos I watched. Every website on the planet served me ads for new cameras. My mind was numb from the search. Then I found the Fuji XT20.

Fuji XT20 as imaged with a iPhone 8 plus

Fuji XT20 as imaged with a iPhone 8 plus

This almost didn’t happen. I’m a Canon user. I have a whole series of digital Canon cameras. The main runner up camera was the Canon EOS M50, until I found a local Best Buy that had all the cameras on display and I found my hands worked the Fuji XT20 better. It had a very Canon-like dial arrangement that wasn’t even present on the EOS M50. That feature alone was worth the price difference.

A selection of Canon DSLR cameras imaged with a FUJI XT20

A selection of Canon DSLR cameras imaged with a FUJI XT20

I’ve carried the Fuji XT20 with me everywhere for about a month now. It excels as a camera to always have near for family documentary work. Here are some images made in the first days of having it. These are either edited in camera or not edited at all, straight jpg from the camera. Mostly likely they were all using the kit lens on the camera, the 16-50mm 3.5to5.6 but I may have used a manual lens as well.

The camera was easy to program and figure out. It had a slight learning curve over the cleaner menu designs of the Canon cameras, but nothing too troubling. The dials on the front and back are programmable, and made it simple to make my mind understand how to use it. My only immediate concern was the low light performance out of the box. I felt hindered by the kit lens and a perception of noise in the images when I went above 1600 ISO. I’m not as concerned about that noise now after using the camera and comparing it the Canon 6D Mk2 that I use for work. While the 6D Mk2 had less noise, the noise it did have was less pleasing. The noise structure of the Fuji reminds me a lot of the noise in the original Canon 5D, which always felt right. Adding something to an image rather than taking it away.

The Fuji XT20 is like a compact professional camera. It has done just about everything I’ve asked it to, one of the first things was to test out using it as a portrait camera. Again I was held back by my limited lens selection but I think it did well on capturing my family over the holidays.

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When I first picked it up I was shooting RAW + JPG and it burned through cards. A raw file is about 50MB, and the JPG another 13 or so. I shoot a lot, so that added up quick. I loved the look of JPGs created using the camera but I want raw flexibility in case I need to do some heavy lifting on the images. Then I stumbled on the in camera raw conversion. Now my workflow is to shoot RAW with the Film Simulation set to what I think I want (I mostly like Black and White). Then I edit in camera only the ones I want to share, export them as JPG, share to my phone and then share to the world. When I backup the card to the computer, I keep them all but the JPGs are right there ready for me to keep close to the heart.

The camera immediately started doing it’s job of giving me opportunity to explore concepts and emotions with images on a daily basis. Images I might not make if I had to set them up, or if my iPhone wouldn’t have been able to render them the way I wanted. Images I might not show except maybe once on instagram, but images like that are needed to build your art and explore your practice. Anything that inspires you to explore is worth it’s weight in gold.

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So far, I have used the camera in light rain, snow and really cold weather and it hasn’t dropped a beat. That’s to be expected for a higher end consumer camera. I don’t plan on dropping it in water or freezing it in the freezer, as the camera isn’t considered weather resistant.

Two of these images were created by Nicole Parigo. The ones with me in them.

Two of these images were created by Nicole Parigo. The ones with me in them.

The Fujifilm XT20 fits everything I wanted from a camera for personal use. I’m still not sure if it is what I need for any professional use (it wasn’t designed for that but it could be a gateway drug to other Fuji cameras). I took it out on a few photography assignments. It performs well on anything slow paced that doesn’t require a larger sensor. I haven’t been able to figure out a flow with it and my mind in order to make high speed stuff work yet. Maybe my hands are too big to focus or adjust the controls quick enough. Maybe I don’t understand why sometimes a menu will pop up and sometimes it won’t. Maybe having to drag my shutter too much to compensate for the horrible f stop on the kit lens is causing me grief. I’ll figure it out soon, and if I can make it work, then I might just debate switching to Fuji more often, or at least investing in more lenses.

These images are from a UMKC basketball game I shot on January 24th 2019.

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All of the images in this post except for the image of the Fuji XT20 were created with the Fujifilm XT20. The kit lens being a 16-50mm 3.5-5.6. I also used a 7artisans 25mm 1.8 manual lens for a lot of the work you see here. I really like that lens. Just like using the Fuji, the manual lens throws me back to a simpler time. I find it interesting that when using it I don’t seem to care if my focus is slightly off, but when I switch to an autofocus lens I’m hyper critical of that.

Most the images in this post are straight out of the camera, or converted from raw inside the camera. The basketball coverage was edited in Adobe Color within Lightroom to match my other cameras. I haven’t had a chance to run a lot of video on it, but since most my side jobs are video work, you bet that’ll be in the cards soon!

If you are thinking of buying a personal walk around camera that has many of the features of a professional camera, you can’t really go wrong with this little beauty. If you get a smaller lens on it (like the 7artisans 25mm), it’s a knock out!

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