Hands on: Fujifilm X-S20 review

Fujifilm updates its do-it-all camera with extra battery life and 6K video, but is it a worthwhile upgrade?

Fujifilm X-S20 digital camera
(Image: © Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Early Verdict

The Fujifilm X-S20 is the perfect camera for most people, with its very straightforward controls, excellent fully automatic modes, it’s small and compact size, and its deceptively powerful processor capable of 6K video and subject recognition tracking, photo enthusiasts, content creators and vloggers will find a lot to love. The price is a little higher than the previous version, which might put some people off, although for the cost, you are getting a considerably capable camera that is more than enough for most user’s needs.


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    Small and compact size

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    6K30P video in 4:2:2 10-bit

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    Subject recognition and tracking autofocus

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    Bigger battery

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    Vari-angle screen for vlogging


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    Vlog mode isn’t well explained

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    Price might be too much for some

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Fujifilm’s X-S series of cameras are positioned as a versatile and user-friendly camera, aimed at enthusiast photographers, as well as content creators and vloggers that want a powerful camera that is also simple to pick up and use.

The Fujifilm X-S10 was released by Fujifilm in November 2020, and offered a lot of the cutting-edge Fujifilm tech at the time from Fujifilm’s larger cameras, such as the X-T4, but in a more compact and easier to use chassis. The X-S20 shares the same ethos, taking the processor and battery from Fujifilm’s latest flagship X-Series cameras. 

Fujifilm have been on a roll recently, releasing the very well received Fujifilm X-H2 and Fujifilm X-T5, while its X-Mount series of lenses has matured into a fully fleshed out system of great optics. Can the X-S20 continue Fujifilm’s run of success?

Fujifilm X-S20: Specifications

Sensor: 26.1MP Fujifilm X-Trans IV (APS-C)
Processor: Fujifilm X-Processor V
Photos: 14-bit RAW, HEIF, JPEG
Video: Up to 6K30P 4:2:2 10-bit internal, 4K60P, 1080HD240P
Stabilization: 5-axis in-body; 7-stops
Shutter: 1/4000 (mechanical) 1/32000 (electronic)
Continuous Shooting: up to 30fps (1.25x crop) or 20fps (no crop)
EVF: 2.36 million dot
Screen: 3-inch 1.84 million dot vari-angle LCD touchscreen
Storage: 1x UHS-II, SDXC, SD Card
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, USB-C, HDMI Micro
Battery: NP-W235 Li-ion battery, approx 800 frames
Weight: 491g

Fujifilm X-S20: Key Features

The standout feature of the X-S20 is its enhanced battery, which Fujifilm claims can capture an additional 800 frames on a single charge compared to the previous version. This significant improvement more than doubles the total number of shots achievable. To achieve this extended battery life, the X-S20 now utilizes the higher-capacity battery found in premium Fujifilm cameras like the Fujifilm X-T5 and Fujifilm X-H2.

Despite the improved battery, the X-S20 remains lightweight at just 491g, and its overall size and design mirror those of the previous model. It retains the previous model’s comfortable handgrip and simplified button and dial layout. The X-S20 has a 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder, and the fully articulating 1.84 million dot LCD screen, perfect for handheld vlogging.

Equipped with the previous generation X-Trans IV back-side illuminated CMOS sensor, the Fujifilm X-S20 delivers 26.1-megapixel images. Additionally, the camera incorporates 5-axis in-body image stabilization, providing up to 7 stops of stabilization when used with a compatible lens.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The X-S20 pairs this sensor with the latest X-Processor 5, enabling Fujifilm’s powerful new subject recognition and autotracking. Using deep learning technology, the camera can now recognize and track various subjects such as animals, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, airplanes, trains, insects, and drones. In AUTO mode, the X-S20 can automatically identify the subject, and adjust the camera settings for the optimum image.

The X-S20 now supports internal recording of 6.2K 30p video in 4:2:2 10-bit format. It can also output Apple ProRes RAW externally when connected to an Atomos device via HDMI or utilize Blackmagic RAW with the Blackmagic Design Video Assist 12G. Furthermore, the X-S20 allows for recording in Fujifilm F-Log, providing a wider range for color grading in post-production, along with 13+ stops of dynamic range. With its 4K capabilities up to 60p and 1080p HD at 240fps, the X-S20 offers versatile video recording options. Additionally, it includes a 3.5mm jack for audio recording.

A new feature introduced in the X-S20 is the "Vlog" mode on the main dial. This mode provides easy access to vlogging-specific settings, with large controls tailored for vlogging functions including Product Priority Mode, which enhances recognition and focus on products shown to the camera, and Background Defocus Mode, which increases background blur in videos. Additionally, the X-S20 can be connected to the TG-BT1 tripod grip for added control during recording.

In true Fujifilm fashion, the X-S20 supports all of Fujifilm's latest film simulations, offering a total of 19 classic looks that can be applied to both images and videos. These film simulations also function when using the X-S10 as a webcam for video calls or live streaming via the USB-C port.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Fujifilm X-S20: Build & Handling

The X-S20 fundamentally looks and feels the same as its predecessor. The body is the same, down to the button and dial layout, but this is no bad thing, as the X-S10 offered a much simpler and more versatile layout than many Fujifilm’s cameras, with its two main top dials being unmarked and customisable. By default, the one on the right is set to exposure compensation, and the left to film simulations, but these can be changed up to suit your style of shooting, and the dials are easy to turn, with satisfying clicks.

There are also a pletheora of buttons for the usual functions, there is an ISO and Q button up top for the camera quick menu, as well as a dedicated record button that can be used to immediately jump into video recording from any shooting mode. On the back, as well as the menu, display and playback buttons, there is an AF and AEL buttons, which are my two usual candidates for customization. Fujifilm cameras have always been quite customizable and the X-S20 is no different, which all the main function buttons and dials able to be changed.

The body itself is very compact, although manages to have a more considerable grip than other cameras of its small size, still not big enough to get all four of my fingers on the grip, but I found holding and using the camera, especially one handed, easy and comfortable. I also found the camera, (paired with the XF 18-55 or new XF 8mm), to be so light sometimes I forgot I had it slung over my shoulder. The X-S20 does feels great in the hand, it feels very solid and well made, the body isn’t weather sealed, which is a shame, but sacrifices have to be made to hit the cameras competitive price point.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The electronic viewfinder is good, is it not the largest or sharpest I have used, but it is clear and functional, with a smooth refresh rate. Shooting settings can be seen clearly in the EVF, but can be made bigger in the settings, which if you are anything like me, I find helpful when I forget what value I set lens aperture ring to. I do miss having an eyecup to rest against when composing images, as the hard ring of the X-S20 was occasionally uncomfortable.

The quality of the LCD screen on the back is good enough for reviewing pictures and video or changing settings, and can get quite bright, I found even in bright sun, it was still just about possible to compose images on the LCD. The screen bezels are quite chunky however, with a considerably larger bezel on the left, which is a shame on what is otherwise a very aesthetically pleasing camera. The screen is fully articulated however, which I found incredibly useful while testing and trying to shoot up high over obstacles and is essential for any vlogger.

Finally, there is a little pop up flash built into the top of the viewfinder, which seems to be becoming an increasing rarity in modern cameras. This is operated by a little lever on the left of the camera. Don’t expect huge illumination powers from this tiny light, but for portraits and as a fill light for sunny shots, it is hugely useful.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Fujifilm X-S20: Photo Performance

The 26.1-megapixel sensor in the X-S20 is more than enough to create exceptional images, especially if this camera is going to used primarily to capture memories or create content for social media. Larger megapixel counts can be tempting, but are often overkill, with increased file sizes and processing time during editing. The X-Trans IV sensor used in the X-S20 has been tried and tested in many Fujifilm of cameras before, and has always delivered on image quality, and the X-S20 is no different.

In my initial hands on with the camera I have been really impressed with the image performance, the images are incredibly sharp and detailed for a smaller APS-C sensor, even when cropping, I could crop in quite close and still have a very usable image. The dynamic range of the sensor is again very impressive for a sensor of the size, even when pushing the camera into Fujifilm’s 400% dynamic range mode, grain and artifacts were well controlled.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Of course, Fujifilm is renowned for its color science and Film Simulations, and I love the way JPEGs from this camera look, colors even in the standard Provia are beautifully rendered, although I personally love to swap into Velvia for some increased saturation, or Acros for arty black and white images. This camera is perfect for anyone who wants to play with the look of their photos without having to edit them extensively.

The biggest revelation is the camera's autofocus, it is very snappy, I found the camera almost instantly locked onto targets, and only really struggled or hunted when I was trying to focus at the near focus limit of the lens. The human subject tracking modes work excellently, with the camera picking up the eyes and faces of subjects nearly without fail. Although, I will have to test the other recognized subjects for tracking when I get more hands-on time with the camera.

Fujifilm X-S20: Sample image gallery

Fujifilm X-S20: Video performance

Video performance from the initial hands on first glace seems impressive, although I will have to wait until I get more footage into editing to see how it shines. One quick positive to mention is the in-body image stabilization, which has so far really impressed me, while filming handheld in very challenging situations like on a very bumpy speedboat or a Jeep hurtling down narrow lanes, the image stabilization has done a great job of keeping what would have otherwise been completely unable footage, at least somewhat steady.

I did find that the sensor would judder though if camera movements were too abrupt or exaggerated, which is noticeable on the final footage. There is also a boosted IS mode for more extreme stabilization situations, which I am keen to compare with the regular stabilization modes.

Fujifilm X-S20: Early verdict

The Fujifilm X-S20 offers a seamless shooting experience for users of all levels, with its intuitive and straightforward designed controls, the X-S20’s compact and portable form factor makes it convenient to carry around and capture stunning moments on the go but also hides deceptively powerful components. As well as stunning 26.1MP images, the X-S20's powerful processor enables the recording of high-quality 6K videos and also facilitates advanced subject recognition tracking making this camera an ideal choice for photo enthusiasts, content creators, and vloggers.

Although the increased price tag of the Fujifilm X-S20 may deter some potential buyers, it is important to consider the substantial value it offers, when weighing the features, controls, and portability of this camera versus the Fujifilm’s other more expensive options, the X-S20 offers probably one of the best camera experiences for most people.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.