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Why the new Fujifilm X-S20 is a big step up

3 minute read

Amidst a constant stream of new cameras, the $1299 Fujifilm X-S20 stands out for the features it offers vloggers and more and is a serious upgrade over the X-S10.

Content creators have a lot to look forward to the end of June (specifically June 29) when Fujifilm releases its latest APS-C offering, the X-S20. The X-S20 builds upon its predecessor the X-S10 with such new features as V-Log, larger capacity battery, and significantly enhanced video capabilities.

For those who are less familiar with the Fujifilm offerings, the X-S20 will retain the same compact form factor as its predecessor weighing a mere 490g (17oz) including battery. The handgrip is slightly larger owing to the larger battery and represents an ergonomic improvement to an already comfortable handgrip enjoyed by its users. Merely looking at photos of the top controls reveal larger controls which are logically positioned. It retains its position as a beginner to intermediate user level camera but with the addition of the Vlog mode, it can definitely reach an expanded user base.


Video chops

The camera is based around Fujifilm’s 26MP X-Trans BSI-CMOS sensor with on-sensor phase detection focusing. Its 5-axis IBIS is rated to 7 stops. It supports UHS-II SD media through its single card slot and has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity as would be expected. While the camera will be offered body only, there will also be two kit packages including either a 15-45mm or 18-55mm zoom.

What is most significant for us at RedShark is, of course, its video capabilities and these represent the major upgrades over the S10.

While the 26MP sensor remains the same, the new X Processor 5 boosts resolution and bit depth to 4K/60 10-bit internal recording. At a 3:2 aspect ratio, resolution is 6.2K.  Note that 6.2K recording is limited to 30fps. Fujifilm has now added log recording with its F-Log2 profile at a native ISO 1250 base. It can output RAW through HDMI to a compatible external recorder in—now get this!—in either ProRes RAW or Blackmagic RAW. This is an option that honestly I would wish all manufacturers would offer.

One caveat here is continuous record time. Fujifilm tested the camera in its most processor-intensive mode, 3:2 6.2K and they came up with only 36 minutes continuous prior to overheating. But adding the optional FAN-001 (it’s an external fan—such clever nomenclature and such a clever idea that again other manufacturers should emulate), this continuous recording time is increased to 78 minutes. Now I must say that coming from the traditional video camera and production world, I have rarely shot a continuous 36 minute take let alone 78 minutes. But in this new world of Vlog, long continuous interview shoots and non-traditional filmmaking, it is very good to know that Fujifilm is realistic about and sensitive to overheating issues.

There are a few great new focusing modes, particularly the Product Priority mode. Looks like a little AI masking magic going on here. Setting a Background Defocus mode will blur out background (read here - depth of field) and may be just the thing for a user more limited in lens choices, apertures and, dare I say it — skills —, to create much more visually appealing images. This works in both still and video modes.

But the most important addition in this market segment is the Vlog mode. Using the optional handgrip and using the multi-angle touch screen, the X-S20 becomes the latest entry into the vlogging world. Camera settings can be easily changed by the vlogger on the touchscreen even while recording. There are dual3.5mm jacks on the body for external microphone and headphone monitors.

And it can function as a webcam by simply connecting it to a computer via its USB-C port.

Serious camera, non-serious price

While we here are videocentric, this new generation of hybrid cameras enables us to have greater experience with still photography expanding our creativity as well as business opportunities. Still photography with this camera has a major advance of its auto mode which not only suggests best settings for the shooting scenario but also detects subjects. The X-S20 can detect birds, animals, humans, cars and really just about anything that moves.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the S20 is its price. Announced US retail for body only is $1299 rising to $1399 with the 15-45mm kit lens and $1599 with the 18-55mm kit lens. This still might be a little short on the telephoto end for many users, but there are a wide assortment of both Fujifilm and third-party X mount lenses on the market and these offerings are growing as the X mount platform attracts more new users.

The Fujifilm X-S20 has a lot going for it and is a welcome addition to the options that creatives now have. Its opening price point is favourable for new users and despite its positioning as beginner-intermediate, it has all of the specs to create serious content. We look forward to its release and to seeing real world examples of its capabilities.

Tags: Production