By Antonio Malara
I own two huge, professional full frame DSLR, and over the last few years I looked for a new camera to put alongside these two, but I wanted a small one. Lately the market saw I big success of the mirrorless camera system so I started to follow opinions and reviews on the web.
The mirrorless cameras don’t have the mirror, this is a good and a bad thing at the same time. The good thing is that the body it’s slimmer compared to a DSLR while one of the negative thing is that you have to use an electronic viewfinder. There are mirrorless with different size sensors, the APS-C (smaller sensor), the full frame (the 35 mm) and lately even medium format (the top one). The biggest is the sensor the better image quality you get. Of course the big sensor increase the camera volume.
I was interested in an APS-C camera especially after I saw some good images on the web, taken with this kind of system. For this type of camera there was lots of positive feedback for the Fujifilm ones. After lots of time spent on the internet looking for sample pics, downloading raw sample files and editing them, I decided that the Fujifilm XT20 was the perfect camera for my needs.
The X-T20 has an APS-C sensor (23.6 x 15.6 mm) 24.3 megapixels, an ISO range of 200-12800 it shoot video in 4K, it has wi-fi and a touch screen display that is also tilt and shift (good especially for videos or for pics with strange perspectives). All this brings to good quality but beyond this what I like more are the dimensions. I bought the camera in bundle with the 15 to 55 2.8 lens and believe me, all fits in the palm of my hand. I was excited at the idea of having a small camera which can produce high quality images. In fact I needed a camera for those occasions where I will never bring with me a big DSLR but at the same time I’m not satisfied of the phone pics. This camera is the best solution (but expensive) because thanks to wi-fi I can transfer the images on my phone, edit and share. This camera is perfect for some small events, some trips on islands or beach and why not sometimes I bring it with me during my walks so I can produce cool pics for social platforms.
On the field the XT 20 didn’t disappointed me. I brought with me with a small lace that I bought separately instead of the necklace, this means that the weight is easy to manage. Shooting with this camera is a different experience compared to a DSLR. You can see the exposure changing on the display in real time and for me has been natural to take pics using it instead of the viewfinder. Doing this make you feel like you’re using a smartphone. I tried but I haven’t feel comfortable to shoot with the viewfinder, it’s small and the colors looks unreal.
Pics after pics I noticed that the quality was as I expected, it was also easy to change settings during the shoots. As I always do I tried to do dark exposure to create a HDR style on post production. The camera surprised me for his speed, the auto focus is fast enough to let you control the scene. This is very important when you want to create dynamic pics without using the continuous shoot. What I notice is that the camera fails a little when you try to push up the auto focus with the flash on. If you’re fast the flash won’t work properly.
Transferring the images using the wi-fi is really simple. Personally I customized the FN button on the top near the “on off” switch, to do this. Once you push it, you find the network with your phone or tablet. Once you’re connected, open the “Fujifilm cam remote” app (you need to download it first) and push the “transfer” button. You can slide the pics on the camera and transfer the ones you want pushing “ok”, it’s really fast.
For a camera that is a great compromise between portability and good image quality there are also little things that I don’t like. The camera has only one slot for SD card and at the beginning I thought it was enough (the slot is placed in a bad position, beside the battery, it’s really difficult to eject and insert the card in the slot). Later I found out that only jpeg files can be transferred from the camera to a smartphone or tablet. This means that I have to choose the Raw+Jpeg mode (the raw for computer editing and the jpeg for instant sharing). In this way I have to use a big capacity memory (that is always a risk, I don’t like to have 800 pics in one memory card) and when I transfer it in the computer the two different files are one next to another (same picture in two different format) so it’s a little boring to separate the files. Having two memory slots can let you the option to save a different format for each memory.
Another thing that could be better (but actually I thought it was worse than it is) is the battery life. Supposing you’re in travel, you have to charge the battery every night. I tested it using the camera starting at 11 in the morning till 7 pm. Let’s say that you can shoot around 400 pics in a single charge. It’s nothing compared to a DSLR but it’s not bad (if you buy a spare battery you solve the problem and be able to use the camera for the whole day).
This camera produce a 40 megabytes raw file and 10 mega jpeg. It’s definitely a big size file, those are number of big resolution DSLR body (in fact this files are the same size of my Nikon D800). I tried to edit the same pic in the same way but first in jpeg using Lightroom mobile and then the raw using camera raw with my Mac. I have to say that the camera produce a great jpeg, when I did the pics comparison on the iPhone display the jpeg edited on the phone was looking similar to that one that I edited on camera raw (of course I’m talking about colors, the raw edited on the Mac still has more information and looks better on the Mac)
I noticed that many times I forgot the camera turned on, this because there’s no light that indicates his status.
In conclusion this camera is perfect for many different uses, it’s for sure the best choice if you don’t want a big DSLR. With it you can do professional jobs for your website (for bloggers), you can face a long travel (but don’t forget to bring with you a spare battery) or you can just brought the camera with you to catch the moment and share them. This toy is priced at 1.149€ in bundle with the 18-55 f2.8 lens. Technologically speaking, I think it’s overpriced like all the camera out there (considering that this camera body is manufactured in China and the lens in the Philippines). With a 1.000€ smartphone you have good pics (not at the same level of course) but you can do other different things. Nowdays cameras have only the wi-fi, the touch screen (a ten year old technology) that is improved alongside image quality. A real operation system would be the first thing to put inside new cameras. A software that can be updated easier. For DSLR beyond this they should be more compact and lighter, if you sell me a camera for 5.000€ I pretend that the material is at least carbon fiber. I don’t believe that cameras producers will take this way. I think that in the near future most of people will use smartphone for almost all kind of pics, the camera lines will be used only by professionals photographers. Technology will kill all that is in the middle.
Photo: Antonio Malara