Fujifilm’s X-S20 camera has a new processor and a $300 higher asking price

Fujifilm has a new entry-level-ish camera for its X line of APS-C mirrorless cameras, hoping to find a sweet spot for hybrid photo and video creators. It’s introducing the new $1,299 X-S20 camera, $799 XF 8mm f/3.5R WR super-wide lens, and a new X App at its ongoing X Summit Bangkok. While the new app will try to pick up the pieces and outdo its predecessor’s abysmal App Store review score on May 25th, the camera and lens are both set to launch around June 29th.

That sweet spot, in Fujifilm’s eyes, for the X-S20 means the latest processor of the X-H2 duo and the X-T5 is combined with the same sensor as the last-gen X-S10. While this means the new X-S20, which is $300 pricier than its predecessor, mind you, is limited to the same last-gen 26 megapixels of resolution, it now pushes its video output to 6.2K (up from 4K) with the option for Apple ProRes footage. 

There’s that small taste of the vlog life, right on the mode dial.Image: Fujifilm

Of the current Fujifilm lineup, the X-S20 (like its predecessor before it) has a more DSLR-like body and design, lending itself better to video than the retro rangefinder-like cameras Fujifilm built its popularity with. Within the X lineup, you have to jump much higher up to the X-H2 and X-H2S for these style bodies, but the X-S20 provides some familiarity for those moving from other camera brands.

The other big changes and trickle-downs for the X-S20 include a seven-stop in-body image stabilization system, a new subject-tracking autofocus system with a product priority mode for focusing on items held up to the camera (like Sony’s Product Showcase), 4K webcam streaming, more than twice the battery life of the X-S10, and a larger grip and buttons for better ergonomics. 

It also goes one step further for creators with a Vlog mode, calling up simplified, touch-friendly controls relevant to self-recording, such as a one-touch background defocus mode that automatically sets the lens to its widest aperture. However, another spot that’s an unfortunate holdover from the prior generation is the somewhat small electronic viewfinder — perhaps not a big deal for vloggers, though probably not ideal for eyeglass wearers hoping to have an easier view through the camera.

The X-S20 owes its big battery gains to, well, a bigger battery. It uses the NP-W235 battery, just like the X-H2 and X-H2S.Image: Fujifilm

While the X-S20 looks like a promising fit for someone who needs quality video over high-resolution stills and is on a modest budget, it still sits squarely in the enthusiast realm. A pro may find its video options like 4K / 60p recording and 4:2:2 10-bit with F-Log2 profile appealing, though being limited to just one UHS-II SD card slot is often a deal breaker.

Jack-of-all-trades or camera identity crisis?

As for the lens launching alongside the X-S20, the new XF 8mm f/3.5R WR is now the widest prime lens for the X system (equivalent to a 12mm focal length on 35mm full-frame format). It’s quite a compact and small optic, though it’s weather resistant for withstanding the elements should you venture out to use it for tasks such as astrophotography — which Fujifilm claims it is usable for.

While Fujifilm’s higher-end offerings of the last year have opted for higher resolution or speedy stacked sensors, it’s interesting to see this last-gen X-Trans sensor continue on in the X-S20. Perhaps Fujifilm is testing the waters to make the X-S20 a catch-all camera, as it’s upping its video chops but not quite dedicating itself to #vloglife like Sony has on its ZV line. And yet, it’s not cutting in the other direction and catering to Luddites like some of its retro designs often tease. Much like how Fujifilm’s APS-C sensors are either the sweet spot in sensor size or an awkward compromise to full-frame (depending on who you ask) — the X-S20 may either look like a camera that suffers from an identity crisis or be a nice jack-of-all-trades.