Hands on: Fujifilm X-S20 review: mid-range marvel?

Everything that made the Fujifilm X-S10 excellent, and then some

What is a hands on review?
Fujifilm X-S20 camera in hand
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Fujifilm X-S20 simplifies stills photography and video content creation with a host of auto shooting modes that include a dedicated vlogging mode, automatic scene detection, and improved subject tracking. It also ups the video ante by offering 6K/30p 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording. Then there's the bigger battery, plus everything that made the X-S10 such a great all-rounder. It's a shame that these updates have warranted a steep price hike over that camera, which makes the X-S20 a hard sell when the older model is still excellent.


  • +

    Super-impressive video features

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    Excellent handling for beginners

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    Bigger battery capacity


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    Still no weather proofing

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The Fujifilm X-S20 takes on the mantle from the X-S10 as Fujifilm's mid-range mirrorless camera. If you're even remotely familiar with how to use a camera, the X-S20 is easy to use, while also offering features to keep more advanced users happy. 

Like the Fujifilm X-S10, the new camera is a very capable all-rounder, but the Japanese camera maker has added some new features that make the X-S20 feel more targeted towards entry-level users. There’s a dedicated Vlogging mode to simplify content creation, and new features have been added to the Auto photography mode that make taking pictures even easier.

But if the target audience for the Fujifilm X-S20 is, indeed, beginner photographers and content creators, then the price might be a sticking point, particularly since the X-S10 is still an excellent camera, and can be had for a lot less, even at full price. The X-S20 has big shoes to fill if it's also going to rank as one of our best cameras for beginners

Fujifilm X-S20 camera front with 8mm F3.5 lens attached

(Image credit: Future)

Fujifilm X-S20: release date and price

  • Announced May 24 2023
  • Available to buy from June 2023
  • Body-only price: $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,349

Fujifilm announced the Fujifilm X-S20 at the X Summit held in Bangkok on May 24, alongside a new wide-angle lens, the XF 8mm f/3.5 R WR. Both will be available from June 2023 around the world.

The camera body will set you back $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,349, while a single-lens kit with the XC 15-45mm costs $1,399 / £1,349 / AU$2,499. 

That’s a pretty steep price hike over the Fujifilm X-S10 which launched with a very reasonable body-only price of $999 / £949 / AU$1,699 in 2020. Admittedly, there are a whole bunch of new features here that arguably justify the price hike, but if you don’t necessarily need those features – which include double the battery capacity – then the X-S10 looks to be the more economical option for those looking for a very capable mirrorless camera.

The Fujifilm X-S20 body standing beside a kit lens

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Fujifilm X-S20: design

  • Physically identical to the Fujifilm X-S10
  • No weather sealing
  • Bigger battery

The Fujifilm X-S10 had a chunky grip and a really well-balanced body, and that's been inherited by the X-S20, which I'm all for. It sits very comfortably in the hand, especially for those with small mitts, and the button placements are just right.

Unlike the quintessential lots-of-dials Fujifilm design, the X-S series offers more simplified controls on the top plate. This should make it easy for people who are just beginning their photography or videography journey to get to grips with a relatively advanced camera.

The only change on the top plate is on the main PASM dial, with the Scene Position (SP) mode on the X-S10 replaced by a dedicated Vlog mode on the X-S20. 

The new camera remains compact, and weighs in at just 491g – that's 26g more than the X-S10, with the added weight coming from the physically larger and higher-battery capacity. The X-S20 gets the NP-W235 battery pack that's used in Fujifilm's medium-format cameras and which effectively doubles the shot life to about 800 (from 325 on the X-S10) on a full charge.

Those minor changes aside, the design of the X-S20 is largely identical to that of the X-S20 – and, disappointingly, given the price increase, that includes the lack of weather sealing. There's the same 2.36 million-dot viewfinder with a magnification of 0.62x, and the same 3-inch 1.84 million-dot fully articulating touchscreen.

As on the X-S10, instead of the D-pad controls found on Fujifilm's X-T cameras there are just three buttons beside the monitor and four along the top, each clearly labeled. The joystick controller offers good feedback when you use it to move the focus point or navigate the menu system.

Bolstering the dedicated Vlog and Movie modes are a 3.5mm audio input jack for attaching external mics, and a micro HDMI port for video capture to an external recorder – although, as mentioned, there's no weather sealing, so you'll need to be careful when shooting in inclement conditions outdoors.

A USB-C cable connects the camera to a PC for file transfer, and can be used to charge the battery in-camera.

The X-S20 handles remarkably well, even with a long lens attached. As a relatively petite person with small hands, I found it comfortable even to use the camera single-handed for some still shots, although I didn't quite trust myself or the camera's IBIS for steady video capture with one hand.

Fujifilm X-S20: features and performance

  • New Vlog mode
  • Easy Auto shooting features with better subject tracking
  • Proven sensor and better IBIS

While things remain more or less the same on the outside, a lot has changed on the inside to make the X-S20 a worthy upgrade for some – if you can spare the cash.

The new camera inherits the same 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor that's used in the X-S10 and the Fujifilm X-T4, so we already know how well it can perform, and speed and performance are improved courtesy of Fujifilm's latest-generation imaging engine, the X-Processor 5, which also makes the X-S20 a little less power-hungry.

To make the X-S20 even more beginner-friendly, Fujifilm has improved the Auto shooting mode, which can now automatically select an appropriate scene setting depending on what you're shooting – I photographed a riverside scene, and the camera made the colors in the images more vivid. The Auto mode can also now automatically detect a subject and track it, which is particularly handy for animals and video capture.

Subject-tracking autofocus can recognize people, animals (including birds and insects), cars, motorbikes, airplanes, trains, and even drones.

The dedicated Vlog mode is another ease-of-use improvement. Content creators using this mode have features like Product Priority and Background Defocus options available at a tap of a button, so they can get their videos looking the way they want without having to think about how to do this.

Fujifilm has also improved the in-body stabilization, upping the compensation from 6.5 stops in the X-S10 to seven stops, for better results when shooting video and low-light stills.

Fujifilm X-S20: image and video quality

  • 6K 'open gate' video and Full HD 240p slow motion
  • Same 26MP APS-C sensor as X-S10
  • 19 color profiles, plus filter effects

Further similarities between the X-S20 and the X-S10 include Fujifilm's plethora of color profiles – Fujifilm calls these Film Simulation modes – and filter effects. With Film Simulations such as the divine Fujifilm Acros and Nostalgic Neg just a scroll of the top-left dial away, the process of applying effects is beginner-friendly, and I found myself playing around with different looks more regularly than usual.

You can easily find a profile to adopt for various scenarios – I love Fujifilm Acros for bright sunny weather, for example. The filters have a dedicated place on the mode dial, while the Film Simulation modes – which are available for every shooting mode, including video – can be found in the Quick Menu (Q button) on the top plate. You can see what some of those filters and Film Simulations look like in the image galleries.

Auto mode subject tracking was a little hit and miss for me while trying to capture a pair of dogs playing, but the auto detection of scenes works like a charm.

Video capture has gone up a couple of notches on the Fujifilm X-S20, and what's on offer here is close to overkill for a camera at this level, with 6K open-gate 10-bit 4:2:2 video, plus options to shoot in ProRes RAW. 

Conversely, the Vlog mode makes it easy for less experienced users to get to grips with video capture. Image stabilization for movies is good, but on windy days and when shooting with a long lens a tripod is still a must.

Fujifilm X-S20 early verdict

The Fujifilm X-S20 simplifies both stills photography and video content creation. To do this, the company has added a dedicated Vlogging mode to the top dial, improved Auto shooting by adding automatic scene detection and better subject tracking, and upped the video ante by offering 6K/30p 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording. It also gets a bigger battery, plus everything that made the X-S10 a great all-rounder. However, these updates have warranted a steep price hike over its predecessor, which makes it a hard sell when the older model is still excellent.

Timothy Coleman
Cameras editor

Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other. 

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