FUJIFILM X-S20 Review – EXCELLENT Mid-Range Camera with 6.2K/30p 3:2 Open Gate, 4K/60p, Vlog Mode and More

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The new FUJIFILM X-S20 was just announced, and we were lucky enough to play with it for some time. In many ways, this is a very exciting camera, as it can become a true companion, especially if you are a family member who is seeking to give your mobile phone a rest and take better photos, a content creator who needs a reliable camera to share recorded content with the world, a video enthusiast who wants to explore and document, or, a professional working filmmaker who always wanted to have that “go to” camera, regardless of how big or small the job is. I’m aware, I’m already raising expectations in the first paragraph, but during the time I spent with it, this small camera managed to excite me over and over again. Please bear with me as I try to explain why this mid-range camera is one of the most versatile I ever tested.

The FUJIFILM X-S20 is here, and in my opinion, it is the best middle-class camera out there. In fact, it is like having 5 cameras in one body: a photo camera, webcam, “normal video camera”, vlogging camera, and what I call a “creative camera”.

Now, in this new age of camera announcements, I bet you see many videos highlighting the vlogging capabilities of a new camera, which is nice, but if you are a filmmaker and looking beyond vlogging or even “normal filming”, there is a unique feature in this small camera which, in my opinion, cannot be found elsewhere in this price category.

Ungraded 6.2K 3:2 Open Gate image
Ungraded 6.2K 3:2 open gate image. Credit: CineD

New: 6.2K 3:2 open gate recording

While the X-S20 can do a lot, I would like to start my review by mentioning its most attractive feature, especially for those who want to get the most out of the new camera, and I’m talking about the option to film in 6.2K resolution (6240 x 4160) and 3:2 open gate recording (full-sensor). So, why am I so excited about this?

To my knowledge, until now, it was not possible to film using these settings on an APS-C sensor size camera in this price range. This particular option opens the door for several enhancements in your filming and editing workflow.

SIRUI 1.6x anamorphic lens on the X-S20
SIRUI 1.6x anamorphic lens on the X-S20. Image: CineD

Filming with anamorphic lenses

Maybe the most noticeable thing is the ability to attach an anamorphic lens and use the entire sensor when de-squeezing the image instead of adding “black bars” on the top and bottom to imitate a “cinematic look”.

Recording aspect ratio calculation
Recording aspect ratio calculation. Image: CineD

Yes, a similar feature can be found on the much more expensive X-H2S. Actually, the only difference is the recording codec. In the new camera, FUJIFILM implemented H.265, ALL-Intra, 4:2:2, 10-bit internal recording at 360Mbps, which is robust enough to get excellent results while doing casual creative work. At this point, it is worth mentioning that on both the X-H2S and X-S20, it is NOT possible to de-squeeze the image for viewing. (By now, I am convinced my brain has a de-squeeze mode…).

In the above video, I teamed up with Peter Koblhirt, who is a professional chef, and we spent a few hours together. We recorded everything with the FUJIFILM X-S20 together with the SIRUI Saturn 35mm 1.6X anamorphic lens, which costs $1,299, the same as the camera.

SIRUI 1.25x adapter on a SIRUI 1.6x anamorphic lens
SIRUI 1.25x adapter on a SIRUI 1.6x anamorphic lens. Credit: CineD

For the “sake of experimenting”, I also tried working with SIRUI’s 1.25x anamorphic adapter attached to the Saturn 1.6x in order to see what the image looks like when bringing it to 2x anamorphic squeeze (see the interview and outdoor shots), but in reality, if you are looking for a perfect 2.40.1 aspect ratio on a 3:2 sensor, then 1.6x squeeze is the way to go!

Diopters for the rescue
Diopters for the rescue. Image: CineD

SIRUI’s Saturn 35mm T2.9 full-frame anamorphic lens deserves an all-separate conversation (really nice for the size, weight, and price overall). But for now, let me mention that since its minimum focus distance leaves a lot to be desired, I had to use diopters for the food close-up shots.

Filming in 6.2K, 3:2 with a spherical lens

I can hear you asking if recording in 3:2 is the best way to film when working with anamorphic lenses, and the answer is absolutely yes! Depending on your final export, you can use the footage that you shot with your spherical lens on a 16×9 timeline for reframing your shot, or even create a vertical video, which is very common these days.

External recorders from Atomos and BMD can BOTH record in 6.2K 3:2 up to 30p and 5.2K 16:9 up to 60p.
External recorders from Atomos and BMD can BOTH record in 6.2K 3:2 up to 30p and 5.2K 16:9 up to 60p. Image: CineD

External RAW recording

For those who are seeking an even higher recording quality beyond what the internal recording offers, with the X-S20 you can output a RAW video signal via HDMI in 6.2K 3:2 open gate in up to 30p, and 5.2K 16:9 up to 60p to Atomos or Blackmagic Design recorders. And no, simultaneous internal and external recording is beyond the capabilities of the camera.

FUJIFILM sensors and processors – mix & match

OK, so we have, let’s call it a “3:2 creative mode” which, by the way, cannot be found in the more expensive FUJIFILM X-H2 and X-T5 cameras. I find it interesting, especially as the new X-H and X-T models from FUJIFILM have the newer X-trans 5 CMOS sensor, while the X-S20 still uses the older X-trans 4. But as we know, the sensor is only part of the story, and the X processor found in the X-S20 is the newest, meaning the processor 5. This might explain the power that this new camera has in order to record 3:2 internally but leaves the question open. Why not the X-H2 and X-T5?

Filming in 4K up to 60p

Next is what I call “normal video mode”, which is pretty much becoming standard on all the latest batches of FUJIFILM cameras. And I’m talking about 4K 16×9 and DCI 17×9 in up to 60p. I would emphasize that having a 4K/60p, ALL-I, 10bit, 4:2:2 in this mid-range camera is a very welcome edition (the image will be slightly cropped in 4K/50/60p). Couple that with impressive low-light capabilities and you have a little “all-rounder” working horse.

It is, of course, possible to film in 1080 up to 60p and in a high frame rate, too (up to 240fps). The recording quality of these high frame rates is like the one found in the X-T4 for example, so it’s fine, but nothing more.

By the way, HDMI external high frame rate recording up to 120p is possible too, but I didn’t have a chance to check the quality. (In general, I would have loved to see a better internal high frame rate recording quality which would make this little camera even more appealing).

FHD LP Mode in 16:9 or DCI 17:9 50/60p.
FHD LP Mode in 16:9 or DCI 17:9 50/60p. Image: CineD

New: full-HD LP mode

Extended continuous recording time in Full HD in 50 or 60p is a new setting that somehow creates a nostalgic feeling as FUJIFILM is using the LP (Long Play) mode. If you are a life veteran like me, I’m sure that the combination of those letters can bring sweet analog memories. Anyway, back to the review. If you set the camera to LP mode, it will crop the image a bit (1.29x as in high frame rate recording), and by doing so, less data is processed, allowing longer recording time. If you choose to use it, I do recommend setting the camera from “AUTO POWER OFF TEMP” to “HIGH” to get the most out of this mode.

Overheating test
Overheating test. Credit: CineD


Overheating issues in modern mirrorless cameras are an issue for many, and manufacturers are constantly trying to combat it in different ways. When I first saw the X-S20’s small camera body I was worried about it having very short recording times, especially in 6.2K, but to my surprise, we could shoot for about 1 hour and 55 minutes at room temperature before the battery got exhausted. Yes, the camera got hot, and yes, the overheating sign was there, but nonetheless, the camera kept working. Now, this was OUR experience and I’m truly looking forward to hearing feedback from you guys when the camera hits the market.

Oh, and speaking of which, if you are concerned about overheating, you can always add the FUJIFILM FAN 001 to the back of the camera for greater flexibility.

X-S20 vlog mode
X-S20 vlog mode. Credit: CineD

New: vlog mode

Nowadays, what is a new camera without a vlog mode? Okay, okay… In all seriousness, adding a mode like this might be beneficial for many, especially the “ageless” generation that loves to film, upload and share content. There are several advantages to filming in this mode. You can easily change the resolution, frame rate, film simulation, and other settings as needed (default settings are on FHD 30p and PROVIA film simulation). The second benefit is the reliability of the autofocus system in this mode.

X-S20 AF in Vlog mode
X-S20 AF in Vlog mode. Credit: CineD

While testing, I was constantly trying to confuse the AF by adding additional faces to my frame, but it stayed “locked” on my face. If you take a closer look at the photo above, you can notice the AF tracking points around my eyes.

XC 15-45mm lens and Bluetooth grip
FUJIFILM X-S20, XC 15-45mm lens and Bluetooth grip. Image: CineD

I also liked working with the TG-BT1 Bluetooth tripod grip together with the XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Lens compact zoom lens. With this tripod/lens setup, the camera becomes a complete vlogging kit that can be taken anywhere and used creatively.

Automatic Subject Detection Settings
Automatic Subject Detection Settings between Florian and Marly, his beloved dog. Credit: CineD

New: Automatic Subject Detection settings

Another exciting feature of the new camera is the ability to let it detect subjects and automatically set the focus on them. In the above image, you can see how AF first detects an “animal” and then changes to a “human” when the camera is on Florian. I checked on some of the more expensive FUJIFILM mirrorless cameras that we have at the office, and such a feature does not exist on any of them. Strangely, this helpful feature can be activated ONLY when the camera is in AUTO mode, which is a pity since it would serve well in “vlog” or even “normal” video mode, too! In the little experiment we did at the office, that Auto Subject Detection feature worked well on Florian, my colleague, and Marly, his beloved dog!

Subject Detection Setting in camera AUTO Mode
Subject Detection Setting in-camera AUTO Mode. Credit: CineD
Subject Detection Setting in Video Mode
Subject Detection Setting in Video Mode. Credit: CineD

Taking photos and using the camera a webcam

Well, this is of course obvious, but as it is beyond our capability to review the photo camera performance of the new X-S20, it is worth mentioning that it has a 26.1MP sensor and the camera can be connected directly to your PC with a USB-C. It can serve as a high-quality 4K/60p webcam without the need for any additional accessories.

Larger battery compared to the X-S10
Larger battery compared to the X-S10

Main differences from its predecessor, the X-S10

The new FUJIFILM X-S20 might look similar to the X-S10 from the outside, but the grip is a bit thicker because it accommodates a larger battery inside (the NP-W235).

Of course, the video capabilities of the new camera are enhanced because of the newer engine next to the stronger IBIS. As a reminder, the X-S10 could shoot internally in up to 4K/30p, H.264, 4:2:0, 8bit only, with a 30-min recording time, without the ability to record RAW video externally, and no headphone jack.

In conclusion, the X-S20 is a much more advanced camera, at least for filming video and that alone justifies the price increase from its predecessor, at least in my opinion.

X-S20 Rolling Shutter Effect measurements.
X-S20 Rolling Shutter Effect measurements. Credit: CineD
X-S20 DR cherts
X-S20 DR cherts. Credit: CineD

Lab Test summary

We also ran our Lab Test with the final firmware version of the camera and found out that the rolling shutter performance is average. When it comes to dynamic range, it really depends on the frame rate and resolution you decide to work on. We managed to get 13 stops of DR when the camera is set to 4K/25p

X-S20 shortcomings

Where this camera falls short is mostly when looking at the EVF. Its quality is just Fine, making it not so easy to focus manually (0.62x magnification, 2.36 million-dot Electronic vs. 0.8X 5.76Mil in the X-H2/S, for example).

Also, IBIS is okay, but in my opinion, other camera brands are doing a better job when it comes to stabilizing the image. I wish that stabilizing could be enhanced, as the potential is absolutely there.

Who is this camera for?

Last but not least, who is this camera for? Well, if you are a filmmaker who is already using a FUJIFILM camera like the X-H2S, the X-S20 might be a perfect companion, especially if you are shooting a lot with anamorphic lenses.

As for other creators, this camera might be very appealing too. It’s powerful, small, lightweight (491g with battery and card), easy to use, has great video quality, and can simply be taken anywhere. Drone operators might consider using this camera as well, because of its size and open-gate capabilities. Personally, I wish I had had such a camera years ago when I was filming documentaries for broadcasters around the world.

FUJIFILM X-S20. Small, powerful, capable
FUJIFILM X-S20. Small, powerful, capable. Image: CineD


At times, it sure feels like we live in a spoiled (filming) world. What was merely a dream only some years ago has become a reality thanks to “user demands” and the pressure from mobile phones that are performing better and better when it comes to taking photos and videos. That being said, the “mid-range” camera arena surely got upgraded with the introduction of this new filming device. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but such a feature-rich camera with up to 6.2K 3:2 open gate recording in ALL-Intra, 4:2:2 10bit internally, including F-Log2 with an APS-C sensor size at this price point is not so easy to find elsewhere.

If I have to summarize my conclusion in a sentence, it would simply be “a camera that one can grow up with”. You get “A LOT of camera” for $1,299 and, more importantly, it’s simply fun to use!

Pricing and availability

FUJIFILM X-S20’s expected delivery time is the end of June 2023, and next to the camera body only, there will be two available kits (in some territories):

FUJIFILM X-S20 Mirrorless Camera Body in Black with the FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Lens Kit: $1,399.95 

FUJIFILM X-S20 Mirrorless Camera Body in Black with the FUJINON XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens Kit $1,699.95 

What do you think about the FUJIFILM X-S20? Do you see some use for open-gate recording coexisting in a vlogging camera? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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