Gear

Fujifilm X-E3 vs X-T20 – Which One Should You Get?

Well then. You’ve decided that you want a mirrorless camera and it’s going to be a Fujifilm model. Can’t blame you there. The X Series represents a beautiful synthesis of image quality, handling and style. And affordability too, because if you have around £1000 to spend there are several excellent models in the current lineup to choose from. Here are two: the X-E3 and X-T20.

Now the headache starts. With the models similarly spec’d and Fujifilm’s latest firmware update likely to widen the feature list of the older X-T20, which one is for you? Let’s compare them to find out…

With the same X-Trans III sensors at their hearts, the X-E3 and X-T20 should produce identical image quality.

Image quality

The X Series renowned image quality is one of the main reasons that people choose the system. In terms of deciding between the X-E3 and X-T20 then, it’s fortunate that they have the same 24.3MP 23.6×15.6mm APS-C format X-Trans III CMOS sensors and X-Processor Pro image processors at their hearts, producing richly detailed 6000×4000 files. Image quality should therefore be identical between the two.

They also share the same range of 15 Film Simulation modes, including the recent additions of Classic Chrome and Acros, so there’s plenty of creative potential there.

There’s a small difference when it comes to ISO range, with a few more extended Low settings on the X-E3 (ISO 100, 125 and 160); the X-T20 only has ISO 100, then jumps to base ISO 200. While the extra settings are welcome, they’re by no means a decider.

Design & build

Body style is one of the main things that separates the two cameras. The X-E3 has a more rangefinder-styled look, with a flattened top plate, while the X-T20’s EVF breaks the line giving it a design closer to a traditional DSLR.

There’s another difference in the 3in, 1040k dot LCD screen; on the rangefinder-style X-E3 it’s fixed, while on the X-T20 it can be tilted up and down. Both are touch-sensitive.

The cameras’ weights and dimensions, are keenly balanced, too, with the 333g X-T20 being only about 50g heavier than the 287g X-E3 (about the same as carrying a golf ball with you). In dimensions the X-T20 is taller and with its lack of a viewfinder ‘hump’ the X-E3 is potentially more pocket friendly. Of course, that depends on the shape of your pockets.

With flash there’s another split in design. The X-E3 doesn’t have a built in unit, but it does come with a EF-X8 in the box. The X-T20 on the other hand has a built-in pop-up flash. The EF-X8 is more powerful than the X-T20’s but not if you forget to take it with you.

Neither the X-E3 or the X-T20 are weather sealed and both use a single SD card slot up to SDXC USH-I spec, so you’re good for capacities up to 256GB.

The main difference along the top plate is that the X-T20 uses a physical Drive mode dial while the X-E3 replaces this with a button on the rear.

Handling

Going back to the cameras’ EVFs, their position affects more than just the look of the cameras. The position of the EVF sits almost central on the X-T20, and on the X-E3 it’s on the far left of the camera’s rear. This can make quite a difference to how you hold the camera, so the make sure you appreciate which is going to be more comfortable for you. The viewfinders themselves are both 0.39in OLED, 2360k dot versions with the same refresh rate of 0.005sec and magnification, so it’s only the position that changes.

Again, with the LCD screens, the X-T20’s tilting version will allow you compose from low, waist-height or high angles a little easier. On the downside it’s not quite as full featured as the X-E3’s as it lacks gesture controls.

Those gesture controls are partly onboard to replace a physical D-Pad on the X-E3; compared to previous models it’s been replaced by an AF joystick. The X-T20 still has the D-Pad, but no joystick.

Another difference is the lack of a Drive mode dial on the top of the X-E3 compared to the one on the X-T20; on the former it’s replaced by a button on the rear. As with the overall design, the X-T20 is more reminiscent of a DSLR in button layout.

Both the X-E3 and the X-T20 can shoot at up to 14fps using their electronic shutters or 8fps with the mechanical shutter.

Performance

Much like image quality, the shooting speed and AF systems of the X-E3 and X-T20 are fairly well matched. Both have a hybrid AF system with 91/325 selectable points, though the newer X-E3 has some slight advantages including a greater number of sizes in Single Point mode and the ability to track faster moving subjects.

Continuous shooting speed is very healthy on both; you’ll get 8fps via the mechanical shutter and 14fps with the electronic shutter. At 14fps this will give you 42 Jpegs or 23 Raws on the X-T20, or 35 Jpegs and 22 Raws on the X-E3 before the buffer fills. At 8fps both will shoot 62 Jpegs or 25 Raws. So it’s in favour of the X-T20 there, really only a minor difference again.

The electronic shutter also allows a fastest shutter speed of 1/32,000, but with the mechanical version it’s limited to 1/4000sec on both cameras. At the other end of the scale, the X-E3 can expose for an impressive 15 minutes in its T mode, while the X-T20 will only go to a standard 30sec unless you reach for the Bulb setting. Flash sync speed is 1/180sec on both.

The X-E3’s bracketing options are also a little more expansive that the X-T20’s; you can shoot up to nine frames at +/-3EV, as opposed to three frames at +/-2EV.

Video and other features

Both cameras offer 4K (3840×2160) video recording at up to 30fps (29.97p) for up to 10 minutes, and footage is split over 4GB files. Both have mic inputs, so if you need to record higher-quality sound you’re covered, but neither has a headphone port for monitoring. Both cameras can produce their own Wi-fi hotspot for linking to smart devices, but the X-E3 can also connect via Bluetooth.

There really is little to split the cameras in terms of performance, so which you by might come down to handling alone.

Verdict

With similar prices and mostly identical, or very closely matched features, there really is little to choose between the X-E3 and the X-T20. Pictures from them will look identical, so which you get is likely to come down to what sort of form factor you prefer. The X-E3 is slightly smaller and lighter, and in theory, more pocket friendly, with its viewfinder on the far left; the X-T20 feels more like small DSLR in the hand, with its viewfinder in the centre, and also in the way its controls are laid out, but it’s still petite. The X-T20 has the tilting screen, which many find useful, but it falls behind the X-E3 slightly in touchscreen functions. The are minor tech improvements in the X-E3, but the X-T20 is still a formidable and very current camera. Handling is clearly the big choice here.

Fujifilm X-E3Fujifilm X-T20
Price$ 649.00$ 769.00
Sensor24.3Mp APS-C X-Trans III24.3Mp APS-C X-Trans III
ISO Range100-51,200100-51,200
AF Points91/32591/325
AF Tracking
Max Shutter Speed1/4000sec (1/32000sec electronic)1/4000sec (1/32000sec electronic)
Flash Sync Speed1/180sec1/180sec
Continuous Burst8fps (14fps electronic)8fps (14fps electronic)
Movie Shooting4K/30p4K/30p
Mic Input
Headphone OutputXX
Electronic Viewfinder2,360K-dot OLED2,360K-dot OLED