I’m the Fuji X-T20 owner for two years at the time of writing this review. It’s my main and only imaging camera I had been using for my astrophotography since the beginning in 2017. It gives me out-of-this-world (literally) pictures of our universe, yet it has some quirks. Is Fujifilm X-T20 camera worth your money if you want it for astrophotography? Let’s find out in my honest Fuji X-T20 astrophotography review!
Fuji X-T20 Spec
|Release date||23 February 2017|
|Image sensor type||X-Trans CMOS III (color, not mono)|
|Image sensor size||23.6 mm × 15.6 mm (APS-C)|
|Image sensor resolution||24.3 MP|
|Lens mount type||X-mount|
|External control||2.5mm jack for external wired remote control|
|ISO range||200 – 12800|
|Storage||Single SD card slot|
Fuji X-T20 Sample Astrophotography P
So, to the point – that’s the reason you are here. This is what you can expect from the X-T20 as your astrophotography camera.
Quite impressive results like for a small, pocket camera; I like especially the sensor’s H-alpha wavelength sensitivity (it has probably something to do with the sensors’ different, non-standard, non-Bayer matrix. Sensor is not modified in any way like in some Canon cameras.) Some pictures are noisy because of the short integration times (30 minutes or less), not because of the camera inability of doing better, bear that in mind.
To see more astrophotography pictures from my Fuji X-T20, go to the appropriate astrophotography targets pages:
Things I like in my X-T20
X-T20 sensor produces outstanding images. See above.
Ease of operating
This camera, like the whole Fuji X-series, is just a joy to operate. Every important shooting setting like ISO, shutter speed or shutter delay is easily changeable with physical buttons and knobs – no need to go inside the camera menu. This is also valid for dedicated Fujinon lenses, where you choose the aperture with a physical ring, no inside the camera menu like in Canons or Nikons.
The X-T20 is small and lightweight. With the lens off, you can put it in your pocket and transport this way. Comparing to huge Canon and Nikon DSLRs, this mirrorless camera is fantastic for travel astrophotography. It almost needs no space in your bag. It’s a massive upgrade from the big old DSLRs.
Tilted LCD screen
Doing astrophotography, you usually point your telescope or a telephoto lens straight up to the night sky. If you don’t want to lie on the ground to operate your camera, you need one with a tilted screen. X-T20 – checked.
Nice H-alpha sensitivity
Fuji X-T20 is not an astronomy-dedicated, cooled mono camera, yet it’s possible to do some H-alpha (and probably other narrowband types, but I don’t have proper filters yet) astrophotography with it. Just take multiple exposures and stack them to get rid of sensor noise.
Things to know and remember – not necessarily advantages or disadvantages
Non-Bayer matrix – possible incompatibilities with some processing software
X-trans sensor type is what differs Fujifilm from other camera producents like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, or Olympus. Not every image processing software supports this format, so check this out before deciding of your astrophotography tools. Programs I use and recommend for Fujifilm X-T20 RAW/RAF files are Capture One and PixInsight – both work flawlessly.
Things that could be better in X-T20 (from the astrophotography standpoint)
Wireless connectivity via apps
My standard workflow when setting the X-T20 for astrophotography looks less or more like this:
- Mount the camera on an equatorial mount
- Set proper camera settings
- Do a few test shots with a Bahtinov mask put on ot focus my lens/telescope
- Do a test shot to orientate where my lens/telescope is pointing on
And this is when I usually spend a lot of time on. For plate solving, I use Astrometry web service. To get pictures from the camera, I have to connect to it via WiFi, open the dedicated app, download the picture from the camera, and send it to the server to do plate solving. Sadly, there’s no way to stay connected to the camera during shooting – every time you want to get pictures to your smartphone, you have to go to the camera menu, turn wireless connection on, connect your phone, etc. It’s really inconvenient, and Fujifilm could upgrade its software to be able to do those types of things easier (or by getting an SD WiFi card – I will be testing this solution soon).
Not enough maximum zoom when checking pictures in the camera
Sometimes when I focus on a really small star, it’s hard to say if my spikes from the Bahtinov mask are truly on the center of the star. Again, it could be easily fixed via software update. One hack to overcome this is to use a magnifying glass when viewing the picture on the camera.
Unable to power the camera from an external source (not from the dedicated battery)
My dream goal astrophotography setup is powered from one and only one power source (my Celestron PowerTank Lithium). Thanks to this, I don’t have to remember to charge a few different batteries; I just have to worry about this specific one. Sadly, there is no option to power the X-T20 from anything else than its camera battery (even from the built-in USB port – it’s only for images transfer). Because of this, I have to remember to charge an additional three camera batteries when I go to the field. It’s not a deal breaker, just a moderately important inconvenience.
High noise on long exposures (longer than 3 minutes)
Exposures up to three minutes have very low noise. Above that, noise starts to appear. You can, of course, get rid of it by stacking multiple exposures, just be aware of it.
Astrophotography lenses for Fuji X-T20 (and the rest of the Fuji X-series cameras)
Although the X-Mount is not the most popular mount system beyond lens producers, thanks to a wide offer of adapters, you can attach almost any lens and telescope to the Fuji X-T20 (and to any X-mount Fuji camera in general). Adapted lenses usually work as dumb lenses, which means no auto-focus and no EXIF data saving, but as an astrophotographer, you don’t really need those things.
Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2
This is my lens of choice for the Milky Way photography.
Rokinon/Samyang 135mm f/2
A fantastic lens for ultra-wide deep-sky imaging. Perfect for large targets like the North America Nebula, Orion Nebula region, or the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.
Fuji X-T20 must-have accessories for astrophotography
X-T20 in unusable with one-hand-only without an additional grip. I think that Fuji engineers wanted to make this camera as small as it can be, but they sacrificed ease of use for a few grams/pounds of weight. Luckily, you can fix it very easy.
Additional two or three batteries
X-T20 has really nice power management. Batteries last for long, usually more than 1,5 hours in my case (bulb mode, automatic exposures one after another). Yet for the whole night of astrophotography shooting, you need more of them.
Field flattener or adapter to attach the camera to a telescope
To connect Fuji X-T20 to a telescope, you need two things:
- An adapter from X-mount to your telescope’s end
- A field flattener (optionally – some telescopes have them built-in inside)
External intervalometer (timer shutter release)
It’s not a must-have, but if you like to automate your workflow, this device will be a big help for you. You simply set your camera to bulb mode, program your intervalometer (how many and how long exposures), and get back after a few hours to grab your pictures.
This may be optional depending on which type of astrophotography you want to do, but if you are interested in deep-sky objects (like most of the astrophotographers), then those two are your huge friends.
Light pollution filter
This one is a no-brainer if you are imaging from a city, even a tiny one. In our modern world, light pollution is everywhere. Sometimes you can’t see it with your own eyes, but it will show on your pictures. It’s hard to avoid it entirely, but you can eliminate most of it with a proper filter and good post-processing skills. Sadly, at the time of writing this review, there are no Fuji X-mount clip-in filters, so you have to choose filter size for your lens or telescope specifically. I own and recommend those two light pollution filters:
NiSi Natural Night Filter (for lenses)
Orion SkyGlow Imaging Filter (for telescopes)
Fuji X-T20 is not a perfect camera for narrowband imaging as it does not have a monochromatic sensor, but you can catch some usable H-alpha signal with X-T20. It’s easier at Winter, thanks to the free cooling for the sensor.
For H-alpha astrophotography with my X-T20, I use Baader H-alpha 7nm CCD Narrowband Filter.
Fuji X-T20 astrophotography settings
Shoot in RAW
This may be obvious, but remember to always set your camera to shooting in RAW (or, better yet, to RAF, the Fuji compressed RAW format). Shooting in JPG will give you poor results, even from a fantastic camera like the Fuji X-T20.
This camera really impresses me at 1600 ISO, and I think it’s the sweet spot for astrophotography with the X-T20 – a perfect balance between time spent on acquiring data and the quality of it. Of course, lower ISO is always better, but I don’t see any real decrease in image quality compared to ISO 800, and two times shorter exposure time is a real deal.
Fuji X-T20 delivers me fantastic astrophotography results, and besides a few minor quirks, it’s a phenomenal camera to capture wide-field Milky Way shots and deep-sky images of nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters. I don’t plan to swap my Fuji X-T20 for another DSLR or mirrorless camera in the near future, but someday I will upgrade to a dedicated, cooled astronomy camera. You can attach almost any existing lens and telescope to your X-T20, and the weight of the camera will let you use it even on the smallest equatorial mount on the market, and fly around the world with a carry-on-bag-only easily. It’s a perfect companion for your astrophotography, both when you travel and when you are in your permanent observatory. Take some time to master this camera, and it will give you the astrophotography images you dream of. It gave me.