Mindy Tan is a Singapore-born documentary photographer whose emotive work revolves around the lives of everyday people.
She began her career as a newspaper journalist for breaking news, migrant labour and community issues, and won the Society of Publishers Asia Award for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting. In 2008, she switched roles to become a documentary photographer.
Today, using a journalistic approach, her photography assignments vary from lifestyle to sports, having covered like the Beijing Paralympics 2008, the Singapore F1 GP, and WTA Championships.
International editorial clients include National Geographic, Bloomberg and Die Zeit.
Commercial clients include Singapore Tourism Board, McDonalds, Nike, Microsoft, Uniqlo, and Samsung.
As a Fujifilm ambassador, Mindy’s has been involved giving photography workshops and talks in Singapore, Japan and Germany.
In 2019, she worked with Fujifilm to write and narrate the 90-min documentary film, “Camera Punk”. She was hand-picked among 500 global ambassadors undertake the global project, filming in 9 countries that year.
She also produced and hosted the YouTube series, “FujiGirl”.
There’s something about the attraction of small cameras. A camera achieves part of its goal if it makes its owner want to carry it around, on a daily basis, special occasion basis, or when you’re travelling. The X-S20 is probably one of the smallest interchangeable lens X-series edition Fujifilm has ever produced.
Despite its size, its features are in fierce competition with the higher end X-series models, such as the X-T5, X-H2. It can perform all the basic camera functions, without the frills, and a much lower price-point, making it a multi-tasking piece of gear that and serves ups the imagination of a hobbyist with the long list of things it can do.
First off, if you are a photography buff, the X-S20 gives you a 6240 x 4160 image resolution, more than sufficient for the average user. Considering it just takes 1024px width to produce a beautifully printed 4R image, a 6000 pixel-width image easily translates into large prints for the home gallery, great for blowing up travel images, or family moments. It also allows for image cropping, assuming you are only carrying a kit lens 18-55mm around, and want to get closer.
A HOLIDAY CAMERA
During my week shooting with the X-S20, I had taken it everywhere around Singapore, on intense 12-hour days. The sun was scorching 35 deg outdoors in heat and humidity, and the camera’s battery life held up! On average, I only needed to do a NP-W235 battery swap after 8 hours of usage, straddling between photography mixed with videography and vlog.
By nightfall, I’d have drained less than half of the second battery, with much more power to go. This means that on long travel days, it would be safe to leave home with one battery in the camera, and a spare in the bag. by far the most impressive battery life I have experienced in all my Fujifilm cameras, GFX included.
I think it’s not entirely accurate to judge battery life entirely based on number of shots, one has to consider the environment the camera operates in. Also, you might focus but not take a snap, that takes up power as well.
Since the X-S20 is a perfect holiday camera, being lightweight with long battery life, let us begin with a tour of my own city, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations!
For this video, I had a list of 60 to 80 places to cover. My idea was to explore the authentic country, with parts of living history, such as old coffeeshops and hawker food. I really wanted to debunk the common assumption that Singapore is an expensive place to travel to. That’s only true if you go for the glitz and glamour. The video would be a travelogue, an insider’s tour, a bonafide view of Singapore.
Due to X-S20’s small size, I was able to add on two prime lenses in my travel bag. If I was more weight conscious, I would have been happy just to have the 18-55mm and an extra battery for the entire day.
In general, I find the X-S20 pairs well with the F2 Prime lens series – the XF16mmF2.8, XF35mmF2, XF50mmF2. These choices distribute front camera weight and lens weight evenly, so the handling doesn’t feel lop-sided.
COMPLETE FILM SIMULATIONS
Gettting the X-S20, the grand prize is the bag of complete film simulations including the latest Bleach Bypass and Nostalgic Negative. The later was at first only available on GFX cameras, but now seen in Fujfilm’s latest cameras as well. Call it ikigai, but how can such a small camera pack so much punch?
With the clear blue Singapore skies, I chose not to use the new films, but stick to Fujifilm’s favourite film simulation, the Classic Chrome. It is not always suited to equatorial light, which is just heat without intensity especially when it is cloudy. But in March, when the weather is dry, cloudless and relentless, Classic Chrome projects blues well, almost having a teal tone. It also emphasises shadows, desaturating the darkness a notch, and is forgiving on human skin.
With a small tweak on the back-end to the JPEG file, which is on average 15-20Mb, I am almost able to achieve my goal – Wes Anderson palette, with light vintage looks.
Needless to say, for Vloggers, this is definitely a go-to camera. I had fun using the top right “Vlog” dial, which is a dedicated dial different from the ‘video camera’ dial. Between these two dials, you’re able to customise different settings, allocate different film simulations, clarity, sharpness and so on.
I find the 14mm F2.8 the best lens for hand-held vlogging, which is the lens I use mostly when the focus is flipped on myself in the video. It frames your face nicely to include some headroom and part of background.
One can also quickly insert a two-directional mic, while vlogging. I’ve not had to add additional gimbals, but shoot video on the X-S20 hand-held, setting the IBIS to ‘boost’ mode instead.
While it does experience rolling shutter issues when you are shooting out from a train or bus, (the X-H1 used to have this problem, that was fixed in the X-H2S), I’m surprised at how crisp and clear these videos have turned out.
For Vlogging, I would definitely take advantage of the build in fin-simulations colours, and save the hassle of going through colour editing later.
While it seems that the X-S20 is somewhat designed for vlogging with this dedicated dial, I would think this camera is more designed for photography, given the fast-focusing, the long battery life, and how its light weight really gives you the freedom to take it over long distances, for a hike, or backpacking. It’s now my top recommendation for anyone looking to get a first Fujifilm camera!
I just love the versatility it will provide on my best holiday!