Family documentary photographer Marisa Kraft puts FUJIFILM X-S20 to the test while memorializing the bustling beauty of family life
No matter how many times you hear someone say, ‘they grow up so quick’, it’s impossible to truly understand the meaning of the phrase until you have a young family of your own.
This is something family documentary photographer Marisa Kraft knows better than most. With three kids aged five, seven, and nine, she’s very aware of all the beautiful things that can be forgotten in the chaos of family life.
“There are these little things, these routines that seem like they’ll always be there, until suddenly they don’t happen again,” says Marisa.
“Kids drop things so quickly in those childhood years and you often don’t get a chance to say goodbye to something that was such a constant for so long.
“If you don’t make pictures of those ordinary little moments, they just get lost.”
This attitude underpins Marisa’s entire approach to photography, so when we gave her FUJIFILM X-S20 to use for her day-to-day creating, she was delighted.
“I truly believe that every family should have this camera,” she enthuses, highlighting the image quality that’s capable from X-S20’s 26.1-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor.
“We’ve all got the camera on our phones. It’s there and it serves its purpose – I do appreciate that – but while the images look great on that beautiful, bright smartphone screen, when you bring them over to a computer and blow them up, you can see where it all falls apart.
“That’s why I think it’s so important for everybody to have a camera that does its job”, she continues. “You’re doing your job of recording family moments, so you need something that can do its job in making sharp, beautiful images.”
The Importance of a Portable Camera
Marisa began her journey in photography by making images of her eldest daughter to document those fast-changing baby years. Since then, she has gone on to master her craft, but it was a steep learning curve.
She tells us that her choice of equipment has been a significant factor. Not least because of its size.
“When I started, the hardest part was always having a camera with me,” she recalls. “Getting into that routine of carrying it on me, in my purse, or leaving it out on the kitchen table – just having it around.
“So the size of this camera is really special, it’s so lightweight,” she reveals.
With a compact body and weighing only 491g, X-S20 is designed to be extremely easy to carry around. This helped Marisa to not just be in the right place at the right time, but also remain able to maneuver easily and quickly enough to frame the perfect moment.
Framing Fast Action
The ability to react quickly enough to preserve a fleeting moment is nothing if your camera cannot keep up. That’s why X-S20 has been equipped with Fujifilm’s latest processor, X-Processor 5.
Such an advanced internal chip powers features such as the latest in-body image stabilization (IBIS) technology. This provides up to 7.0 stops of extra stability when photographing handheld, helping to avoid the blur caused by camera movement.
It also enables X-S20 to offer the same subject-detection autofocus (AF) that is used in the flagship FUJIFILM X-H2S. When using AUTO Mode, the camera can automatically recognize and lock onto a subject as it enters and moves around the frame – very useful when keeping up with animated children.
“That’s really important for people doing this kind of photography,” says Marisa. “For people that are creating images of dogs, kids, sporting events – anything that’s moving really quickly.
“Also, if you’re just getting started in photography, there is a lot to think about. So something that can help you with landing focus? It’s everything. Really important.”
The versatility that comes with such professional performance in a camera that’s so easily accessible to beginners is a big plus for Marisa.
“It’s great because anybody can work with X-S20. Someone who’s never made a photo with a mirrorless camera before could set it to AUTO Mode and easily create great pictures. But at the same time, it has all the flexibility to also make a wonderful second body for a pro,” she enthuses.
When all this is combined with a longer battery life than its predecessor, the result is a camera that can keep up with even the most excitable subjects in challenging conditions.
The Feel-Good Camera
Despite its compact and lightweight design, X-S20 features a substantial grip that provides complete surety handheld. This was especially important for a photographer like Marisa, who uses a variety of different lenses.
“The way X-S20 fits in the hand is very well thought-out. It’s got a great grip that feels really stable,” says Marisa.
“I create with a variety of lenses,” she continues. “Some are small and compact like XF18mmF2 R. And then some are a little bit longer like XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS and XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.
“X-S20 is able to balance any of the lenses that you’d possibly put on there. You’ve got a really strong grab, so you can hold it with one hand and not feel like it’s going to tip any which way.”
A Great Camera for Beginners
Overall, Marisa was impressed with the versatility of X-S20 and its many great features, all of which are optional, accessible, and easy to use. As such, she feels this camera is perfect for those starting out in photography because it offers the flexibility to grow with its owner.
“Beginners can create in AUTO Mode and make professional-quality images, but then as they learn the exposure triangle, get more comfortable, and want to take steps forward in the photography journey, X-S20 also offers Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and manual,” she explains.
“I get a lot of questions from friends who are not photographers and currently make pictures with their phone, asking what camera they should buy. X-S20 is what I would recommend,” asserts Marisa.
“I think X-S20 will make people once again see that specialness in using an actual camera,” she concludes.