Coast to Coast with the Fujifilm X-S20
There’s a lot to love about the brand-new Fujifilm X-S20.
While this article isn’t an extensive review, I’ll share my thoughts and experiences with the camera from a travel photographer’s perspective. I’ve shot numerous travel campaigns globally and locally; this camera checks the boxes for what I need.
Simply put: this camera will make you want to take it everywhere.
Planning for the Trip
When Fujifilm reached out to me to take photos with the X-S20, I knew I had to push its limits on a photography road trip. Over the course of six days in the North of the Philippines, I brought the camera to photograph landscapes, people, and everything else in between.
The plan was to start with a sunrise in Aurora province in the East; travel through Santiago, Banaue, Sagada, and Cervantes; and finally, La Union to catch the setting sun in the West. It’s a simple and fun idea I’ve wanted to do over the years of traveling in my home country, and this project was indeed the perfect time to execute the vision.
Preparing for a physically and creatively demanding journey emphasized the importance of bringing less so I could shoot more. The X-S20 aligns with that due to its lightweight and compact build while boasting an extensive battery life, quick autofocus, and fantastic image quality, whether you’re shooting in RAW format or using various film simulations.
While my project primarily focuses on its photography capabilities, it can’t be ignored that this camera also possesses advanced video features like 6.2k 30p and 4k 60p formats, as well as 4:2:2 10bit internal recording. The camera even has a dedicated vlog mode, which pairs perfectly with its fully articulating screen.
The seven stops of In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) wrap everything together nicely. Although I’m clearly geeking over this camera, the LCD screen of this pre-release version could be slightly brighter, especially when shooting in bright or sunny conditions.
The X-S20 made hiking while photographing landscapes much more accessible for me. Having a compact camera in the mountains of Sagada and Batad also allowed me to downsize my tripod and bag, effectively making the entire setup much easier to bring anywhere. The camera also has a deep grip which helped me shoot more comfortably—a massive plus, especially for cameras that are designed to be compact.
Moreover, the IBIS on this camera makes shooting handheld a viable option to get sharp photos even at slower shutter speeds. I personally love shooting landscapes this way, and the fully articulating screen gives me more freedom to find unique angles.
When shooting portraits, the X-S20 simply shines with its vastly improved autofocusing system—eye/subject detection is instant and accurately captures the subject even in low-light situations. Taking photos of farmers in the fields of Cervantes led me to different kinds of environments and lighting conditions.
A reliable autofocus during those brief encounters also gave me more time to build rapport and the confidence to shoot quickly yet deliberately. The image quality completes the whole package since the camera uses the X-Trans CMOS4 sensor, which can also be found in the X-T4. This makes the X-S20 kind of like its little brother.
Also similar to the X-T4, the X-S20 now uses the NP-W235 battery, which can shoot up to around 730 frames–almost doubling the battery life performance of its predecessor, the X-S10. In fact, I experienced this battery efficiency, especially during the last leg of my trip to Santiago, Isabela.
Even though I forgot to charge my battery after a whole day of shooting the day before, I had no problems creating an extensive photo series that day. Without getting too technical, the battery is excellent, and its internal system is optimized to reduce power consumption—Chef’s Kiss.
To wrap it up, I think the Fujifilm X-S20 fits my style of travel photography exceptionally well. The specifications of this camera aren’t just pretty words on paper. In the span of this project, I felt that I could focus on photography due to its highly efficient internal system packed into a compact body.
Our gear shouldn’t take us away from the creative process of taking photos, but rather, it would allow us to zone in on the lighting, the subject at hand, the emotions we’re capturing, and the composition we’re trying to achieve. When we don’t have to worry about the battery life, the portability of our gear, or the focusing ability of the camera, we can simply shoot more and push our creativity to the next level.