Matilda and I first got into Fujifilm through the X100 series as a complement to our main camera system. We loved those cameras so much we were curious about what more Fujifilm had to offer. During a trip to Croatia this spring we got to use the X-S20 as our main camera and we loved working with it.
We were in Croatia for one month and spent most of it in the amazing national park of Paklenica. Throughout our time there we got to experience a fantastic spring transition of the beautiful landscape while Matilda climbed on Spomin: one of the world’s hardest multi pitch routes going up the 350m high monumental northwestern face of Anica Kuk.
For most climbers, getting the photo from the summit is almost as important as reaching the top. Photography serves as a medium for us to chronicle our climbing experiences, the awe-inspiring landscapes we encounter, and the intimate moments that embody our way of life. Storytelling plays an important role in our work and we use various photos and videos to visually tell stories across many platforms and outlets.
One of the first things we noticed about the X-S20 was how easy it is to handle. It’s small, light, and has a satisfyingly deep grip that makes it easy to hold onto even when climbing or hiking. We worked with a wide range of X Series primes and found all of them to be balanced greatly with the camera body. We especially enjoyed working with the new XF8mm lens, which made for a fun, versatile and unusually, for the focal length, small and fast kit
Climbers and photographers have a lot in common when it comes to gear: we need to be able to operate it from muscle memory, it has to get the job done while not getting in the way, and we have to trust it will deliver in critical situations…
But it was not just the ergonomics of the X-S20 that impressed us. The image and video quality coming out of the camera is simply stunning. One of the things we love most about the X-S20 are the film simulations, being able to get that film look straight out of the camera is a game-changer. As climbers we are shaped by iconic images from climbing magazines and posters, they make up a visual history of the development of our sport. Most of these classic images are shot on Fuji Velvia – working with this film simulation to render those iconic deep saturated colours and dark blue skies was fun and added a feeling of timelessness to the images.
With the aid of the new Fujifilm app, we can transfer files directly from the camera to our devices. While I personally prefer to edit photos on a computer, it’s not always feasible to carry one. In such cases, Matilda is able to directly upload our work from the camera to her followers, ensuring that they stay abreast of our adventures in real-time.
Sometimes, it’s only me and Matilda climbing alone together. Being able to pre-place the camera and use the app to snap a photo of Matilda on a climb from a third perspective while I’m giving her a belay at the same time opened up new possibilities for us.
It’s not unusual to have a film team fly in to document parts of Matilda’s major climbing projects. The X-S20 records video so well that we can complement what is shot by the film team with video that has amazing colours and dynamic range. It’s amazing that the X-S20 can record 10 bit 4k video in 60P – it’s perfectly suitable for videography as well.
What really sets the X-S20 apart is its performance combined with its size and ergonomics. It feels like a small version of the X-H2S, with the same resolution, powerful autofocus, and long battery life. For us being able to have a light camera is not a matter of comfort but absolutely essential and something we usually can’t compromise. Whether hiking for days or hauling up big walls and already carrying tons of essential climbing gear, every extra piece of equipment needs to be carefully considered. Another great thing about the X-S20 is the built in image stabilisation, it means we don’t have to feel bad for leaving the tripods at home.
Climbers and photographers have a lot in common when it comes to gear: we need to be able to operate it from muscle memory, it has to get the job done while not getting in the way and we have to trust it will deliver in critical situations. The X-S20 ticks all those boxes and is a system we would happily recommend to everyone.
Ultimately, getting the perfect shot is like sending the perfect climb. It takes years of practice, luck, creativity, and technology all coming together to form one fantastic symphony. And the X-S20 is the perfect instrument for capturing those moments that we live for.
Bio: William Hamilton & Matilda Söderlund
Matilda and William are a power couple, Matilda being one of the world’s top climbers and William a pro photographer. Their work takes them to stunning locations around the world where they perform and record the beauty of nature and movement at the limit of human potential.