Andile Bhala recently took the Fujifilm X-S20 to the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown) to work on his “A meeting of an ear” project.
What are your standout upgrades on the X-S20?
I have shot with an X-S10 a few times and I have enjoyed walking around and photographing with it. The layout of all the controls on the X-S20 has remained identical to the X-S10, only a few of the buttons on the top of the body have been enlarged and shifted a bit. So that works pretty cool and amazing. The subject detection, tracking, AF acquisition, and buffer have all improved considerably.
There are also a number of core improvements particularly on the video capturing side. The X-S20 has more dials to control your exposure than certain professional bodies.
What did you like most about the X-S20?
It’s easy to say the new AF system blew me away. Shooting live musical performances were made easy because tracking the fast movement of the artists was brilliant. The improvement is massive and beautiful, plus the new film simulation, Nostalgic Negative, is great for warmer portraits.
I enjoyed the impressive battery that can handle a substantial number of shots, as well as the articulated touchscreen that has a higher resolution. It’s so cool that when you turn the dial to the ‘Vlog’ setting, you get a slightly tweaked interface, with touch-friendly controls intended to make video easier for beginners.
Was there anything that surprised you about the camera the longer you shot with it?
It still feels very small in the hand, with a very deep pleasing grip that made my hand relax. Holding the camera while I was walking around asking to photograph people, it always felt safe and secure. And people enjoyed the fact that the camera is so small since it’s less intimidating.
Because I was shooting performance in different lighting conditions, what I loved on the X-S20 is the third dial on the opposite side, which you can permanently set to ISO.
Who would you recommend the X-S20 to?
The image quality, bitrate, video recording options, active cooling option, battery life and seven stops of image stabilisation make the X-S20 the complete package for enthusiasts. I believe hobbyists, YouTubers, vloggers and videography students might just love this one. The video features are incredible considering the size and price. It’s a small camera packed with many professional features that could assist one to discover their style.
Tell us about your “A meeting of an ear” project you’re working on.
This is an ongoing body of work where I’m trying to explore my love for music and how music can be a powerful tool for social change and social justice. The photographs I’m making are a direct reaction and response to how this music has made me feel, the sound of the voices, the sound of the keys and the expression of joy.
Music is a language of emotions and it connects on a spiritual level. You don’t even need to understand some of the lyrics, but the emotions will resonate with your feelings and memories. The beauty of music is that it takes away the silence – this was what I was trying to capture with the X-S20.