I recently had the chance to visit Malta and wander its rocky coastline and old streets with the Fujifilm X-S20 – one of the best mirrorless cameras for enthusiasts – paired with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 R LM OIS lens.
The weather was pretty much wall-to-wall sunshine, which is lovely for a holiday but more of a challenge for photography, especially in the middle of the day. In such bright conditions, I often lean into black and white.
If I had a ludicrous amount of money, then the $9,000 Leica M11 Monochrom (the mono-only version of the Leica M11) with a moderate-wide lens would be a great option for black-and-white street photography. But Fujifilm X-series cameras like the X-S20 are a compelling option, too, for a fraction of the cost.
Amid the tourist-filled streets, I got to grips with the Fujifilm X-S20. Even though it’s a really small camera, you get a generous handgrip, a decent electronic viewfinder, and a flip-out touchscreen. Both are handy for composing street photography in bright sunlight: I could tilt the screen to an angle that minimizes glare or use the viewfinder instead. That flip-out screen is also handy for shooting discreetly from the hip.
And then there’s Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes that digitally recreate the look of Fujifilm’s celebrated 35mm film stock. One of those digital looks is Acros, which faithfully recreates the rich monochrome Fujifilm Acros 100 film, first introduced to the X-Series cameras alongside the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 in 2016.
For a digital look, Acros is super-authentic. Even though the simulation can be applied post-capture to raw images, I like to select it in-camera, so I can see what I’m getting as I move about looking to encapsulate the feeling of my surroundings.
Depending on what the shooting mode dial is set to, the customizable dial on the top left of the X-S20 scrolls through the 11 Film Simulation modes for quick selection. The X-S20 introduced Auto-Film Simulation mode, which assesses the scene and selects a look for you. It tends to choose different color looks rather than monochrome, but that can be changed easily via the top-left dial instead.
Authentic black and white
I really like the look of the X-S20’s Acros Film Simulation. The look can be manually adjusted with different color filters, but even without manual adjustment, the rich tonality is really pleasing. I’ll let you be the judge from the gallery above, but I’m a fan and would happily leave the X-S20 in its Acros Film Simulation when shooting in the sun. It's a compelling option for street photography.