Fujifilm X-S1 review

Review Date : Tue, 31 Jan 2012

Author :

Fujifilm X-S1 released
Fujifilm X-S1 released Fujifilm X-S1 released Fujifilm X-S1 released Fujifilm X-S1 released

Can this large-sensor superzoom take the category to a more professional level?

Pros: Best in class images, best in class viewfinder, great stabilisation system, manual zoom and focus rings
Cons: Sensor issues with specular highlights, autofocus won’t rival a DSLR, on/off issue on occasion, it's rather expensive

The very concept of a superzoom is to give an all-in-one package; a
camera system that's somewhere between a compact and DSLR that also has a significant zoom range. Enter the Fujifilm X-S1. Although it may look similar to many other superzoom cameras (and you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a DSLR), underneath the hood is a large 2/3in sensor size (the same as found in the high-end X10 compact camera). With a surface area more than twice that of a standard compact cameras' 1/2.3in sensor, the promise is for better image quality, all wrapped up in a high-spec body with a peppering of other top features. But with a £700 SRP, is the X-S1 high quality enough to tempt a more demanding audience?

Fujifilm X-S1 review - Key Specs

1.    12MP, 2/3in CMOS sensor
2.    26x optical zoom (24-624mm equiv.)
3.    Manual zoom and focus rings
4.    Lens-based image stabilisation
5.    100% FoV, 0.47in, 1.44m-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF)
6.    3in, 460k-dot, tilt-angle LCD screen
7.    Full manual control
8.    Raw & JPEG shooting




























Fujifilm X-S1 review - Features

As the X-S1 features a larger sensor its lens isn't quite as far-reaching as some of the competition. The larger sensor demands a larger lens size in order to deliver an image circle of light to cover the sensor, though the 24-624mm (26x) zoom range is still considerably more than you'd find in any compact camera.

The lens' f/2.8-5.6 aperture is bright at the wideangle end, and rather more standard at the telephoto settings - though shallow depth of field (blurred background) is easily achievable and curved aperture blades make for a softer, more rounded bokeh effect (the type of blur). But what the X-S1 delivers that's unlike other superzoom, albeit much like Fuji's HS20 and HS30 siblings, is an all-important hands-on manual zoom control. The zoom ring on the lens barrel extends the lens much like using a DSLR lens, plus there's a separate manual focus ring set to the rear of the barrel. Only Fujifilm has brought this dual-ring style of lens to the superzoom market so far, and it's one of the camera's more attractive features.

Fujifilm X-S1 review sample image (24mm equiv.) - click for full size gallery

 

When shooting at longer focal lengths keeping the camera steady for not only a sharp image but accurate framing can be tricky. To assist the X-S1 has lens-based image stabilisation that mechanically manoeuvres the lens by the tiniest of amounts to counter hand shake, an essential feature for such a camera.

Fujifilm X-S1 review sample image (317mm equiv.) - click for full size gallery

 

Those that have contemplated buying a superzoom but who have found too many issues with viewfinder features will be interested in the X-S1's new electronic viewfinder (EVF). At 1.44million dots in resolution (that's SVGA or 800x600 pixels) and 0.47inches in size there's no other superzoom with an EVF like it. Coverage is 100% across the frame and the eye level sensor can be set to automatically switch the device on as your face nears the camera. It's great to see a step up in feature set, and although this isn't a revolutionary EVF - it's the same standard as that found in the likes of Nikon's V1 Compact System Camera, for example - it does represent a big step up in standards for the superzoom market.

On the rear of the camera is a 3in, 460k-dot LCD screen mounted on a tilt-angle bracket that's designed to assist with waist-level viewing.

 

Fujifilm X-S1 review sample image (317mm equiv.) - click for full size gallery

 

As has come to be expected, the X-S1 has the full array of manual controls, plus Auto and Fujifilm's EXR modes. The latter is a trio of shooting options that can auto-process an image in one of three ways: High Resolution uses the full 12-megapixel resolution when shooting in decent lighting conditions; Wide Dynamic Range produces a medium-size image where exposure is adjusted for both shadows and highlights; and High Sensitivity & Low Noise also produces a medium-size image where two sensor pixels are used for one final pixel in the image in order to achieve lower image noise. One-touch Raw capture is available, or full-time Raw and Raw & JPEG can also be activated.


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Price as reviewed

£699.00

Scores

Scores
Design 18/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 17/20
Value 17/20
Features 19/20
Overall Score 89%

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