Can this large-sensor superzoom take the category to a more professional level?
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.
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.
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 800×600 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.
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.