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Fujifilm X-S1 Digital Camera Review

fujifilm20120516aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons 

 

A lot of anticipation stemmed from the November 24, 2011 announcement by Japanese manufacturer Fujifilm of its X-S1 “compact” camera. So when the opportunity came around to put the DSLR like compact camera through its paces we jumped at it.

Featuring a large 2/3rds CMOS sensor and a whopping 24-624mm 2.8-5.6 lens it oozes potential read on to find out what we thought of the latest addition to Fujifilm's line of premium X series cameras..

 

Appearance and Functionality


Straight out of the box the X-S1 feels like a sturdy DSLR camera and on close inspection I would not blame you for thinking that is exactly what you had purchased. Although there is no interchangeable lens possibilities and no internal mirror that flips up when the shutter is fired and this distinguishes it from a DSLR.

fujifilm20120519ab.jpgThe body is made from a thick rubber which provides excellent grip and a moulded handgrip provides even more allowing the camera to sit effortlessly in your hands. Fuji has assigned a black and white colour scheme to it's X Series which speaks of a superior and premium brand. Though a little on the baulky size (945gms) especially when the lens is extended right out to its 624mm maximum

The buttons are configured similarly to a DSLR's and for those who have used one the transition is quite easy. For those who have not they will find it relatively quick to pick up as it allows the user to keep their eye to the viewfinder and toggle shutter speeds and apertures without missing a shot.

There is no lag in power up time from when the camera is turned on and the first thing the user will notice is the well ordered LCD screen. Whilst the screen is 3” the information is kept to the edges to maximise the picture viewing space. The menu is set out in two distinct tabs; the shooting menu which deals with image options and the set up menu which works on background functions.

Fuji has packed the camera with a vast range of modes including an aperture priority mode and shutter priority mode, a feature often left out of compact cameras and are most welcome on the X-S1. Some other modes of note are Manual and Advanced. Manual is a blessing as it allows those more inclined to control the camera the freedom to do so, a feature often forgotten on compact cameras. Advanced mode covers three options which are a 360° panorama, Pro focus (softens off image backgrounds) and Pro Low-Light which controls noise reduction and clarity for night shooting.

Included in the box is a solid full sized neck strap, lens cap strap and battery charger. The lens cap strap allows the lens cap to dangle from the neck strap when its off the lens, a good move considering how easy lens caps are lost.

 

fujifilm20120519ag.jpgImage Quality


A major plus for the X-S1 is its large 12 megapixel 2/3rds CMOS image sensor that at full resolution provides an image 4000x3000 pixels. This resolution can be tamed down to a number of smaller sizes though if files are not destined for data rich outputs like prints.

An advantage of having a fixed Fuji branded lens on the camera is that during development the company knew that unlike a DSLR it will never see another lens. This has allowed the best possible integration between sensor and lens and results in amazingly fine sharpness.

Noise is handled incredibly well due for the most part to the cameras larger sensor and only really becomes annoyingly evident when you push above 1600 ISO.  Though the camera has an ISO range from 100-12800 you have to manually set it to anything lower than the standard auto ISO of 400, a slightly irritating feature when shooting in good lighting conditions.

The X-S1 is capable of shooting in RAW format which again is something not expected on a compact camera though is a leading plus for those wanting larger uncompressed files. 

 

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Lens Quality

 

The absolute standout feature of this camera is it's Fujinon 24-624mm lens. I haven't even heard of many fixed lenses capable of giving the user that much zoom let alone in a sturdy metal construction. Not to mention the lenses ability to shoot at f2.8 at its widest point and still maintain a relatively shallow f5.6 at its full zoom.

The build quality of the 24-624mm lens is concrete with its all metal design coupled with rubber grips on the zoom and focus controls. A metal lens hood also comes included which is very useful for controlling flare from direct lights and also minimising unwanted vignetting.

Focussing is a breeze with both auto and manual options to suit. The auto focussing is all controlled  in camera whilst manual focussing is achieved with a separate ring at the base of the lens. The manual focus control is incredibly smooth and works exceptionally well in video mode, though may benefit from a little more friction for stills shooting.

Macro shooting is possible in three modes; Normal, Macro and Super Macro. Super Macro offers the ability to shoot with a minimum focus distance of 1cm.  

 

LCD / Viewfinder


fujifilm20120519ad.jpgThe camera has both a 3” LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and allows the user to effortlessly switch between both. This is achieved with a sensor next to the viewfinder which detects when your face is near, activating the viewfinder and turning the LCD off. Then when you pull away from the viewfinder the screen switches back on and the viewfinder off. A neat little trick built into a number of the X series cameras.

The 3” LCD has a dot resolution of 460,000 which results in rich contrast and clarity giving you a fairly accurate rendering of your image in playback. The LCD operates on a hinge system allowing you to swing it away from the camera body. A great feature permitting the user to hold the camera in the air to film in a crowd and still being able to see the LCD. The EVF also gives 100% coverage of the scene, a very important factor to consider with viewfinders, as it can drastically alter your composition otherwise. A diopter is also a handy inclusion in the EVF.

 

Video

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Video shooting is expected in some form on any camera these days and the X-S1 delivers it in a range of qualities from 1080p HD at 30fps (frames per second) down to some very low resolutions that would likely be used very little. There is no separate video mode and recording is accessed via a prominent red record button on the back panel. The image stabilisation is fairly decent considering the lens range of the camera and will give good results, though for video free from shake using a tripod is probably your best bet.

The only slight annoyance with video on the X-S1 is the sound. Fuji could have included a stereo mic although the camera does give the option of plugging an external microphone in so this is manageable.

 

 

 

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Conclusion


I can honestly say that the X-S1 is one of the most impressive cameras I have seen in quite some time, due to its incredible versatility straight out of the box.
   
Technically branded a “compact” camera, the fact that it features RAW capabilities a 24-624mm lens that opens to 2.8 at its widest and 1080p HD image stabilised video is enough to convince me that this is as good as it gets in the compact world. I would recommend this camera over a number of bottom of the range DSLRs without hesitation.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:
Tamrac Rally 4 / 3444 Camera Bag 
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Fuji Finepix X-S1  

 

 

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
5 stars
View finder (EVF)
4 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price $899.00
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12.0 million pixels
Sensor Type
2/3-inch EXR CMOS with primary color filter
Image Sizes 3 Sizes / 4 ratios/ 3 motion panoramas
Lens Fujinon 30 x optical zoom lens, f=4.3mm - 129.0mm, equivalent to 24 - 720mm on a 35 mm camera
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills L : (4:3) 4000 x 3000
L : (3:2) 4000 x 2664
L : (16:9) 4000 x 2248
L : (1:1) 2992 x 2992
M : (4:3) 2816 x 2112
M : (3:2) 2816 x 1864
M : (16:9) 2816 x 1584
M : (1:1) 2112 x 2112
S : (4:3) 2048 x 1536
S : (3:2) 2048 x 1360
S : (16:9) 1920 x 1080
S : (1:1) 1536 x 1536

Motion Panorama
360° Vertical 11520 x 1624 Horizontal 11520 x 1080
180° Vertical 5760 x 1624 Horizontal 5760 x 1080
120° Vertical 3840 x 1624 Horizontal 3840 x 1080
Resolution Settings: Video 1920 x 1080 pixels
1280 x 720 pixels
640 x 480 pixels
30 frames / sec. with stereo sound
Optical zoom (manual) can be used
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Manual AF (One-push AF mode included)
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds (Auto mode) 1/4 sec. to 1/4000 sec., (All other modes) 30 sec. to 1/4000 sec.
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto(400) / Auto(800) / Auto(1600) / Auto(3200) / Equivalent to ISO 100 / 200 / 250 / 320 / 400 / 500 / 640 / 800 / 1000 / 1250 / 1600 / 2000 / 2500 / 3200 / 4000* / 5000* / 6400* / 12800* (Standard Output Sensitivity)
LCD Monitor 3.0-inch, approx. 460,000 dots, TFT color LCD monitor, approx. 100% coverage
Viewfinder 0.47-inch, approx. 1,440,000 dots, TFT color LCD monitor
Approx. 100% coverage
Diopter adjustment : -5 - +3 m-1(dpt)
Flash Auto flash (super intelligent flash)
Effective range : (ISO AUTO (800))
Wide : Approx. 30 cm - 8.0 m / 0.9 ft. - 26.2 ft.
Telephoto : Approx. 2.0 m - 4.0 m / 6.5 ft. - 13.1 ft.
Hot Shoe Yes
White Balance Automatic scene recognition
Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Custom, Color temperature selection (2,500K - 10,000K)
Self Timer 10 sec. / 2 sec. delay , Auto Release
Stills Format/s
JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3), RAW (RAF format), RAW + JPEG
(Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)
Video Format/s H.264 (MOV) with Stereo sound
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS-I) memory card
Storage Type - Internal
26MB
Connectivity Video output: NTSC / PAL selectable with Monaural sound
Digital interface: USB 2.0 High-Speed
HDMI output: HDMI Mini connector
External microphone: ø3.5 Mini with Stereo sound
Power Source Battery charger BC-65N
Battery Options Li-ion battery NP-95
Battery Life Approx. 460 frames (*4)
Approx. 500 frames (using EVF)
Dimensions 135 mm (W) x 107mm (H) x 149mm
Weight Approx. 945 g / 33.3 oz. (inc. battery & memory card)
Approx. 905 g / 31.9 oz. (exc. battery & memory card)











 


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

About Fujifilm

 

FUJIFILM brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including electronic imaging, photofinishing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, graphic arts, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies. The company was ranked number 15 for U.S. patents granted in 2006. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship.

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