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This Camera Takes Some Fine Pix - But Isn't Perfect,
This review is from: Fujifilm FinePix S1 16 MP Digital Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)
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The Fujifilm FinePix S1 is a camera made for photographers of all levels who want the versatility of a DSLR in a slightly smaller package without the hassle of carrying around multiple lenses. The impressive (24-1200 mm) 50x zoom, DSLR styling, 3" articulated LCD, weather sealing, 3-stop image stabilization, extra features like Panorama and HDR modes, and HD video quality (with High Speed modes) are what I feel its greatest draws. Keep in mind that performance from the S1 will not be that of a true DSLR.
My older bridge camera that I've enjoyed using for many years is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. The FinePix S1 compares favorably to it. While I basically find them close in general performance and image quality, the S1 is usually at least as good -- or even much better in some cases. The S1 is a lighter and more compact camera with more shooting and customization options. While I won't get rid of my FZ50, the S1 will likely replace it as a go-to camera for general use. The main thing I would miss from the FZ50 is the manual zoom control on the lens.
1. Small and light for a superzoom
2. 50x stabilized (fast) optical zoom
3. Articulated high DPI rear LCD
4. Wi-Fi connectivity and control
5. 16MP sensor (1/2.3 backlit)
6. 1cm macro mode
7. Respectable battery life
8. Great ergonomics for the most part
9. Images showcase the great Fujifilm color balances
10. Fast power on and off
1. The 1/.23 sensor gets noisy at higher ISOs and overall image quality just decent
2. The EVF is okay but not great, and doesn't have an eye sensor like that on the Fujifilm X-S1
3. Plasticey construction materials and awkward USB and HDMI port cover
4. No manual zoom or focus
5. Somewhat high price point at launch
6. No lens shade or separate charger included. Lens shade and filter adapter are extras and cost a fair bit of $.
7. Not quite as compact as some other super zoom offerings
8. Memory card resides in the battery compartment which is blocked when using a tripod shoe
9. Gear noise while zooming during video recording is somewhat intrusive
The S1 is an all-in-one camera that can handle just about anything you throw at it; including sports, nature, macro, scenic and portrait photography. It handles much the way a typical DSLR camera would with the obvious advantage of not having to lug around a variety of lenses for different applications. While good in most situations, image quality could be better. However given the lens/sensor combo, it really does a good job, especially in the mid-zoom range. The S1 takes great video and offers RAW format for additional flexibility. I've test the camera's movie taking aspect and while you get a bit of mechanical noise if you want to zoom in and out, the results are almost as good as any digital videocamera I've used. In many ways it has most of the features of both a DSLR *AND* a video camera in one compact and user-friendly package. While I've not used it long, battery life seems good for a camera in this class. If I were taking it out all day as my only camera, I'd bring a back-up battery. You may want to get an external charger for convenience sake when purchasing a spare battery. Make sure you have plenty of fast memory (I recommend at least one 64GB SDHC card). I've had no problems downloading images and video to my older home iMac running OSX 10.5.8 (Leopard). I've yet to try out the Wi-Fi but will update this review when I do.
Fujifilm's FinePix S1 is a very capable, feature packed "do-it-all" super-zoom camera that should satisfy a lot of people's needs. Discerning pixel-peepers might be let down by the image noise at ISO speeds 400 and above, but for a bridge camera in its class, the S1 performs admirably. While it may look like a DSLR, it certainly isn't. As a general use super-zoom bridge camera for the casual user I give it 5 stars. Factoring in other bridge camera aspects and comparing it to the competition, I'd give it 3. I'm rounding it up to 4 stars because it shines in some key areas even though it drops the ball in others.
Edit: 04/13/2014 - I had some issues with the zoom not working on my camera after a couple of weeks of use, and when I contacted Fujifilm, they were very responsive and over-nighted me a new camera. So far the new one is performing well, so it may have just been a glitch in the other unit. Time will tell. Than you Fuji for your customer focused service!
Edit: 05/01/2014 - I've just noticed some odd banding issues with the 2nd camera when photographing in HDR mode. I don't see it in every photo I take in that mode, but I noticed that when shooting a flat surface in somewhat low light, some odd linear bands appear on the images. At first I thought they were due to light coming in though the window blinds, but I shot the same image in a different mode and they disappeared. I'll post sample images when I have the opportunity.
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Showing 1-10 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 26, 2014 7:12:28 AM PDT
I just wanted to add that I also own the Fujifilm X-S1 12MP EXR CMOS Digital Camera with Fujinon F2.8 to F5.6 Telephoto Lens and Ultra-Smooth 26x Manual Zoom (24-624mm). It is larger and heavier, doesn't have Wi-Fi or the 50X zoom range or articulated LCD of the S1, but in most other ways I feel it is a better camera. Since it is currently being offered for less than the S1, I recommend closely comparing the two before you make your purchase decision.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2014 3:01:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2014 7:01:25 AM PDT
John Williamson says:
Excellent write-up on the Fujifilm FinePix S1, Kort. You've covered all of the bases on this new camera quite well, and you make a compelling case for anyone looking at a bridge camera in this price/performance range. Its weather-resistant feature and built-in Wi-Fi make a winner, not to mention the 24mm to 1200mm 50X optical zoom. The articulated Vari-Angle 3" LCD display adds to its usefulness in so many ways. Above all, being weather-resistant makes it an ideal outdoor or beach camera.
But... to not come with a lens hood or external battery charger is almost astonishing, as your own Fujifilm X-S1 comes with both. That one is a member of Fujifilm's premium X-series, yet is selling for a lower price, as you have noted.
Also surprising is the price for the proprietary Fujifilm Lens Hood LH-S1 for FinePix S1 with it's bayonet mount. Other Fujifilm models in this general class (HS50EXR, etc.) come with a lens hood as standard, so this has to be a major blunder by their marketing department. Even my now-ancient Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd from 2007 came with a lens hood as standard, so this is quite surprising.
Those may be picky points, but I feel that your review is quite generous, and based on what I've seen, given the choice I would opt for the Fujifilm X-S1... hands down. Your advice to compare the two is quite good.
And by the way, your review is titled: "This Camera Takes Some Fine Pix!"
Nice pun, Kort.
A socket wrench is a fine tool, but it doesn't fix broken cars. A camera is a tool that enables the photographer to take excellent photos. You are in command, not the camera, and clearly you are mastering the tool. Enough said.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2014 9:15:57 PM PDT
Thank you for the insightful comments John.
I do think that the S1 is a very fine bridge camera and should most certainly be tested by anyone interested in investing about $500 in such a camera. That said, I find the X-S1 to be the better overall model in most cases, especially taking the price difference and other niggles into consideration. Both are similar, but have a different feel when using them, so it really comes down to user preference and what features they find most important.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2014 10:40:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2014 10:46:01 PM PDT
John Williamson says:
I agree on the X-S1 being a better camera, although it lacks the articulated Vari-Angle 3" LCD display, a feature that I find invaluable on other cameras. But that's a personal consideration.
My issues with the S1 have to do with the price of the proprietary Fujifilm Lens Hood LH-S1 for FinePix S1 along with the Fujifilm Adapter Ring AR-S1 (Black). Add to this one needs to use Ø72mm filters with the S1, which just add to the overall price. The XS-1 uses Ø62mm filters, which are more reasonable in price.
As an all-weather camera I will agree that the S1 is a winner, but for the price difference one can pick up a good bag, such as the Think Tank CityWalker 20 Messenger Bag, which also has a seam-sealed rain cover (there are other models as well). Mine has held up in environments ranging form Northern snowstorms to Florida downpours for years, and can carry an amazing amount of gear.
When it comes to 'bridge cameras' Fujifilm has been a leader for many years, but in this case, the Fujifilm X-S1 seems to stand out as the clear winner. And it's a tempting bridge camera replacement for my well-aged Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd. That one was great, but as an example of Fujifilm's marketing stumbles, it used xD "PictureCards" with a max size of 2GB, and if I want to get 16GB worth of memory for that camera, the price alone would almost pay for the X-S1. And your excellent review of the X-S1 is almost enough to make me justify one of these.
It's all a matter of priorities.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2014 7:26:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 31, 2014 7:27:06 AM PDT
Thanks for the additional insights John and you make some very valid points. Some people don't need a lot of "card space" for casual shooting, but today's higher MP sensors almost necessitate 16GB or more. For me, I don't think I'd use anything less than a fast 32 GB xD card with any of these, especially if a user plans to shoot some video too. I've got 64 GB cards in my new cameras and though they may be slightly overkill, I feel it is better to have that cushion. I know it is recommended to have backup cards as well, but I've only once had an issue with a corrupted card and that was a much older model. So far, the ones I've invested in have been very dependable (PNY, Kingston & SanDisk). It is always good to have backup on hand though, just in case.
John, I think you'd really like the X-S1. The S1 has some great features and a few perks over the X-S1 (vari-angle display, 50x zoom, and advertised weather sealing, ...but it isn't quite a "pro" bridge camera. The X-S1 is, without a doubt. If you want to step up to a similar yet more advanced camera on par with your experience with the S6000fd, then the X-S1 is a no brainer. I think you would be disappointed by the S1, even with it's bells and whistles. It might be great for someone else, but I will hazard to guess that it isn't for you. Weather/dust sealing/resistance on the X-S1 might not quite be at the level of the S1, but I think it is still better than most in this class of camera.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 11:05:03 AM PDT
I'm still deciding on the S1 - received it last week and have been comparing with my Panasonic FZ150. Love the zoom and tech features. I want to like it and hope I can play with some settings, but there have been a couple of indoor shots, dimmer light, taking a pic of my black dog for example, where the Pan was bright and clear and the Fuji was dark. Literally snapped a pic with one and then the other from the same spot. Anyway if I can get past that I am wondering about the lens hood. I have the adapter ring and a filter coming today (bought both elsewhere since the adapter ring was showing not available right now on amazon) - with the adapter ring, can't a universal hood for 72 mm be used, which is cheaper anyway? I have my eye on a couple but was wondering since this seems to be a sticking point for some. Seems this is the better route to go than worrying about the more expensive and proprietary hood.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 1:10:36 PM PDT
A universal hood should work for the S1 L. I'm scratching my head a bit to wondering why Fuji designed this to require an adapter for hood and filters.
After about 2 weeks of the camera working flawlessly, I've had some issues with the lens zoom not working. After contacting customer support on this issue and ruling out software or memory card bugs, Fujifilm is sending me a replacement camera. so I will hold off making further assessments until that time.
What I will say is that it isn't an ideal low-light camera. The Pany FZ150 has few pixels on the same size sensor, so (depending on the glass) should perform better in low light. For its the sensor size the S1 actually works better than I expected, and outperforms some of my older digitals cameras. But if low light performance and image quality at and above ISO 800 is a priority, you may do well to look at the X-S1 instead.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2014 3:36:14 PM PDT
I did consider the X-S1 but as it has the same zoom length as my current Pan 150, I couldn't really justify going with it for my purposes, and most of my shooting is probably outdoors during the day, or at worst dawn/dusk. Though I am going to try some moon shots, particularly the lunar eclipse next week.
I originally was considering an upgrade to the Pan FZ200, but held off for the price to come down and wasn't sure I needed it, over my current 150, unless I also added a tele lens to it (or the X-S1 if I went with it). That's when I started also looking into the Fujis and longer zoom cameras in general (including the Pan FZ70), to give some other brands a look. I got excited about this Fuji with the long zoom, wifi & smartphone control, articulating LCD I was used to, and that other Fujis in the bridge class seemed to have overall good reviews - hope I didn't let my excitement overshadow my research and jump the gun.
As for low light & sensor size, interestingly even my older, small p&s Pan TZ5 takes brighter indoor shots (even brighter at times than the 150) - I attribute that to design and unusually bright flash - but in looking at some of these Fuji shots, I realize they are probably more natural and truer. I did get a couple of pics on the Fuji comparable to the Pan 150 taken at the same time in lower light, but still have some more playing and comparing to do. I have to decide if the tech features and longer zoom are worth it over a better image quality but lower zoom.
A couple of reviews reference this is good if you want to post to the web but not for pixel peepers. I think most of us however are somewhere between those ends. I want versatility, with decent enough image quality for mostly 4x6 prints, but occasionally up to 8x10 or even larger if it's a good shot. I'd love a good quality dslr but frankly don't want the hassle of lenses, and I think based on my current camera use, would miss the zoom. For the most part I'm satisfied with my FZ150 but wanted some more reach. Looking at how much change and improvement there's been since my first digital camera 15 yrs ago (and over regular film p&s), I'm sure one of these days they'll be able to pack all of this into one small camera. Heck this is a dream camera compared to my first!
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2014 12:56:36 PM PDT
There are currently 3 bridge cameras that have a "60x" zoom. That may be misleading because some increase that range by making it a wider angle (20mm) on the low end. The Nikon CoolPixP600 has the longest range, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 and Samsung WB2200F have the wider angle. Still very impressive zoom ranges though. The best image quality of the bunch would likely come from the FZ70 based on what I've research, and at the best price too.
These are all smaller sensor cameras though. They won't give you quite the resolution or low light ability of a camera like the X-S1 or Sony DSCRX10 Cybershot. These latter might not have the zoom range, but you may get a more detailed image anyway because of better sensors and optics. But as you say, you have to decide which feature matter most to you. Unfortunately there is really no way to know for certain until you test them out. The extra reach of the S1 is nice and it is a great "do-it-all" camera for a casual user looking to make prints at the sizes you mentioned, but image quality suffers and it is harder to get a clean shot at 50x compared to the full 26x zoom on the X-S1.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2014 2:06:43 PM PDT
I did see those and note the differences in the starting range as well. I did also look at the DSCRX10. My 2nd digital was a Sony that I loved, not a dslr but had lenses for it, great quality, and seems Sony is returning to that quality.
This one is growing on me right now. I took a particular pic of our dog from a pretty good distance, outdoors, evening, sun behind the trees but not down, that turned out quite beautiful, and husband loved it (for him as much as he loves our dog, that one pic might be worth the price of the camera!). I still have some time to decide. I did consider ordering a couple of other cameras for comparison at the same time.
I have posted a few pics to the gallery that should appear soon. A couple didn't upload and will try those again.