The XS-1 has significantly come down in price since this review was posted. While I still think it's photo quality is only marginally better than your typical superzoom, it offers a feature set like none of the other superzooms on the market and really is the ultimate bridge camera. I only hope that Fuji has worked out some of the bugs with the later copies of this camera. And it needs to have better RAW support as well. For $600 though, you get quite a bit of camera for your money.
The bottom line on this camera is that the image quality is no better than your average point and shoot. For an $800 camera, that's rather disapponting to say the least. As a point of reference, I have also shot with the Canon SX40HS and Panasonic Lumix FZ150. Both of those turn out about the same level of IQ as the XS-1 and don't seem to have as many other operational flaws with them (and cost almost half what the XS1 does).
Granted the XS1 blows the FZ150 and SX40HS out of the water with its feature set and the EVF is one of the best I ever used. But what good is any of that if this $800 camera turns out photos that look just okay?
The camera is also a monster in the size department. Just slightly smaller than the 60d. I actually wouldn't have an issue with that if the overall performance was good. It's comfortable to grip and feels pretty well-made. My understanding is that there is also some degree of weather-sealing with the camera. Which is ironic because when I used the camera on a breezy day yesterday the screen would start flickering in the stronger wind gusts. I have never experienced that on a camera before.
As I mentioned before, the robust feature set is one of the camera's strong points. It basically has all of the options and controls that a mid-level DSLR does and it is fun to explore all the settings that the camera has. I like the different film simulation modes it has.
The camera's performance is rather good in a lot of respects. It's quick to power on, the autofocus (when it works correctly) is fast and shot-to-shot times are good. That coupled with the EVF can make it enjoyable to shoot with when the camera isn't acting up.
Like I mentioned, image quality just has too many flaws considering its sensor size and price. My copy of this camera routinely overexposes, display visible aliasing, and details get smudged in a lot of instances. It's interesting that the X10, for all its flaws, seems to utilize this sensor's full potential a lot better and has significantly better photo quality than the XS1 does. While neither cameras can match the ISO performance of DSLR or ILCs, the X10 held up pretty well again the DSLRs at the lower ISOs in terms of image quality. Not the case with the XS1 though. While I can fully understand and expect softness at longer focal lengths, it just doesn't perform well at any focal length.
Another major flaw is the image stabilization leaves something to be desired. When extended to its full 624mm, you either have to have a steady hand or use a tripod to get a decent shot. Granted I had these same types of issues witht the FZ150, but that is a much cheaper camera overall. I would be more inclined to forgive that on a $450 camera vs. an $800 camera.
Also the autofocus refuses to lock on from time-to-time. The X10 had the same issue which leads me to believe that Fuji needs to do more work on their AF systems. The AF is fast when it works, but again, these are issues that cameras half the XS1's price don't exhibit.
I know there are those that will say I'm being overly picky given its a superzoom. But charging almost double what the other guys are means that I rightfully expect something better than your average superzoom. And what you get for your money just isn't that great. It's not the worst camera you can buy and it has a couple of strengths. But the final result is just not up to par and I think there are better ways to spend your $800 than on the XS1.
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