Fujifilm X-S1 Digital Camera Review$799.95
Lens & Sensor
The X-S1 looks like an interchangeable lens camera, but it's fixed with an f/2.8-5.6, 6.1-158.6mm (24-624mm equivalent) 26x zoomer.
It's a manual-zoom lens, controlled with a ridged, rubberized twist-barrel. Fujifilm claims that they built it with some of the same techniques they use in their professional broadcast-quality lenses, including a greased barrel. It’s very smooth, with a nice weighting and consistent resistance throughout the focal range.
The lens also has a focus-by-wire ring on the close side of the barrel, and accepts 62mm filters. That's huge even by superzoom standards, but that's the price to pay for such a wide focal range on a camera with a relatively large sensor.
In super macro mode, the X-S1 can focus from as close as 1 cm—doesn't get any better than that. Even with macro mode turned off, it focuses reliably from about six inches.
The X-S1 is built around a 12-megapixel, 2/3-inch, EXR CMOS sensor. That's about 50 percent bigger than the 1/2.3-inch sensors found in most superzooms (including the class-leading Panasonic FZ150 or Canon SX40), and even bigger than the 1/2-inch sensors in previous Fujifilm HS-series cameras.
As a CMOS sensor (as most sensors are these days), it's a speedy operator with quick bursts, short shot-to-shot times, and 1080p HD video capability. Fuji's proprietary EXR design is noteworthy as well—the pixels are arranged differently than on most sensors, opening up more processing possibilities.
For anyone keeping track, it's the same chip used in last year's Fujifilm X10 premium compact—which means that yes, unfortunately, it's also the same chip behind the White Orbs problem.
There had been speculation that maybe the White Orbs were caused by a firmware problem, but an update failed to fix the issue. We thought that the X10's bright f/2.0 lens might've been behind the problem; that could be a part of it, but with the f/2.8-5.6 X-S1, we spotted the same perfectly round, hard-edged white discs in highlight areas of dark photos, usually at low ISO settings. It definitely boils down to the sensor. Check out our Low Light page for more.
The X-S1 comes equipped with a great electronic eye-level viewfinder. At 1.44 million pixels, the resolution is much higher than we see from the cut-rate EVFs on most superzooms, and approaching the greatness of the EVFs on Sony's Alpha SLT models. It's bright, responsive, and sharp enough to actually use for manual focus. At 0.47 inches, it's reasonably large, and although the plastic eyepiece is shallow and pretty hard, overall the EVF is comfortably to shoot with. It's also equipped with an eye-level sensor and a diopter adjustment dial (-5 to +3), tucked awkwardly behind the eyepiece.
The 3-inch, 460,000-pixel, tilting LCD on the X-S1 is pretty typical of the superzoom class. The size is ample, the resolution is decent, and the hinge helps with high- and low-angle photos and videos. Direct sunlight mostly washes out the screen, but with the Monitor Sunlight Mode activated and brightness boosted all the way, it's somewhat visible—even so, it's probably better to use the EVF when possible. We'd love to see a fully articulating screen like the Panasonic FZ150 offers, but we don't have much to complain about here.
The X-S1's flash pops up and out from its cavity on the crest of the camera, released manually. It’s reasonably powerful for a pop-up unit—26.2 feet, according to Fuji. Recycle times could almost keep up with the camera's shot-to-shot speed. There's also a hot shoe for external (more powerful) flash support.
Per usual these days, the X-S1 rolls with USB and mini-HDMI ports, but also includes a microphone jack and an A/V out jack. They're all covered up with a rubberized flap on the left side of the body.