8/1/2012 11:35:04 AM

Ratings: 5/5

Price: $823.5


In our latest super-zoom camera collection, SX40 HS of Canon is leading image quality, FZ150 of Panasonic is dominating performance and video quality, and HS20EXR of Fujifim is no.1 of safe design and working effect.

Description: Fujifilm X-S1

Fujifilm X-S1

With X-S1, Fujifilm determined to creat the top quality in all areas. 12MP sensor which it shares with Fujifilm X10 creates less noise than the sensor of Canon. Its performance loses only Panasonic a little, taking 0.9 seconds between shots in normal use. Its controls are based on HS20EXR controls, with the ring for lens and focus as well as many single-function buttons.

It is a big camera but it’s comfortable to hold and its rubber surface effect gives you a firm handle. The only field it is inferior is video, where it can’t be compared with the ability to record 1080/50p of Panasonic camera with full manual exposure controls. However, problems of stabilization system and video autofocus of HS20EXR have disappeared and microphone input on microphone is a good new addition.

In sum, X-S1 is the winner. However, it is also quite expensive, more $300 than any cameras mentioned above.

Place for a visibility

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) doesn’t leave any regrets. 1.44 million-pixel resolution is a improvement 7 times more than EVF of cheaper competitors, and brings greater visibility than any SLR at this price range. The sensor automatically switches between screen and EVF when the camera is brought up to eyes. 3-inch LCD screen with 460 thousand pixels is bright and clear though we prefer full swiveling screen of Canon and Panasonic, which is rotated on one side to have many wider views.

Single-function buttons which are on the left of the screen work well with the command disk, which mostly makes the menu become unnecessary. However, the menu isn’t well-organized, with the face detection as 14th item below strange parameters such as highlight color and white balance change. The last one will be more useful if you access it with white balance presets which have a separate button. Raw button is useful but only at certain level. It converts between Raw and Raw+JPEG but it is only for a snapshot. To change permanent setting, you have to enter Setup menu.

The performance is excellent with quick autofocus and snapshot. Sometimes autofocus is failed but it’s so clear that we only need to take photos again. However, X-S1 shares a problem we met before on Fujifilm cameras: although it can take photos while images are saving to the memory disk, but other controls don’t respond during this time. It is a little inconvenience and after that, you realize that a setting need changing before taking another photo, plus to 1 or 2 seconds to the process. Nonetheless, trying to do it after a series of photos would add about 5 seconds as well as selecting Raw and continuous mode would plus about 10 seconds.

It is not the fastest camera in opening, taking 2.7 seconds since opening till taking photos in our tests. Continuous mode is pretty fast with 6.5fps down to 1.5fps after 6 frames. The reduction of 6MP increased the performance up to 9.6fps for 14 frames, reducing 3.2fps. However, FZ150 reachs 12fps speed for 12 frames at full quality, or 5.4fps for 22 photos with the autofocus continuously updated. It is not an option in any continuous mode on X-S1.

Video mode is generally excellent, with the ability to record 1080p in AVC format and stereo sound, but, again, there are few obstacles. Lacking of anti-aliasing filter makes sharp diagonals seems to be blocked, and it’s extremely disappointed that manual exposure setting, even exposure locking exposure button has been ignored for video recording. The autofocus is smooth and quiet, though it’s not reliable in tracking moving objects with Panasonic cameras. However, it is just possible when the disk is moved from AF-S to AF-C which we often forget before starting to record. Fortunately, it still can be changed after pressing recording button. Microphone input is valuable asset but without headphone jack or level metering, it means that there is no way to know if it is working or not. X-S1 glided our image quality tests. Lens does well throughout its zoom range without signs of the phenomenon of chromatic aberration and there is a bit light in the corner at moderate to long focal distance. 26x zoom range is not as impressive as 36x zoom of Canon SX40 HS, but actually Canon is only good at resolving details at maximum zoom extension. Low-light shots show less noise, especially in EXR mode reducing the resolution to 6MP to prevent noise. Another mode extending dynamic range helps over hightlights and it is highly effective.

Highlight expansion

Description: Fujifilm X-S1

Over highlight is the controversy issue, with problems reported extensively on white disks appearing in the picture. However, it is quite rare and it doesn’t infringe when appearing. The increase dynamic range up to 1600% has reduced this issue significantly.

Strangely, images of X-S1 are not impressing in the most popular conditions. Images taken in clear light at average focal lengths are fairly sharp but not as photos of Panasonic and Canon. Processing the Raw output of X-S1 in Lightroom 4 or equipped Silkypix editor isn’t helpful, which makes us wonder if unusual array of pixel of the sensor (to reduce noise and extend dynamic range) harms to details or not. We prefer less noise and extended dynamic range to more details, but others may think differently.

X-S1 still has to be improved but many problems are not important. The key is that this camera eliminates the demand choosing between image quality, performance, safe design and working effect. It is equal to the best product in 3 areas, and its EVF has no rival among super-zoom cameras. You will have to spend a fortune for a SLR camera and lens to have a more versatile camera.


Evaluation: Some obstacles, but this super-zoom camera wins in every important area.

Super-zoom Digital Camera: 12MP (4,000x3,000), 26x optical zoom (24-624mm), 3-inch LCD (460 million pixels), SDXC slot (26MB internal), Li-ion battery, 107x136x155mm, 945g, 1 year of RTB warranty

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