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Fujifilm X-S1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £549
inc VAT

A few small niggles, but this ultra-zoom camera triumphs in all the areas that really matter


2/3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 26.0x zoom (24-624mm equivalent), 945g

The video mode is generally excellent, with 1080p capture in AVC format and stereo sound, but again, there are a few niggles. The lack of anti-alias filtering made sharp diagonal lines look blocky, and it’s frustrating that manual exposure settings and even the exposure lock button are ignored for video capture. Autofocus was smooth and silent, and although it wasn’t as reliable at tracking moving subjects as the Panasonic, it wasn’t bad. This is only possible when the front dial is switched from AF-S to AF-C, though – something we often forgot to do before commencing recording. Thankfully, it can still be switched after pressing record. The microphone input is a great asset but the lack of level metering or a headphone socket means there’s no way of knowing if the microphone’s battery has run out or if there’s a loose connection.

Fujifilm X-S1 SAMPLES
Focus at the full telephoto zoom extension is impressively sharp – click to enlarge

The X-S1 sailed through most of our image quality tests. The lens performed well throughout its zoom range, with no sign of chromatic aberrations and only mild corner softness at medium-to-long focal lengths. While its 26x zoom range isn’t as impressive as the Canon SX40 HS’s 36x zoom, in practice the Canon only had a small advantage for resolving detail at the maximum zoom extension. Low-light shots exhibited remarkably little noise, especially in the EXR mode that reduces the resolution to 6 megapixels specifically to combat noise. Another mode extends the dynamic range to rescue blown-out highlights, and was extremely effective.

Fujifilm X-S1 SAMPLES
It’s rare for an ultra-zoom camera to excel in low light, but the X-S1 is a notable exception – click to enlarge

The issue of blown-out highlights is somewhat controversial, with widely reported problems of white discs appearing in photos. However, as with the X10, we found it to be rare, and not hugely intrusive when it did appear. Boosting the dynamic range to the maximum 1600% setting significantly reduced it. The example below was caused by sunlight reflecting off a window pane on the Gherkin – it took a heavily over-exposed highlight such as this to trigger the problem.

Fujifilm X-S1 SAMPLES
White discs around specular highlights are infrequent enough to not worry about – click to enlarge

Paradoxically, the X-S1’s photos were least impressive in the most favourable shooting conditions. Photos taken in bright light at medium focal lengths were reasonably sharp but not quite a match for the Panasonic and Canon. Processing the X-S1’s raw output in Lightroom 4 or the bundled Silkypix editor didn’t help, either, which makes us wonder whether the sensor’s unusual pixel array (for lowering noise and extending the dynamic range) takes its toll on details. We’d happily choose lower noise and extended dynamic range over extra detail, but others may feel differently.

Fujifilm X-S1 SAMPLES
It isn’t so impressive in the least challenging situations – image detail is reasonable here but not outstanding – click to enlarge

The X-S1 leaves room for improvement, but many of the problems described above are trivial, and from our point of view, none are critical. The bottom line is that this camera removes the need to choose between image quality, performance and ergonomics. It’s up there with the best in all three areas, and its EVF is without equal among ultra-zoom cameras. You’d have to spend a fortune on an SLR and lots of lenses to get a more versatile camera.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 2/3in
Viewfinder electronic (1,440,000 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 100%
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 460,000 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 26.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 24-624mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 26MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 460 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI, microphone, accessory shoe
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB cable, neck strap
Weight 945g
Size 107x136x155mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £549

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2.8-11 (wide), f/5.6-11 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controls Dynamic range, film simulation, color, sharpness, highlight tone, shadow tone, noise reduction
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes multi, flexible spot, centre, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, spot, average, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction, flash compensation
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, ISO bracket, Film simulation bracket, dynamic range bracket, Best frame capture

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