I have no inside info from Fujifilm, but based on my testing what you see in the shot above is the Fujifilm X100 / X10 in a DSLR looking shell with a better lens. If this were 2011 when this camera was originally released this might be an awesome thing, but this is 2013 so there’s some nasty facts that you need to know about this camera up front in 2013:
- This camera has the same crappy AF system that plagued the x100 which is shocking to me as even the x10 with the v1.0 firmware outperformed that. The x10’s v2.0 firmware puts it on par with the great improvements of the x20 so I was scratching my head as to why this camera only has a v1.01 firmware update. Hey Fujifilm – where’s the v2 firmware?!!!
- This camera is slow as a slug like the x100, yet it seems to have a dynamic range that is closer to the X10 than the X100.
- Did you hate the X10’s or X100’s original menu system? If so, they’re back from the dead here. I tolerated them before but now with the improvements in the new firmware I can’t imagine how I lived with this crap before!
- The build quality of the X-S1 feels cheap and very inferior to the the other X-Series cameras which have that solid German-like build quality feel (despite being made in Japan). This makes sense though as it’s price indicates that compromises had to be made.
- It’s easy to think this is a DSLR because it sure looks the part, but that lens is not interchangeable and there’s no mirror. It’s also a 2/3” sensor like the X10 not the APS-C sensor found in the X100 (or X100s).
Make no bones about it, this is a X10 in disguise with the flaws of the X100 instead of the benefits of the X10. As a result, it quickly went from being a camera I was so excited to test to one that disappointed me deeply.
If this camera had the X100s internals with a T5i like articulating LCD and a better quality shutter button I would have been gushing all over this camera. It’s definitely a case of so close, yet so far! I wanted to love it because it feels good in the hands and that big honking 26x optical zoom is a joy to use! However, this camera just falls short.
Things get ugly indoors
This shot was taken in a fairly bright room on a chamber of commerce sunny day, but ISO 3200 just sucks in anything but perfect light. As a result I found this camera to be darn near unusable in most places in my house during the day and not even worth turning on at night. The on-camera flash was actually worse than average so I quickly accepted the reality that this is a sunny day outdoor camera.
Real World Sample Images
Things do get better when you set this camera up for success. I have a selection of images that illustrate some points I wanted to raise about this camera and to share that it’s not all bad.
As always, these images ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (yes, even the lame ones <g>). You may not save, edit, print, redistribute or otherwise use them without expressed written permission.
The full set of images is available at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/fujifilm/x-s1, but here’s a few noteworthy images. Click the image for the original and view using the gallery to see EXIF information. All major settings were camera defaults and in most cases I’m using Aperture priority with Auto ISO (3200) and DR Auto or EXR mode (when noted). I’m also using the Velvia film simulation and either auto white balance or shade white balance (outdoor shots).
f/3.6 @ 15.7 mm, 1/250, ISO 1250, No Flash, EXR
Small sensor means good bokeh comes a little harder
f/3.2 @ 9.9 mm, 1/420, ISO 100, No Flash
EXR mode doesn’t disappoint as it exposes this scene darn near exactly as the eye sees it
f/5.6 @ 6.1 mm, 1/60, ISO 2000, No Flash, Aperture Priority, Velvia
Without EXR the blown highlights start to appear
Notice in the center of the image there’s a little tiny blue spot – it’s the stream shown below
f/5.6 @ 158.6 mm, 1/40, ISO 3200, No Flash
The big optical zoom is addicting when you can take a scene like above where you
hear water, but can barely see it. With the big zoom I was able to precision focus through
all of the brush to the water – impressive!
f/6.4 @ 37.6 mm, 1/70, ISO 3200, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation
The small sensor proves to be advantageous in getting the whole snail in focus at only f/6.4
whereas even f/8 wasn’t enough to get the full snail in focus on the T5i (see here)
There were momentary flashes of brilliance with this camera, and I was impressed with the quality of the build in lens. Given the fact that most good lenses cost more than the entire cost of this camera, Fujifilm has done an impressive job with the lens. What’s more the tiny sensor works to a huge advantage by transforming a mediocre 6.1mm – 158.6mm lens into a beastly 24-624mm (35mm equivalent) 26x optical zoom. That is freakin impressive and a hell of a lot of fun to use! It’s really the one size fits most lens!
Sadly the cool lens and nice ergo of the body are where the good times end. Back for an encore is horrible battery life, horrific menus, useless AF performance indoors, painfully slow buffer flush performance, terrible burst mode and poor high ISO performance. Perhaps a v2.0 firmware like the X10 has would breathe new life into this camera to make it usable again, but as I tested it with v1.01 I quickly realized that there’s little to love about this camera. If you want a DSLR then get DSLR. If you want a point and shoot get a X10 or X20. If want better than 2/3” sensor performance with a fixed lens then get a x100s otherwise get a X-E1. This leaves no audience for this camera which means I give this a strong DO NOT BUY recommendation. I urge my readers to check out my Which camera should I buy? article and reviews below to help decide which camera is better suited for their needs. A X-S2 is rumored to be on the way as soon as the end of this month, so that might help things. However, I’d want to see this camera get the same sensor as the X100s. If the replacement is basically a big X20 then my advice would remain to skip this camera and go for the x20 or other options within the Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony or Canon platforms.
Where to order
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