Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for S1_Black_Front_Left.jpg
  • 16-Megapixel BSI-CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Vari-Angle LCD Screen
  • LCD and EVF feature 920k dots of resolution
  • 50x Optical zoom lens: 24-1200mm (35mm equivalent)
  • 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization system
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • SRAuto shooting mode
  • Full manual control
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Pop-up flash and hot shoe
  • Weather Resistant body
  • Side lens zoom control
  • In-Camera panorama and HDR processing
  • Built-in WiFi
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
Pros
  • SRAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Weather Sealed body allows you to shoot with confidence in all weather/situations
  • Zoom range is amazing
  • 5-axis O.I.S. is very helpful when shooting on the move and at the full telephoto end
  • Comfortable, secure grip
  • Bright 3.0-inch Vari-Angle LCD is great for tough situations and all lighting conditions
  • High Res EVF is also great to shoot with and gives dSLR feel
  • After initial setup, WiFi works easily with just one button push
  • Smartphone/Tablet app is easy to use
  • Good shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Overall image quality shows more than average noise for all ISO settings
  • Handheld shots at the full telephoto range is difficult but not impossible
  • No sensor to switch from LCD to EVF when you put the camera to your eye
  • Flash is not adequate in most situations
  • No external charging unit, the battery has to be charged in the camera
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.3 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 6/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.40 seconds
  • Low Speed Burst =  3.33fps 
  • Medium Speed Burst = 5.63fps
  • High Speed Burst = 9fps
  • All burst shooting reached their buffer limit at 9 images. After that the camera would continue to capture images but at a much slower pace
  • All tests were taken using an Fuji Ultra Performance Class 10, 4GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Fuji FinePix S1 is an amazingly versatile camera sporting a 50x optical zoom lens, WiFi, awesome O.I.S. and a weather-sealed body. It is a great travel companion that is ready for any situation. Its only downfall is high noise level at all ISO settings.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a more compact and versatile alternative to a dSLR and bagful of lenses that you would to cover any situation. Also great for anyone shooting in tough and adverse conditions. 
Fuji continues to push the boundaries of what they can do with their compact point-n-shoot cameras. The FinePix S1 is one of the most versatile camera's we have seen from them yet, sporting a 50x optical zoom lens, 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization system, and weather-resistant construction that allows the camera to go just about anywhere. The camera is also loaded up with a slew of other useful features like the 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS imaging sensor, 3.0-inch Vari-Angle LCD screen, Built-in WiFi, pop-up flash with hot shoe and full 1080p HD video recording. This is all packed into a body that is about the size of a small dSLR or large ILC.

Fuji's 50x optical Super EBC Fujinon Lens features a 35mm equivalent of 24mm-1200mm, far surpassing any dSLR lens on the market. With a maximum aperture of f/2.8-5.6, it handles low-light situations very well. The camera offers two zoom controls, one on the side of the lens for a dSLR feel, with varying speeds. To support this lens while you are shooting handheld, Fuji has also included its 5-axis optical image stabilization system that provides up to 3-stops of correction. This system will correct pitch, yaw, roll, vertical and horizontal shifts in the camera. This is a huge help when shooting handheld in low-light situations, using telephoto end of the lens or even when shooting stills or movies while on the move.

One touch WiFi offers control and versatility to the S1. Once you have the initial connection to a smartphone or tablet, the one-touch feature makes this one of the easiest to use Wi-Fi systems that we have come across yet. Pressing the button on the back of the camera, opening the app and choosing which feature you would like to use is it all it takes. The app allows you to view and copy the images that are on the camera's memory. It also allows you to use the smartphone or tablet as a remote control for the camera. The remote works well, offering several setting controls as well as the option to switch between still and video. When shooting with the remote you will have to expect some additional lag as the camera and other device take a little time to communicate. 

The FinePix S1 is one of the larger super-zoom cameras that we have used. It has a large grip on the right side with several rubber patches, including one around the lens, to assure that you always have control over the camera. The top and back of the camera feature plenty of on-body controls, including the programmable Fn button, to keep you shooting and out of the menu system as much as possible. Along with the secure feel of the camera, the weatherproofing gives you the confidence to wield the camera in all outdoor situations. Whether you are shooting in the rain or a dust storm, the sealed camera will survive without any complications. One of our sample movies shows that the camera is more than capable of taking a good splash; but it is not sealed to the point that it can be submerged and or used underwater.

Two options are available for composing and viewing your images with the S1. Your first option is to use the 0.2-inch, 920k dot EVF. It gives you an incredibly high resolution for shooting and viewing. It will show all of the information exactly the way you would see it on the LCD. While shooting this way you will get approx. 97% of the field-of-view for accurately composed images. A dioptic adjustment allows anyone to see the screen clearly and there is no worry about glare with the EVF.

Your other option is the large, 3.0-inch Vari-Angle LCD screen. Tilting and turning allows you to adjust the screen for difficult shooting angles and to eliminate glare. This screen also features 920k dots of resolution for a highly detailed image. Adjustable levels of brightness allow the screen to be viewed comfortably in most lighting conditions. 

Our outdoor image quality shows good exposure and color, but with a higher than we would like to see amount of noise. All but one of our sample images were taken in either SRAuto or Program mode at ISO Auto except for one that was taken at ISO 1600. All of the images show noise when looking closely, which is a bit disappointing on a bright day with the lowest ISO settings. This softness the image overall, lowering its overall quality. We also noticed aberrations in many of the high contrast areas throughout all of our outdoor sample images. The 50x optical zoom allows you to shoot in just about all situations, near or far without having to change your position. This is a great feature for travel and sightseeing when you encounter a situation that does not allow you to stray from a group or path. 

Looking at our indoor samples, we say the same results as the outdoor images. While the color and exposure look good, the high noise levels for each ISO setting reduce the sharpness and overall quality of the image. Even at ISO 100, noise levels are visible within the color chart. These levels increase quickly as the ISO settings go up leaving ISO settings 1600 and up very disappointing. This leaves more work to the O.I.S. and built-in flash to keep the ISO settings low. The flash is also a little problematic in that it is not near powerful enough for the large zoom lens. In our samples, the images all appear to be underexposed, even at ISO 800.

Face detection software makes sure that your portrait shots are always in focus and properly exposed for your subjects. The camera will find and follow any faces that appear within the camera's frame. It then makes sure that the settings are set specifically for the faces and not the rest of the scene. Our sample images, both with and without the flash, came out very well. The faces are definitely sharp and exposed properly. There is plenty of detail in and around the face to bring out your subjects character. The flash did very well in our sample, providing a little fill light without changing the color tone of the image or adding redness to the eyes.

The power of the S1 allows you to shoot in some special and creative shooting modes. There are several modes that require the camera to capture more than one image for the camera to combine into an "improved" image. HDR and Pro Low-Light will combine these images to reduce noise and increase the dynamic range that the camera is capable of capturing. Creative filters can be applied to your images as well while you are shooting. This lets you see exactly what your creative filters will look like while you are composing your images. Finally there is a 360° Motion Panorama mode, which allows you to pan the camera while it captures and stitches the images together for you. 

Shooting movies with the S1 could not be easier. The dedicated video recording button lets you record your videos at any time, no matter what shooting mode the camera is in. The full 50x optical zoom is available as is the stability of the 5-axis image stabilization. You will hear the zoom motor when using the zoom while recording, so if your audio is important, use it sparingly. Even the special filters work while recording if you are currently in one of their shooting modes. Our sample movies provided smooth playing videos with good exposure and fairly accurate continuous AF, as long as the subject doesn't move too fast. Even shooting with the camera on the move came out well with the image stabilization. Watching your movies is just as easy on the camera's LCD screen. You have basic control over the video, and with an optional HDMI cable you can watch your HD movies on any HDTV.

Powering the S1 is a 3.7V, 1700mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. During our tests we were able to capture approx. 300 still images and videos on a single charge, all while testing the WiFi and other features as well. This fits very well with the 350 images that Fuji claims the camera can capture on a single charge. This is a great battery life for this style camera but we still recommend keeping a spare battery charged and on hand at all times. This takes a little more planning since Fuji did not include a portable battery charger, instead giving you a USB power adapter to charge the battery inside the camera.

Bottom Line - The versatility of the Fuji FinePix S1 is what gives this camera a reason to be on your radar. The huge optical zoom lens, excellent O.I.S, weather-sealed body and powerful shooting and processing capabilities let the camera go just about anywhere and handle any situation. Image quality presents the only major drawback. All of our images show more noise than we would like to see, which reduces sharpness and dulls the colors. With a MSRP of US $499.95, you may want to look around at other models like the Canon PowerShot SX50 to compare and find out what will be best for you.


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