The Fujifilm X series of premium cameras has a third model — the X-S1 — and just like the two before it, this latest addition sets new standards in design and performance.
The X-S1 represents a new breed of bridge cameras. Built in Japan to exacting standards, the body has a high-quality look and feel with metal dials, a rubberised coating and superior handling characteristics that will appeal to the discerning photo enthusiast.
In addition, the X-S1 offers a premium picture-taking performance to match its looks. From the high-quality Fujinon 26x optical zoom lens through to the EXR sensor taken from the X10 and the wide range of functions, the X-S1 puts the photographer in complete control.
The centrepiece of the X-S1 is the Fujinon 26x optical zoom lens. Offering a range of 24-624mm (35mm equivalent) it caters perfectly for every photographic need and features a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture at the wide-angle setting.
This optical range is boosted further by Fujifilm's Intelligent Digital Zoom capability, which effectively doubles the focal range without the drop in picture quality normally associated with digital zoom functions. As a result, the X-S1 offers users an incredible 52x zoom range of 24-1248mm (35mm equivalent).
Optically, almost all of lenses consist of glass elements, which includes four aspherical elements and two ED lenses, to deliver images with superb edge-to-edge sharpness and amazing clarity. The lens' construction is of the highest standard, featuring metal cams for smooth zoom control and fast, precise framing.
The X-S1 is also ideally suited to capturing subjects close up. In standard mode, the zoom focuses down to 30cm, but by selecting Super Macro Mode, users can focus down to 1cm for frame-filling close-up images. Furthermore, the lens' aperture is made up of nine blades for excellent bokeh effect photography.
The X-S1 features the same 2/3-inch 12 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor as the X10 which ensures high quality images regardless of the lighting conditions.
The unique EXR CMOS technology pioneered by Fujifilm allows the user to switch between three modes depending on the lighting conditions — or leave the camera to make its own choice in the Auto EXR mode.
Switching between the modes changes the performance of the sensor. The High Resolution option is perfect in bright conditions or when the very best picture quality is the primary aim. Wide Dynamic Range mode should be chosen in scenes of high contrast when the user wants to get details in both shadow and highlight areas of an image, while the High Sensitivity & Low Noise option should be selected for optimum results in low light conditions.
Coupled to the EXR CMOS sensor is the high speed EXR processor, which offers a minimal shutter lag of just 0.01sec and a high speed continuous shooting capability of seven frames-per-second at full resolution (Large JPEG) or 10 frames-per-second at six megapixel resolution (Medium JPEG).
The X-S1 also takes high-quality movies. It captures Full High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) video with stereo sound at 30 frames-per-second, which is saved in the H.264 format.
The X-S1 offers a powerful combination of high quality electronic viewfinder and rear LCD to ensure composing and viewing images is quick and simple, regardless of the lighting conditions.
The 0.47-inch electronic viewfinder (EVF) features 1.44 million pixels for superb image clarity and has a wide viewing area of 26 degrees to reduce eye strain. The bright EVF makes it easy to check settings or adjust focus manually.
On the back of the X-S1 is a high quality, tiltable three-inch LCD. It features 460,000 pixels making it easier for users to scroll through menus, assess exposure accuracy and view images. The LCD also offers a useful Daylight mode that overcomes the problem of viewing the screen in bright conditions.
The X-S1 offers a superb level of functionality whether users want to make picture taking as simple as using a compact or as involved as a fully-manual digital SLR.
For simplicity, the X-S1 will assess the subject and then select the relevant scene mode for the perfect result, automatically switching the EXR CMOS sensor accordingly. Not only does it ascertain the type of scene being photographed, it can also calculate whether an image contains a person, features backlighting or has any subject movement. ISO settings are taken care of too by the Auto ISO mode, which selects the optimum setting between ISO 100 and 3200. Those after more ISO flexibility can select up to ISO 12800 (Small JPEG format only).
Photographers after full control are well catered for with the X-S1. The camera offers a full range of conventional shooting functions (program/aperture-priority/shutter-priority/manual), plus users can also fine tune levels of colour, image sharpness and tone. Additionally, the X-S1 provides four auto bracketing options, eight Film Simulation and white balance functions and a Raw file format.