Fuji X-S1

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While Fuji (or more correctly Fujifilm) has produced an SLR, based on a Nikon chassis, it is better known for its dandy little compact cameras and its superzoom, DSLR-lookalike models. The X-S1 is a case in point. It sports a Fujinon 26x optical zoom lens.

At the camera’s heart is a 12-megapixel, 2/3-inch EXR-CMOS sensor, from the Fujifilm X10. This bridge camera – between the point and shoot and DSLR worlds – has a high quality look and feel with metal dials, a rubberized coating and superior handling characteristics, all designed to appeal to the discerning photo enthusiast.

With that super long zoom – the equivalent of 24-624 mm – there’s no need to carry extra lenses and open the sensor to dust when changing them. Even if you could, because the lens is permanently fixed on the X-S1.

At its wide-angle setting, it features a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture.

For those willing to go out on a ledge, this optical range is boosted by Intelligent Digital Zoom. This effectively doubles the focal range. Yup 52X, to1248 mm! (Tripod, please.) Fujifilm says this is achieved without the drop in picture quality normally associated with traditional digital zoom functions. That’s quite the statement, one that deserves testing.

Optically, the lens has 17 glass elements, which includes four aspherical elements and two ED lenses, which the company says delivers images with superb edge-to-edge sharpness and amazing clarity. The lens construction, it says, is of the highest standard, featuring metal cams for smooth zoom control and fast, precise framing.

In standard Macro mode, the zoom focuses as close as 7 cm, but by selecting Super Macro Mode, you can focus as close as 1 cm. (That’s getting really close to lens scratching distance.)

Fujifilm notes the lens’ aperture is made up of nine blades for excellent “bokeh.”

The EXR-CMOS technology in that sensor system allows the user to switch between three modes depending on the lighting conditions – or let 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 designed for 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, says the company.

Coupled with the sensor is the high speed EXR processor, which offers a minimal shutter lag of just 0.01 sec and a high speed continuous shooting capability of seven frames-per-second at full resolution (Large JPEG) or 10 frames-per-second at 6-megapixel resolution (Medium JPEG).

The Fujifilm X-S1 also takes high-quality movies. It captures Full 1080p 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 is also the first Fujifilm digital camera to have a port for an external microphone.

The X-S1 offers a high quality electronic viewfinder and a tiltable LCD screen for composing and viewing images.

There’s 49-point selectable autofocus as well as manual focus.

The tiltable 3-inch LCD offers a useful daylight mode to overcome the problem of viewing the screen in bright conditions.

Photographers who prefer full manual controls will have something to do. The camera offers a full range of conventional shooting functions (program, shutter-priority, aperture-priority, manual) plus users can fine tune levels of colour, image sharpness and tone. The X-S1 provides four auto bracketing options, eight film simulation and white balance functions and Raw file shooting capabilities.

For simplicity, the X-S1 will automatically 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 determine 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 adjusted by the Auto ISO mode, which selects the optimum setting between ISO 100 and 3200. Those after more ISO flexibility can manually select up to ISO 12800 (Small JPEG format only).

Other features include optical image stabilization, 360° Motion Panorama mode, and a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery providing up to 500 shots per charge.

The Fujifilm X-S1 will be available in February in black with a suggested MSRP of $799.

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