Fujifilm FinePix S1 review: A 50x zoom for whatever weather you're in

As is the case with most cameras in its class, viewing the S1's shots at 100 percent onscreen will show quite a bit of noise and artifacts, and fine details even at its lowest ISOs aren't exactly clean and sharp.

Shooting out in the daylight, though, you can get very good results from the FinePix S1. If, however, your goal is to make poster-size prints after enlarging and heavily cropping in, you won't like the results. Likewise, if you're a birder or stalker of some other wildlife who wants to view fine details of distant subjects, this might not be good enough for your needs.

It's also not particularly good at ISOs above 400, as noise reduction gets stronger and smears details making subjects look soft at small sizes. There can also be a significant amount of purple fringing in high-contrast areas.

Shooting in raw format you can control the noise some and the fringing can be edited out. But again, it really comes down to what you want to do with your photos. For Web use or prints up to 8x10 or slightly larger, the results are pleasing.

Video is similarly nice in daylight, but less so in dim conditions. The zoom lens works while recording, though in quiet scenes you'll hear the lens movement in your movie clips. The camera can record in full HD at 60fps as well as high-speed movies in VGA resolution at 120fps; 320p at 240fps; and 240p at 480fps.

General shooting options Fujifilm FinePix S1
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance Auto, Direct Sunlight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, Incandescent, Custom
Recording modes SR Auto, Auto, Advanced, Scene Position, Panorama, Program AE, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Custom, Movie (Normal, High Speed)
Focus modes Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, Macro, Super Macro; Center, Multi, Area, Tracking
Macro 2 inches (Wide); 4.3 feet (Tele); Super Macro 0.4 inch to 3.3 feet
Metering modes Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Standard, Chrome, Sepia, B&W
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 9 shots

Though the FinePix S1 can be used as a straightforward point-and-shoot -- there are two Auto modes (with or without scene recognition) -- it also has semimanual and manual shooting modes. In manual mode, available shutter speeds start at 30 seconds and go down to 1/2,000 second; selectable apertures go from f2.8 to f11 at wide end, and f5.6 to f11 at the telephoto end.

There is a Scene Position mode with the usual suspects like Portrait and Landscape and Sport and Fireworks. You'll also find an Advanced mode, which gives you a Pro Low-light setting that snaps off several photos and then combines them into one lower-noise photo; HDR; Zoom bracketing; and 10 advanced filters (Toy, Screen, Fish-eye, Miniature, Pop Color, Dynamic Tone, Partial Color, High Key, Low Key, and Soft Focus).

fujifilm-finepix-s1-product-photos11.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Lastly, the S1 has built-in Wi-Fi (and a button to activate it) that can be used to backup photos to a PC and connect to your smartphone or tablet to view or transfer images from the camera to your mobile device via the Fujifilm Camera Remote app. (There are currently multiple Fujifilm apps available, so be sure to get the right one.)

As the name implies, the app, which is available for Android and iOS, can remotely control the camera. You can't change settings, but you can control the lens, snap photos or start and stop video recording, set a self-timer, and turn on the flash (though you'll have to pop it up first). It also gives you a live view from the camera so you can see what you're shooting.

The app can also geotag photos when connected to the camera, which isn't as good as having built-in GPS, but it's better than nothing.

One minor annoyance: Everything in the app is done in portrait. That includes viewing photos, and you have to view your photos by opening and closing each one.

Conclusion

The Fujifilm FinePix S1 is basically your only choice right now if you want a 50x zoom lens on a camera that's protected from the elements. Maybe it doesn't have the absolute best image quality, but the rest of the camera is excellent.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Optical Zoom 26 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 2/3"