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Fujifilm FinePix S100FS review: Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

The Fujifilm FinePix S100FS is an 11-megapixel superzoom that strikes a happy medium between dSLR and bridge cameras. It's a solid build with a wide lens and a mechanically stabilised zoom. It performs well and the controls are easy to use, while the LCD screen hinges out the back of the camera

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
5 min read

The Fujifilm FinePix S100FS is an 11-megapixel bridge camera. It seriously blurs the line between dSLR and bridge cameras, with features borrowed from the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro, and is available now for around £400.


Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

The Good

Excellent, versatile lens; decent noise control; raw performance.

The Bad

Marked purple fringing; electronic viewfinder.

The Bottom Line

The 11-megapixel Fujifilm Finepix S100FS is a heavyweight in both size and features, with impressive raw performance, a large sensor and an excellent wide-angle long lens, only let down by purple fringing

The first thing you'll notice is the S100's size. It's actually chunkier than entry-level cameras such as the Olympus E-510, with the giant lens dwarfing the E-510's kit lens. There are opposing schools of thought on this subject, with some preferring more hefty cameras. The S100's size fortunately translates into a solid grip, with a comfortable rubberised contour for the fingers of the right hand.

The lens starts at a pleasingly-wide 28mm, equivalent to a 35mm film camera. It has a long 14.3x lens, making it very versatile. The zoom lens is mechanically stabilised, to keep the shakes from spoiling pictures. You can also use the zoom while filming video, which is unusual -- although the autofocus is occasionally foxed by zooming in or out.

Zoom and manual focus are controlled by turning the lens ring. This is great for zooming, but we're not sold on the manual focus. The fault lies with the viewfinder: it's electronic, and even though switching from autofocus to manual focus magnifies the centre portion of the image, the EVF isn't clear enough for really precise focus. That said, you do get a slider scale that shows how accurately you have focused. Moving the camera around also leads to the red, green and blue artefacts appearing on-screen. It's not an unpleasant effect -- like wearing 3D glasses.

These two images -- wide angle on the left and maximum telephoto on the right -- show the extraordinary versatility of this lens

Other features are controlled by a plethora of buttons and dials, including a metering selector. Despite the number of buttons, the controls are straightforward and unintimidating. One SLR-like feature is a control wheel that decides the shutter speed -- or aperture, if the exposure compensation button is pressed -- for manual control similar to an entry-level dSLR.

One of the S100's most interesting features is the 64mm (2.5-inch) tilting LCD screen. It hinges out from the back of the camera in a similar way to the Sony Alpha series. Somehow, this method doesn't feel as elegant as the camcorder-style sideways-folding method employed by the Olympus E-3, but the angle of view is insanely good, with the contents of the screen visible right up until perspective cuts the screen off from view.

As well as a hot shoe, the S100 has a PC sync socket for connecting external flashes.

Imaging is handled by an 11-megapixel CCD, which is 2/3 of an inch -- bigger than the average compact's sensor. The larger size would be expected to resolve more detail and reduce noise.

You get all the usual scene modes -- landscape, portrait and so on -- as well as four modes for shooting nature. We're not sure why these nature settings merited a separate menu and position on the mode wheel. Meanwhile, film simulation -- hence 'S100FS' -- modes mimic the look and feel of different types of film.

There are two custom white balance options, so you don't have to manually reset custom settings. You also get Fuji's clever face detection 2.0, which will find up to 10 human faces in a scene, even if they're in profile, and also corrects red eye. The macro focuses on items 100mm away -- at the widest angle -- but a super macro goes as close as 10mm.

Extended dynamic range is popular at the moment, and the S100 gets in on the act, with the option to capture a greater range of detail in darker and lighter areas. Dynamic range is one of the options that can be bracketed, along with film simulation and exposure. This function captures three frames at different settings with one press of the shutter.

Playback mode allows for a 3x3 thumbnail grid -- or even a 10x10 -- but the screen is rather too small for that to be useful. Fujifilm has seen the light with regard to memory cards, and the S100 is the latest to support the near-ubiquitous SD and SDHC card, as well as the proprietary xD card.

Raw performance is excellent at 1fps and an impressive 3fps in continuous mode. Continuous mode will stop after seven JPEGs and three raw files. Top 7, last 7 and top 50 burst modes save the first and last seven or first 50 images, but at a vastly reduced 3-megapixel resolution. Start-up time is two seconds, with a shot-to-shot time of one second without flash, and two seconds with flash.

This crop, taken on the full automatic setting, shows the purple fringing that creeps into many images

The large sensor and lens combination give crystal-clear images, with no distortion or vignetting. Purple fringing is more pronounced than we'd like, but it could be argued there is a trade-off in noise control. Noise is well handled up to ISO 800, and even above that the extra detail crammed in is worth putting up with pebbledashing in darker areas. The maximum ISO speed is 10,000, which is pointlessly fast, as images are murdered by speckles.

As the mechanical image stabilisation is complemented by ISO-boosting, we recommend limiting the maximum ISO speed to 400 or 800 to get the best results. Image stabilisation easily saved us two or three stops.

There is a fair bit of noise reduction applied to images, which smears fine detail, but you can get around this by shooting unprocessed raw images. Be warned, however, that raw files are an enormous 22MB.

As a bridge camera, the Fujifilm FinePix S100FS is definitely closer to the dSLR side of the bridge than the compact. Fujifilm has packed it with features and given many of them their own controls. The Olympus SP-560 UZ may be less intimidating, while for a similar amount of money, you could get into dSLRs with an entry-level model such as the Pentax K200D. Still, the excellent, versatile lens and wealth of options make this a serious camera to take charge of your photography.

Editing by Jon Squire

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