Fujifilm FinePix S100FS review: Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

MSRP: $799.99

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

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7.5 Overall

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.

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.