I’ve written five short posts about my experiences with the Fuji X-S1. Calling them a ‘review’ is probably a little deceiving. They are my experiences. For a real review, go see Photography blog, who go into far greater depth than I, and offer a good deal more expertise in their summary. They do rate the camera highly, and whilst they do point out the high cost they do go on to say that ‘it’s also easily the best-in-class super-zoom, offering a compelling mix of features, performance and image quality that no other rival can match.‘ I’ve owned a few bridge cameras – the Nikon Coolpix 8700 (2004), Panasonic FZ35 (2009) and the Fuji HS10 (2009) – and I can certainly testify that the X-S1 is the best I’ve ever owned.
It’s a camera that can do everything, with it’s large-ish sensor and 26x zoom lens with a nice wide 24mm (35mm equivalent) lens. It works really well in low light, compared to a normal compact. That’s thanks to the sensor which is twice as big as that in a normal compact. But it is still a compact. The bright lens means that it keeps pace with my Olympus E-PL1 as dusk sets (the E-PL1 has a sensor four times as big as the X-S1, but a not so bright f3.5 lens) but it does eventually fall short of the Olympus as darkness proper arrives.
There is no perfect camera. You either have to suffer the huge expense and a bag of lenses with a DSLR, or suffer issues with image quality (particularly at night) with a compact. The Micro Four Thirds cameras should be close to perfect, and would be, perhaps, were it not for the fact that their lenses are outrageously expensive. That may change. Until then, the XS-1 will serve me fine. It looks professional, feels professional, has a professional level feature set and in most conditions will produce photos comparable to a DSLR. Until night falls, of course. And whilst you can get reasonable depth of field, it won’t match a DSLR with a half decent lens.
I enjoy taking the Fuji out with me. It’s so flexible, and when using an auto mode, it gets the right exposure/shutter speed/aperture almost every time. It’s far more reliable than the Olympus. It has a ton of settings too, and even after a couple months with it, I’m still getting to grips with all that it has to offer. Who would want this camera? A real photography enthusiast, for sure. But perhaps someone who knows that they simply won’t buy or carry around lenses if they had a DSLR. Or someone that just wants to get the best possible results without having to really get into the technical aspects of photography – you like to play and experiment sometimes, but you’ll do a lot of auto shooting too.
You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m giving this camera big thumbs up. I’m very pleased with my purchase. And whilst a few other bridge models have been released by other manufacturers since, none of them have made me wish I’d waited for them. Is this the camera for you? It is really going to depend on your budget. It is expensive for a bridge camera. Do you want the best in category? Decision made – order your X-S1 today. Or would you be happy to have one that’s 90% as good, but little more than half the price? Then wait a couple of months for the Panasonic FZ200 to shed a few dollars off its price.
The real proof is in the pudding of course. I could write endless posts, till the end of time. But a picture paints a thousand words. I’ve already uploaded a ton of photos to Flickr, including a collection from Budapest and a series of sample sets. There are plenty more in my photo stream, and more will come. Here’s one to look at right now, from Somerset House – an example of very low light photography. It’s hand held – not bad at all. I will confess though, that Lightroom helped clean it up a little.