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4.4 out of 5 stars48
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2014
I have a number of cameras for different applications, Nikon DSLR at the top end and a Canon D10 waterproof camera at the "point & shoot" end, together with a Fujifilm S9500 which I have loved for a long time, and still do! What interested me about the S1 was its ability to shoot full HD clips, the 28-1200 zoom range, and some of the new in-camera functions such as HDR.

Other reviews have been pretty fair about the pros and cons of the camera and are worth checking too; I'll just add my personal feelings about how I guess I will use it. The early impressions are that it works best in good light, especially at the top end of the zoom range, where it will also be important to select the highest quality for your images or end up with them looking a bit soft and "painterly"! At distance you will either need to go to RAW or top JPG for best results. It also gets fazed by low-contrast scenes, with the AF struggling with cirrus in a bright sky, or moody cloudbanks on a misty horizon, and this can be frustrating sometimes.

I don't personally like the electronic zoom and prefer the more intuitive (to me) zoom of my S9500 that lacks the scope of the S1's, but can be corrected to perfection with a flick of the wrist. I will get used to it, but swapping between the cameras will not be a barrel of laughs! Coming from the S9500, the S1 feels like a bit of a mixed bag, with some new features that actually work pretty well, but with just a bit too much automation of some aspects for my liking. I'd prefer a camera that was a hybrid between the two Fujifilms, S9500 and S1, the features of the S1 with the usability features of the S9500 that make it a closer match to my Nikon.

The weatherproofing isn't so much of a big deal to me, although I've no doubt it'll come in handy one day. My Canon Powershot D10 is almost as versatile in terms of functions and shooting modes, and can shoot underwater, so a bit of weather is like water off a D10's back. The D10 can't compete on zoom, the movie resolution is just VGA quality, and at 12MP is a smidgin less capable than the S1, the Nikon trounces the S9500 and S1 on quality but isn't as portable or as self-contained as the bridge cameras. The Fujifilm bridge cameras certainly try for a sweet spot on the usability scale - portability and self-contained (meaning they are far more likely to go out regularly - taking the Nikon is a bit like an expedition at times), but with features such as the mega-zoom that would be very hard to put into a simple compact camera package. It falls between the two stools of go-anywhere convenience and potent DSLR capability but certainly has its place.

One feature I particularly like is the ultra-convenient USB charging. The S1 has a chunky (and changeable) battery that can charge from your computer's USB2 port. When connecting the camera and switching on to transfer the images (the S1 appears as a USB disk), all you need to do is leave the camera connected after the images have transferred over. If you switch off the camera an orange light near the shutter control will tell you it is charging and, when it goes out, the job is done.

In my early use of the S1 the only real caveats I have are its performance in low light, where there is a fair bit of sensor noise, and quality problems on max zoom that require the max image size to be used (not a problem with a 64GB+ card, perhaps). The flexible rear screen is nice but not essential for me, the lack of a lens hood seems a bit miserly to me, and the use of even a decent quality UV filter on the lens seems to adversely affect the results at high zoom settings, meaning that I now use the camera without a filter. The camera also creates a purplish fringe between areas of strong contrasts (gratings against sky, light sources against dark sky) that are visible in images at 1:1 size. Against this are the HD movies, HDR mode, a zoom that makes decent images of the moon actually feasible, and a decent selection of in-camera effects.

It'll never beat a DSLR, especially one wearing a prime lens, for quality, and will never be as portable as a compact, but if you want to carry around one single piece of camera equipment that offers a wide array of options (especially once you explore all the auto and manual modes), I reckon the S1 to be one of the better choices out there at present. It might be a qualified recommendation for people with other cameras since they will have other options to the S1 that limits the S1's suitability in many respects, but for a flexible one-camera solution, it's the one to beat.

Additional comments, 27 Dec 14.
After further use I've noticed as another reviewer commented that the video can come out a little dark at times (although it can also come out fine at other times - I haven't figured out a pattern for the times when it seems underexposed). More often, the video is properly exposed.

Even the highest JPG formats show compression artifacts if viewed at full resolution on your computer and I would therefore recommend buying a large memory card and shooting in RAW, giving you complete control over the end result of any shot. For making standard prints, the highest-res JPGs will still give you acceptable results.

The other thing I've enjoyed using is the "interval shooting" even though the max duration is only 6 hours, so you can't get a complete day cycle of images. Setting the interval fairly short (every 30 seconds) and a duration of 6 hours gets you enough shots to make a few seconds of time-lapse movie. Using the freely available GoPro Studio software from the GoPro website allows me to sequence the images into a film (provided I don't use the flicker removal feature that just gives me black films!). This useful in-camera feature saves buying an intervalometer.

I'd also add a caveat for photographers wowed by the decent array of in-camera processing - you will always get better results shooting in RAW and doing your enhancements on a computer rather than in-camera - that's just life. If you are just shooting for standard prints, though, the in-camera enhancements should be fine, with any adverse artifacts minimised by the smaller image format.

More impressions 28-12-14!
Concerned about the resolution at high zoom I did a "shoot-off" between the Nikon wearing a VR 55-300mm lens and the S1 (both handheld - I have a 500mm zoom for the Nikon but would need to use a tripod because it isn't VR). Zooming the S1 to the same extent as the Nikon (so, in the middle of the S1's zoom range where it should be at its best) the results came out surprisingly even. The Nikon still had an edge (the lens bokeh is far nicer, and the clarity on complex fine detail such as a field of bare tree branches is perceptibly superior) but nonetheless they were broadly equivalent at max resolution on a PC screen. However, the Nikon is 10Mpx and the Fujifilm 16Mpx, and both were taking their best JPG-format images, not RAW, so my impression is that the Nikon is making far better use of its lower resolution sensor, and JPG optimisation to achieve similar results to the Fujifilm S1.

That the Nikon should come out on top is not much of a surprise to me, but I was impressed about how close the S1 comes to the Nikon when shooting equivalent scenes at similar zoom - the Nikon just has more "headroom" available to carry the picture making to other levels with other lenses etc., an option the S1 doesn't have. Unlike the S1, the Nikon's lens was also operating at its limits, which isn't a good place for any lens - there's always a comfortable range beyond which lens limitations will show up.

While doing this experiment I also noticed that the S1's electric zoom was not as precise as I'd have liked. I was looking for identical framing to the Nikon's images at max zoom and could never quite get it completely equivalent because the focus would undershoot, then overshoot. The S1 has a sensitivity control for the zooming function which is obviously useful when trying an A-B test like this one. Next time there'll be less trial and error when I play games like this.

My personal conclusion remains the same, the S1 is a compromise, but a pretty good one. You can get a DSLR setup that performs better, but spend a small fortune on it, or a P&S camera that is pocketable but a little short on options, or a slightly less portable but very capable camera that fills that middle niche only now being invaded by CSCs (compact system cameras) that are effectively compact DSLRs - at a price! Still liking the S1, moreso now that I've seen how it stacks up against my Nikon.

One thing I ought to add is that I got the S1 on an instant deal and also took advantage of the Fujifilm cashback offer getting me the S1 for £180, which is a decent price at the time of writing. This made the package hard to ignore, but at closer to £380 it would be tempting to check out the lower-end packages from the other major manufacturers and check out the results of a few "shoot-outs"!

Edit April 4 2015, still having fun with the S1 : Added a few images. Moon at max zoom, and 3 images taken from outside Waitrose in Bath to illustrate zoom, and all the framing options you have available, and also two from outside the Victoria gallery in Bath of the Holburne Museum, 850 metres away at the far end of Pulteney street.

Edit July 2015, I discovered an oddity. On a couple of occasions I wanted to use flash and found the feature was "locked out" and unusable. One was indoors at a graduation ceremony, and the other was a nocturnal visit from a hedgehog. After some research I discovered that flash won't operate if you turn off the camera *sounds*! I assume this is because the designers assume that if you are silencing the camera you're trying to be discreet, and won't want flash either. not so in my cases. There is a workaround, though. You switch on the sounds and then turn each sound individually down to "off" (confirmation beeps, button press beeps, shutter "sneeze" etc). After that your S1 will quietly flash away.

I've also added another image. It is a crop of a picture I took of the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter at maximum zoom. It is nowhere near as good as a telescope, for obvious reasons, but Jupiter's larger moons are visible even if Venus is overexposed. It's just another illustration of what the lens can do even at its limits, where it is less "comfortable".
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I finally had a chance to use the Fuji S1 (I've been trying to get hold of one for a while)
I will update the review as I get the chance to use the camera more.

It should be noted this is an updated model of the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000, Fuji also have the HS50exr bridge model too (I'll compare it to that later on)

The main attraction here is the WR (weather resistance) This is the first WR bridge camera on the market that I am aware of. Note, WR does not mean you can use the camera underwater. But it does mean you can use it in rain and outside (and I can confirm that it is able to take rain with no problems)

I'll start off with my quick good and bad points then go into more detail afterwards

Pros:
+ Weather resistant, you can see evidence of sealing on the main battery memory compartment, switches, and the buttons have a different feel to them v other normal bridge cam buttons (ie weather sealing) It works and the camera has no problems working in the rain
+ Useful 50x 24mm-1200mm (equivalent) zoom range, lens speed is a bit better than some rivals starting off at f2.8 wide end up to f5.6
+ Nice build, feels solid and has a good semi rubbery finish that's nicely done
+ Excellent 3.0-inch, 920K fully articulated LCD, it's clear and sharp
+ Good resolution 920K EVF it's 0.2" so it's smaller and lower res v the XS-1's EVF but it's decent and better than many
+ HD video is pretty sharp and has a wind cut filter, you can zoom and AF too
+ AF is quite fast and with good accuracy, the AF is good in movie mode and locks focus quite quickly even zooming in and out. It doesn't have the phase detect AF sensors of the HS50 though (which is really fast in good light)
+ Battery life is "ok" I got about 320/350 shots out of a single charge. I would get a spare though
+ Compact size it's a fair bit smaller than the HS50exr and XS-1, not tiny but certainly more portable
+ Well featured, it has the usual PASM modes, panoramic, filters the usual expected stuff. Most of what you might want, you can save settings on the "C" mode dial setting. Also has an interval timer and you can customise the Fn button (on the rear pad)
+ Lens performance is mostly good, it's not tack sharp in the corners at 24mm though, but is respectable across most of the range
+ Has some fast fps shooting modes (up to 9fps) but it's only good for a quick burst (about a second even with a good card) Par for the course on just about every bridge model I've used
+ Has wifi and can be controlled via a phone/tablet with the Fuji Camera Remote app (I have not had a chance to test this yet)
+ Can shoot raw

Cons:
- Image quality not as good as expected (jpeg)
- Standard 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor (not the HX50's EXR sensor)
- Can be prone to blown highlights (it does have a HDR mode though)
- Battery has to be charged in camera (no charger provided)
- No mechanical zoom (though the zoom is responsive enough)
- Plastic tripod thread (should be metal at this price) no lens hood in the box
- No eye sensor (the SL1000 has one but it's been removed so you have to use the button to switch between LCD and Viewfinder)
- Zoom motor noise can be heard on video recordings (sounds a bit like a bee in a jam jar!) you might not notice in noisy environments
- Battery and SD card share the same slot (would be better to have a seperate SD slot) could be an issue for tripod use
- Jpeg image quality could be better, there is a bit too much noise reduction going on for my taste (raw will help here) Even at base ISO I felt the images were not quite as good as I would like. I wouldn't want to go over ISO 800 though
- Can't shoot in raw in the high speed shooting modes

Being honest, the S1 is good but it's a mixed bag in some ways. The camera is overall a nice one to use, feels solid and performs well in general (good menus, handling and controls are sensible and easy to pick up)

Where things are not quite so strong, firstly image quality is in my view a step below the HS50exr. It's not bad by any means but it's not as good as I had hoped (jpeg). I will investigate this more working on some raw images, to see how much improvement I can get working in raw v the jpegs.

Noise can be an issue even at lower ISO levels, you may be better off dropping the resolution down a bit. The S1 doesn't have the EXR sensor of some other Fuji models, so you can't benefit from the improved dynamic range in half resolution. I do like the exr sensors (I have several cameras that have them)

Compared to the other bridge models I have used, the S1 is the only one to offer weather sealing (the XS-1 is classed as moisture and dust resistant) That appeal is quite unique.

In terms of images, the S1 is a notch below the HS50exr, and a few notches below the XS-1 which is to be expected on the XS-1 as the sensor covers around twice the area of the S1's sensor. The HS50's sensor is a 1/2" type which is a little, (but not a lot) larger. I will update this information when I have had a chance to use the raw files I have and report back on my conclusions

For the moment, I'll give it 4 stars as it's quite a unique offering (WR)
Right now I would say I think the HS50exr is better value and if you don't need the weather sealing part that's the one to go for.
If you want a bridge model that has the best image quality and doesn't cost a fortune, the XS-1 is the best bet.. The P600 and SX50, and HS50/XS-1, as well as the FZ200 are all worthy of consideration (pros and cons to each model it's a tricky choice)

Update 23/06/14:
I've had a chance to process some of the test shots I took in raw (lightroom 5.5 supports the S1 now) results are somewhat better than jpegs, esp at high ISO (where you can balance noise with noise reduction) The raw files are quite large though (just under 24MB size) Due to the huge zoom range there are some compromises in terms of performance optically. If you don't need the weather resistant part of the camera, I think some alternatives should be looked at, image quality is ok..but nothing amazing. But it's perfectly acceptable as well. Raw does help somewhat, the lens isn't super sharp in the corners at the wide end though.

If you do really want a WR bridge camera, then this is currently the only offering on the market.
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on 30 April 2014
It was a toss up between the fuji s1 and the canon sx 50. The fuji won on grounds that it is a latest model while there are rumours that the canon sx 60 will be out later this year. I wanted a camera that is ready to shoot, having had slr's and dslrs for years i last owned a canon sx 40 and wanted a bigger zoom. My first bridge was an old fuji x 8mp and x 10 zoom and it is still going strong as a spare cam for the beach etc. I believe that a camera is only as good as the person taking the pictures. As most people do when taking out of the box i snapped at random then took the time to read the manual and experimented with the various options. When shooting at 14 or 12 mp the results are stunning, good picture quality. I don't use photoshop nor raw so the photos i got were ' as is' with no re touching. The zoom is excellent and despite handshaking the pics were crystal clear. I shoot mainly pets, nature and landscapes and it meets my needs perfectly.My only gripe is the problem to put on a filter but have an adapter ordered so that should sort it out. The zoom noise does grind bit on the video but have noticed that it is significantly better after a few days use, with more usage i would say it will be minimal.The creative filters are pleasant to use and the trick is to experiment with different modes. There are so many options to pick from. Sure it is not a DSLR and no bridge camera will ever compete with a DSLR on image quality , But as an alternative if you don't want to carry around a heavy lens kit or spend time fiddling about changing lenses then it is really good. The fuji s1 feels solid in the hands and it seems like a rugged camera with very good grip not a 'plasticky' feel. It is a tad heavy but for me that is a bonus as it feels steadier in the hand and the controls are nicely laid out. There will always be for and against any product, my advice is to make your own choice based on what you need a camera for.[...]
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on 27 June 2014
After using sony dslr's with a multitude of lenses I decided to try a bridge camera. I originally tried a nikon.....very disapointed. A friend suggested fujifilm, so glad I did. Easy to use, supper fast focusing, all the lenses you could ever want in one. After using it for just a few days im totally sold and would recommend S1 over and above dslr's.
As for the vendor, the camera arrived quickly as described so for that I would recommend them. Lets hope they would be as good if I ther are any problems at a later date
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on 9 February 2015
When my previous Fuji Bridge camera finally succumbed to fairly rough use, the S1 seemed a good idea, with its resistance to the conditions in which photos are often taken. I have ended up moving on fairly fast to a more expensive, less well-defended camera, as the picture quality, especially the ability to get good pictures in difficult lighting, is quite disappointing. Video exposure flickers between different settings, despite good sharp pictures here. So toughness and weatherproof is good, but getting it to do what I want it to, no, despite a couple of months of trying. The 50X zoom is very impressive, though, and you can get super pictures of the full moon.!
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on 29 March 2014
I am absolutely delighted with this camera. I had a SX-1 before. This is so much easier to use. It is slightly smaller and lighter, very easy to hold, and a nice thumb grip in the back. I wasn't sure if I would like the electronic zoom, but it is fine, and the zoom is magnificent. The stabiliser is fab. I took several shots today, full zoom, with no shake at all. The picture quality is excellent. Macro shots are sharp. Generally an all round easy to use camera.
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on 4 September 2014
Overall its a decent super zoom
The Bad
No lens hood shame on fuji
No external charger-read one review on youtube saying its awesome? its a pain so need to get external charger and a hood.
No live preview
The Good
weather sealed i think this great, it makes it a real take everywhere camera,
Its nicely built and fits in a fairly small camera bag
Has enough features to satisfy everyone i should think and a nice easy menu layout
The viewfinder better than i expected, very useable.
In terms of image quality its pretty decent for this sized sensor, you need to work out how to get the best pictures like every camera and imo all the 50x zoom cameras are all about the same for IQ this is the seventh ive tried and really there's nothing between them. They don't compete with my dslr's and you wouldn't expect them to,but a 1200mm focal length on a dslr would be extremely expensive and impossible to walk around with. So for £240 i think this was well worth the money.
These are fun cameras to use and the weather sealing gives this one the edge.
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on 19 October 2015
I suppose the best way to show how a camera does is in the pictures it takes. I'm no camera expert, so all of the pictures that have been taken were on the auto mode, at various zooms, day and night.

That is one of the major advantages of this camera, in that it packs a great zoom range, without having to haul around loads of lenses. I changed from a DSLR camera to this one, and this was what I found to be one of the main advantages of a bridge camera. I now just have the camera, rather than what seemed to be the kitchen sink. Often I would find that by the time I'd changed lenses, the moment was lost - not now.

I do miss a couple of things with the change. The viewfinder is there, but it is digital, rather than through the lens. It can cause some confusion at AF time. Sometimes as well the AF is a bit laggy, and it is not great to follow fast moving objects. The other thing is that when you do get the images on the computer, a zoom, the image becomes pixelated much quicker than with my old camera. Stand back though, get the initial zoom right, or view on a smaller screen, and the images are fab. At least good enough for me.

Some of the things that I do love about this camera though - it's not that heavy and easy to hold, the LCD screen is clear and easy to read, you can transfer photos through wifi (although no GPS), and the video isn't bad either.

But for the flexibility of the zoom alone, this is the one for me.
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on 14 October 2015
Awesome camera, I got the Fuji app for my android phone and that became the remote control which works really well, also this camera will accept 67mm lens attatchments although I did read of vinegrette problems so I have an adaptor ring making mine 72mm enabling me to use uv, polaroid and a hood. One thing is the flash isn't great but it does have a hot shoe for external flash guns
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on 7 May 2015
Great results so far. Have had lots of Fuji Cameras but this is by far the best. Incredible focussing with the lens at full stretch and amazing detail. Highly recommended.
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