My Life with X-S1

Discussion in 'Fuji X10, X20, X30, XF1, and X-S1' started by EBC Wilson, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. EBC Wilson

    EBC Wilson FujiXspot Regular

    Feb 20, 2013
    So I'm going on about six months with my X-S1. Lots of people have never seen one, wonder what it's like, is it any good, and so on. Well, pull up a chair . . . .

    The magic of a bridge camera is the crazy zoom range in one body. And I can go from macros literally inside the lens hood to a 12x bincoular view with a few keystrokes and a twist of the lens, just that fast. Magic !

    Imagine your favorite DSLR (FX, DX, m4/3, fill in your fave here), and now imagine (price no object) outfitting it with any available lens combination to cover 24mm to 625mm. Hard, right? Use a Nikon or Canon APS/C body with FX lenses, you can get there, bring a big bag ! It's certainly a trade-off of portablity vs. larger sensor quality, but in the case of the X-S1 with the 2/3" sensor, a little better than most bridge cams with their smaller sensors.

    But for me, a 'day out' with the camera is the X-S1, the EF-42 flash, spare batteries for both (rarely needed, but you never know . . . ), and that's it. IF I think may need it, the big vintage Vivitar 1321 tripod (it IS a 625mm lens) and the Fuji RR80 release. This is traveling light . . . . with big capability.

    OK, but what's it like?

    Physically, it's a stout camera. All meat, no filler. Roughly the same size as a D7000 with a moderate kit lens. Metal body, lens, even the supplied lens hood. I thought the rubber covering would be a bit wierd, but it feels fine, and does offer a very sure grip in your hands. Metal tripod mount, and on some tripods (mine, anyway) you can still open the battery box if need be. Cards mount in a door on the right side, RR80 plugs in on the left. Metal mode and shift dial. LOTS of buttons, to the point the Q-menu would actually be slower IF it were implemented on the X-S: Three 'C' memories (for me, flash, B+W, and a REAL saturated Velvia preset), and two Fn buttons (for me, Int Zoom and Film Sim). The tilt LCD is handy for certain things, I use it a lot on the tripod.

    OK, droop and orbs: Mine has a bit less than 1/16" 'wobble' with the lens extended at full zoom. I occasionally see an orb, but it's rare. I find that there is a 'sweet spot' sharpness-wise in the 200-300mm range, and it's a bit softer at 600mm hand-held. On the tripod, stopped down a few stops, it's sharper: Not surprising that a lens that long is fuzzier hand-held, especially considering my coffee intake . . . . . While the ultra-close macro is fun, it's really nice in macro around 135mm, which allows some maneuvering room and better perspective. Filters are a breeze, all the usual suspects make 62mm. I bought a Marumi Digital Clear for it the same time I got the 40mm for the X10, and it's fine. I certainly prefer the twist-zoom to a 'W/T' switch ! In Manual Focus, rotating the focus ring moves the focus MUCH faster than an X10 or X100. But I always switch to Manual Focus and hit the 'AE/AF Lock' button to focus, then turn the MF ring to fine-tune as necessary if something in the frame moves . . . .

    I was quite prepared to not like an EVF, this was my first. Now I am completely spoiled by it, for several reasons. The sensor that switches the view from the LCD to the EVF works perfectly every time for me, I can never fool it. I wear bifocals, and the adjustable diopter can dial in a clean view, even for me. The picture in the eyepiece is large, and (at the 50hz refresh rate) I can not get it so 'smear' when panning. A nice function is that I can set the information shown in the viewfinder to be different from that of the LCD: In the EVF, I include the histogram and the grid lines. The LCD is set to see the pic only, no info. Handy. The best part is that in bright light, I don't see the LCD very well: That I can check the just-shot frame in the EVF is a huge help for me.

    Like the other X's, the flash implementation is first-rate and effortless. Now certainly, I can get a shadow from the lens with the built-in at times. With the EF20 or EF42, this rarely happens. The exposure control is deep. You can either add or subtract flash exposure from the in-camera menu, or from the back panel of either flash. And the look is wonderful. I once took a test series with the built-in, the EF20, and the EF42, and you could not tell which is which. The EF42 is really best for this camera, it's got a long reach to go with this long lens. Besides bounce, the EF42 head swivels, so I can bounce even with the camera thrown up on one end for vertical framing. Nice.

    The batteries last a long time in the X-S. I carry a spare, and have yet to have to use it (the complete opposite of my X10!). I've transitioned to using rechargeable AA's in the flashes, and they are a big improvement: Faster recycling times for longer periods, and I got to quit buying alkalines all the time. Especially helped in the EF20, which only uses two; the EF42 takes four.

    So far, I'm an 'All JPeg, All the Time' shooter, so I'm not the guy to tell you about RAW with this camera, but that's next . . . . I shoot mostly in P mode. Will go to A or S Priority if needed, and I save EXR for crazy situations where it is eerily unflappable in deciding the correct white balance. The quick white balance if I need to change it in a non-EXR mode? I go to 'Custom' in the white balance and 'read' a piece of H-P Bright White paper I carry with me, and it never fails. What a hoot ! I love the Panorama, it's idiot-proof (works for me, ha!). I have tried the presets in Adv and SP, but don't use them often. I do wish Fuji would do a Software Update where I could have the 'Art Filters' added to the X-S. I usually stay at Auto 400 ISO/DR400, and will certainly go to ISO 100 when I can, with the occasional setup with Auto 800 ISO. Almost always at M4:3 or L4:3 frame size. I use Area AF, Continuous 1 IS, and AF-Continuous virtually all the time.


    I'm sure I'll remember something else, but for now:

    I bought my X10 first, and loved it, except I wanted more focal length than that great little 105. Brandon Remmler advised that the X-S is 'essentially an X10 on steroids', and boy, was he right. The real advantage of this combo, is I have two cameras, and one set of menus and IQ. I carry the X10 where I don't need the range and I want to blend into the woodwork. For everything else, I use the X-S, and it really is like using the same camera body with two different lenses.

    It's not for everybody. You can buy lots of other cameras in this price range, from other 'Serious Compacts' (great name for a forum . . . ) to DSLR's ala' D3100 or T3i, and that's OK. But for a one-piece, travel light camera with huge capability and battleship build quality, there really is NOTHING like an X-S1, and I'm very tickled to have mine.

    OK, question in the back . . . . .

    • Like Like x 4
  2. porchard

    porchard FujiXspot Regular

    Feb 3, 2013
    Devon, UK
    Thanks for posting your experiences with the X-S1. Despite the fact that I really don't need another camera:eek_old:, I remain intrigued by the X-S1. There's something about the look of it - and the notion of having so much range available in a single package - that I find very appealing.

    Would you be able to post any sample shots, so that I can determine once-and-for-all that I absolutely don't want one?!:wink_old:
    • Like Like x 1
  3. EBC Wilson

    EBC Wilson FujiXspot Regular

    Feb 20, 2013
    A few random pics:


    Backyard squirrel, hand-held, spot metered.


    Cardinal, feeding in the rain.


    McFaddin-Ward historical home, East Texas


    Butterflies, the pair, 135mm macro.


    Lousiana Visitor's Center, Butte La Rose, in the middle of the Achafalya.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. porchard

    porchard FujiXspot Regular

    Feb 3, 2013
    Devon, UK
    Thanks - they do look good, especially when the overall convenience of the package is taken into account. As you say, ultimately there's bound to be a trade-off of portability vs. larger sensor quality, but these results show the trade-off working very well.

    Now I've just got to remember that I don't need another camera...
  5. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jan 31, 2013
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Lovely images and writeup - I can definitely see the appeal of a high quality all-in-one solution!
  6. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    Well, with Micro 4/3, it's not that hard - 2 lenses: Olympus OM-D with 12-50 (which does very good macro) + Olympus 75-300 = 24-600mm equivalent with a much larger sensor. Though, you still have to change lenses.

    I'm glad the X-S1 works well for you. I've held one in a store and fiddled a bit, and it certainly feels like a nice solid camera. It's rather large, but built very well. The best thing about photography is that it doesn't matter much how you get the shot or what gear you use....if you find something that works for you and allows you to make great pictures, that's the only thing that counts.
  7. ean10775

    ean10775 FujiXspot Top Veteran

    Feb 13, 2013
    Cleveland, OH
    Thanks for the write-up! As I've mentioned in other threads, my first camera and what has brought me back to Fujifilm was a Finepix S6000fd, which I would consider a distant relative of the X-S1. Build quality was not quite as good and there was no flash hotshoe (that was available on the next model up the S9000fd), but it was a bridge camera with a 28-300mm equivalent lens and a Super CCD sensor. I really enjoyed using that camera, but sold it to fund the purchase of my first DSLR. I've often considered picking up another one (or the S9000fd) used even though its 'old tech' now. Fujifilm seems to excel in the bridge camera arena.
  8. EBC Wilson

    EBC Wilson FujiXspot Regular

    Feb 20, 2013
    And ean, that's what I think is often left out in so many of these discussions about various cameras. All of us have our own, individual idea of what we want in a camera, or a car, a guitar, etc. Past all the 'empirical' numbers comparisons and pixel peeping, ultimately it comes down to what suits you for any number of reasons, feels right in your hands. I could never understand in some forums how it would almost come to blows arguing over cameras . . . .

    I came to the Fujis after a long time away from photography, actually my first digital cameras. The switchover from film to digital occurred at a time in my life where I just could not make time for pictures, and frankly, the form factor of most digital cameras left me cold. So I'm a returning-to -photography enthusiast, and these are learning tools for me to get my head wrapped around an entirely new process for a skill I once knew a fair amount about. I sometimes feel like a propellor salesman looking up at a 707 going by in the early 50's.

    So I was used to metal cameras with knobs, so there I am with these things. I hope to transition to full frame DSLR down the road some time from now, or maybe an XPro rig. I have no illusions that they compete image-wise with APS/C or the other larger sensor formats, but they are very good in their own corner of the world. They feel right, and I'm beginning to understand things, and ultimately they're a lot of fun, which at this point in my life is very important.

    So, this 'Evolving Amateur' Thanks You All !
  9. ean10775

    ean10775 FujiXspot Top Veteran

    Feb 13, 2013
    Cleveland, OH
    EBC, One of the reasons I went with the S6000fd over other bridge cameras available at that time was that the Fuji was the only one with a proper zoom that was controlled by twisting the lens barrel. That alone was its selling point to me because I couldn't fathom using push buttons to extend/retract a motorized zoom. The Fuji felt like a proper camera, albeit a small one with a horrid EVF by today's standards. I'm very happy to see that Fuji are continuing to market a similar offering and happy to hear that you are enjoying yours.
  10. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Feb 1, 2013
    Jersey Shore
    I don't know what the sales figures are for the X-S1. But if they're not strong, I believe Fuji still owes it to themselves to produce an updated version with the X-20 sensor and image processing - and weather resistance. I think it would be very easy for people who don't absolutely need another camera (especially one the size of a smaller DSLR) to justify buying such a camera for outdoors work. I know it would be easy for me.