DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix S100fs
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The Fuji FinePix S100fs ($799) is one of the more unique fixed-lens cameras on the market today. It features a larger-than-normal (2/3"), 11.1 Megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor, which (at least in theory) should give it better low light and high ISO performance than other compact cameras. The other "big" feature on the S100fs is its impressive lens: it covers an incredible range of 28 - 400 mm, and it has optical image stabilization, too.
Other drool-worthy features include a tilting 2.5" LCD display, a hot shoe and flash sync port, full manual controls, adjustable dynamic range, and advanced face detection.
All of this comes at a cost, though. The FinePix S100fs has a street price just under $700, which is as much as you'd pay for an entry-level digital SLR kit. To be fair, getting a high quality 28 - 400 lens on a D-SLR is an expensive proposition. Is the S100fs worth your hard-earned cash? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The FinePix S100fs has a good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
As is the case with many cameras these days, the FinePix S100fs had built-in memory, instead of a bundled memory card. The camera has 25MB of memory, which isn't a whole lot, considering its resolution (it holds just one RAW or five JPEGs). Thus, you'll want to buy a large memory card, and fast. The S100fs supports xD, SD, and SDHC media, and I'd stick with SD or SDHC, as they are generally faster (if you do get an xD card, make sure it's Type M+). I'd recommend a 2GB card to start with.
The FinePix S100fs uses the NP-140 rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power. This battery contains 8.3 Wh of energy, which is on the powerful side of the spectrum. Here's how that translates into battery life:
Compared to other big zoom cameras, the S100fs' battery life is well below average. Thus, you may want to pick up a spare battery. Be warned, though -- they're not cheap: a spare will set you back around $50. Also, when your battery dies, you can't use an off-the-shelf battery to get you through the rest of the day, as you could on an AA-based camera. If this is important to you, then you may want to consider one of the AA-based cameras on the above list.
When it's time to charge the NP-140, just pop it into the included charger, and then plug the whole thing into the wall. It takes around 130 minutes to fully charge the battery.
As you'd expect, Fuji includes a lens cap (with retaining strap) with the S100fs. You'll also find a lens hood in the box, which you may want to use when you're shooting outdoors.
Despite being the flagship FinePix camera, the S100fs is actually pretty light in terms of accessories. Here's what's available:
That's it! No conversion lenses or filters are sold by Fuji, though since the lens is threaded (67 mm), you can buy third party accessories.
FinePixViewer 3.6 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the S100fs, which you can use to transfer photos from the camera to your computer. The Mac version is very basic, featuring things like slideshows, image rotating, resizing, and e-mailing. Oh, and there are batch renaming, resizing, and file format conversion tools as well. And that's about it. FinePixViewer cannot open RAW files -- you need to use FinePix Studio (see below) for that.
FInePixViewer 5.4 for Windows
As is often the case, Windows users get a much better version of FinePixViewer. This one does everything the Mac version does, adding image editing and redeye reduction tools, not to mention a slicker interface. While it can view and convert RAW images (and convert them to JPEGs), it can't actually edit them.
FinePix Studio in Mac OS X
For "real" RAW editing, you'll need to use the bundled FinePix Studio software. This lets you change the color space, tone curve, white balance, exposure, color setting, and sharpness. Strangely enough, there are no controls for noise reduction or dynamic range. Something that bothered me even more was the glacial pace of the software. It took something like 40 seconds to load an image, and even zooming into an image for a closer look was like watching paint dry.
For more RAW editing tools and a much snappier interface, you may want to consider using Adobe Photoshop CS3. The latest version of the Camera Raw plug-in is compatible with the files produced by the S100fs.
What is the deal with RAW, anyway? RAW images contain unprocessed data from the camera's SuperCCD sensor. This allows you to adjust things like exposure, white balance, and sharpness without reducing the quality of the image. It's like getting a second chance to take a photo. The downsides include the enormous file sizes (over 22MB on the S100fs), slower camera performance, and the need to process them on your computer before you can export them to more commonly used formats.
Fuji includes a thick, printed manual with the FinePix S100fs. While it's not the most user-friendly manual (there's a lot of confusing tables and fine print), it's detailed enough to answer any question you may have about the camera. Documentation for the software I just mentioned is installed in digital form on your PC.
Look and Feel
At first glance, the FinePix S100fs looks a whole lot like a digital SLR. Built like a tank? Check. Manual zoom and focus rings? Yep. You can pull and twist the lens all you want, but it's not going anywhere -- this is a fixed-lens camera.
The S100fs has a substantial right hand grip and plenty of lens to hold onto, so its bulky body fits comfortably in your hands. The S100fs definitely suffers from "button clutter" -- there are buttons on three sides of the camera, a few of which require you to turn your attention away from picture-taking to locate.
Now, here's how the S100fs compares to other super zoom cameras in terms of size and weight: