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Fuji FinePix S1 Pro

A 3.5 megapixel "SuperCCD" gives superb color and amazing low-light capability in an under-$4,000 SLR digicam!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 8/1/2000

Test Results

In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the S1's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the S1 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Throughout our testing, the S1 performed very well and produced exemplary color balance even in our most difficult lighting situations, such as the very high contrast Outdoor Portrait. We mostly shot with the manual white balance setting, opting for the daylight setting in some of our outdoor shots. The manual setting did a nice job of matching a wide range of light sources. During the Indoor Portrait testing we also discovered that the S1's manual white balance option has the uncommon courtesy to let you know when the lighting is outside the range it thinks it can handle. (This is a nice feature, and we wish more digicams would let us know when we're asking too much of them.) Color balance looked very accurate and bright in the large color blocks of our Davebox test target, with just the slightest under-saturation in the subtractive primaries. We also greatly appreciated the camera's ability to adjust the color saturation and tone, with the variations offered representing very useful levels of change. You can also check the color of the image with an RGB histogram or against standard color bars, which we found useful in gauging our exposure. We were surprised that the S1 slightly overexposed the Davebox test target, making the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target only visible up to the "D" range, but other exposures were excellent. Overall, the S1 did a very nice job with color balance, handling some of our most difficult tests with ease. We concluded that the S1 offers arguably the best overall color handling we've yet seen in a digicam, at any price point. (August, 2000)

Resolution was very good on the S1, and despite Internet arguments against the concept of interpolation in generally, we strongly feel that the in-camera interpolation adds at least a slight amount of resolution over the uninterpolated 2304 x 1536 image size. Nonetheless, the resolution increase is fairly slight, to the point that we shot most of our images in the 2304 x 1536 mode. The S1 showed a resolution that we "called" as 800 - 900 lines per picture height vertically and about 700 - 800 lines per picture height horizontally, a very good performance, albeit one representative of a 3.4 megapixel digital camera, not a 6.1 one.

The S1 gives you excellent exposure control, with a full range of automatic and manual exposure modes, as well as several presets for special shooting situations. You can also control ISO, exposure compensation and white balance in addition to image adjustments such as sharpness, tone and color. The camera performed superbly in our low light tests, easily providing bright, useable images as low as 1/16 of a foot candle (0.67 lux) at all three ISO settings, with very little noise. This is really, really dark! To better appreciate the S1's low light performance, compare it to an average city night scene under modern street lighting, which corresponds to a light level of about one foot candle.

Because we shot our viewfinder accuracy test with a 105 mm lens, instead of a zoom lens, there are no wide angle or telephoto examples. This really reflects the fact that the S1's viewfinder accuracy is much more a function of the camera than any lens that's attached to it. We did find that the framing in the viewfinder was somewhat sensitive to eye position, as we could "peer around" the edges of the framing mask in the viewfinder if we moved our eye back and forth or up and down. We first took a shot of what we called the "viewable area," in that we lined up the shot based on what we could initially see in the viewfinder without any eye movement, which resulted in about 94 percent frame accuracy at all three image sizes. Next, we lined up what we called the "extended viewable area," which means that we utilized all angles of view as a result of moving our eye around to line up the shot, resulting in 97 percent frame accuracy for all three image sizes.

Overall, we found the S1 to be an excellent performer, providing full exposure control and exceptional image quality throughout our testing. The S1 handles low light shooting situations with ease and its white balance system does a great job with a wide range of light sources. Additionally, the S1's color saturation and tone adjustments provide a really useful level of creative control lacking even in many very advanced cameras. Really just an excellent performance: We think the S1 will find many a happy home...

Conclusion

With its Nikon N60 lookalike body, its ability to accept a large range of Nikon F series lenses, and its superb color rendering, we expect the S1 will find a large following. While not as fast as some more expensive SLR digicams, its performance is enormously far ahead of the average consumer digicam, even "high end" models. Likewise, it doesn't have the environmental seals of a "professional" level SLR, but shows excellent build quality throughout, again superior to the "prosumer" cameras we frequently review. Thus, if 1.5 frames per second is fast enough for your applications, and you don't plan on shooting under unusually inclement conditions, the S1 Pro could very well be the camera you've been waiting for. It offers flexibility, good speed, fantastic images, and a wonderful user interface. Very highly recommended!

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