Fujifilm S100FS Review
Fuji FinePix S100FS Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Excellent overall color and hue accuracy, with minor oversaturation of some colors.
Skin tones. Here, with the color balanced properly for the light source, the FinePix S100FS again does a good job, and produces natural skin tones with just a bit more warmth than in the original subjects. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Fuji S100FS showed small color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, pushing cyan toward blue, and orange toward yellow for examples. Still, the Fujifilm S100FS's overall color was more accurate than that of many digital cameras we test. Hue is "what color" the
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Saturation Adjustment. The Fuji FinePix S100FS only offers three saturation settings (what the company calls "color density"), plus a Black & White setting. It can only be set when Film Simulation is set to Provia. While we'd like to see a wider range with more gradations, this is still better than no saturation adjustment at all.
Saturation Settings (all +1.0 EV)
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm results with Auto and Incandescent white balance settings, but pretty accurate color with the Manual option, and color balance in Auto mode is better than most. Below average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Indoors, under incandescent lighting, the Fuji S100FS' Auto white balance setting produced pretty good results, despite the slightly warm, magenta cast. The Incandescent setting was also warm, but with more of a yellow-orange cast. The Manual option produced the best overall result, but the Auto setting handled this light source better than most cameras we test. The Fuji S100FS required a +0.3 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is about average for this shot. Overall color with the Manual white balance setting is good, though skin tones are a hint pink. The blue flowers look pretty good as well. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark,
purplish tint, so the S100FS performs well here.) Our test lighting for
this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs,
a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings
here in the U.S.
High contrast under harsh outdoor lighting, but pretty good overall color.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Fuji FinePix S100FS produced pretty good overall exposures, though default contrast was high. In the portrait shot above left, the +1.0 EV exposure compensation required for reasonably bright skin tones in the mannequin's face caused very hot highlights with limited detail in her shirt. Shadow areas show good detail though, with relatively minor noise and noise suppression visible. Color was good, although there's a blue toward magenta cast in some parts of the model's shirt, and the WhiBal card is a bit blue-tinted. The house shot was only slightly overexposed at the default exposure, and showed fairly accurate, realistic colors.
Very high resolution, 1,700 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,700 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,700 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,700 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern didn't occur before 2,000 lines, the limit of this chart. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Overall pretty good image sharpness. A small amount of visible edge enhancement in areas of high contrast, and a fair amount of noise suppression in shadow areas. Much more detail is available from the RAW files than appears in the in-camera JPEGs though.
|Good definition of high-contrast
elements, with little visible edge
enhancement along high contrast
lines in this image.
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of the
model's hair here.
Sharpness. The Fuji FinePix S100FS' captures sharp images, with very good definition that responds well to additional sharpening during post-processing. Only very slight enhancement artifacts are visible, such as in the crop above left. (Apologies, the surrounding trees have been overgrowing our shooting location for this shot, and Luke didn't move quite far enough down the hill to get a clear view of the fine pine foliage in the background. -- You can see it peeking around the foreground leaves though, and the level of fine detail revealed in the full image is quite good.) Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows a fair amount of noise suppression, with darker areas of the model's hair showing limited detail. Individual strands are smudged and fade into each other in low contrast areas. This is a bit of a surprise, considering the S100FS has a larger-than-average (compared to other all-in-ones) 2/3-inch sensor. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
Increased Detail from RAW - As is often the case, there's quite a bit more detail available in the Fuji S100FS's RAW files than comes out in the camera's JPEGs. In Adobe Camera RAW (ACR for short), the best approach is to turn off the sharpening inside ACR, and then apply strong/tight (~300%, 0.3 pixel radius) unsharp masking in Photoshop itself. As you can see above, the result is a significant increase in detail over the Fujifilm S100FS's in-camera JPEGs.
Chromatic Aberration Correction from RAW - Beyond basic sharpness improvements sophisticated RAW converters like Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop CS3 can correct for chromatic aberration and other lens artifacts. In the case of the shot above, ACR removed almost 100% of the CA distortion, and that correction increased sharpness in the corners of the frame as well. As such, the Fujifilm S100FS is a camera that's ideally suited for someone who knows how to use a RAW converter to best advantage, to get the last bit of detail out of an image.
ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though a jump in noise at the higher settings.
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600||ISO 3,200|
|ISO 6,400||ISO 10,000|
At the Fuji FinePix S100FS' lower ISO settings, noise levels are moderate, with good results up to ISO 400, though some subtle effects of noise reduction are still evident even at these low ISOs, and some noise is visible in its images, even at ISO 100. At ISO 800, noise jumps with more obvious noise reduction artifacts and blurring of fine detail. Yellow blotches of chroma noise begin to the appear in the shadows also. At ISOs 1,600 and 3,200, noise is much higher with stronger blurring, more visible noise reduction artifacts and increased chroma noise, which now includes purple blotches as well. ISO 6,400 and 10,000 images are extremely noisy even though the ISO 10,000 setting is only available at a reduced resolution. See Output Quality notes below for how all this translates to printed results.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High contrast and limited highlight detail, though good resolution and detail. Expanded dynamic-range setting works well though. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness.
|+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV||+1.0 EV|
Sunlight. The Fuji FinePix S100FS produced high contrast (using the default contrast setting) in response to the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, with limited highlight detail. However, shadow detail is quite good, despite some noise suppression and noise artifacts. Exposure compensation required to keep the model's face from being too dim was higher than average at +1.0 EV, creating very hot highlights on the white shirt and flowers.
Contrast Settings (all +1.0 EV)
Contrast. Fuji has included three contrast settings available when Film Simulation is set to Provia. The range on the lower end is a little limited but still useful, so consider reducing the contrast setting, dialing down the exposure slightly in the process (the low contrast setting seems to mainly affect the depth of the shadows, so you'll want to decrease exposure slightly to take advantage of that, and preserve detail in the highlights. - And be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.
Dynamic Range Settings (all +1.0 EV)
|Shadow Detail and Noise|
Dynamic Range Optimization. Fuji has included three Dynamic Range settings (in addition to Auto), also available when the Film Simulation is set to Provia. The crops above show how effective they are. The Auto setting appears to be identical to 100% in this case, and is at ISO 100. The 200% setting raises the ISO to 200, and you can see that fewer highlights are clipped. Shadow detail has increased slightly, but with more noise. 400% is similar, with even more highlight details retained, but at the cost of increased shadow noise due to the higher ISO 400 sensitivity. That said though, the increased detail in the strong highlights seems worth the trade-off if you need to make it: The noise is quite fine-grained, so will be all but invisible at normal print sizes. - And unless you need to make additional tonal adjustments to pull detail up out of the deep shadows, the detail lost there won't be visible either. All in all, a neat feature.
|Imatest Dynamic Range Analysis Results|
|Auto, Default Exposure||100%, Default Exposure|
|200%, +0.3 EV||400%, +0.3 EV|
Imatest Dynamic Range Analysis. Above are the Imatest results for the four dynamic range settings when analyzing in-camera JPEGs of the Stouffer 4110 density step target we normally shoot for analyzing SLR dynamic range. (Click on the thumbnails for larger images.) Here, you can see total dynamic range increased from 10.5 f-stops in 100% mode, up to 11.2 f-stops in 200% and 400% modes. (Keep in mind the step target used for this analysis is different than the outdoor portrait above.). The system appears to work much better at preserving highlights, so we got better results when we increased exposure compensation slightly to +0.3 EV at the higher settings. Going above +0.3 EV didn't seem to help the results though. A total of 11.2 f-stops rivals many SLRs, but once noise is taken into account (see the column of numbers in red at the top right-hand side of the charts), the S100FS doesn't perform as well as the vast majority of SLRs.
The system's functioning can be seen pretty clearly if you look at the highlight end (right-hand side) of the graphs above: As you move to higher amounts of dynamic range expansion, the density response curves develop a longer and flatter tail at the highlight end, compressing tonal values there, while preserving (and even slightly increasing) contrast in the midtone range.
If you look at the Imatest dynamic range numbers at the highest quality level, which allows only 0.1 stop of noise for the results to be considered acceptable, you'll find that there's essentially no difference between the various settings. It's thus clear that the "dynamic range extension" isn't really increasing the dynamic range at all, but rather is just preserving highlight detail at the expense of noise levels, particularly in the shadows. - But if you're concerned about detail in strong highlights, that's a trade-off you may well be willing to make.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light. The Fuji FinePix S100FS performed fairly well on the low-light test, capturing bright images at the lowest light level at all sensitivity levels. Noise increases with higher ISOs, but this is expected, and the S100FS does better than most all-in-ones in this regard. There are also quite a few "hot pixels" visible at lower light levels, even at the lowest ISO. The resolution is so high though, that the hot pixels are quite small relative to the overall image size, making them less noticeable at moderate print sizes. Color balance was pretty good with the Auto white balance setting, starting out a little on the warm side, and gradually developing a greenish cast as ISO is increased. Unfortunately, the S100FS' exposure metering system did not work well at lower light levels, forcing us to use manual exposure for these shots. The camera's autofocus system worked well though, as it was able to focus on the subject down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted, and in complete darkness with the AF assist enabled. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A reasonably powerful flash, with about average coverage. Our standard shots required average exposure compensation.
|28mm equivalent||400mm equivalent|
Coverage. Flash coverage was a bit uneven at wide angle, but not too bad, considering the wide 28mm equivalent focal length. Coverage was more uniform at full telephoto, but very dim because of the very long shooting distance at 400mm eq. In the Indoor test, the Fuji S100FS' flash underexposed our subject a little at its default setting, requiring +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced bright results at +0.3 EV of exposure compensation, though with a stronger orange cast from the room lighting. The amount of positive exposure compensation required is a little higher than average, but not too bad.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 remained fairly bright out to a distance of 12 feet, with brightness dropping off gradually from there. At full telephoto and ISO 100, the target started out a little dim, and brightness began to fall-off gradually after about 7 or 8 feet.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 400
Auto ISO 800
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In Auto ISO mode, Fujifilm rates the S100FS' flash range at 7.7m / 25.3 ft at wide angle, and 3.8m / 12.5 ft at telephoto. As you can see, the 25.3 foot distance is out the door of the studio and into the rest of the lab area. Even at ISO 400, the target is very dim here, probably in-part because the metering system was responding to all the light bouncing off the light-colored walls of the outside of the studio. (On the "we'll-get-to-it-someday" list is the task of painting the white walls a dark grey.) Results at full telephoto are pretty good, but still a bit dim, and the camera had to boost the ISO to 800, which is somewhat noisy. The FinePix S100FS does have a flash hot-shoe, so you can always increase flash range with an external flash unit.
Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, great color, good 16x20 inch prints, great 13x19s. Good high-ISO performance, ISO 1,600 usable to 8x11, ISO 3,200 usable to 5x7, ISO 10,000 rough but usable at 4x6 inches.
With the Fuji FinePix S100FS, we found that it had enough resolution to make good looking 16x20-inch prints, and sharp 13x19-inch ones, but its unfortunate chromatic aberration at wide angle focal lengths was very evident even at 8x11 inches.
We were surprised by how well the camera did at high ISO settings. It's not quite up to DSLR performance levels, but is better than most all-in-one digicams. Its ISO 1,600 shots were surprisingly clean looking; we felt most users would be satisfied with prints as large as 8x11 at that sensitivity setting, and even 11x14 inch ones would probably be acceptable for display on a wall or table. Noise takes quite a jump as you move to ISO 3,200 though; shots at that level are only usable to about 5x7 inches, and shots at 6,400 or 10,000 are only useful for 4x6 inch snapshot prints. Even that small size, the highest-ISO shots look soft and noisy -- but we think most consumers would accept their limitations, in exchange for the high shutter speeds these ISO levels will permit, even under very limited lighting.
Color-wise, the Fuji S100FS does very well: Its prints look bright and snappy, without seeming too overdone: Its default saturation levels are a little high for our personal tastes, but the availability of a lower-saturation option would meet our needs. Given that most consumers like brighter-looking color, we think most would be quite happy with the S100FS's color rendering.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm FinePix S100FS Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm FinePix S100FS with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.