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Fujifilm X-S1 Digital Camera Review$799.95
Low Light Performance
Thanks to its 2/3-inch sensor (about 50% larger than most superzoom chips), relatively bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, and smart EXR processing modes, the X-S1 can be a solid low-light performer. Shots above ISO 800 are a bit cleaner and crisper than what other superzooms can offer, especially in EXR mode. Low-light ability diminishes as the focal length increases—it's tough to get a sharp shot with dim lighting, a shrinking aperture and an unsteady hand—but that's nothing special to this camera.
No X-s1 review would be complete without a mention the infamous White Orbs. Last year’s Fuji X10 caught flack for reproducing highlights as perfectly round, hard-edged white orbs in certain conditions. Fuji said it was a firmware problem, but their "fix" did nothing. Some folks speculated it might be the X10's lens. But the X-S1 has the same white-orb problem, so we can narrow it down to the 2/3-inch sensor.
In dark scenes with bright highlights, shot at low ISOs, the X-S1 turns those highlights into ugly white discs. Check out our sample photo page for an example.
Keep in mind that we went out of our way to take a shot where there might be orbs. We wouldn't actually use a dumb photo like that in a review under normal circumstances. At a medium viewing size, the orbs aren't so obvious. For what it's worth, we had a harder time producing the orbs with the X-S1 than we did with the X10. The orbs don't always appear, and don't necessarily ruin every shot. But it is disappointing that an $800 camera runs into such an ugly problem.
The X-S1 has respectable noise performance for a small-sensor camera. We ran our noise tests at each noise reduction setting, like we do with DSLRs and system cameras (which often cost less than the X-S1). But since we're ranking it as a point-and-shoot, we're counting results from just one NR level, in this case the Standard setting.
Numbers-wise, the results are decent. Noise starts at 0.65% at base ISO and rises consistently through the range, tipping the scales beyond 1% at ISO 800 and finishing at 1.5% at ISO 3200. Chroma noise is consistent across all channels, and less present than luma noise.
In real-world terms, shots are a little bit messy starting even at ISO 400, though there isn't a tremendous falloff in detail and clarity until the top setting (ISO 3200). ISO 1600 is still usable. More on how we test noise.
The native (full-res) ISO range stretches from ISO 100 to 3200, and the extended (reduced-res) range stretches up to a whopping ISO 12800. In most shooting modes, settings are user-selectable in full stops, and between ISO 200 and 6400, in one-third stops. In most automatic modes, options are limited to Auto ISO or Auto ISO limits—400, 800, 1600, and 3200.
In good lighting, the X-S1 has strong focus performance for a fixed-lens camera. It's quick and usually accurate (not always, but that'll happen) throughout the focal range. Performance drops off quite a bit in poor lighting, which is to be expected, but it's still effective.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
It's safe to say that the X-S1 is not a good low-light performer. It's basically blind below 42 lux, so nighttime shooting will be incredibly hit or miss.