Fujifilm FinePix S100FS Review
The S100FS has 8 white balance settings (Fine weather, shade, 3 fluorescent lamp types, incandescent and two custom settings), plus Auto. All of these settings can be fine tuned in 7 steps (-3 to +3) between red and cyan, with another 7 steps between yellow and blue which is cute, but not terribly handy because you can't preview the effects without dropping out of the menu (so you can't sensibly judge the effects of the subtle changes.
We're impressed by the inclusion of two custom white balance settings, this is usually a mid-high-end DLSR feature and allows you to get white balance right under two sets of lighting conditions without having to constantly re-set your custom setting. The S100FS also has the capability of shooting in RAW, so you can fine-tune the white balance after the event, with no loss of quality.
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 9.0%, Blue -9.9%
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red 5.9%, Blue -8.0%
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 1.1%, Blue -3.0%
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red 3.2%, Blue -4.2%
The built-in flash has a quoted operating range of up to 7.2m (at wide angle and Auto ISO), which drops to 3.8 m at the long end of the lens. This isn't particularly brilliant performance for a camera with such a large pop-up flash (Probably because it houses a tiny little flash element).
Good color and exposure
Excellent color, good exposure
The S100FS has a pretty sparse selection of flash modes. There's On, Off, Auto or Slow Synchro, which uses a longer shutter speed to allow more background light in, rather than making it look like your friends always hang around in front of black foam core, in the hope of more interesting backdrops being Photoshopped-in.
It also has a hotshoe, for mounting external flashguns. Unfortunately, the hotshoe is a generic, single-contact type that allows no communication between the flash and the camera. As a result, any external flashes must be set manually and exposure adjusted accordingly (though if you don't zoom too much you can at least use an auto thyristor fashgun). This is not a task that Hercules would have moaned about, had it been added to his list, but in these days of automated through-the-lens flash metering, is a bit of a fiddle. There's even a PC flash-sync socket on the front of the camera for attaching an external flash by cable.
The macro capabilities of the S100FS add to its 'all-rounder DSLR alternative' appeal. Whereas most long-focal-length lenses for DSLRs tend to have fairly long closest focusing distances, the S100FS can focus down to 90cm at the long end of the zoom and 10cm at wide angle. A super macro mode, only usable at the 28mm equivalent end of the lens, pushes this to a scarcely believable 1cm. In fact the quoted figures are rather conservative and we found we could focus quite a lot closer than the stated distances (press the lens up to an object and it won't object).
|Super macro - 38 x 28 mm coverage
101 px/mm (2554 px/in)
Corner softness: High
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
|Wide macro - 78 x 59 mm coverage
49 px/mm (1238 px/in)
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
Because the Super macro mode only works at the wide angle end of the lens, you still get quite a lot of the world into your shot (a 38 x 28 mm area) - it would probably be more useful if it was at 100mm equivalent or longer. As it is, you'd scare small creatures away if you try to jab them with the lens and anything that doesn't emit light will be difficult to illuminate (as you can see in our standard macro shot with the lens at wide angle). We had to use our back-lit chart to test the Super macro.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Considering the zoom range - 28-400mm equivalent - distortion is remarkably low (and a lot lower than many zooms with a third of the reach). Around 1% distortion at both ends of the lens which is incredibly low for such a long lens. Comparing the camera jepgs to raw files suggests that the camera is doing some distortion correction for JPEGS.
|Barrel distortion - 0.9% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 1.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 400 mm
The S100FS is not the first FujiFilm camera to offer film simulation modes (the S3 and S5 Pro also did), but it's the first to relate the effect back to the appearance of famous Fuji film emulsions. So rather than the slightly obscure 'F1b' and 'F2' designations, the options are now called 'Provia', 'Velvia', 'Soft' and 'Portrait.'
As well as offering different film simulation modes, the S100FS also has a Film Simulation Bracketing mode, which shoots consecutive shots in Provia, Velvia and Soft modes. Using this mode automatically pushes the camera to ISO 200 (because 'Soft' mode uses 200% Dynamic Range Expansion), and knocks the image quality down to 'Normal' (for no obvious reason). Another thing that is unclear is why the camera takes three images, rather than rendering one exposure in three different ways - no changes are made to exposure between shots, so there's no obvious reason why this is done.
And here are some real-world examples of the three film modes employed when using film simulation bracketing mode: The differences are subtle in most shots but do allow you to get a different 'feel' without getting bogged down fiddling with obscure image parameters.