Compared to... FujiFilm S8100fd

An alternative to the FujiFilm S100FS might be a smaller, cheaper all-in-one superzoom built around a smaller sensor. Indeed FujiFilm makes just such a beast - the S8100fd. It uses a 10 megapixel, 1/2.3" sensor which allows it to offer an 18x optical zoom (28-486mm equivalent) in a more compact package. Cameras with virtually identical specifications are also available from other popular manufacturers that may well be based around the same sensor and very similar lenses. They are likely to differ mainly in terms of image processing.

Conventional wisdom would lead us to expect that the weight and size benefits of using the smaller sensor will be offset by greater noise as higher sensitivity (ISO) settings. So how significant is this trade-off?

Studio scene comparison (S100FS @ ISO 100, S8100fd @ ISO 64)

  • Fujifilm FinePix S100FS: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 100, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation

  • FujiFilm FinePix S8100fd: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 64, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS
FujiFilm FinePix S8100
ISO 100, 1/52 sec, F5.6
ISO 64, 1/56 sec, F5
5,340 KB JPEG
3,774 KB JPEG

At both camera's lowest settings, both produce fairly similar results. The S100FS's bigger, more expensive lens is clearly performing much better, particularly at the edges of the frame. As usual with Super CCD cameras it doesn't look that pleasant this close (despite having bags of detail), but the mild artefacts simply aren't visible in prints at normal sizes.

The S8100's results have greater contrast and rather more saturated colors (probably due to the differing markets they are targetted at). The S100FS is resolving more detail though (note the additional fine detail on the medals in the third crop) so should be able to produce a better result than the S8100 if its contrast and saturation settings were increased. In spite of having a cheaper and even longer-range lens, the S8100 is not showing the pronounced chromatic aberration visible with the S100FS.

The S100FS is, however, free of the sharpening artifacts that can be identified in the S8100 image. But we wouldn't expect to see big differences at these base sensitivity settings (which, in the case of the S8100's ISO 64, is only for usable in good light).