The high-end 30x-zoom, largish-sensored Fujifilm FinePix X-S1 announced overseas last year is ready to make its U.S. debut.
Incorporating the same 2/3-inch EXR CMOS sensor as its smaller sibling, the FinePix X10, the Fujifilm FinePix X-S1 brings a higher-end sensibility to the megazoom market--along with a hefty price and design.
The X-S1 was quietly announced in Europe last November, but doesn't yet seem to be available there. We get it this month, for $799.95; the only megazoom more expensive is Leica's $950 V-Lux 3, Leica's twin of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150.
Because it uses a larger sensor than the typical megazoom, it has a smaller focal-length multiplier--3.9x, versus 5.6x for the typical megazoom with a 1/2.3-inch sensor--and therefore its f2.8-5.6 lens needs to be physically longer to achieve its 24-624mm-equivalent focal length. So it should come as no surprise that the camera weighs over 2 pounds, compared with, say, 1.2 pounds for the FZ150, and occupies over twice the volume. It's even bigger than some dSLRs.
Based on what I saw of the X10's photo quality, the larger sensor may confer some benefits that might make it worth the extra bucks, especially if the lens is decent. While the X10 didn't fare exceptionally well compared with its competitors for image quality, the X-S1 has a much lower bar to jump when you look at the quality from most megazooms.
Other notable specs include a 3-inch tilting LCD, 1.4-megapixel EVF, 7fps shooting at full resolution (but only for 8 frames), and 1080/30p video with a stereo mic.
The X-S1 was only one of a whopping 19 cameras for 2012 that Fujifilm decided to announce just prior to this year's CES. The company is holding a press conference on Monday at the show, which is widely believed to be the debut of the long-rumored mirrorless model. I'll be there, awaiting it with bated breath. Check back starting at noon PT on Monday for all the (hopefully) gory details.