Fuji's FinePix S100FS (Film Simulation) is an electronic viewfinder digicam
that's designed to produce film-like images at the point of capture. How
it does it is not all that different than a D-SLR set on Picture Styles or similar,
but the S100FS does this with menu items with such magical names as Provia and
Velvia, Fujifilm's renowned slide emulsions. Overlooked in all this film
simulation hoopla is the fact that the S100FS is a state-of-the-art digital
camera that wraps up a lot of technology into a relatively affordable and easy-to-use
Did He Say "Film Simulation"?
The FinePix S100FS is equipped with a 28-400mm (equivalent) Fujinon lens, 11-megapixel
Super CCD sensor, 2.5" tiltable LCD, and ISO capabilities up to 6400 (at
6 megapixels) and an incredible 10,000 (at 3 megapixels). The camera also has
Dual Image Stabilization, combining Optical Image and Picture Stabilization;
Fujifilm's Face Detection 2.0 technology; and automatic redeye removal.
Four built-in Film Simulation modes let you select the most appropriate "Film"
mode for the scene and are optimized for people (Portrait), low-contrast (Soft),
vibrant colors (Velvia), or general use (Provia). If you're not sure which
is best, turn the camera's Mode dial to FSB (Film Simulation Bracketing)
and one touch on the shutter fires off three images in Provia, Velvia, and Soft
modes while displaying thumbnails of all three on the rear-mounted LCD screen.
Why not a fourth shot for Portrait?
Film Simulation menu that's available in the first tab of
the S100FS' shooting menu tells the tale: You can shoot an
image using any of the four choices shown or by using the Film Simulation
Bracket mode shoot just the first four.
Fuji claims that the FinePix S100FS sensor produces image files that have
an extended dynamic range that's similar to negative film and is designed
to prevent overexposure and underexposure, regardless of the subject. That's
why in addition to Film Simulation Bracketing and the expected autoexposure
bracketing, the S100FS offers Dynamic Range Bracketing so you can capture three
image files at 100, 200, and 400 percent that can be later assembled into a
single High Dynamic Range (HDR) image using Adobe's Photoshop or your
favorite HDR software. You can also use the camera's Movie mode to capture
images and sound at 30 frames per second (fps) in VGA quality, and the S100FS
even lets you zoom while in Movie mode. Video quality is surprisingly high.
Raw mode is selected from the Setup mode. Fujifilm provides Mac
OS and Windows versions of its FinePix Viewer software that you
can use to convert raw format files into something more portable,
but the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw easily reads .RAF files
from the S100FS.
2008, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
Fujifilm's Face Detection 2.0 can detect up to 10 human faces in a scene,
correcting focus, exposure, and white balance automatically in as fast as 0.05
seconds to ensure that photographs of human faces (sorry my simian friends)
are clear and properly exposed, no matter where they're located within
the frame. I tried shooting the gang of skateboarders who roll up and down my
street and I guess it worked, but to tell the truth, I never had trouble getting
faces in focus and this is just the first of several indications pointing at
the S100FS' point-and-shoot roots. Automatic redeye removal automatically
corrects redeye after the shot is taken and saves both the original image and
the corrected file, which is kind of nice.
The camera has a High-Speed Shooting mode that lets you capture a maximum of
50 continuous shots at 7 fps at 3 megapixels. Are you picking up on a theme?
You can capture JPEG files in lots of different sizes, including a 3:2 ratio
image that will not be at the camera's highest resolution but at least
adds to the S100FS' "film" orientation. You can also capture
images using the .RAF raw file format that's compatible with Photoshop's
current Adobe Camera Raw plug-in as well as the Mac OS and Windows software
that Fuji bundles with the camera.
Mary photographed this bronze eagle using an exposure of 1/320 sec
at f/8 and ISO 200. Even when in Aperture-Priority mode, the S100FS
offers an f/11 as the smallest aperture but is still much better
than the f/8 limitation found in similar cameras. (Below): When
Gene Autry sang "Springtime In Rockies" this is not
what he had in mind but this photograph was, in fact, made on a
spring day in Colorado at a park near my home. Exposure was 1/450
sec at f/8 and ISO 200 with a +1/3-stop exposure compensation to
make the snow whiter. The image was captured in the Black and White
Color mode that also offers High, Mid, and Low color choices.
© 2008, Mary Farace, All Rights Reserved
The FinePix S100FS has an xD/SD compatible memory card slot that accepts not
only the mostly unloved, except by Fuji and Olympus, xD-Picture Card but also
Secure Digital (SD) and Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) cards. It even has
built-in memory, another point-and-shoot trait, that lets you shoot the camera
without having a card in the slot. For my tests, I used a 2GB Kingston (www.kingston.com)
SD Ultimate card with speeds up to 120x and it performed perfectly.
© 2008, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
In The Field And In The Studio
While testing the camera, I went on several shoots with my wife, Mary, and we
would switch cameras from time to time. She enjoyed shooting the S100FS in part
because of the camera's compact size and excellent ergonomics, but mostly
because of the focal length range, which she called "incredible,"
and the amazingly crisp optical performance that produced images of far higher
quality than the price point would indicate. We both liked the tiltable 2.5"
LCD that makes it easy to frame shots from a variety of shooting positions and
I often used it as a digital waist-level finder. Sure, it's not the kind
of articulated screen Olympus uses on the E-3, but the S100FS costs a lot less.
When I made the snowy photograph in the park the temperature was an indicated
30° F but the wind chill factor was 17°, so I was more than chilly and
so was the S100FS. The electronics or LED displays in digital cameras can fail
when it's too cold. If that happens you may have to remove batteries from
the camera and then replace them again to reset the electronics. The wind and
snow were blowing hard and from time to time the electronic viewfinder would
fail and the display would "get fuzzy" as in Darby Conley's
comic strip of the same name. I tried the EVF/LCD button to switch to the preview
screen and that didn't work, but turning the camera off and on again rebooted
the camera and allowed me to make photographs until I got too cold. Tip: If
you're going out into the cold, keep the camera inside your parka until
you need it.