Fujifilm’s CES 2014 reveals included rugged cams, megazooms, new Instax printer

When you walk into the Fujifilm CES booth you’re quickly reminded there’s still a ton of photo printing going on even during this Facebook and Instagram era. Yes, some people still love the feel of a slick print and Fujifilm is more than happy to oblige since it’s one of the largest commercial photo printers in the world. But for us walking the aisles in here in Vegas, cameras and lenses are the thing so let’s see what’s new in Fujifilm’s bag of tricks…

In a nutshell, there was nothing earth-shattering from the company. Those expecting a new member of the X-Series will have to wait a bit longer. Oh, the company will introduce an all-black version of one of our favorites of 2013, the X100S, which was originally available only in black and silver. The innards and fixed focus lens remain the same and that’s fine by the Digital Trends imaging crew. The camera still features the APS-C X-Trans CMOS II chip and f/2.0 23mm lens (34.5mm 35mm equivalent).

Fujifilm X100S in all-black
Fujifilm X100S in all-black

A cool new addition for X-series interchangeable lens cameras like the X-M1 – another DT favorite – is a new Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R prime lens. Since it has a 35mm equivalent of 85mm – the classic portrait focal length – and a wide-open aperture, you should capture some beautiful faces with nicely blurred backgrounds. It’s perfect for Facebook profile pictures – and maybe a print or two. The lens is not cheap at $999 (due February) and brings the complement of X-mount lenses up to an even dozen. 

Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R prime lens
Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R prime lens

The smartphone has rocked the traditional concept of photography – take a shot, make a physical print – and Fujifilm is doing what it can to adapt. It already dropped its cheapo point-and-shoots and now the company is trying its best to get smartphone users to make quickie prints. Not by going to a local kiosk, mind you, but with the new Instax Share SP-1 Printer ($199, due April).  The concept is kind of cool: You send your images to the SP-1 via Wi-Fi and it cranks out a 2 x 3 Instax mini film print. The SP-1 acts as its own Wi-Fi hotspot and you just need to download the Instax Share App to your iOS or Android phone and you’re good to go. There have been other portable printers in the past but this is the first to be totally targeted to smartphone users. Whether this is just a cute party gimmick or offers a chance to really change behavior is anyone’s guess, but Fujifilm stated back at the 2013 PhotoPlus Expo in New York City that it’s investing in the Instax line due to growing popularity (the company cites that Instax cameras are one of the top items sold at Urban Outfitters, that purveyor of what’s cool in youth culture). Time will tell…

Instax Share SP-1
Instax Share SP-1

Along with the SP-1, Fujifilm introduced the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic instant film camera, a stylistic variation of the Mini 90. These cameras are geared for those pining for the good old days of Polaroids and quickly turn out 3.4 x 2.1 image-size prints for relatively instant gratification – what Instagram would have been in the analog days.

One of the ongoing trends for CES 2014 is the dramatic cutback in the number of camera introductions – especially aim-and-forget models under $150. Fujifilm has completely abandoned inexpensive point-and-shoots and is concentrating on those areas where smartphones can’t compete – rugged, weatherproof models and mega-zooms. The company announced five of these ranging from $229-$499; all arrive in March. All have small sensors so forget about APS-C or even 1/1.7-inch chips. That shouldn’t be a total turnoff as they have some nice features for relatively reasonable prices.

The FinePix S1 ($499) is a rain- and dust-proof 50x mega-zoom with a range of 24-1200mm and apertures of f/2.8-5.6. It has a 16.4MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS imager, built-in image stabilization, and a maximum burst mode of 10 frames per second (fps). The S1 also has a 3-inch vari-angle LCD, a .2-inch electronic viewfinder, and built-in Wi-Fi.

FinePix S1
FinePix S1

More rugged but less robust is the new 16.4MP XP70 ($229), a continuation of the XP series camera that are waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof to 5 feet, freeze- and dust-proof. Like most other pocketable rugged cameras, it has a 5x optical zoom (28-140mm) and is available in radical colors (blue, orange, and yellow).

FinePix XP70
FinePix XP70

The remaining trio is mega-zooms. The FinePix S9400W ($349) and S9200 ($329) have 50x zooms (24-1200mm) while the S8600 ($229) has a 36x zoom with a range of 25-900mm. The difference between the S9400W and S9200 is Wi-Fi. We suggest you pay the extra money for the convenience. This pair has 16.2MP CMOS sensors, 10 fps shooting, built-in image stabilization (IS), electronic viewfinders, and high dynamic range (HDR) capture. The S8600 has a 16MP CMOS chip, sensor-shift IS, and 3-inch LCD, and uses three AA batteries for power.

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