IS stands for "Infrared Sensitive," not "Image Stabilized." So why is this
the coolest camera you might not be allowed to use?
In any event, the Fujifilm Finepix IS-1 is a very unique camera. The build is rock-solid and it feels more like a DSLR than many other EVF models in the market. From the lens that zooms with a twist of the wrist on the barrel rather than with a toggle switch, the pc-sync socket, the classic plunger-type cable release threads in the shutter button, and a ton of dedicated buttons and switches controlling much of the shooting experience, rather than a maze of submenus, this is an EVF that won't make the DSLR shooter feel like they are giving up too much by swapping an attached lens for interchangeable ones.
The EVF is bright and crisp, even when viewed in monochrome pinks of IR-only capture, and has a diopter correction dial for fine-tuning the view depending on your eyesight. The zoom is well-damped and glides smoothly from wide to telephoto and back again. When the EVF is used, the camera feels satisfyingly similar to a DSLR, save for the adjustment to an LCD interpretation of the scene rather than true optical experience. In all but the fastest panning, the viewfinder does a good job of keeping the EVF refreshed, and there's an option to select either 30 or 60 frames per second redrawing.
The IS-1 is powered by 4 AA cells, and we strongly suggest long-life rechargables. Basic alkalines will work in a pinch, but will drain quickly, especially if you use the single-axis, articulated, 2-inch, 235,000 pixel LCD screen for extended periods of time. It may seem like a cost-cutting measure to have the LCD articulate only along one axis, but due to the ultra-wide viewing angle, it works well for pretty much anywhere you can reach with the camera.
There's no burst in RAW mode, but JPEG mode captures a burst rate of four shots in just under two seconds. (There's also a "Last Four" burst mode that will shoot more than four in a row, but it only saves the last four shots once the shutter is released. We're not sure how useful this Fujifilm-standard feature truly is.) RAW capture in-camera is slow, and it is even slower to process the RAWs through Fujifilm's clunky Hyper-Utility 2 -- taking over a minute to crunch and save a single file with the default parameters, even on a fast dual processor PowerPC G5 tower. Our advice: skip RAW -- it'll be a cold case before you manage to open and process a full 4GB CF card of RAWs through Hyper-Utility 2 -- unless it is absolutely necessary. And Fujifilm's HyperUtility is pretty much the only game in town right now, as there's not a lot of other RAW converters supporting the IS-1.
Swapping between Infrared-only, Visible-only, and IR plus visible is a simple matter of swapping out the 67mm Peca filters (900 and 916), which can be done easily in a matter of seconds. The filter thread ring on the lens is 58mm, so unless you want to manually hold the filter in front of the lens during your shoot, we strongly suggest a step-up ring to keep your chosen filter secure. We also used our trusty Cokin 89B P-series IR-passing filter and were equally happy with our IR results.
Infrared-only capture can be captured either in the pink cotton-candy color scheme that the images pick up when an IR filter is attached and a custom white balance is not set, or with a custom white balance off a brightly reflecting infrared object which gives a subtle cyan and rose duotone feel, or monochromatic -- yielding silvery grayscale images. Cranking the ISO up to 1600 will give the monochrome images the feel of classic silver-halide infrared photos for the creative photographer who isn't afraid of grain as an artistic element.
Being an EVF (or "neo-DSLR" as Fujifilm press materials describe this class of camera), there's VGA video mode at 30 frames per second. The focal length can be adjusted during video capture; however, there's no White Balance or monochrome option in video mode, so infrared-only videos are tinted pink.