11-06-2006, 03:00 PM #1
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Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd Digital Camera Review
The Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd is Fujifilm's first camera with their new facial detection system. The 6.3 megapixel camera is loosely based on the previous S5200 model and includes a 10.7x optical zoom lens and 2.5 inch LCD. The S6000fd gets all of the benefits of Fujifilm’s Real Photo Technology with low noise images and an excellent lens. The camera performed very well in our review with excellent image quality, a nice lens and excellent battery life.
In the Box
Packed along with the camera, you’ll find 4 AA batteries, a neck strap, lens cap, lens cap holder, lens hood, A/V cable, USB cable, software CD-Rom, and the owner’s manual.
The S6000fd is styled like an SLR. In fact it’s probably right about the same size as some of the smaller digital SLRs on the market. However, the lens on the S6000fd is not removable and instead of an optical viewfinder that you’d find on an SLR, you get an LCD and electronic viewfinder.
The camera is quite solid and sturdy. Even though the body is primarily black plastic, the camera still has some heft to it. A rubberized, textured grip wraps around the grip side of the camera and around the lens to let you easily control the zoom.
The lens of S6000fd is pretty noticeable. A lens cover and lens hood is included in the box. The lens has a manual zoom ring and manual focus ring (when you decide to use manual focus). Also on the front of the camera between the lens and grip, you’ll see the focus assist lamp. The pop-up style flash is right above the lens.
On the back of the camera, you’ll find the electronic viewfinder (with diopter adjustment) and 2.5 inch LCD. There is a button to enable/disable face detection, a button to switch between the EVF and LCD, a digital zoom button, a 5-way control pad, the Disp/Back button, and a “photo mode” button to access a quick shooting menu.
All of the controls on the top are on the right side. The ring-style power switch that surrounds the shutter release also acts as a switch between capture and playback modes. Right within pointer finger range is a button to access the continuous shooting modes and a button to change exposure compensation. Behind that cluster of controls is a dial that lets you access all of the exposure modes of the camera, including scene modes and movie capture.
The bottom of the camera has door to access the battery compartment and a tripod mount (obscured in the picture below by the battery compartment door).
On the left side of the camera (when you’re looking at the back), you’ll find the access door for the xD-Picture Card media slotand a speaker. Forward from the speaker is a switch to toggle the focus mode between continuous AF, single AF, and manual focus. A button in the middle of this selector is a “one-touch AF” button – more on that in the features section.
The “highlight” feature of this camera is the facial detection system. It’s the whole reason for that “fd” in the model name. The facial detection system can detect up to 10 faces in a frame. Once the faces are recognized, focus and exposure are set appropriately for the best results. This mode can be enabled and disabled by using the dedicated button for it on the back of the camera.
The S6000fd is a 6.3 megapixel camera. You can capture images at 2848x2136 (6MP), 3024x2016 (3:2), 2048x1536 (3MP), 1600x1200 (2MP), and 640x480. At the highest resolution, you can choose either Fine or Normal compression. At full resolution and Fine JPEG compression, the file size is approximately 3MB per shot. On a 256MB xD-Picture card, you’ll be able to fit 85 of those shots.
The Fujinon lens on the camera is very nice, with an optical zoom capability of 10.7x. The focal length is 6.2mm-66.7mm (28-300mm equivalent). Maximum aperture at wide angle is F2.8 and at telephoto, it is F4.9. When you’re at wide angle the aperture range is F2.8-F11 (manual mode). If you try aperture priority mode, you can only get to F8.
The 2.5 inch LCD is average. There is plenty of resolution with 235K pixels, but the refresh rate is not amazing. Also, the LCD is not the best for outdoor use. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is your better option for outdoors. It is a 0.33 inch, 115K pixel screen that has 100% coverage of the scene and displays all the information that you would normally see on the LCD. A diopter adjustment is available to sharpen the EVF if your eyes aren’t perfect.
Electronic viewfinder (view large image)
Movies can be captured at 640x480 and 320x240 at 30 frames per second. A 256MB memory card will hold a 223 second, 640x480 movie clip. As an added bonus, since the zoom control is not manual, the optical zoom is available during movie capture.
For memory expandability, your only option is xD-Picture Card media of which the camera can handle capacities up to 2GB. There is also approximately 10MB of internal memory. If you like the Fujifilm cameras but already have an investment in Compact Flash, the S6000fd’s big sibling, the S9100, accepts xD and Compact Flash.
The S6000fd is powered by 4 AA size batteries. According to CIPA standards for battery life, you can take approximately 200 shots using alkaline batteries and 400 shots using 2500 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. I was using 2200 mAh batteries during my review and took over 300 shots. The battery indicator hadn’t even lost any “bars”. If the capacity of your rechargeable batteries have diminished over time, the camera has a discharge function. This features lets you discharge the batteries completely to “refresh” them.
The S6000fd provides the full complement of exposure modes, from fully automatic, to full manual control. On the mode dial you have the following options:
- P - Program AE - you get more control over ISO, flash, metering while the camera calculates correct aperture and shutter speed
- S - Shutter priority - in addition to flexible settings in P mode, you can set the shutter speed and the camera determines the aperture setting
- A - Aperture priority - like S mode, but you set the aperture while the camera sets the shutter speed
- M - full manual control over aperture and shutter speed
- Natural Light / Natural with Flash – When shooting in natural light, sensitivity is increased to use available light. The Natural with Flash setting takes two shots – one with natural light and one with flash so that you can choose the best result later.
- SP (scene position) - Choose from Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower, and Text. The camera uses optimal settings for these conditions.
You can shoot in RAW mode with the camera. However, the camera can’t process them in-camera, so you can’t review them. You’ll have to use the included software to develop the files to JPEG.
The focus system on the camera is also quite capable. At wide angle and normal focus mode, you can focus on subjects between 1.3 feet and infinity. If you zoom all the way in, you can focus as close as 6.6 ft. If you want to get a little closer, the Macro mode lets you get has close as 3.9 inches at wide angle, and 3 ft at telephoto. An additional Super Macro mode lets you get as close as 0.4 inches, wide angle only. A focus assist light helps in low light conditions to get an accurate focus.
The camera has a couple focus modes. As far as auto focus, you can choose single AF, which focuses when you partially depress the shutter button. Continuous AF tries to obtain focus all the time, at the expense of battery life. Continuous AF can come in handy though to decrease the time needed to capture an image with a full press of the shutter. You can also use manual focus on the camera by using the manual focus ring on the lens. One really nice feature when using the manual focus is the “one touch AF” button. When you press this button, the camera does a quick auto focus and then you can use the manual focus ring to tweak the focus the way you want it. The button lets you avoid the “hunting” time when using manual focus. The LCD also shows which direction you need to turn the focus ring for the subject to be in focus.
The S6000fd is equipped with a 2 second and 10 second timer. For continuous shooting, there are several modes. The Top 3 mode captures up to 3 frames at 2.2 frames per second. The Final 3 mode captures the last 3 images taken before releasing the shutter button – again at 2.2 frames per second. A “long-period” continuous mode will take images as long as you have storage space, but only at 0.6 frames per second.
The built-in pop-up flash can be set to auto, red-eye reduction, forced flash, suppressed flash, slow synchro, and red-eye reduction + slow synchro. If you use auto ISO, the flash range is 2 ft – 27.2 feet at wide angle. At telephoto, the range is 6.6 ft to 15.1 ft. In macro focus mode, the flash can be used with a range of 1 ft to 6.6 ft at wide angle and 3 ft to 6.6 feet at telephoto.
During capture, you can modify the color settings and sharpness. For color, you can choose from Standard, Chrome (high contrast and color saturation), or black & white. Sharpening can be set to hard, standard, and soft.
During image playback, you can rotate images, copy images, trim images, and add a voice memo.
Camera Performance and Image Quality
The camera performed very well. Start up time was under 2 seconds. Shutter lag was very minimal. It’s virtually instantaneous if you’ve achieved focus lock with a partial depress of the shutter button. Flash cycle time can take several seconds, but that’s not surprising at all. Focus times are also very good; just keep in mind that it will take a bit longer at the full telephoto setting to get focus.
Overall, the camera was pretty comfortable to hold. It’s heavier than your typical camera, so the rubberized, larger grip comes in handy. To use the zoom while shooting, you have to use two hands – one for the shutter and one to turn the zoom ring. The controls were also placed well. The “F” button on the back provides quick access to often used items like the ISO setting, resolution setting, and color setting. I was not a fan of the continous mode button and exposure compensation button on the top of the camera, which you have to hold down while you make your adjustments with the control pad. I would have preferred that the menu stay active when I pressed the button.
The flash performance was also impressive, when paired with auto ISO. The specifications sheet puts the flash range at 27 feet. However, if you want get less noise (by using the F menu in a non-automatic exposure mode to set the ISO), your range will be much less. For example, at ISO 100, the flash range is more typical – probably around 10 feet or so.
Image quality was excellent. Colors were accurate and not too saturated. Skin tones in portraits looked very good. Details were excellent across the entire frame, with nice sharp edges and good contrast. I didn’t see any chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in high contrast areas at all. There is some visible barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom, but it’s below average. Dynamic range was also very good with shadow details still visible in shots with full lighting on the subject.
Good detail (view medium image) (view large image)
Nice color (view medium image) (view large image)
As is pretty typical of most Fujifilm cameras, noise performance was very good. The camera can shoot up to ISO 3200, but that setting should only really be usedf there’s no other way to capture the shot. Even at ISO 800, prints would be very good, with not a lot of noticeable noise. Even at ISO 1600, I did take some pleasing shots, with the noise actually being a neat “look” for the image.
Additional Sample Images
- Focal Length: 6.2mm-66.7mm (28-300mm on a 35mm camera)
- Sensor resolution: 6.3 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 10.7x
- Digital Zoom: 2x (for a max zoom of 21.4x)
- Focus type: TTL contrast type with AF-assist lamp
- FocusRange: Normal: 1.3ft – infinity (wide), 2ft – infinity (telephoto; Macro: 3.9 in-9.8 ft (wide); Super Macro: 0.4 in – 3.3 ft (wide angle only)
- Focus modes: single AF, continuous AF, manual
- Focus areas: center, multi, area
- LCD Monitor: 2.5 inch, 235K pixels, 100% coverage
- Viewfinder: 0.33 inch, 115K pixel electronic viewfinder, 100% coverage
- Shutter Speed: 30 sec – 1/4000 sec (also depends on exposure mode)
- Sensitivity: Auto, ISO 100/200/400/800/1600/3200
- Light Metering Mode: 256 zone multi-metering, spot metering, average metering
- Exposure Control Method: program AE, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
- Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
- White Balance Control: Auto, Preset (fine, shade, fluorescent (daylight), fluorescent (warm white), fluorescent (cool white), incandescent), Custom
- Built-in flash operation modes: auto, red-eye reduction, fill flash, flash off, slow synchro, slow synchro with red eye reduction
- Flash Range: ISO Auto: Normal focus: 2 ft – 27.2 ft (wide), 6.6 ft – 15.1 ft (telephoto); Macro: 1 ft – 6.6 ft (wide), 3 ft – 6.6 ft (telephoto)
- Self-Timer: 2 second, 10 second
- Storage Media: xD-Picture Card
- Computer Interface: USB 2.0 High Speed
- BatteryType: 4 AA cells (alkaline or NiMH rechargeable)
- Weight: Approx. 23.3 ounces, including batteries and xD-Picture Card
The Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd is a very capable camera, packed with features that an experienced shooter will find very useful. In the hands of a beginner, the full capability of the camera won’t be realized, but it provides an excellent camera for someone who wants to “grow into” digital photography. There are enough automatic features to take “easy” shots, but then when the photographer is ready, so is the camera.
The image quality of the camera is excellent and it takes some great portrait shots using Fujifilm’s face detection system. The camera is also built very well, is comfortable to hold and controls are mostly laid out well.
The manually adjusted optical zoom lens is very nice, allowing for optical zoom usage during movie capture and it is long enough to get close when you really need to. Some people may take issue with the lack of optical image stabilization on the longer zoom, but I personally don’t think it’s an issue with the low noise/high sensitivity capabilities of this camera.
The S6000fd is a good choice for a beginner looking for a camera to grow into or for a more experienced photographer who doesn’t want to go the SLR route. It works very well for portraits, close ups, and the long zoom lens can come in handy. It’s very reasonably priced for its very full feature set.
- Excellent image quality
- Optical zoom during movie capture
- Effective face detection
- Good low-light performance because of good high ISO capability
- Excellent battery life
- Nice one-touch AF button feature
- Some controls take some getting used to (continuous mode, exposure compensation)
- Camera may be too heavy/too large for some
- Lack of optical image stabilization may be important to some
- Continuous mode frame rate not that impressive
- It shoots RAW, but you can’t view images on the camera
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