Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for S4500 Front Left Closed Strobo Wide.jpg
  • 14-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3-Inch LCD Screen
  • Electronic View Finder
  • 30x Fujinon Optical zoom lens: 24-720mm (35mm equivalent)
  • CCD sensor shift image stabilization
  • SR Auto mode
  • 720p HD video recording
  • Panorama Shooting Mode
  • Pop-Up Flash Unit
  • Manual and Custom shooting modes
  • AA-type batteries
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • SR Auto shooting mode is accurate and easy in most situations
  • 30x optical zoom lens provides amazing versatility
  • Sensor Shift image stabilization keeps images crisp
  • Nice, Bright 3.0-inch LCD and EVF
  • Descent shooting performance
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Versatile power options (use just about any AA type batteries)
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • No dedicated video recording button, camera has to be put into movie mode to record
  • Too much noise in images at any setting over ISO 800
  • Missing all of the great EXR modes that Fuji can provide
  • No HDMI output for HD movies on an HDTV
  • No Diopter adjustment for the EVF
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 4.3 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 3/10 to 8/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.06 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.24 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  1fps for first 6 images, then it slows considerably
  • Top 6 burst = 1.67fps
  • All tests were taken using an PNY Pro Class 10, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
  • The 8fps shooting comes in the Top 40 Max shooting mode and only records in a small image
Bottom Line
Fuji's FinePix S4500 is an incredibly versatile Mega-zoom digicam featuring a 30x Fujinon optical zoom lens. The S4500 also brings easy operation, excellent image quality and a lot of creative control to the table.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for versatility, ease of use and an almost unlimited power source in a frame that gives you a dSLR-like feel.
Fuji's Finepix S4500 is a compact Megazoom digicam sporting a 30x optical zoom lens, CCD sensor-shift image stabilization,14-Megapixel CCD imaging sensor, electronic viewfinder,  a 3.0-inch LCD screen, and 720p HD video capture. On top of the great physical features, it also has a Scene Recognition Auto shooting mode, Face, Blink and Smile Detection and several high performance shooting modes such as Motion Panorama. This camera is also versatile enough for anyone in the family, as it has all of these great automatic shooting modes, but also gives you complete control with manual and custom shooting modes as well. 

With a dSLR-like body, the camera is very easy and comfortable to operate. It is also a bit more compact than most dSLR cameras, while providing you with a zoom range that far surpasses that of any single interchangeable lens combination that you will find; not to mention how much cheaper this will be. The controls on the body are very simple and well placed, allowing you to easily and quickly change your settings while on the move. Viewing and framing your images is also incredibly easy with the combination of the EVF (electronic view finder) and LCD screen. This means that you will never have an issue seeing what you are shooting, if it should be too bright to see the LCD screen, the EVF is always easy to see. For those of us who wear glasses, you'll be a bit disappointed to find that the EVF does not have a diopter adjustment, meaning you can't focus the image to your eyesight.

Image quality from our outdoor samples looks good. On a bright, sunny day, the camera produced excellent exposures, but shooting in SR Auto, the colors seemed to be slightly washed out. If you agree, this can be easily fixed by setting the camera to the vivid shooting mode. The only other flaw we really saw is around the edges of the image, especially the left side; the image tends to get pretty soft.

All of your framing needs are handled by adjusting the versatile Fujinon 30x optical zoom lens. It boasts a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 24-720mm. The lens itself is marked with the focal distances and operates is steps that make it incredibly easy to get the focal distance you are looking for. You also have the assistance of the sensor-shift IS system to help keep your handheld images sharp, especially when using the telephoto end of the zoom. While effective, we still recommend using a tripod or monopod when using the telephoto capabilities of a camera.

Our indoor samples show us a very sharp, well exposed image with colors that seem just a little brighter than we saw in our outdoor images. There is still just a little softness on the left edge of the image, but you really have to look close to notice. At the lower ISO settings, the images are beautiful showing very high levels of detail. At ISO 400, some of the finer details start to disappear, and anything after ISO 800 you will want to stay away from if at all possible.  Assisting with you indoor and low-light shooting situations is a small but somewhat powerful pop-up flash unit. It has a range of up to approx. 23 ft. (W) at ISO auto. One drawback to this flash unit is it must be manually popped up, it will not automatically if needed. 

The S4500's face detection software works very well with the camera either in SR Auto or when it is manually set to Portrait mode. It had no problem detecting a face or two, but I was not able to get it to detect all three. As you can see in our sample, the image was exposed nicely and is very sharp. The auto white balance did struggle a little, allowing the image to show an orange tint that was cast by the tent our subjects were under. The fill flash did just enough to fill in any shadows and keep the faces evenly lit.

Fuji gave the S4500 a very easy to use panorama feature that allows anyone to capture great, extra wide images. While this is not a full 360° or even 180° auto panorama mode, it uses a cross of the side of the screen that allows you to perfectly line up your next shot. Once the camera is lined up, it will automatically capture your next image for you. Once you have captured all 3 images, the camera will then stitch them together for you. It does a great job of stitching the images, as the ares where these images meet are blended together very well. 

Since it is lacking the dedicated video recording button, you will have to set the camera to movie mode before you can start recording. This takes a little more time, which means that you will have to know ahead of time that you want to record a movie. The camera did an excellent job recording its 720p HD movies, giving us clear images with a continuous AF that handled the movement very well. The colors were also very crisp, making the movies look amazing. While recording you also have the use of the optical zoom lens, or if you do not want to hear the optical lens, the digital can also be selected in the menu. Viewing and playing back your movies is a snap either using the camera's LCD screen or any nearby TV if you have the optional A/V or HDMI cable.

Powering the S4500 are 4 AA-type batteries. The camera has a menu selection for the type of batteries you will be using: Ni-MH, Alkaline or Lithium. While you do not see many digicams that use AA batteries anymore, it is an abundant and easy to find power source everywhere in the world. Fuji claims that the camera is capable of capturing up to 500 images while using Ni-MH type cells; like those we tested the camera with. With alkaline they claim up to 300 and up to 700 with one-use Lithium. While completing our tests and capturing over 125 images and several short videos, we never had to worry about the batteries depleting. We did notice, however, that the battery door can be difficult to get closed completely. Even if it is not, the camera will work but it possible for the door to come open at that point.

Bottom Line - The FujiFilm FinePix S4500 is a very nice compact Mega-zoom digicam. Its 14-megapixel imaging sensor, 30x Fujinon optical zoom lens, and CCD sensor-shift image stabilization all combine to produce excellent images. The camera's layout and auto modes allow anyone to use it with ease, while it also features manual and customizable modes for the more experienced users. With a MSRP of US $259.99, you are getting your money's worth when you look at the quality and versatility of this camera.

You can check out the price of this camera on Adorama by clicking here

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