Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd Zoom Review
Fujifilm's Finepix S8000fd is one of several models for 2007, and offers the longest telephoto zoom capabilities out of the bunch, with a FUJINON 18x "Wide" optical zoom lens, covering a 35mm equivalent range of 27 - 486mm. Other key features include an 8-megapixel image sensor, Dual Image Stabilization (Sensor Shift/High ISO), Face Detection and i-Flash technology, 2.5-inch LCD, high-resolution EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), VGA (640x480, 30fps) sized movie mode with audio, and high sensitivity settings (1600 at full resolution, 6400 at 4MP).
While the S8000fd can be used as a simple point-n-shoot digicam with its Auto and pre-programmed Scene modes (16 in total), it will also appeal to more experienced photographers. With Aperture/Shutter priority and full Manual modes, you can control as much of the exposure process as you can handle.
I was glad to see that Fuji has continued to eliminate the in-camera interpolation that was used to boost the resolution of previous models. The S8000fd's CCD image sensor offers a native resolution of 8.0 megapixels (3264 x 2448). Interpolation would be of little value in terms of resolution, while introducing noise and artifacts that in our opinion, reduced the quality of the resulting images.
The S8000fd is an SLR style model, that when you consider it's packing an 18x zoom, is also somewhat compact. It offers a great feel in your hands, with a very nice rubberized handgrip that is very "grippy". This, along with the placement of the shutter release and zoom controls, allowed me to use the camera one- handed without a problem. There are several controls spread over the camera's body, and overall they are well placed and functional. The only buttons I found that were a bit uncomfortable, were the Face Detection and Dual IS mode buttons. Trying to press them requires you to change the position in which you hold the camera while shooting. As with past models, the S8000fd offers both an EVF and LCD. All information, including the easy to use menus, can be displayed on either screen. I found both work very well indoors and out, gaining up nicely when capturing images in marginal lighting. I preferred to use the EVF outdoors, as the LCD does not feature a non-reflective coating.
The most predominant feature on this camera is the FUJINON 18x optical zoom lens. Not only does this lens cover a wide, versatile zoom range (27 - 486mm), but it's quite fast too with a wide open aperture of f/2.8- f/4.5. It provides a generous field of view for landscapes, large group portraits, and interiors at the 27mm wide angle extreme, while offering a distance-reducing 486mm telephoto end that brings distant subjects up close and personal. Check out our zoom examples on the Sample Photos page to see for yourself. I noticed that the lens produces a moderate amount of chromatic aberration (purple fringing in high contrast areas) as well as an average amount of barrel distortion at wide angle and slight pin cushioning in the moderate to telephoto zoom range. From wide angle to moderate telephoto focal lengths, images were sharp corner to corner (using a moderate aperture), but suffered a bit of corner softness at its smallest and largest apertures. At full telephoto, corners were a bit soft throughout the available aperture range. Overall, we feel Fuji has produced a nice lens that complements the S8000fd's 8-megapixel imager well.
Our standard shooting performance tests show the S8000fd is good performer for a super-zoom model. From power-on to the capture of your first image takes about 2.6 seconds, this includes the time it takes to boot up and extend the lens. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between pressing the shutter and capturing the image, measured a very good 1/10 second when pre-focused, or 5/10 second including autofocus time. Those times include a bit less than 1/10 second delay introduced by the S8000fd's viewfinder; because it has no optical viewfinder, you'll have to adjust your timing for the slight delay while the S8000fd presents the live electronic image on either the LCD or EVF. Shot-to-shot delay averaged between 1.8 - 2 seconds without flash, and between 2.3 and 4 seconds with flash depending on subject distance and battery life. The S8000fd also offers a High-Speed Shooting mode. With this feature on, Shutter lag was almost instantaneous when pre-focused and just 3/10 of a second including the AF system. However, the shot to shot delay in single exposure mode was the same at 1.8-2 seconds between frames.
You can choose from several "burst" modes (Top 15 2M, Top 15 4M, Long period, Top 3, and Bracketing). Top 3 is the standard burst capture mode, and allowed me to capture 3 8MP frames within 1.5 seconds, followed by a 5-6 second delay to clear the buffer before the next sequence could be taken. Top 15 2M mode captured 15 2-megapixed images in under a second, while top 15 4M mode allowed me to capture 15 4-megapixel frames in just 1.8 seconds. Using these two modes, the LCD shows the last image captured, so following a moving subject is possible. The S8000fd also has a Long-period continuous shooting mode; it captured images continuously at 1.6 second intervals, acquiring focus for each shot, limited in depth only by the amount of remaining available capacity on the installed SD or xD card. The S8000fd is responsive enough for you to capture many unposed moments and images of your children's sports activities. While the Top 15 modes offer smaller image sizes, both still offer plenty of resolution to create 4x6-inch photos, making them a very useful addition. Our tests were done using a Patriot Memory 2GB SD card, 8MP Fine quality, Auto mode, flash off, Image preview off, and all other settings at default (unless noted). Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
I was pleased with the overall image quality when shooting outdoors. Our images show colors that are richly saturated, proper exposure, and they are consistently sharp. The S8000fd also offers control of sharpness (Standard, Hard, Soft), allowing you to "dial in" that certain look. The AF system seems to do well in most shooting conditions, featuring an AF-assist lamp to help aid in marginal lighting conditions. Just remember, this AF illuminator only has an effective range of approx. 5.9 feet, so using it with the telephoto capabilities is out of the question.
The S8000fd offers a versatile sensitivity range of ISO 64 to ISO 6400 (3200 and 6400 are at a lower resolution setting of 4-megapixels). I found images are practically noise-free at ISO 64, and 100, while becoming slightly noticeable at 200. Many shooters will appreciate the ability to shoot full-resolution images at ISO 800 and 1600. Image noise is usually present in consumer digicams at high sensitivities, and the S8000fd is no exception. Noise can be detected in shadows at ISO 400, and is visible throughout the image at settings of ISO 800 and 1600. There's also a noticeable loss of image detail at these higher settings, the result of heavy in-camera noise reduction. While image quality suffers at high ISO settings, having these settings may make the difference between getting the shot and not. The ISO 3200 and 6400 images look Ok, but are a bit soft. Although they use a lower image size setting, there's much less noise than the 800 and 1600 settings at full resolution, and they will still be able to produce usable 4x6 or even 8x10-inch prints. Be sure to see our ISO example on the samples page.
Indoors, the S8000fd does very well. The built-in flash has a generous range of approx. 26 feet at wide angle (ISO Auto). Combined with the versatile 27mm wide angle end of the zoom, this digicam can capture nice close-up portraits to large group photos. Using Program mode produced pleasing "people" photos, with sharp facial details and nice flash exposure. The only issue I found was under mixed lighting, images were a bit over saturated (rosy checks, etc). While it makes images "Pop", skin tones are not 100% natural looking. While the flash is powerful, the camera does a good job of throttling down the power for macro and product photography (like images of small objects for online auction listings).
Using Portrait mode with Face Detection ON (Red-eye Removal enabled) produced mixed results. While it found an adults face with in 1-1.5 seconds, it had some troubles with children; specifically our 9 month old daughter. Out of about 20-25 photos, this system only detected her face maybe 5 times. The Red-eye removal system didn't do to well either, only prompting that it was removing any occurrences once. I also noticed that the subject had to be looking directly at the camera. These findings were a bit disappointing, however don't let them turn you away. The camera can capture awesome portraits with this feature turned off (Normal AF mode); you just might have to spend a few seconds removing any red-eye from your pictures. Like past models, the S8000fd features i-Flash technology. When using Portrait mode, I found it had a tendency to use ISO 200 to produce brighter backgrounds. While the camera's results at ISO 200 are quite usable, there is some noise visible in low contrast (shadow) areas. If you're unhappy with the results when using Portrait mode, you can simple switch over to Program, where you will also have control of ISO.
The S8000fd can also record VGA (640x480) or QVGA (320x240) sized video with audio and a frame rate of 30fps. The length of a clip is limited to the amount of memory available on with the internal memory or an optional SD or xD memory card. Because audio is recorded, you can not zoom while recording, but you can preset the desired focal length beforehand. The Dual IS mode was a big help when shooting movies using the capabilities of the zoom. Our movie samples were only Ok, with traces of compression artifacts present as well as being a bit "grainy" when shooting indoors or in low lighting.
Fuji continues to use AA-size batteries in their "S" series models. We are glad to see this as proprietary batteries exclude the ability to use of any type of "off the shelf" battery when the your battery dies and you don't have your charger handy. For the same price of a proprietary battery you can get a rapid charger and two sets of the high power AA type NiMH batteries. Because you are always powering either the large LCD or the eye-level EVF, power usage can be a concern. However, I found battery life was quite good, capturing about 180 images and several movies on a single charge using four 2500mAh NiMH batteries; this was with extensive use of the LCD for reviewing images and concluding our other tests.
Bottom line - FujiFilm's Finepix S8000fd is an appealing "Ultra-Zoom" digicam. This is a very capable consumer model, with some very
nice features (8M, 18x Wide Zoom, Face Detection, etc.), good overall performance, and plenty of shooting modes for every member of your
household. Image quality is up to par with it competitors (Canon S5 IS,
Panasonic DMC-FZ18, Olympus SP-560 UZ) and with a street price of US $350 or less (US$399 MSRP),
it offers a terrific value for a camera in this class. The only other issue I had with the camera that's not mentioned above, was the
fact that the camera will allow you to snap a photo while you are waiting for the flash to recharge. In most cases, this just produces a
blurry photo that is unusable. That said, I still feel the Finepix S8000fd will make a great choice for any consumer in the market for a
camera with these specs, and it's sure to be a popular model this holiday season.
FujiFilm has announced an updated firmware for the S8000fd
Details - Firmware Update Version 1.0.1
This firmware update incorporates the following improvements and fixes:
Visit FujiFilm's U.S.A. site to download Version 1.0.1
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