Fujifilm F700 Zoom Review
Holding the entry-level spot in Fujifilm's "S"erious line of prosumer digital camera models, the FinePix S700 offers some very powerful features, like a 7-megapixel CCD image sensor, 10x optical zoom lens (38-380mm), high- resolution 2.5-inch LCD and EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), Picture Image Stabilization mode, VGA (640x480) 30fps movie mode with image stabilization option, high ISO capabilities (up to ISO 1600), all packed in a compact SLR style shell. This is also the first model we have seen from Fuji (or any manufacturer for that matter) that includes a combination xD-Picture card and SD memory card slot. While it can be used as a simple point-n-shoot camera with its Auto, Scene, and Program modes, the S700 also offers various advanced exposure settings such as Shutter priority, Aperture priority and full Manual modes. Thus, this model can be used by both beginners or photo enthusiasts alike.
The SLR style body of the S700 offers a nice comfortable feel, thanks mostly to the deep rubberized hand grip. Its controls are well organized and professional in feel. As with all consumer digicams with a broad zoom range, the S700 is equipped with an Electronic Viewfinder; although small, the EVF was very effective, providing a nearly SLR-like view with its 60fps refresh rate, and introducing less delay in the live image than EVF-equipped cameras we've tested in the past. The S700 provides the typical EVF advantages of overlaid shooting information and menu access, brightening in dim light, and the ability to playback images. It also retains the typical EVF disadvantages, including blanking between image captures both in single and continuous shooting modes. The 2.5-inch LCD worked well in most lighting, however its coating is a bit reflective and very prone to fingerprints. In low lighting situations, the display gains up nicely to help aid in shot composition. The menu system is much like past FinePix "S" series models, and is logically organized which allowed for quick and easy navigation. Like many digicams that feature a similar body design, the S700 may attract unwanted attention of security staff at events that prohibit advanced dSLR (and Film SLR) cameras.
The versatile f3.5-f3.7 10x optical zoom lens provides a generous field of view from 38 - 380mm in 35mm equivalence. While favoring the telephoto end, at the 38mm end, you'll still be able to produce some nice landscapes as well as most interior shots; you just might find yourself backed up against the wall at times. The distance-reducing 380mm telephoto end will bring your distant subjects in your face, something sport and nature photographers will enjoy. I did notice a great deal of barrel distortion present as the wide angle extreme as well as slight pincushioning pin cushioning in the moderate to telephoto range. There's also above average amounts of chromatic aberrations or purple fringing in high contrast areas and around brightly lit objects. While the zoom is not continuous, it is very precise with approx. 41 steps from wide angle to telephoto, which will allows you to fine tune the focal length for tight subject framing.
I was pleased with the S700's shooting performance results. From power-on to the capture of your first image takes about 1.8 seconds. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between pressing the shutter and capturing an image, was almost instantaneous (less than 1/10 of a second) when pre-focused, and only 2 - 3/10 of a second including autofocus time. The Shot to shot delay averaged about 2.2 seconds without flash, and between 2.6 and 3.5 seconds with flash depending on subject distance and battery life. However, the LCD/EVF black out in between shots with and without the flash while the image is being processed, which is a critical time for framing the next shot.
Shooters can choose from 2 modes of continuous shooting, Top 3 and Long Period. Top 3 allowed me to capture 3 frames in 1.3 seconds, surpassing Fujifilm's claim of 1.4fps. It then takes about 7 seconds for the camera to clear its buffer and shoot another set. Long-period continuous captured images continuously at 1.8 second intervals, limited in depth only by the amount of remaining available capacity on the memory being used. The viewfinders briefly displayed the last captured image, making it difficult to follow a moving subject. Our tests were done using a Corsair (133x) 2GB SD cars, 7M Fine quality, Program mode, flash off, ISO Auto(800), preview off, and all other settings at default. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The S700's offer a wide sensitivity range of ISO 64 to ISO 1600. All users will enjoy the smooth, essentially noise-free images shot at ISO 64 - 200, while sports shooters will appreciate the ability to shoot full- resolution images at ISO 800, and 1600. As with all consumer digicams, noise is present at high sensitivities, and the S700 is no exception. Noise starts to become noticeable in shadows at ISO 400, in highlight areas at ISO 800, and is can be seen throughout the image at ISO. There's also a noticeable loss of image detail at 1600, the result of in-camera noise reduction. While image quality suffers at high ISO settings, the ability to capture blur free images when the flash can not be used is very useful and having an image with noise is better than not having one at all.
The overall image quality of the S700's 7-megapixel imagers is very nice. Even the 7M normal mode produces great photos. The majority of our outdoors shots were sharp and well exposed, and as with most Fuji models, colors are richly saturated. When shooting indoors, the S700 produces beautiful people photos when using the dedicated Portrait scene mode. Fuji claims a flash range of 20 feet at wide-angle using ISO Auto. Remember, as you increase the focal range as well as decrease the sensitivity (lower ISO number), the flash range will fall off noticeably. I achieved great results in both portrait mode and aperture priority. In portrait mode, the camera's iFlash tends to use an ISO speed of 200, which worked well, but you can see some slight traces of noise present in the background when viewing an image at 100%. but, it's very unlikely you'll see this in your prints. When shooting in macro mode, the S700 squelches the flash nicely, ensuring you subject is not over exposed; great for images of small objects for online auction listings. In marginal lighting, the AF- assist lamp aids performance in the conditions, and even allows the S700 to focus in complete darkness.
While the movie mode options are limited (640x480 or 320x240, 30fps fixed), I was pleased with our results. Movies are nice and sharp with minimal compression artifacts (even indoors), and I especially liked the ability to use it's versatile 10x zoom lens while recording. The AF system does well with moving subjects, and re-focuses after zooming quickly.
I was glad to see Fuji continued the use of AA-size batteries. Proprietary batteries exclude the ability to use of any type of "off the shelf" cells when the primary is dead and AC power or your charger isn't 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. Unlike digicams equipped with an optical viewfinder, the S700 is always powering either the large LCD or the eye level EVF, so power usage can be a concern. But the S700's battery life was very good, allowing me to capture over 170 shots with several movie clips as well as concluded many of our other tests with a single set of 2100 mAh NiMH batteries.
Bottom line - Fujifilm's FinePix S700 is a very capable and appealing "entry-level" prosumer digicam. With
7-megapixels, a versatile 38-380mm 10x zoom lens, loads of useful exposure modes, great performance, and
comfortable SLR style body, the S700 will be hard to beat, especially with an MSRP of only US$249 or less!
The only downfalls I found were the above average amounts of purple fringing, and the fact the LCD blacks
out in between shots (when shooting in a sequence not burst mode.)
FujiFilm has released a Firmware Update for the S700
The Firmware Update Ver.1.02 incorporates the following issues:
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