Fujifilm FinePix S5000 Zoom Review

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Steve's Conclusion

The FinePix S5000 is a fairly compact, lightweight and feature rich 3-megapixel (6-megapixel using interpolation) camera your entire family can use. With a range of exposure modes from automatic to manual, and many steps between, this camera can be changed from a simple point-n-shoot your children will enjoy to a photographic tool that will satisfy the creative urges of a semi-pro. Equipped with a 10X Fujinon optical zoom lens, the S5000 offers a degree of versatility in composing your images that you will rarely find limiting.

The most dominant feature is the powerful Fujinon 10X optical zoom lens. Covering a focal length from 37 to 370mm in 35mm equivalence, it offers the photographer enormous versatility in image composition; the 37mm wide-angle covers most interior shots, while its 370mm telephoto magnification will please the nature and sports photographer. If your shooting needs do exceed the 37-370mm range of the non-removable lens, Fuji offers 2 conversion lens, the WL-FX9, which offers a wide .79X multiplier, and the TL-FX9, which offers a telephoto 1.5X; the use of these two lenses will extend your zoom to a range of 30-555mm! The lens produces sharp images throughout its zoom range, but with a bit of barrel distortion and pin cushioning present at the wide-angle and telephoto extremes respectively. The lens is very fast; with a wide-open variable aperture range of F2.8 (wide) to F3.1 (tele), it will allow for a higher than expected shutter speed and enable you to hand-hold the camera in lighting conditions that might otherwise require a camera support.

The S5000's shooting performance ranged from average to exceptional. From power-on till the first image was captured measured under 5 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was 3/10 second when pre-focused, and 9/10 second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot delay averaged about 1.5 seconds, while burst mode captured five shots in only 1.3 seconds; the viewfinder remained usable in both modes of rapid image capture. Sports shooters will enjoy 2 modes of continuous shooting, Top 5-Frame which is a standard burst capture mode, and Final 5-Frame which releases the shutter up to 40 times but records only the last 5 frames when the shutter is released. Testing the camera at a beach volleyball tournament, the consistent 3/10 second shutter lag enabled us to develop a rhythm with the camera and capture a high- percentage of decisive moments.

We were happy with the results shooting indoors. The moderate wide-angle lens affords reasonable field of view, and its built-in pop-up flash has a powerful (by consumer digicam standards) range of up to 19.7 feet. You won't be illuminating an entire banquet room, but your large living room shots or group portraits will be covered. In low ambient light, both the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and large LCD were easy to view, and the S5000's AF-Assist Illuminator produced sharp focus. The camera was also able to squelch its flash at close range, making it a good choice for shooting close-up images of small objects. There is no provision for the attachment of external flash equipment.

We were mostly pleased with our outdoor test shots. Images were sharp, well-exposed and richly saturated. Fuji uses more JPEG compression than other 3-megapixel resolution cameras, the file sizes for most of our samples were under a megabyte. Other cameras give you a choice of both the image size and quality, the S5000 offers only a resolution setting, I prefer being in control of both of these parameters. You can see some compression artifacts in blue-sky areas that could be eliminated with a finer JPEG compression setting. We found the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) somewhat difficult to view in bright sunlight; the S5000 would benefit from having a deeper rubber eyecup on the EVF to better block out ambient light.

The S5000 uses 4 standard AA batteries, and we recommend using rechargeable NiMH batteries. We found the battery life quite acceptable when using the camera's power-saving mode.

One of the S5000's unique features is its ability to produce interpolated 6-megapixel images from a 3-megapixel image sensor. Comparing equally-sized enlargements of segments from 3 and a 6-megapixel interpolated images, the interpolated image showed only minor degradation. This feature will be of most value to those desiring to make poster-size prints.

With a street price of under $400 and a great deal of versatility, the FinePix S5000 offers a lot of value. Usable by every member of your family, it will produce high-quality images of everything from family events, objects for sale at online auctions, and nature to sporting events. If you value a continuous viewfinder during image capture, the use of standard AA batteries, two varieties of very rapid continuous shooting, and the ability to produce 6-megapixel interpolated images, the 3-megapixel 10X zoom S5000 would be a good choice for an all-around family digicam.

Download the freeware s7raw decoder software for use with the Fujifilm FinePix S7000/S5000 camera's RAW image files.

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Sample Photos

Want a second opinion?

DC Resource's S5000 review

Megapixel.net S5000 review

DP Review's S5000 review

LetsGoDigital's S5000 review

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