Bridge camera with six megapixels...
Bridge cameras may not have the sex appeal of SLRs, but they continue to sell well, and offer something a little different. The S6500fd has got the de rigueur long zoom, offers RAW, manual control, scene modes and so on. But it also has features not usually seen on a camera of this type.
The S6500fd has an eminently useful 28-300mm lens, offering something for wideangle fans as well as the tele folks. Unlike some other models we’ve seen recently, Fujifilm hasn’t used image stabilisation in the S6500fd, relying instead on its high ISO. Fujifilm has been leading the pack in this area since the F10 compact and pushing the boundaries further with the F30’s ISO 3200, a speed matched here. The big news on the S6500fd though, is the new face-detection facility (hence the fd suffix). The camera uses algorithms to recognise the eyes and mouth on a human face, and locks onto the subject no matter where it is in the frame. Fujfilm also claims it works with groups of up to 10 people too.
The S6500fd follows the design of Fujifilm classics such as the S5000 and S9000. It has an SLR-lite look and, despite the powerful zoom, maintains a relatively small size. It’s comfortable to hold and most of the controls fall easily to hand. There are few of those on the outside though; this is stripped-back design. That said, there’s a full complement of the usual digicam controls within the main menu and Finepix menu (for ISO, colour and quality).
The face detection works well – if ‘well’ can be defined as ‘more-often-than-not’. It’s not 100%, but as an advance in camera technology, it’s impressive.
What’s less impressive is the camera’s electronic viewfinder, which has poor detail and a slow refresh rate, not to mention an annoying propensity to give no idea as to the image’s exposure accuracy. Luckily there’s a histogram option, but what about Mr and Mrs Average, who just want to take pictures on holiday?
Fujifilm cameras are always good for colour. Exposure, too, is good, and there’s no denying the sharpness of the lens. However, the JPEG algorithms seem harsh, edges break up and fine detail is sometimes lost. I’m not happy with the level of noise either. At high ISOs images have an almost painterly look. If you plan to enlarge the images, I’d recommend a tripod and lower ISO.
Value For Money
The S6500fd is a well-made camera, though for its average price it also produces average images.
This camera is let down by a poor viewfinder and a combination of over-eager JPEG compression and image noise. As much as I like a high ISO, the additional processing is causing problems