The Fujifilm FinePix SL300 offers an impressive bridge camera specification at an affordable price, but how does it stack up when put under closer examination?
Fujifilm PinePix SL300 review – Features and Design
The SL300 was announced as part of a trio of new Fuji bridge cameras, alongside the SL280 and SL240. The sole difference between the three bridge cameras is their focal range – the SL240 offers a 24x optical zoom, the SL280 a 28x optical zoom and, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed by now, the SL300 offering a 30x optical zoom.
The optical zoom itself covers a focal range of 24-720mm with a maximum aperture of f/3.1 at the wide end, while sensor shift stabilisation – an always-welcome feature in a bridge camera with a large optical zoom – is also present.
The SL300 houses a 1/2.3in CCD sensor boasting a resolution of 14MP and with an ISO range of 64 – 1600 at full resolution, and this can be boosted to 3200 and 6400 in reduced resolution mode. The sensor also supports HD video capture, only at 1280 x 720 resolution, as opposed to full 1080p HD capture offered by a lot of its competitors.
The rear of the camera houses both an LCD screen and an EVF, offering a choice of views for both framing and image review – the former measures 3in with a resolution of 460k-dots, while the latter measures in at 0.2in and with a resolution of 200k-dots.
Outside of the slightly disappointing video capture situation, the SL300’s feature set is very much in keeping with its bridge camera label. The model offers full PASM shooting control which will no doubt appease those looking to use the SL300 for more advanced work. Those happy to let the camera do the work are also catered for with the inclusion of an SR Auto setting which selects from the model’s scene modes for optimised image capture. This mode also detects faces, blinks and smiles to help you get better portraits.
Fujifilm claims that the SL300 features ‘Built-in social networking’, although this claim is slightly misleading. While a lot of cameras now on the market feature built-in Wi-Fi to allow wireless social networking, the variety found on the SL300 requires the compact to be connected with a PC before uploading, thus defeating the whole versatility of the function.
The SL300 is features a design very much akin to a conventional bridge camera with the bulk of the body taken up by a large lens barrel and protruding handgrip, both of which are rubberised. The combination of the two means that the model handles well, although the general build quality doesn’t feel to as high a standard as it could be. The body has a slightly plasticky feel to it in general and doesn’t feel as though it would necessarily stand up to the test of time. That being said, it is one of the more affordable bridge cameras so this is not particularly surprising.
Other elements of the camera also have a certain ‘cost-efficient’ feel to them. Despite being 460k-dots, the LCD screen is not of the best quality and struggles to render an accurate representation of image quality. The same can be said of the camera’s viewfinder. Although it’s not exactly under-specified it still struggles and on occasions displays an inaccurate hue on images
It’s not all negative however, as the Fuji SL300 does have some impressive elements. For example, the model features Fuji’s Super Macro mode to allow focus up to 2cm from a subject, while a zoom rocker is poised on the left side of the lens barrel which aids handling. The full range of manual shooting modes also feature, although it’s disappointing that Raw capture does not.
Performance, Image Quality and Verdict
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 – Performance and Image Quality
In use, the SL300 is generally reliable. The model’s focus system is
generally accurate and manages to lock on to a subject for focus in just
a short amount of time. There is also the added bonus of a selection of
focusing modes to choose from. The SL300 features the standard center,
multi and area focus modes, although continuous and tracking focus modes
also feature. These both allow more customisation over the focus
settings and in general perform well. It’s also pleasing that the SL300
offers good face detection technology.
The model’s menu system is
basic in design, although all of the major functionality is easy to
access as a result. The presence of a bold mode dial on the top of the
camera, alongside an ‘f’ button for quick access to common
functionality, are also of benefit.
Regarding image quality, the
SL300 displays a few issues which cause concerns. To start off with,
white balance displays quite a worrying level of inconsistency – images
vary from too warm to too cold from shot to shot, only occasionally
providing a level of results that prove pleasing. This is slightly
appeased by the fact that the white balance is user-customisable, but
it’s an area in which you can usually rely upon the camera to get things
Exposures also prove relatively unreliable, once again
varying from under and overexposed from shot to shot. Those two issues
aside, when the SL300 gets white balance and exposure right, the results
are generally pleasing. The general level of sharpness is good, while
colour is also accurately represented.
Although the model
features a large focal range, in general image sharpness is respectable.
The only area where issues start to occur are towards the more tele end
of the zoom, though this is to be expected with a camera of this type.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 – Verdict
The SL300 proves to be a respectable option for those looking for a more affordable bridge camera, although while it’s more respectable build quality is understandable due to it’s affordable nature, the image quality issues are less excusable.
1280 x 720p, 30fps
Auto, Custom, 6 presets
SD, SDHC, SDXC
3in, 460k-dot LCD with 97% coverage
14MP, 1/2.3in CCD
Multi, center-weighted, spot
PASM, 17 scene modes
USB 2, mini-HDMI
Auto, forced on, red-eye, slow sync
Li-ion rechargeable battery, approx 300 frames
64 – 1600 (up to 6400 in reduced MP)
30x optical zoom, 24 – 720mm
122 x 93 x 100mm
8 – 1/2000 sec