Can this 18x optical zoom camera live up to it's specs?
The Fujifilm S2500HD is a bridge camera which offers 12MP stills and an 18x zoom inside a surprisingly compact body. Running off of four AA batteries and offering an Electronic Viewfinder makes the S2500HD something of a throwback, but with more than enough features to make it a competitive addition to the superzoom genre.
The HD section of the name does allude to features on the S2500 rather than simply the HDMI output, as 720p video has been added. All the more interesting is the ability to zoom while in this mode, although the focus does have some issues with trying to adjust. During shooting the zoom is aided by two forms of stabilization in a sensor shift and ISO-based system, the latter being able to reach a rating of 6400 to improve low light capabilities. To add to the DSLR-styling beyond purely the aesthetic full manual controls are also included, giving the user the opportunity to adjust shutter speed and aperture.
As with most bridge models the S2500HD’s handling and design are shaped by the large zoom barrel, which dominates the front of the body. Also present is a large grip to the right of the lens, which provides suitable stability for the bulky front end. The buttons also favour this side of the camera, putting the majority of the controls within a finger stretch. This does result in a somewhat crowded rear section, with the portion next to the LCD screen populated with the D-pad, menu controls and playback amongst others. The mode dial is familiar DSLR-style fare, being as substantial as the controls at the rear and locating into each position with a satisfying clunk. In fact the entire body feels robust and sturdy, with no real questionable areas.
Image quality suffers from a number of issues related to the superzoom nature of the camera, as the exposure at the top end of the zoom is likely to be far darker than at the wide angle. As a result the S2500HD provides wildly disparate images dependent on whether or not the zoom is being employed. At the wide angle the dynamic range is reasonably decent, getting detail from paler areas without sacrificing too much in the shadows. At the other end of the focal length the stabilization technology seems unable to cope, often returning camera-shake afflicted images more often than not. This makes it extremely difficult to catch a moving subject, in spite of the impressive up to 8fps burst rate. Regardless of the focal lengths the S2500HD has a real tendency to favour the midtones, missing out on vibrancy in the majority of colours by attempting to maintain too balanced of an end product. As a result the images are neither eye-catching nor overly sharp, instead turning out a duller end product than could be expected.
Although there are a couple of issues with image quality the S2500HD still performs a lot better than can be expected of a superzoom model, and has some useful features besides.