The 8-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd offers an 18x optical zoom, dual image stabilisation and face detection with automatic red-eye reduction.
There seems to be many running battles occurring in the digital photography market. Whether it is the megapixel race, the face- detection war or smile shot one-upmanship, manufacturers are constantly trying to trump each other in the hunt for sales.
Bridge cameras cater for this demand by allowing access to features such as full manual control and a massive zoom range in one compact package, thus eliminating the need to spend more money and carry more accessories that an investment in a DSLR system requires. After all, the prospect of carrying around enough kit to cover the full zoom range of a ‘superzoom’ does not appeal to everyone.
In the shape of the S8000fd, Fuji’s new entry into the ‘superzoom’ bridge, or high-end compact category, offers advanced functionality and a complete photography system in one managable body.
An 8MP, 1/2.3in CCD sensor is present and offers an impressive 18x optical zoom, f/2.8-4.5 (27-486mm equivalent) that will no doubt impress those looking for enhanced capabilities in their compact. It also possess an electronic viewfinder and each is powered by 4x AA batteries.
On the rear, the camera features a 2.5in LCD screen with a pixel resolution of 230,000. The Fuji boasts an ISO range of 64-1600 (6400 in reduced resolution) range plus13 scene modes – and a shutter speeds up to four seconds.
The S8000fd follows the conventional styling of previous bridge cameras, offering a handgrip and mode dials mounted atop the bodies, but lacks that quality finish. The shell comprises a matt plastic finish, with the rubber finish restricted to the handgrip. The angular design and oversized handgrip are great for those of us with very large hands, but the result is a camera with a boxy feel.
As is the case with most cameras offering ‘superzoom’ capabilities, the start-up time is nothing to write home about. Image capture and shot-to-shot speed is pretty much average as is the speed of moving through the zoom range. The S8000fd has an intuitive and easier-to-navigate system, while the presence of the ‘f’ button offering quick access to popular functions is a blessing.
It must be said that the image stabilisation, featuring a combination of both sensor- and ISO-based stabilisation – performs very well, and is a must when operating at the extended tele focal lengths – otherwise, at the full 18x optical zoom, you’ll be looking at some very blurry images indeed. Although should the ISO-based stabilisation be employed, it’s worth bearing in mind the risk of noisier pictures, especially in low-light conditions.
The first thing that you notice about images produced by the S8000fd is the saturated colours and over-sharpening. Even on an overcast day, artificial colours and textures appear and have a disconcerting effect on the shot on the whole. Fujifilm’s noise reduction is good, with no issues arising until right up to ISO 800 and 1600, and even when noise appears, it does little to affect the image.
As with most cameras boasting such a large zoom range, the S8000fd suffers from some major fringing issues that increase at the tele end of the range that will be visible on even minor enlargements. Pincushion distortion at the tele end of the zoom range is also noticeable, and images soften noticeably in the corner of the frame. Exposure and white balance control is good, with the camera able to capture and expose correctly in even the most challenging lighting conditions, although highlights don’t hold their detail well, blowing out on occasion.
Value For Money
If you’re watching the pennies then you won’t be getting a bad deal with the S8000fd, as it does offer a good range of features.
When it comes to purchasing a bridge camera, there are several things that normally seal the deal. Lugging around a DSLR and a range of lenses is not always convenient or preferable, so DSLR functionality accompanied by a wide zoom range and combined in a compact body is, on paper, the perfect package – and that’s exactly what’s offered by this model. The Fujifilm has plastic body and trim, but that's not to say, however, that the Fujifilm is a poor man’s camera. Images produced suffer from issues that are common in superzooms such as fringing and pincushion distortion, but the Fuji copes well with noise.