The 10-megapixel Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd bridge camera adds to the specs of its predecessor, the S8000fd, with new burst shoot modes and a higher ISO.
Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd review
Upgrade to S8000fd
Fujifilm continues to add to its bridge camera range with the arrival of the Finepix S8100fd, a 10MP upgrade to last year’s S8000fd. Physically identical, the new model has a couple of new features over and above the sensor upgrade.
The most striking feature is its lens, offering the 35mm equivalent of 27-486mm. The camera also has sensor-based Image Stabilisation, while subject-based blur is countered via the high ISO setting up to ISO 6400 (in 5MP mode). The S8100 also has face detection, to recognise and focus on up to 10 faces, and an automatic redeye reduction feature. Another new addition is the zoom bracketing feature, linked to the face detection, that automatically zooms in on faces detected within the frame. The instant zoom feature is new, allowing fast 1.4x or 2x digital zoom to be added quickly.
Supermacro and intelligent Flash
The camera also has a supermacro mode offering shooting down to 1cm from the subject. There’s a full complement of exposure options including PASM modes. A histogram can be seen in the EVF if you need it, while exposure compensation is available over +/- 2EV. The S8100 has a dual shot mode, which takes two pictures with and without flash in quick succession, letting you choose the best according to the ambient lighting.
The S8100fd also has Fujifilm’s Intelligent flash system, which detects the contrast and lighting levels in a scene and adjusts the flash output accordingly. Finally there’s 58MB of internal memory, and a single card slot that accepts either xD or SD/SDHC cards. Power is supplied by four AA batteries.
The back of the camera houses the 2.5inch LCD, along with a four-way D-pad with image and menu scrolling and quick access to flash, drive, macro modes and the instant zoom feature. Button placement is reasonable but the controls, particularly in the PASM modes, are awkward to access when the camera is at the eye because the aperture and shutter controls are badly placed.
The EVF is annoying – the contrast is low and it’s too bright, making exposure assessment nigh on impossible and there’s no brightness adjuster. Furthermore images in the EVF look cold and drab. The autofocus is pretty speedy though, including the face detection – as long as the subjects are central. If heads are placed in the corner of the frame, though, the face detection won’t find them.
Images often have an overall ‘digital look’ especially in the normal JPEG setting, while even in fine mode, which is always recommended, the overeager sharpening and gritty look of the images can destroy any subtlety. Exposure is good though, if a little light at times, while colour is well controlled, and the White Balance is impressive. Noise is at its lowest at the lower sensitivities but starts to appear after ISO 400, with the camera’s noise-reduction system working overtime to produce a watercolour effect on the most extreme samples at the top end of the scale. There’s quite severe barrel distortion at the wideangle end of the zoom, and pincushion distortion appears as the optic is extended. The lens works well in macro mode though and the super macro mode of 1cm can produce some decent images too.
We can’t say we are a fan of this camera. I dislike the EVF intensely, and the handling in manual shooting modes is fiddly at best. Image quality is hit-and-miss, with poor high ISO images and some aggressive image sharpening. At lower ISOs images are better, but I find the majority of images too digital-looking and images too often lack subtlety or finesse.