Successor to last year's FinePix S1000 model, the Fujifilm FinePix S1500fd features an SLR-like body that's dominated by a powerful Fujinon-branded 12x optical zoom lens that offers a somewhat tight 33mm-equivalent wide angle, and a very useful 396mm-equivalent telephoto. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/6.4 at wide angle, or f/5.0 to f/8.0 at telephoto. Behind this lens sits a 1/2.3" CCD image sensor with ten megapixel resolution, mounted on a movable platter that allows for sensor-shift type image stabilization. This marks one half of a dual-pronged attack to image blur, the other half being the ability to boost ISO sensitivity (and hence shutter speeds) as conditions require. ISO sensitivity ranges up to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent at full resolution, or ISO 6,400 max at a reduced three megapixel resolution.
The Fuji FinePix S1500's rear panel includes both a 2.7" LCD display with 230,000 dots of resolution, and an electronic viewfinder that's based around a 0.2-inch, 200,000 dot ferroelectric LCD. The advantage of FLCDs over other types is twofold - they offer higher refresh rates, and also can yield reduced power consumption since with the exception of backlighting, they draw power only while changing the status of a pixel. Taking advantage of the higher refresh rates, the FLCD viewfinder also offers full color at every pixel location via time-multiplexing - rapidly switching every pixel between showing red, green and blue components of the image in turn. Both the LCD panel and FLCD viewfinder offer a reasonably accurate - but not perfect - 97% viewing angle.
Befitting its SLR-like styling, the Fuji S1500 offers a good range of manual controls - including the ability to shoot in aperture or shutter-priority modes or fully manually, as well as manual control of white balance and ISO sensitivity. There's no manual focus capability however, with the Fuji S1500fd offering only automatic focusing. AF modes include Area, Multi, Center, Tracking, or Face Detection. Images are metered using 256-zone multi metering, with no other options available. For those who like to keep things simple, the S1500 offers fourteen scene modes that give some control over the look of images without the need to understand shutter speeds, apertures and the like. There's also an SR Auto scene recognition mode which automatically selects from a subset of six different common scene types and adjusts for exposure, focus, white balance and ISO sensitivity as appropriate.
Other handy features of the S1500 include automatic red-eye removal linked to the face detection system, in-camera stitching of two or three shots at three megapixel resolution into a single panorama, an "instant zoom" feature which allows images to be framed using a wider angle that helps the photographer follow moving subjects and then instantly enables digital zoom at the moment of capture (albeit with the loss of image quality that digital zooms always bring), and a high-speed burst shooting mode that allows 3.3 frames per second at reduced five megapixel resolution, or a whopping 7.5 frames per second at two megapixels. Burst depth is six frames at 3.3fps, or 15 frames at 7.5fps. At full resolution, the Fuji S1500's shooting speed is a rather more pedestrian 1.4 frames per second. Movie capture is also possible, with the recording format being AVI Motion JPEG compressed VGA or QVGA, with monaural sound. The optical and digital zoom functions can be used during movie recording.
The Fujifilm FinePix S1500 stores its images on xD, SD or SDHC cards or in 23MB of built-in memory, and draws power from four AA batteries rated as good for 300 shots on alkalines, or 700 shots on lithium batteries. Available from March 2009 in a black body color only with pricing of about $250, the Fuji FinePix S1500 comes with disposable alkaline batteries in the product bundle - so you'll want to be sure to buy some rechargeables with it if you don't already have any.