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Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD Overview

by Mike Pasini
and Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 02/03/09

The Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD features an SLR-like body that's dominated by a powerful 15x optical zoom lens that offers a 27.6mm-equivalent wide-angle, and a useful 414mm-equivalent telephoto. Behind this lens sits a 1/2.3 inch CCD image sensor with 10 megapixel resolution, mounted on a movable platter that allows for sensor-shift type image stabilization. The Fuji FinePix's rear panel includes both a 2.7-inch 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.

The Fujifilm S2000HD is described by the company as its first to offer "full High-Definition compatibility." The S2000HD has HD video output capabilities -- at least, if you purchase an optional HD-S2 Accessory Kit, the precise specifics of which weren't available at press time; although we do know it includes a remote control which can also be used to operate the camera when shooting images, not just in playback mode. The camera is also capable of recording 16:9 aspect ratio videos and still images at 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, as well as 16:9 still images at 3,648 x 2,056 pixels. ISO sensitivity ranges up to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent at full resolution (3,200 max at a reduced five megapixel resolution).

Befitting its SLR-like styling, the Fuji S2000HD offers a good range of manual controls -- including the ability to shoot in shutter-priority mode or full manual, as well as manual control of focus, white balance and ISO sensitivity. When controlled automatically, focusing modes include Area, Multi, Center, or Face Detection -- this last being capable of detecting up to ten faces in a scene. Other handy features include automatic red-eye removal linked to the face detection system, 13 scene modes that give some control over the look of images without the need to understand shutter speeds, apertures and the like, and a high-speed burst shooting mode that allows an impressive 6.8 frames per second at reduced five-megapixel resolution, or a whopping 13.5 fps at three megapixels.

The Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD stores its images on SD or SDHC cards or in 58MB of built-in memory, and draws power from four AA batteries. Available from September 2008 with pricing of about $300, the Fuji FinePix S2000HD comes with disposable alkaline batteries in the product bundle -- so you'll want to be sure to buy some rechargeables with it.

 

Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD User Report

by Mike Pasini

Intro. The Fujifilm S2000HD is a compact long zoom using Fujifilm's very comfortable mini-dSLR form factor. With above-average performance specs and a very enticing price, it's a little short on features. But its greatest failing is in image quality.

Front View. The lens is retracted but I left the cap off.

Detail was obscured even at low ISOs and color was streaky and inaccurate. Highlights were blown on almost every shot I took. And as ISO went up, the problems just got worse.

Design. The S2000HD is designed to be carried not tucked away in a pocket or purse. I have no quarrel with that because a camera like this is more a sidekick than a piece of jewelry. You take it with you to use and you want it available to use.

Its black body in the shape of a small dSLR is imposing (like you mean business) but not an imposition (too heavy to handle). It's actually much more compact than it appears in isolated product shots, maybe half the size of a compact dSLR like the Canon Rebel XSi.

Rear View. Nice large LCD with controls all handy.

In fact, it's a dead ringer for the 18x zoom S8000fd -- except it's stylishly all black, which also reduces the risk of reflections.

Despite its size, the grip isn't miniature, extended far out from the right side of the body to accommodate any size hand. It's a well-sculpted grip, too. You'll find your forefinger falling just where it should -- on the Shutter button -- as you wrap your hand around it. You can even get to the Power switch with a little twist of your forefinger. It isn't comfortable, but it can be done.

The rest of the top deck has the popup flash, the large Mode dial and two buttons. The Intelligent Face Detection/Red-Eye Removal button is furthest forward and the Bust mode button just behind it.

Top Panel. A familiar Fujifilm design.

The left side of the camera body holds the SD card compartment with a well-designed cover you slide toward the back of the camera to unlock before it swings open on a metal hinge with a spring. It may seem a little larger than it has to be, but that just makes it easier to manage.

On the opposite side of the camera is the flash popup button, the speaker, and, covered by a small rubber flap, the AV out and HD out ports. Fujifilm includes an AV cable but the proprietary HD connector is optional.

The front of the S2000HD is almost all glass. The big lens dominates, but if you look closely in the top right corner, you'll find the microphone. There's also a AF-assist illuminator on the body between the lens and the grip and on the grip itself is a remote control receiver. The remote is not included; instead it is supplied with the optional HD cable.

Flash. The popup flash ready for action.

Underneath is the battery compartment for four AAs built into the grip and the tripod socket. It was a little hard to open and close the battery door, as it was on the S8000fd.

The back of the Fujifilm S2000HD is the business end, populated with the viewfinder, the LCD, the button to switch between them, and the controls. There's a Selector button surrounded by a four-way navigator ring which is surrounded by four buttons. The Playback button is top left, the Photo mode button (which accesses lots of goodies when you're shooting) is top right, EV is bottom right, and Display/Back is bottom left.

Fujifilm supplies a good quality shoulder strap with the S2000HD but my preference for a camera this size is to use a wrist strap and carry the camera in a holster. Either approach works well.

The lens glass is so large it's not practical to incorporate a lens cover so Fujifilm supplies a cover shaped like large plastic cup that you tether to the strap or eyelet.

Grip. Nicely textured and just the right size.

Because it's a 15x zoom, an optical viewfinder is impractical too. Instead the 0.02-inch electronic viewfinder provides 200K pixels with about 97 percent coverage when shooting (and 100 percent on playback). The EVF is surprisingly handy. I almost always preferred to use it when shooting outdoors when the sun made the LCD difficult to use. But there is no dioptric adjustment.

The lens covers quite a range, the 35mm equivalent of a 27.6-414mm zoom. That's a 15x range, superseded only by the monster 18x and 20x zooms that cost over twice as much. At wide-angle the biggest aperture available is f/3.5 and the smallest f/7. When the barrel extends for telephoto, the largest aperture is f/5.4 and the smallest f/10.8.

Fujifilm uses a CCD-shift type of optical image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake both at long telephoto lengths and in low-light conditions.

Modes. There's a curious omission in the S2000HD's shooting modes. For me, it's a deal breaker because it's the most useful mode of all, the mode many photographers prefer to use. It's Aperture Priority mode. Program AE, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes are all there but Aperture Priority is missing. So if you like to control depth of field, you'll have to resort to Program AE or Manual mode. The reason for the absence of Aperture mode is that there are only two apertures available. At wide angle, those settings are f/3.5 and f/7; this is more common among pocket cameras with very narrow depths-of-field, much less common on a camera with a large, long lens. Consider it another strike against the Fujifilm S2000HD.

Controls. Right where you expect to find them.

Controlling the shutter speed in Shutter Priority is just a little confusing. The S2000HD doesn't have a command dial or a joystick. Instead, you use the EV button. But instead of using the Left/Right buttons to change EV, you use the Up/Down buttons to select the shutter speed.

In Manual mode, where EV itself is non-functional, you use the Left/Right buttons to switch between shutter speed and aperture.

Custom settings allow you to store the F-mode settings for ISO, Quality, and FinePix Color; the Shooting menu settings for Photometry, White Balance, High-Speed Shooting, Focusing, AF mode, Sharpness, Flash, Bracketing, Dual IS mode; the Setup menu settings for Image Display, AF Illuminator, Digital Zoom and EVF/LCD mode; and other settings for burst mode, Intelligent Face Detection, instant zoom, Macro mode, exposure compensation, flash mode, display type (EVF/LCD) and indicators/framing guides/post-shot assist window.

Scene modes include the primary ones on the Mode dial itself: Picture Stabilization (Anti-Blur), Natural Light, Natural Light & With Flash, Zoom Bracketing, and Soft Portrait.

Zoom Bracketing. Here the display has been simplified as I chose the smaller portrait option.

Zoom Bracketing takes three shots every time you press the Shutter button: one at the current focal length, one at 1.4x cropped to five megapixels, and a third zoomed in 2x and cropped to three megapixels.

Natural Light & With Flash takes two shots: one without flash and one with. I'm surprised no one else has added this to their Scene modes. It's a nice insurance policy.

Other Scene modes are found under the Soft Portrait Mode dial position by pressing the Menu button. They include some old standbys: Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower, Text, and Auction.

Movie mode offers three image sizes: 1280 HD (1,280 x 720), VGA (640 x 480), and QVGA (320 x 240), all at a frame rate of 30 fps. You can shoot with Dual IS on and use the zoom, too.

Special Features. Fujifilm is noteworthy for unique features like Natural Light & With Flash mode. The Fujifilm S2000HD adds a few to the repertoire.

Battery Compartment. A bit difficult to open and close. Note the tripod socket behind the cover.

Storage and Battery. The Fujifilm S2000HD uses four AA batteries. Forget about alkalines, folks. And unless you plan to use the camera three times a year max, forget about lithium AAs, too. You'll want to invest in some modern NiMH rechargeable AAs (about $20 with the charger). The latest types can hold their charge for months.

Fujifilm claims their CIPA testing shows yields of 300 frames with alkalines, 650 with lithiums and 400 with rechargeable NiMH AAs. CIPA standards include a lot of flash shots, so your typical use will probably exceed these conservative marks.

The Fujifilm S2000HD includes about 58MB of built-in memory. Budget for a 1GB SD card for stills, or at least a 4GB SDHC card if you want to shoot video with the S2000HD. 1GB will store 200 high resolution images (3,648 x 2,735 with Fine compression) or 10 minutes of HD video (40 minutes of standard video), making the 4GB card the preferred option.

Card Compartment. The Fujifilm S2000HD uses SD cards, not xD cards.

You can buy an AC adapter for the S2000HD but I don't really think it's worth it unless you plan to hook the camera up to your HDTV for playback a lot.

Performance. Among long zooms, the S2000HD scored mostly above average marks.

Startup, for example, was just 1.8 seconds, better than average for a long zoom, which typically has to extend quite a bit of glass before it's ready to shoot. Shutdown time was just average, though at 2.8 seconds.

Autofocus lag was better than average at 0.591 second, but the interesting thing here was that wide angle took a blink longer than telephoto. Usually cameras in general and long zooms in particular have more trouble focusing at telephoto focal lengths. But not the S2000HD.

Prefocus lag was just 0.018 second, also better than average. Since you focus with prefocus, this is the more common shooting method with a long zoom. It's comforting to note the camera is optimized for it.

Speaker and Ports. The S2000HD uses a proprietary Video/HD out port.

Continuous mode cycle time was slower than average at 2.06 seconds or only 0.49 frames-per-second, though there are some pretty speedy continuous modes at lower resolutions. Flash cycling took longer than average at 8.3 seconds. Download speeds were better than average at 13,469 KB/s thanks to the Fujifilm S2000HD's USB Hi-Speed port.

The 3.0-inch LCD ranks above average but the 15 optical zoom is average, superseded by the 18x and 20x models available. Weight at 482 grams was average, although we didn't find it particularly heavy.

Shooting. My first outing with the Fujifilm S2000HD was the final series of the season between the Giants and Dodgers in San Francisco. I don't know what they call the ball park these days (it's changed names frequently) but I call it The Bell in honor of all the dingalings that have played for the Giants.

The Dodgers were on their way to the playoffs, but game two was special. J.T. Snow, a favorite here for his class and competitiveness, was retiring as a Giant in one of those one-day deals. The Golden Glover took the field at first base for infield practice and it was no trouble at all for the Giant infielders to throw the ball back to him like they were playing YMCA ball. Before the first pitch, he left the field to a standing ovation.

Zoom Range. 27.6mm to 414mm to 5.7x digital zoom.

I actually had good seats for this at the club level on the third base side. And confident in the Fujifilm S2000HD because of my past experience with Fujifilm, I cranked the 15x zoom all the way out and even dipped into the digital zoom range to get a nice crop of J.T. at first.

There's only one picture of the occasion in the gallery because they were almost all unrecognizable. The digital zoom images have very little detail, like Impressionist paintings.

There are a few digital zoom shots of Dodger pitchers in the outfield before the game and they very little detail along with the blown highlight problem. ISO crept up as high at 800 for those evening shots.

J.T. Retires. You need a program to identify the players with this image quality.

My last outing with the camera was at the beach to get some HD movies. I was impressed by the options that the Fujifilm S2000HD offered. Unlike many cameras that have all sorts of restrictions kick in when you select an image size, the S2000HD seemed to make everything available at any size.

It was a very windy day and both the camera and the photographer took a beating. We got to the water line as soon as we could to avoid the biting sand, but the salt air and sea spray coated both my glasses and the lens pretty well before I was done.

I took half a dozen short clips, the best of which is included here, but it was very difficult holding the camera steady. The wind was one factor, the zoom range another, and the quick shore birds a third. I really wasn't able to shoot what I wanted. That's a rare occurrence, but there you have it.

While Fujifilm makes a big deal about HD output on the S2000HD, it's worth remembering that for stills, 1080 pixels deep isn't much resolution. It's nice to see on your HDTV, certainly, if the images are landscape (not so nice if they're portraits) but the real value of HD output is being able to see HD movies.

Click to view movie. MPEG-4 player required.

HD Movie Mode. An 8MB file lasting seven seconds with zoom, sound, and image stabilization. (Click to download or view MPEG-4 file.)

I wasn't able to do that from the camera because you have to buy the optional proprietary component cable to connect the camera's proprietary HD output port to your television (it isn't HDMI, folks). The cable comes with a remote control so you can set the camera near the TV and control it from your couch. That's probably better than the docking solutions we've seen from some companies, although you might want to think about the AC adapter if you plan to do much of this.

Image Quality. Oh well, there's no free lunch. I was almost always disappointed with the images from the S2000HD. And a bit miffed with Fujifilm. I generally am delighted with the quality of FinePix cameras, including the ultracompacts. So I was blindsided by the Fujifilm S2000HD.

Let's start with the ISO 100 Still Life. Note the white yarn in the top right corner. Blurry and burned out. Shoot over to the Hellas vinegar label. Note the lack of detail in the mosaic, both the dark and light areas. Observe the black background on the color chart. Is that overprocessing?

Let's move on to the Multi Target. The corners really don't look too bad either in terms of chromatic aberration or sharpness. But look at the resolution targets in the middle of the chart. I can't remember when I've seen a poorer set. Sharpness seems to disintegrate at only around 1,200 to 1,300 lines (compare that to 10-megapixel cameras that hit 1,600 lines).

Hydrant. Purple fringing around the hydrant, blown highlights.

In the real world, these faults showed up like old enemies. The hydrant shot showed purple fringing around the bright hydrant; and while there was a little detail in the dark bushes, the highlights were blown.

Blown highlights were almost a feature. Everything we took looked overexposed.

An examination of image detail was also disappointing. Even at ISO 100 it seemed oddly muted, as if the image processor had scrubbed every file until it was red behind the ears.

With that kind of problem at ISO 100, we probably shouldn't discuss high ISO performance. The Fujifilm S2000HD gives you a few options for limiting Auto ISO expansion. You can cap it at 400, 800, or 1,600. I stuck with 800 but even with image stabilization, my doll shots were not sharp at ISO 800 and the color was streaky. Cranking the ISO up to 6,400 (which, like ISO 3,200 limits the file size to five megapixels) did not help detail and again exhibited color streaking (look at the doll's chin).

We're seeing a lot better performance than this as a rule these days.

Appraisal. While the Fujifilm S2000HD has a lot going for it from ergonomics to price, its poor image quality does it in. The S8000fd is simply a much better camera.

 

Fuji S2000HD Basic Features

 

Fuji S2000HD Special Features

 

In the Box

The S2000HD ships with the following items in the box:

 

Recommended Accessories

 

Fuji S2000HD Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Compact design is also comfortable
  • Very nice grip
  • 15x optical zoom with 5.7x digital zoom and optical image stabilization
  • High resolution electronic viewfinder
  • Custom option on Mode dial to recall special settings
  • Natural Light & With Flash mode takes the shot both ways
  • Fast Fujifilm face detection technology
  • Face Detection useful in Playback mode as well
  • Optical zoom and I.S. supported when shooting movies
  • HD video and output
  • Good shutter response
  • High-speed Continuous modes at lower resolutions
  • Fast download speed
  • No Aperture Priority mode
  • Blown highlights are routine
  • Camera overexposes images by default
  • Strong to moderate chromatic aberration across the image at all focal lengths
  • Macro gets close, but is soft
  • Barrel distortion is high at wide angle
  • Corners are soft at telephoto
  • Colors are oversaturated
  • Auto white balance is reddish indoors
  • High contrast images in harsh lighting
  • Low resolution for a 10-megapixel sensor
  • Image detail is scrubbed away by the noise processing even at low ISO settings
  • HD component cable is only available as an accessory
  • Mediocre low light performance
  • Weak flash at telephoto
  • Auto flash mode raises ISO too dramatically
  • Image stabilization wasn't as helpful as it usually is with slow shutter speeds
  • High ISO shooting was disappointing in both detail and color
  • Hard to open and close the battery door
  • Poor printed performance for a modern digital camera
  • Very long shot-to-shot times at full resolution

 

I liked a lot of things about the Fujifilm S2000HD. Its very attractive mini-dSLR design (now finally in all black with no chrome trim) is very comfortable to handle, the controls right where your fingers are. Though it has an impressive sounding lens, complemented by sensor-shift image stabilization, we found both the lens and processing lacking in all kinds of distortion control. Its performance figures however, tended to be above average where it counts most.

But from the first shots I took with the Fujifilm S2000HD I was disappointed in the image quality. Detail was obscured by what I took to be an over-aggressive image processor. Color was far too saturated with highlights almost always blown out.

Fortunately Fujifilm makes several models with this body style -- and those we've enjoyed shooting with. I recommend skipping the S2000HD and taking a look at them.