Fuji FinePix S5200 Overview
By: Mike Pasini
Review Date: 3/22/06
Fujifilm's greatest success has been in creating good-quality midrange cameras that sell at very competitive prices, and the new Fuji S5200 aims to continue that success. A couple of years ago, Fuji introduced long-zoom digicams at affordable price levels with their FinePix 2800 and 3800 models. Now, the Fuji S5200 advances the cause even further, with a 5.1-megapixel CCD (up from the S5100's 4.0-Mp CCD), a 10x optical zoom lens, and a host of exposure modes and features. While it still sports a fully automatic mode, the Fuji FinePix S5200 goes beyond basic "point & shoot" capability with Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual modes, as well as a few Scene modes. The Fuji S5200 offers very long-zoom capability and greater exposure control at a surprisingly affordable price.
Fuji FinePix S5200 User Report
Featuring a miniaturized, "SLR-style" body design that brings to mind a scaled-down dSLR, the Fuji FinePix S5200 offers a 10x optical zoom lens complemented by a 5.1-Mp CCD. To accommodate the camera's long zoom lens, the Fuji S5200's body is hardly pocketable, but still compact compared to many long-zoom digicams. Very portable and surprisingly lightweight, the S5200 is definitely easy to bring along to impromptu outings and social gatherings. An included lens cover provides protection from impact damage. Too large for a standard shirt pocket, the Fuji S5200 should fit into larger coat pockets and purses, and comes with a shoulder strap, which is the likely way you'll bring it with you. Measuring 4.4 x 3.3 x 4.4 inches (113.5 x 85 x 112 millimeters), the S5200 weighs 17.25 ounces (489 grams) with batteries and xD-Picture Card, and feels great in one hand. A substantial handgrip provides a very firm hold, nicely balancing out the weight of the lens barrel. The Fuji S5200's 5.1-megapixel CCD delivers clear, sharp images as large as 2,592 x 1,944 pixels, suitable for printing as large as 11x14 inches with great detail, or 8x10 inches with some cropping. (A lower resolution is also available for more email-friendly file sizes.)
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200's Fujinon 10x, 6.3-63mm lens is the equivalent of a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera, representing a focal length range from moderate wide-angle to substantial telephoto. A small, plastic lens cap protects the lens when not in use, and tethers to the camera so you don't have to worry about losing it. Apertures range from f/3.2 to f/8, and can be manually set. Focus can be set automatically or manually (using the zoom buttons with the Exposure Compensation button held down), with a focal range from 3.0 feet (90cm) to infinity in normal mode, and from 3.9 inches to 6.6 feet (10cm to 2 meters) in Macro mode. In addition to the 10x optical zoom, the S5200 also offers as much as 5.7x digital enlargement, depending on the image size selected. The digital zoom works at all image sizes in the S5200, so the usual caution about reduced image quality applies. There is no image stabilization on the S5200; instead the camera has an Anti-blur mode that relies on a fast shutter speed to reduce both camera shake and blur from subject movement.
The FinePix S5200 offers a TTL electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) and a 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. The viewfinder display switches between the EVF and LCD monitor via a button on the rear panel, which means that the complete display is available on the EVF, including the settings menus. The viewfinder's information display reports various camera settings with a central AF target, and an optional framing guide display divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically for more accurate framing. Though they're both 115,000 pixels, the EVF view seems more coarse than the LCD.
The Fuji FinePix S5200 offers a full complement of capture modes, from Automatic to full Manual, plus several Scene modes. The Mode dial on top of the camera puts the camera into Auto, Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Movie, Anti-blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape and Night modes. Auto mode determines the entire exposure automatically, with the user able to adjust the zoom, flash mode, and image size and quality settings only. Program mode allows the user to change most settings, including alternate combinations of Aperture and Shutter speed using the up and down arrows. Shutter and Aperture Priority work as expected, also allowing the user to adjust settings with the up and down arrows. In Manual mode, you use the up and down arrows to adjust shutter speed, and you must hold down the Exposure Compensation button on the camera's top panel to adjust Aperture. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds. The Fujifilm S5200 uses a 64-zone metering system to determine exposure, with three modes: Multi, Spot, and Average. Multi metering mode considers all 64 zones, Spot considers only the center 2 percent, and Average places the greatest emphasis on the center portion of the image area. Light sensitivity can be set to Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800 or 1600. When shooting in Program, Shutter, and Aperture exposure modes, exposure compensation is adjustable from +/-2EV in one-third-step increments. White Balance offers eight settings, including Auto, Custom, Daylight (Fine conditions), Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent. The S5200's Scene mode offers five preset "Scenes" for shooting in potentially tricky situations, and includes Anti-blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, and Night Scene modes.
The Fuji FinePix S5200's built-in, pop-up flash operates in one of six modes, which include Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, Slow Synchro, and Slow Synchro with Red-Eye Reduction modes. Flash power, however, is not adjustable. For self-portraits or those times when pressing the Shutter button might result in camera movement, the S5200 features a Self-Timer that delays the shutter release for either two or 10 seconds after the Shutter button is fully pressed. The FinePix S5200 can also capture movies with sound up to the limit of the card's capacity while in Movie capture mode. Movie files are saved in the Motion JPEG format, at either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels and 30 frames per second.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 can also record still images in Continuous mode, at up to about two frames per second, according to our tests. Top 3-frame mode saves the first three images, and Final 3-frame saves the last three images in the buffer. Long-period Continuous Shooting mode can handle up to 40 frames before the buffer is filled, but it takes a little longer between shots, at a speed of 1.25 frames per second.
A Bracketing option, available in Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual mode, shoots three consecutive frames at three different exposures (normal, under and over). Brackets can be set at 1/3, 2/3 or one EV. A Sharpness option can be set to Hard to emphasis outlines, Standard for ordinary photography, or Soft to soften outlines.
Images captured by the Fujifilm S5200 are saved to xD-Picture Cards. A 16MB card comes with the camera. In addition to the 2,592 x 1,944-pixel resolution size, the S5200 also offers 2,736 x 1,824 (a 3:2 aspect ratio); 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; and 640 x 480-pixel resolutions. Two JPEG compression ratios are available, including Fine and Normal. The Playback menu offers DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings for printing images on a compatible device. A USB cable and software CD accompany the camera, allowing for high-speed connection to a computer. The software CD contains Fuji's FinePix Viewer software, which organizes and displays downloaded images, and provides printing and minor editing capabilities.
The Fuji FinePix S5200 uses four AA batteries for power, and a set of alkaline cells accompanies the camera. As always, I strongly recommend purchasing a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger, and keeping a spare set of batteries charged at all times. Click here to read my "battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or here for my review of the Maha C-204W charger, my longtime favorite. An AC adapter is also a separate accessory, but helpful for saving battery power while reviewing and downloading images or when using the S5200 as a webcam. Unless you're taking advantage of the camera's webcam capability though, rechargeable batteries would eliminate the need for the AC adapter.
With its compact and lightweight body, the convenience of full automatic and manual exposure control, 5.1-megapixel CCD, and impressive 10x zoom lens, the Fujifilm S5200 is a good choice for consumers looking for a portable, affordable, easy to use digicam that's also capable of manual control and takes good pictures. The S5200 offers a basic level of exposure control when you want it, complete control when that's desirable, some preset shooting modes for common tricky situations, and a Movie mode for capturing quick bits of action. Given the aggressive "street" prices the Finepix S5200 is selling at, it's one of the better bargains in the digicam market today.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 offers excellent value and a good feature set for photographers interested in more telephoto range than you normally find in zoom-equipped digicams. Its 10x zoom lens gets you over three times as close to distant objects as the typical 3x zoom found on most digicams, while Fuji's reputation for color expertise ensures bright, vibrant colors. The S5200 would work well as an all-around everyday camera, as well as for shooting distant landscapes or wildlife, and is portable enough to bring with you. In full autofocus mode, its shutter lag is only average, but if you can "prefocus" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself, it's more than quick enough to capture fleeting action, and continuous shooting speed in its "Top 3" mode is excellent. It's a nice, easy-to-use camera with a long zoom at a very affordable price.
- 5.1-megapixel square-pixel CCD delivering images as large as 2,592 x 1,944 pixels
- 10x, 6.3-63mm lens (equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera)
- Digital zoom to 5.7x
- 1.8-inch color LCD monitor
- Electronic optical viewfinder
- Full automatic and manual exposure control
- Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds.
- Adjustable apertures from f/3.2 to f/8
- ISO settings include Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600
- Built-in, pop-up flash with six modes and variable intensity
- Images saved in JPEG format to xD-Picture Card (16-MB card included)
- Power from four AA batteries or AC adapter (separate accessory)
- Interface software compatible with both PC and Mac platforms
- Anti-blur mode
- Movie mode (with sound) and Voice Captioning function
- Five preset Scene modes
- Two and 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release
- White balance (color) adjustment with eight modes
- Sharpness adjustment
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included)
In the Box
Packaged in the box are the following items:
- Fujifilm FinePix S5200 digital camera
- Neck/shoulder strap
- Lens cap with strap
- 16MB xD-Picture Card
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- Four AA-type alkaline batteries
- Software CD-ROM containing USB drivers, FinePix Viewer, QuickTime, and ImageMixer VCD
- Instruction manual and registration information
- Large capacity xD-Picture Card, at least 256MB
- Two sets of rechargeable batteries and charger
- AC adapter kit
The previous Fujifilm S5100, 2800 and 3800 Zoom cameras were exceptional values for the money, and the updated Fuji FinePix S5200 offers the same great value with the addition of a 5.1-megapixel CCD, and decent high ISO performance. The S5200's higher resolution is a welcome improvement, providing great image quality for a budget-priced digital camera, and its 10x optical zoom is excellent for distant subjects. Its color is more accurate than that of most consumer digicams, although that means it's less saturated on bright colors than most consumer cameras. Overall, the Fuji S5200 has just about all an enthusiast user could want in terms of expanded photographic controls, including full Manual exposure mode for ultimate creativity. About all it lacks relative to its competitors in the 10x zoom category is image stabilization. Given its price and its 5-megapixel resolution, its lack of stabilization really can't be counted against it. For everyday shooting indoors or out, under bright or dim lighting, the S5200 does very well and really sets a benchmark for an affordable long-zoom digicam with enthusiast features. Recommended, and a Dave's Pick as one of the best digital camera values on the market, thanks to its combo of features, image quality, and price.