Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd Overview
by Dan Havlik
Hands-on Preview: 12/01/2006
Full Review: 02/05/2007
Fujifilm has loaded just about all of its latest imaging technology into the Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd, an SLR-style camera that features an interesting new Face Detection function. Though you might do a double take, this camera is a digital SLR in style only. The camera's 10.71x (28 - 300mm) lens is not detachable, though with a rubberized ring-grip and full manual zoom control via the barrel, it looks and feels like a detachable lens.
Just as built-in optical image stabilization was all the rage in compact cameras six months ago, face detection technology has begun turning up in models from Fuji, Canon, Nikon, and others. On the Fuji S6000fd Face Detection can track up to ten faces in a photo simultaneously, automatically adjusting focus and exposure to improve results. According to Fuji, since the technology is hardware rather than software-based, it can take as little as 0.05 seconds to lock in on a face or group of faces and be ready to shoot. It's a neat trick that makes it easier to take better portraits of individuals or groups of people.
Though the Fujifilm S6000fd only has a 6.3 megapixel imaging sensor in a field of 10 megapixel models, Fuji's other Real Photo Technologies promise users something beyond megapixels. These include i-Flash, Picture Stabilization, and ISO 3,200 for low light shooting. Read on to find out if the Fuji S6000fd lives up to its promise.
Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd User Report
by Dan Havlik
DSLR-ish. Don't be embarrassed if you mistake the Fuji S6000fd for a digital SLR. After taking my test model out of the box, it took a few seconds of monkeying with the 28 - 300mm (10.71x) lens and its rubber barrel grip for me to realize it wasn't detachable. The substantial hand grip -- also rubberized -- is a great touch, making this camera very easy to hold when toting it around strapless like a pro. Of all the "chunky" superzoom cameras I've tested this is the model that comes closest to looking and feeling like a digital SLR. After several months of playing with tiny point-and-shoots, using the Fuji S6000fd made me feel like a serious photographer again. The downside, of course, is that this 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 inch (132 x 97 x 127mm) camera will not fit into any coat pocket, especially when fitted with the removable lens hood. With the xD-Picture Card and four AA batteries installed, the Fuji S6000fd weighs in at a solid, if slightly hefty 25.19 ounces, or just over a pound and a half. Offered only in basic black with a smooth matte-like finish, the Fuji S6000fd feels pro all the way around, with the rubber on the hand-grip extending to the thumb-rest on back.
Another area where the Fuji S6000fd feels more professional than the competition is its fully manual zoom control. Zooming is done by twisting the barrel of the lens as on a DSLR, not with some silly and clumsy rocker button. (Yes, I tried in vain to find a zoom rocker on the camera before realizing it had a manual zoom.) The one stumble I had with this zoom control -- which I generally appreciated -- is that it's easy to mistake the thinner manual focus ring on the barrel for the zoom. (Though the camera has full autofocus, you have the option of focusing manually when in Manual mode by using the ring.)
Overall, the design of this camera should please photographers, because it mimics how an SLR looks, feels, and responds. Beginning users, on the other hand, might be scared off by its professional appearance, which would be a shame since the Fuji S6000fd is very easy to use with lots of helpful, automatic features.
No Optical Viewfinder, but a Super Screen. Another sign that the S6000fd isn't a DSLR comes into sharp relief when you hold your eye to the tiny electronic viewfinder (EVF). While it may help when bright conditions prevent you from seeing the LCD screen on the back, shooting with an EVF is still not my cup of tea. If only they could have figured out how to put an optical viewfinder on this baby! The EVF works in a pinch, though I prefer the Fujifilm S6000fd's excellent 2.5-inch LCD screen on the back, with its relatively high resolution of 235,000 pixels and approximately 100 percent coverage. Playback on the screen is quite clear, with images rendered accurately. My only gripe is that scrolling is slow when moving through large groups of shots, most likely because the screen's high resolution takes a split second to fully res up.
Very Responsive. For a such a feature-packed big camera, the Fuji S6000fd was a fairly nimble performer, powering on and ready for first shot in just 1.6 seconds. Shutter lag was also not an issue, able to focus and fire off a shot in 0.56 second, according to our tests, at the full autofocus wide setting. In the full autofocus tele setting, it was even quicker, taking a picture in just 0.45. When prefocused, it was very fast, with the Fuji S6000fd able to capture a shot in 0.017 second.
Shot-to-shot the camera lagged slightly however, capturing an image every 1.9 seconds over 20 shots Single Shot mode with images in the Large Fine JPEG size. In Single Shot RAW mode, the Fuji S6000fd slowed to a crawl, capturing an image nearly every six seconds. If you're looking for a fast professional camera, this is definitely an area where you would want to turn to a digital SLR. The fact that this camera offers a RAW mode should be applauded, however, as some competing superzoom cameras offer only JPEG.
Adding to the overall responsiveness of the Fujifilm S6000 is its manual zoom ring. Many competing superzoom models have electronic zoom control, which I've always found dodgy at best. You're confined to how quickly and precisely the camera can react to the pressure you put on the zoom rocker. On compact cameras with just 3x or 4x zoom, this is not usually a problem because there's so little travel to the zoom. On cameras with zooms of 10x and higher, my experience with electronic zoom has been hit or miss, with some cameras zooming too slowly, and several models zooming too loudly. The manual zoom on the lens barrel of the Fuji S6000fd -- which extends the lens as you twist -- was as quiet and quick as I wanted it. A nice throwback that still performs well. The added benefit is the ability to zoom quietly in movie mode.
Great Color, Good Sharpness, Low Noise. That subhead says it all for how I felt about image quality on the Fuji S6000fd. Very good all around. The week I shot with the camera happened to be a very rainy one here in New York. Despite the bad weather I was able to duck outside several times and take several cards full of images with this camera. While I didn't expect much color or contrast with Fuji S6000fd under these conditions, the images I got were excellent. Since it was so dark outside, much of the time I was shooting at high ISO, yet I found the images to be quite usable up to ISO 800. There was some speckling at ISO 1,600, of course, but much better than most of the competing models I've tried. I wouldn't recommend ISO 3,200 on the S6000 except in extreme circumstances, but that setting was a lot better than expected.
Though I usually shy away from Fujifilm's highly saturated Chrome setting -- available by hitting the F-Mode Menu button on the back of the Fuji S6000fd -- because the light was so "blah" during the storm, I decided to play around with the setting and was pleased with the results. Designed to simulate Fujichrome color film, the setting added vividness to Macro shots I took of flowers at a nearby park. Fujifilm's one of the few camera manufacturers to still offer easy access to a black and white capture setting -- also available by hitting the F-Mode menu button -- which helped me get classic looking shots of the front grille of an old car.
There's no built-in optical image stabilization on the Fuji S6000fd -- just a Picture Stabilization setting. Instead of mechanically moving the image sensor or a lens element to correct for shake, this setting boosts ISO and selects a fast matching shutter speed to decrease blur. Though optical image stabilization would have been very appreciated on a camera with a 10.7x zoom (28 - 300mm, in 35mm equivalent), since the high ISO settings on the Fuji S6000fd had relatively low noise levels, compensation for hand shake was fairly effective.
Along with the 300mm equivalent telephoto end of the zoom, I liked that the Fuji S6000fd's lens could go to 28mm, which is a reasonably wide angle for such a long zoom. Apertures range from f/2.8 - f/4.9 across the zoom range, with a minimum aperture of f/11.
Face Detection Technology. Several features in Fuji's suite of Real Photo Technology are helpful, including i-Flash which is designed to prevent blowing out a night scene with too much flash. But the standout feature is undoubtedly Fuji's new Face Detection function. Achieved with a dedicated LSI chip in the camera, rather than with software, the feature can detect up to ten faces in a photo simultaneously. Fujifilm says the feature is capable of achieving this in just 1/20 second. While I didn't time it down to the split second, Face Detection was certainly quick, with the camera indicating the faces it detected by framing them with rectangles on the display. The camera uses a white frame for all but the top priority face, which is framed in green. The locations of faces are then used to confirm the appropriate location for focus and exposure detection, so as to ensure that your subject is correctly focused even when off center. The mode can be disabled as desired.
I loved Face Detection. It did a very good job in capturing nice portraits, especially in social situations where you might not have a lot of time and just need some quick "grin and grab" shots. The one glitch is that for Face Detection to work, the subject must be looking directly at the camera -- side angles and indirect shots of faces won't trigger the boxes to lock in.
One of my favorite Fuji features is the awkwardly named "Natural Light & With Flash" mode which takes two shots in succession, the first without flash and the second with flash. When shooting in moderate to good light on the Fuji S6000fd, this feature is fabulous, offering a telling side-by-side comparison of what you gain and lose by using flash. In lower light situations, however, the flashless shot will boost to the higher end of the ISO scale (800 and above) producing a naturally lit image that is slightly noisier. (There's also a Natural Light only mode that takes one shot with ramped up ISO and shutter speed.)
Images. See the test results for more on the image quality. We were pretty impressed. The S6000fd's lens is very good, delivering bright, contrasty images. Sharpness is just about right, not overdone, and it produces images that exceed the abilities of competing SLRs of even higher resolution. Quite a value at around $370 online.
The Bottom Line. The Fuji S6000fd is one of the better superzoom models I've tested. It has a very responsive 10.71x (28 - 300mm) zoom lens that's easy to adjust using the rubberized manual zoom ring around the barrel of the lens. Though this camera includes a bevy of pro-like features, including a professional look, RAW image support, and a very responsive processor, it also has a host of features that a less advanced photographer would appreciate. In particular, technologies such as Face Detection and the ability to shoot low-noise images at high light sensitivities, will surely be appreciated by a wide range of photographers, making the Fuji S6000fd a real winner.
- 6.3-megapixel CCD (1/1.7-inch Super CCD HR)
- 10.7x zoom lens (equivalent to a 28-300mm lens on a 35mm camera)
- 2x digital zoom
- Electronic optical viewfinder
- 2.5-inch color LCD monitor
- Full Manual through Automatic exposure modes available, including Aperture and Shutter priority and 14 Scene modes
- Built-in flash with seven modes (including Off)
- Flash intensity control
- 10MB internal memory
- xD-Picture Card storage (no card included)
- USB 2.0 High-Speed computer connection
- Four AA alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries required for power, or optional AC adapter (AC-5VX)
- Software for Mac and PC
- Auto and Manual focus modes, with Face Detection technology and adjustable AF area
- 14 preset Scene modes
- Movie recording mode (with sound)
- Picture Stabilization mode to reduce blurring from slight camera movement
- Three Continuous Shooting modes
- Auto Exposure Bracketing mode
- Shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, depending on exposure mode
- Aperture range from f/2.8 to f/11, depending on zoom position and exposure mode
- Three color modes and sharpness adjustment
- Self-timer for delayed shutter release (either two or 10 seconds)
- Macro (close-up) lens adjustment
- Spot, Average, and 256-zone Multi metering modes
- Auto ISO setting or 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, and 3,200 ISO equivalents
- White balance (color) adjustment with eight options
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and PictBridge printing compatibility
In the Box
The retail package contains the following items:
- Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
- Wrist strap
- Four AA Alkaline batteries
- Lens cap and lens cap holder
- Lens hood
- AV cable
- USB cable
- CD-Rom Software
- Large capacity xD memory card, 512MB as minimum
- Soft camera case
- NiMH rechargeable AA batteries and a charger
For users who are considering a digital SLR but aren't quite ready to take the plunge, the Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd offers a compelling argument for staying with an all-in-one. From a distance -- and even from up close, actually -- it's easy to mistake the Fuji S6000fd for a digital SLR, though the camera's 10.71x (28 - 300mm) lens is not detachable. Nice touches like a rubberized ring-grip around the lens and full manual zoom control via the barrel give this camera a professional feel, while fun and helpful technologies such as Face Detection, i-Flash, and the ability to shoot at light sensitivities of up to ISO 3200 make the Fuji S6000fd suitable for even novices.
Though the camera's 6.3 megapixel imaging chip might not impress when stacked up against the sensors from some competing models which boast up to 10 megapixels of resolution, images I got out of this camera were rich in color and impressively sharp, even in a range of difficult shooting conditions. I'd take the Fujifilm S6000fd over many higher-resolution competing superzoom models, and even over some digital SLRs. The images speak for themselves, some of the best we've seen from any digital camera on the market. The Fujifilm S6000fd is a clear Dave's Pick.