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Fuji S6800 Preview

by Mike Tomkins
Posted 01/30/2013

With the FinePix S6800, Fujifilm takes the lens from last year's FinePix S4500, and places it in an altogether more capable camera. The key change that's allowed its improvements is a switch to a faster, more sensitive backside illuminated CMOS image sensor, where the earlier camera was CCD-based. That's allowed a dramatic increase in burst shooting and movie performance, and a worthwhile step forwards in sensitivity, despite a slight increase in resolution. Fujifilm has also increased the S6800's LCD monitor resolution, and added support for high-speed UHS-I cards -- likely a necessity to take full advantage of the performance in other areas.

The Fujifilm FinePix S6800's image sensor has an effective resolution of 16 megapixels. It allows for sensitivities as high as ISO 12,800 equivalent, where the Fuji S4500's CCD chip was limited to ISO 6,400, even if the resolution was greatly reduced. The increase in burst performance is even more impressive. Where the S4500 could manage only 1.2 frames per second from its CCD, the CMOS chip in the S6800 can manage to shoot at a full eight frames per second at full resolution. With a burst depth of 10 frames, you'll be able to shoot for a full 1.25 seconds before the buffer fills. In standard shooting, the rate falls to a more sedate two frames per second. Startup time is manufacturer-rated at one second.

In front of the image sensor is what would appear to be the same lens from the S4500. With a 30x optical zoom range, it offers everything from a very generous 24mm-equivalent wide angle to an extremely powerful 720mm-equivalent telephoto, once the focal length crop of the 1/2.3-inch image sensor is taken into account. Maximum aperture starts from f/3.1 at wide angle, and falls to f/5.9 by the telephoto position.

The lens has 17 elements in 12 groups, including an unspecified number of aspherical and extra-low dispersion elements. One particularly unusual feature of the design is that it provides two ways to control the zoom: either the traditional zoom rocker around the shutter ring, or a toggle on the side of the lens barrel. The Fuji FinePix S6800 includes a contrast detection autofocus system, and the company rates it as capable of achieving a focus lock in around 0.3 seconds. It can focus to as close as 0.78 inches (2cm) in super macro mode.

On the rear panel, an LCD screen with a 3.0-inch diagonal caters to framing your subject, and reviewing the results. (And it's the sole method for either, as there's no optical or electronic viewfinder.) It's the same size screen used in the S4500, but the Fuji S6800 has double the total dot count of that camera, at around 460,000 dots. That equates to approximately 153,000 pixels, with each pixel made up of separate red, green, and blue dots.

On top of the camera, in the location that would be occupied by the pentaprism if this were a real DSLR, you'll find a popup flash strobe. The flash is manufacturer-rated for 22.9 feet (7m) at wide angle, or 11.8 feet (3.6m) at telephoto, using auto ISO sensitivity.

The Fuji S6800 caters to your creative side by providing not only program autoexposure, but also priority and manual shooting. If you prefer simply letting the camera do the work, you can opt for a Scene Recognition Auto mode, which detects and automatically configures for one of six different basic scene types. There's also a 360-degree motion panorama function, plus an HDR mode that combines multiple images to create a single image with increased dynamic range, and a single-lens 3D function that uses some clever math to generate pseudo-left and right eye views without separate optics for each eye.

And in addition to stills, you can also shoot high definition video. The Fuji FinePix S6800's video mode allows you to record Full HD (1080i; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video at 60 fields per second. Capture is started and stopped with a dedicated Movie button, and sound is recorded with a built-in stereo microphone. There's also a slow-motion capture mode, which records at 480 frames per second at an unspecified resolution. And if you like to do your basic editing in-camera, you can both trim and join movies in Playback mode.

Images and movies are saved on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, and the higher-speed UHS-I types. Connectivity includes an HDMI high-definition video output, and a USB 2.0 High Speed data port. There's no standard-definition video connectivity though, so if you haven't yet upgraded to a modern HDTV, you'll need to do so if you want to be able to view your photos on the big screen.

Power comes from four standard AA batteries. Fujifilm says that the FinePix S6800 is capable of shooting 500 frames on a set of NiMH rechargeables, to CIPA testing standards. If you're using alkaline disposables, that will fall to 320 shots, while lithium disposables will manage 700 frames.

Available from March 2013, the Fujifilm S6800 is priced at US$250. Available body colors in the US market will include black, white, and red.