Fuji S8600 Review -- First Impressions
by William Brawley
Preview posted: 01/06/2014
The Fuji S8600 is a new compact, budget-friendly superzoom camera featuring a versatile Fujinon 36x optical zoom lens, which provides a 25-900mm equivalent field of view. Sitting in Fujifilm's lineup as an update to the Fuji S4800, the new model's lens is welcome change from a 30x zoom lens, letting users get a bit more reach in their telephoto shooting. What's more, the new lens is fully collapsible, making the body extremely compact for its range when not in use.
Opting for a more economical imaging sensor, the S8600 keeps the same 16-megapixel CCD sensor as the previous model, as opposed to more common and faster CMOS sensors often used nowadays. It has a decent maximum ISO sensitivity of 6400, just like its predecessor. That still trails a long way behind the ISO 12,800 equivalent of the Fujifilm S9200, S9400W or S1, which feature CMOS image sensors. However, Fuji has made some nice upgrades in burst shooting. Whereas the Fuji S4800 could manage a paltry 1.2 frames per second at full resolution from its CCD, the S8600 can now speed by at 8 frames per second at full resolution, though it's still not as fast as the 10fps of its CMOS-equipped brethren.
On the rear panel, an LCD screen with a 3.0-inch diagonal makes it easy to frame your subject, and reviewing the results. (And it's the only method for either, as there's no optical or electronic viewfinder.) While it's the same size as the screen used in the S4800, there's double the dot count now, with around 460,000 dots making both images and text easier to view.
Despite its less-advanced imaging sensor and budget-conscious price point, the Fujifilm S8600 packs a lot of features that both beginner photographers and those wishing to get into more advanced territory will enjoy. As expected, there are a variety of automatic and scene modes for quick, easy point-and-shoot operation, including a new "Baby Mode" and a Face Detection system that can recognize up to 10 different faces. However, the S8600 does have a Program Auto, Shutter Priority and Full Manual exposure modes (no Aperture Priority, though) for more advanced control over exposure and shooting scenarios.
For those wanting to experiment with their funky and fun creative side, there's also Fuji's new set of Advanced Filters -- ten in total -- that include modes like Fish-Eye, Miniature, Toy Camera, as well as a built-in High Dynamic Range mode.
It's not only the burst shooting that got a boost in the new S8600, the video recording modes have also undergone an upgrade. The Fuji S8600 can now shoot high definition video at 1,280 x 720 resolution at 30fps. Users can also shoot at SD resolutions of VGA (640 x 480) and QVGA (320 x 240) again at 30 frames per second. Video mode on the S8600 also includes a wind filter option.
Images and movies are saved on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. Connectivity includes an Mini (Type C) 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 directly from the camera.
Power comes from three standard AA batteries. Fujifilm says that the FinePix S8600 is capable of shooting 410 frames on a set of NiMH rechargeables, according to CIPA testing standards, but up to 590 with lithium batteries. If you're using alkaline disposables, that will fall to only 250 shots.
Available from March 2014, the Fuji S8600 is priced at US$230, about $70 less than the more capable S9200. The only available body color in the US market will be black.
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