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Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 Preview

by Eamon Hickey
Posted: January 7, 2013

Most new cameras offer incremental improvements over previous, similar models, but now and then you get a doozy of an upgrade. The Fujifilm FinePix SL1000, the latest model in Fujifilm's mid-level range of bridge -- or superzoom -- cameras, is one of those doozies. Its long list of major upgrades includes a new 16-megapixel sensor, a 50x zoom lens and a much higher-resolution electronic viewfinder and LCD than were available on its closest predecessor, the FinePix SL300.

Since the list of major features that have not changed is short, let's get it out of the way first: The Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 carries over the mode dial and second zoom control (located on the lens barrel) found on the FinePix SL300. And like the SL300, the SL1000 provides manual exposure control and comes equipped with a hotshoe for mounting more powerful external flashes and other accessories.

From there on, Fujifilm's engineers got very busy. The biggest news is probably the FinePix SL1000's new 50x zoom lens, which covers an eye-popping range from 24mm to 1200mm (in 35mm equivalent terms) and boasts a reasonably bright maximum aperture of f/2.9-f/6.5. It's also equipped with optical image stabilization, and it features a mix of aspherical and ED lens elements for improved image quality. In Super Macro mode it can focus as close as .39 inches (1cm).

Equally interesting is the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000's newly developed 16-megapixel back-side illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor; it permits Fujifilm to boost the SL1000's top ISO by one EV, letting you record images at up to ISO 3,200 at full resolution or ISO 12,800 at reduced resolution. The FinePix SL1000 can also capture images in raw format, a feature previously limited to the company's HS-series top-end bridge camera.

And a third contender for most important upgrade on the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 has to be the camera's new electronic viewfinder with 920,000-dot resolution (up from 200,000 dots on the FinePix SL300). Add to that a new tilting 3-inch, 920,000-dot resolution LCD display (compared to the previous non-tilting 460,000 dot LCD) and the SL1000 should offer a much better and more versatile viewing and composing experience than earlier mid-level Fujifilm bridge cameras.

The improvements don't stop there. Fujifilm says the FinePix SL1000 can startup in .9 seconds and autofocus in .2 seconds, using test methods based on CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association) guidelines, and it can capture full-resolution images at 10 frames per second. There is also a set of new special effects filters, including Pop Color for a contrast and saturation boost, Toy Camera for a vignetted 1970's look, Cross Screen for creating starbursts around bright objects and several others.

Finally, the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000's top video capture specification has been bumped from 720p to Full HD at 1080i 60fps with stereo sound recording. It can also capture super slow-motion video clips at 480fps with reduced resolution. There is a dedicated video recording button for instant access to video mode, and the SL1000 features "movie trimming" and "movie join," new in-camera video editing functions.

The Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 will be available in March 2013 for a list price of US$399.95.

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