Fujifilm FinePix S4000
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Dimensions:||4.6 x 3.2 x 3.9 in.
(118 x 81 x 100 mm)
|Weight:||19.0 oz (540 g)
Review Summary: What seemed like a bargain 30x long zoom turned out to have surprisingly poor image quality. As a result, we discontinued the review and cannot recommend the Fujifilm S4000.
Fujifilm FinePix S4000 Overview
The Fujifilm FinePix S4000 features a body designed to look reminiscent to that of an SLR, although it's actually a fixed-lens camera. Based around a 14 megapixel image sensor, the front panel of the S4000 bears a Super EBC Fujinon-branded 30x optical zoom lens. The S4000's lens offers actual focal lengths from 4.3 to 129.0mm, which equates to 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from a generous 24mm wide angle to a whopping 720mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.1 at wide angle to f/5.9 at telephoto. The image sensor allows capture of not only high-resolution still images, but also of high-definition 720p video at a rate of 30 frames per second. Given the extreme telephoto reach, mechanical image stabilization is obviously a necessity to fight blur from camera shake, and the Fuji FinePix S4000 includes sensor shift stabilization. There's no true optical viewfinder on this model, with images and movies being framed and reviewed either on an electronic viewfinder of unspecified resolution, or on a 3.0-inch LCD display with 460,000 dots of resolution.
As well as automatic exposure, the S4000 provides full manual control over shutter speeds and apertures, as well as both aperture- and shutter-priority modes. The Fujifilm S4000 includes face detection capability able to locate and track up to ten faces in a scene. Going a step further, it can also be programmed to recognize the faces of eight specific individuals, who can then be prioritized automatically when recognized in a scene. It also provides both smile and blink detection capability, i-Flash intelligent flash metering, automatic upload of images and videos tagged on camera to Facebook and YouTube via the provided Windows-only MyFinePix Studio software, automatic red-eye removal, and a motion panorama mode that stitches up to three separate shots into a single image. Power comes from an unspecified number of AA batteries, and information on battery life wasn't available at press time. Connectivity includes a mini-HDMI high definition video output. Further details on this model were not available at press time.
The Fuji FinePix S4000 started shipping in March 2011, priced at around $280.
Fujifilm S4000 Brief Review
by Shawn Barnett
We don't like to review cameras that aren't worthy of your money, because that's not worthy of our time. So we seldom request cameras that we don't think you should even consider. But when we accidentally come across a camera that's too bad to review, we still feel like we should let you know. The Fujifilm S4000 is one such camera, whose images are so bad we had to just hit the gong and stop testing altogether.
Lately we've noticed that a lot of manufacturers would have done better avoiding the move to 14 and 16-megapixel sensors, and we've mentioned when image quality has dropped significantly as a result. To our chagrin, too many cameras made this move and have not fared well in our tests. The Fujifilm S4000, though, sets new lows for a camera priced over $150.
We did due diligence, of course, requesting a second review unit, but the story was the same: No detail, oversharpened. The best we can figure, the S4000's sensor is just plain noisy. Even at ISO 64, images are a watercolor mess thanks to overaggressive noise processing. All that brings them back to a semblance of detail is remarkably heavy sharpening, the like of which we haven't seen even at the highest settings on other cameras. Image halos are so thick, you'd think they were a part of the original object. A quick look at comparison crops between the Fujifilm S4000 and Nikon L120 below tell the rest of the story. (Note the heavy white line around the black border that just isn't there; that's what we call a, extreme "sharpening halo.")
Comparing the Fujifilm S4000 to the Nikon L120, a camera we thought was only okay (it did not get a Dave's Pick), the Fujifilm S4000 is clearly far behind. All detail is mushed out, save that resurrected by blatant oversharpening. Bear in mind that there are better cameras than the L120, yet it fairly slays the Fuji S4000. Even at ISO 400, the L120 shows detail in the mosaic tiles, where they just look like a stain in the S4000's image.
Note that Fujifilm makes better cameras, but this is not one of them. In the long zoom category, we recommend the Canon SX130, Canon SX230, Casio EX-H20G, and the Nikon P500, among others. Of course, there's also the Nikon L120. Some have shorter zooms, some cost a little more, but either choice is worth it for better image quality. You might also want to cruise our Long Zoom Dave's Pick page for a larger selection of quality digital cameras.
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