Fujifilm S5200 Review

 
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Fuji FinePix S5200 Design

Small, lightweight, and comfortable in the hand, the Fuji FinePix S5200 adds to Fujifilm's growing line of very portable digicams. Building on the previous design of the S5100 and its predecessors the 3800 and 2800 Zoom models, the S5200 features an all-black, textured plastic body that feels professional. The S5200 easily fits into one hand, but is a little too substantial for shirt pockets. Still, the Fuji S5200 could easily find its way into larger coat pockets and purses, and the accompanying neck/shoulder strap is a convenient carrying option. Measuring 4.4 x 3.3 x 4.4 inches (113.5 x 85 x 112 millimeters), the camera's all-plastic body keeps it fairly lightweight at just 17.25 ounces (489 grams) with batteries and xD-Picture Card. The S5200's black exterior is handsome, with a smoothly sculpted handgrip. Camera controls are just about right for such a small camera, with most popular features accessible without visiting the menu.

The front of the Fujifilm S5200 is attractive, with shiny silver highlights on a black matte body. The entire camera looks for all the world like a miniaturized SLR. Unlike the S5100, the lens does not protrude from the camera front, remaining inside the barrel. A plastic lens cap protects the lens from scratches when not in use, and tethers to the camera body and clips onto the neck strap to prevent it from being lost. Just inside the lip of the lens barrel, there are plastic filter threads. The lens shares the front panel with the autofocus assist illuminator and the self-timer lamp. With the pop-up flash released, the flash itself is visible. The good-sized handgrip on the left side of the front panel ensures a secure hold on the camera, and is substantial enough to be useful without detracting from the camera's portable size. Right of the lens is a small metal dome with holes for the microphone.

The right side of the camera (as held from the rear) is pretty bare, showing only a neck strap attachment eyelet above the name plate.

The DC In, USB, and Audio/Visual Out connection jacks are on the opposite side of the camera, and are protected by a tethered rubber cover. Above them on this side of the camera is the FinePix S5200's xD-Picture Card slot protected by a hinged, plastic door, which snaps firmly into place. When this door is opened, power is cut to the camera, and the camera must be switched off and back on again to resume use. To the left of the door is a speaker, one of the clearest speakers I've heard on a digicam. Finally, the neck strap attachment eyelet sits above everything else.

The Fujifilm S5200's top panel features the Focus mode selector lock switch and button, the Power/Mode dial surrounding the Shutter button, Continuous Shooting button, Exposure Compensation button, Mode dial, and pop-up flash.

The remaining camera controls are on the Fuji S5200's back panel, along with the LCD monitor and EVF viewfinder eyepiece with its diopter adjustment dial to the left. Positioned to the right are the zoom controls and arrow buttons, arranged as a Five-way navigation pad, and including Macro and Flash controls and the Menu/OK button in the center. The Display/Back button below it controls the information display in Playback and Record modes, and backs out of menu selections. To the right, the Photo mode button accesses resolution, ISO, and color settings. The Low light viewfinder button above the navigator pad brightens the display temporarily to aid composition in bright light; it is reset to normal after each shot. The EVF/LCD monitor selector button above that switches between the EVF or LCD display. A sculpted thumb rest on the right side of the back panel facilitates a tight grip on the camera, reinforced by the excellent hand grip on the front. To the left of the Fujifilm S5200's EVF eyepiece is a small LED, which reports the camera's current status (such as when focus is set, flash is charging, etc.).

The Fujifilm S5200's bottom panel is nice and flat, though a series of raised bumps gives your fingers something to grip when opening the battery compartment cover. This sliding cover moves outward (toward the side of the camera) before opening on a hinge to reveal the compartment. This is a great design for making the best use of space on the camera body, but bad for tripod work because you have to dismount the camera from the tripod to change batteries. I suspect this won't be much of an issue for users of this camera, as its designers clearly intended it for on-the-go use, not studio shooting. The tripod mount features metal threads (kudos for that) and is slightly off-center from the lens. The off-center mount is a little awkward for shooting panorama photos (a fairly uncommon practice, I suspect), but the position places it close to the camera's center of balance, increasing stability and reducing strain on the tripod threads (though I doubt this lightweight camera is going to strain anything).

 

Fuji FinePix S5200 External Controls


Shutter Button
: Located on top of the camera, this button sets focus and exposure when pressed halfway. A full press fires the shutter.

Power / Mode Dial: Surrounding the Shutter button on the top panel, this dial selects the camera's operating mode. Three choices are available:

  • Record: Sets up the camera for recording still images.
  • Playback: Allows the user to review captured images, delete them, zoom in on them, or set them up for printing.
  • Off: Shuts off the camera, signaling the lens to retract.


Exposure Mode Dial
: Adjacent to the pop-up flash compartment on the top panel, this dial controls the main exposure mode. Choices are:

  • Auto: Places the camera under full automatic exposure control. The user can adjust zoom, flash mode, and image size and quality settings.
  • Program: Camera sets aperture and shutter speed, leaving the rest in the control of the user.
  • Shutter Priority: User sets the shutter speed using the up and down arrows, and the camera picks the best aperture.
  • Aperture Priority: User sets the aperture using the up and down arrows, and the camera sets the best shutter speed.
  • Manual: Offers complete manual control over exposure. User can adjust shutter speed with the up and down arrows, but must press and hold the Exposure Compensation button to adjust aperture using the same buttons.
  • Movie: Allows the camera to record moving images with sound.
  • Anti-blur: Sets higher shutter speeds to capture action.
  • Natural Light: Retains the natural ambience of low-light conditions like candlelit services, school concerts and birthday cakes.
  • Portrait: Enhances skin tones and softens colors and focus.
  • Landscape: Sets focus to infinity for sharper landscape shots and turns off the flash.
  • Night: Slows shutter speed for night shots, can be used with or without flash.


Focus mode selector switch and button
: Button selects between Single AutoFocus (S-AF), Manual Focus (MF), and Continuous AutoFocus (C-AF), and a twist lock keeps the setting from being changed accidentally.


Continuous shooting button
: Selects among continuous shooting mode options, which include Top 3-frame, Auto Bracketing, Final 3-frame, and Long-period continuous shooting. Button must be held down, while settings are adjusted via the left and right arrows on the Five-way navigation pad.


Exposure compensation button
: Available in Program, Shutter, and Aperture Priority modes, EV is adjusted by a total of +/-2EV in 1/3 increments. User holds Exposure compensation button down and uses left/right arrows to set compensation.


Zoom Rocker Control
: In the top right corner of the back panel, this zoom control has discrete "W" and "T" for zooming to wide and telephoto settings. In Record mode, these buttons control the optical and digital zoom. They also control focus in Manual focus mode. In Playback mode, these control digital enlargement of captured images.


Five-way navigation pad
: Located just right of the LCD, these buttons navigate left and right through settings menus. In Record mode, the left button accesses the Macro shooting mode, while the right button controls the flash mode. In playback mode, the surrounding four buttons can pan around inside a zoomed image. Top and bottom arrow buttons set Aperture and Shutter speed in Manual, Aperture, and Shutter Priority modes. The center Menu/OK button both activates the menus and confirms selections.


Photo mode button
: Allows user to set image resolution, ISO, and FinePix color settings.


EVF/LCD Button
: Below right of the EVF eyepiece, this button alternates the viewfinder display between the eye-level viewfinder and the rear-panel LCD monitor.


Display / Back Button
: Below left of the Menu / OK button, this button backs out of menus and menu selections. When no menu screen is displayed, this button cycles through several LCD display modes. The image and information display is on by default. A framing grid is added to that display with the first press of the Display button. A third press displays only the image. In Playback mode, this button toggles between an image information overlay, no image information at all, and an index of images on the storage card. When playback zoom is enabled, this button switches from panning mode back to zoom mode.


Low Light Viewfinder Button
: Below the EVF / LCD button, this button brightens the LCD display. Pressing the button a second time returns to the normal brightness level.

 

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