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Fuji FinePix S602 Zoom

Fuji's latest electronic SLR offers improved image quality, fast response, high ISOs, and 30 fps movies at full VGA resolution!

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 4/18/2002

Looking a bit like a very compact film-based SLR, the FinePix S602 Zoom packs a lot of power into its fairly small size. Though the camera looks a little bulky in photos, it's actually quite small given its 6x zoom lens and panoply of features. Its body appears to be almost entirely composed of structural plastic, but it nonetheless has a very solid "feel" to it, much more what I'd normally associate with a metal-bodied camera. It's light enough to hold easily with one hand, but the weight of the lens and the number of controls on the left side of the lens body will make you want to hold it two-handed. Fuji switched to a 4-AA cell power source for the S602, vs the NP-80 LiIon battery of the 6900, with the result that the hand grip on the S602 is quite a bit larger. Personally, I like the larger grip, as it feels better suited to American-sized hands than the much smaller grip on the 6900. Despite its relatively light weight, its non-pocketable size means you'll almost certainly want to use the included neckstrap when walking around with it

The 6x f/2.8-3.1 zoom lens dominates the front view of the camera, leaving room only for the hefty handgrip. The lens telescopes out an additional 2.5 inches or so from the camera body whenever the camera is powered on, doing so reasonably quickly (especially considering the distance it has to travel). A ribbed focus ring surrounds the end of the lens barrel, adjusting focus when the camera is put into manual focus mode. Just above the lens is the passive AF sensor, which uses ambient infrared light to help gauge focus. The handgrip is large enough to provide a firm hold, with a leather-like texture that provides good traction for your fingers as they wrap around the camera. Hidden behind the lens and beneath the flash compartment (on the right side when looking from the front) are three small holes for the tiny microphone used to record audio.

The camera's top panel hosts a number of controls, as well as the pop-up flash compartment and external flash hot shoe. An Exposure Mode dial and Command wheel sit side-by-side on the far right, with the Drive, Flash, and Exposure Compensation buttons closer to the front. A Mode switch controls the main operating mode and encircles the solid black Shutter button.

On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) is one of the neck strap attachments, as well as the memory card compartment. A locking plastic door protects the card compartment, which has one slot for SmartMedia cards and one for CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards (compatible with the IBM Microdrive).

The opposite side of the camera is more feature-laden, with a number of control buttons, the other neck strap attachment, speaker, and two connector compartments. Controls include Macro, Info, and Shift buttons, as well as a Focus switch and One-Touch AF button (nestled inside the focus switch). The DC In connector jack sits beneath a flexible, rubbery flap. The main connector compartment holds the USB and A/V Out jacks, protected by a plastic door that snaps shut securely. Also visible on this side of the camera is a tiny flash release button, just beneath the flash compartment.

The rest of the camera controls are on the back panel, sharing the space with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and LCD monitor. A small diopter adjustment dial adjusts the optical viewfinder for eyeglass wearers, and a firm rubber eyecup surrounds the viewfinder eyepiece. Zoom controls, a Four Way Arrow pad, and a handful of other control buttons dot the back panel. A small LED lamp next to the memory compartment door (on the right side) lights whenever the camera is accessing the memory card, indicating that you shouldn't open the compartment door. (This LED also lights when the flash is charging, or there's a problem with the camera.)

The S602 Zoom's bottom panel is nice and flat, with a metal tripod mount centered beneath the lens. While the tripod mount is centered on the axis of the lens, it's quite a ways back from the lens' optical center, so you'll still need a special tripod head for seamless panoramic shots. While becoming more common on prosumer digicams, I still applaud Fuji for their use of a metal tripod socket, rather than the cheaper but less rugged plastic. Also on the bottom panel is the battery compartment, with a plastic door that slides out before opening.

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