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Fuji FinePix S5000

Fuji's latest electronic SLR offers a full 10x optical zoom lens.

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 10/01/2003

Executive Overview

Falling somewhere between the popular Fuji FinePix 3800 Zoom (now replaced by the FinePix S3000) and FinePix S602 Zoom digicams (about to be replaced by the S7000), Fuji's latest release, the FinePix S5000, offers the simplicity of point-and-shoot photography with the advantages of optional manual control and a generous 10x optical zoom lens. The S5000 retains the styling of the earlier S602, with a large grip providing secure purchase for your fingers, helpful for hand-holding the long telephoto shots its 10x zoom makes possible. Though quite compact (even with the 10x zoom lens), the S5000 definitely won't fit into a shirt pocket, but it ought to do just fine in a large coat pocket, purse, or backpack. The included neck/shoulder strap makes it easier to carry as well. The body appears to be almost entirely composed of structural plastic, but the camera nevertheless has a very solid "feel" to it, with a rubbery outer coating on the hand grip portion for a secure hold. The S5000 features a 3.1-megapixel Super CCD HR, which uses an interwoven honeycomb pixel pattern to produce high-quality, interpolated images as large as 2,816 x 2,120 pixels.

The S5000's 10x Fujinon 5.7-57mm (37-370mm equivalent) retractable lens has a removable, plastic lens cap that attaches to the camera body and protects the lens surface. The same threads that hold the lens cap in place also accept an accessory lens adapter (included with the camera, a very nice touch), allowing a variety of front-element add-on lenses and filters to be used with the camera. Maximum aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/3.1, depending on the zoom setting, the f/3.1 setting at maximum telephoto being "faster" than that of most long-zoom digicams. A Macro focusing mode gets as close as 3.9 inches (10cm), for roughly average macro performance. Auto and manual focus options are available, as well as a Continuous AF mode suitable for more active subjects. You can set the AF area to Center or Multi positions (Multi basing focus on a broad area in the center of the frame), or manually select the AF point using the multicontroller. An AF-assist lamp helps the camera focus in dark shooting conditions. In addition to the generous 10x optical zoom, the S5000 also features as much as 2.2x digital zoom, although I remind readers that digital zoom directly trades off image quality for magnification. That said, Fuji's approach to digital zoom is more intelligent than most, since they limit digital zoom based on the selected image size, so the camera never interpolates the resulting images, preserving image quality. For framing images, the S5000 features both an "electronic" optical viewfinder (EVF) and a larger rear-panel LCD monitor. The electronic optical viewfinder is actually a miniaturized (0.33 inches) version of the larger, 1.5-inch LCD, and shows the same information displays. An EVF / LCD button switches the viewfinder display between the two monitors, so that only one is active at a time. A dioptric adjustment on the EVF, and its very high eyepoint, makes it convenient for eyeglass wearers.

Accommodating a wide range of users, the S5000 offers full Auto and full Manual exposure modes, and modes in between, including several "Scene" modes. A Power/Mode dial sets the camera to either Record or Playback modes, while the Exposure Mode dial on top of the camera features Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE, Auto, Movie, and Scene Program exposure modes. Scene Program offers a handful of preset shooting modes, including Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Night Scene. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to two seconds, so low-light shooting is a little limited.

In all exposure modes except for Auto, Scene Program, and Manual, Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. By default, the S5000 uses a 64-zone, multisegment metering system, but Average and Spot metering modes are available through the settings menu. Through the Drive menu, an Auto Exposure Bracketing function snaps a series of three images at different exposure settings, which can vary by 1/3, 1/2, or one full EV step. In any of the manual exposure modes, the camera's ISO sensitivity setting offers 200, 400, and 800 equivalents, plus an Auto setting that adjusts from 160 to 400 equivalents, depending on the flash setting. (Note that the 800 ISO setting automatically reduces the image size to the one-megapixel setting.) White Balance choices include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent. You can also adjust image sharpness, and a Self-Timer mode offers a 10-second countdown before snapping the picture. The camera's built-in, pop-up flash operates in Auto, Forced On, Forced Off, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow-Synchro, and Red-Eye Reduction Slow-Synchro modes, with an intensity adjustment in the settings menu.

Three Continuous Shooting modes are available through the Drive menu: Top-5 Frame, Final-5 Frame, and Long-Period Continuous Shooting. The Long-Period Continuous Shooting mode is only available in Auto exposure mode, and fixes the image size at 1.0-megapixel setting, but allows very long sequences of images to be captured. (Up to 40 images, at 0.6-second intervals.) The Final-5 frame continuous mode is unusual, in that the camera begins acquiring images continuously when you press the Shutter button, and then saves the last five it shot just before you released the shutter. This is great for capturing fleeting moments in sports and other fast-moving situations. Just hold down the Shutter button, then release it as soon as the event occurs. In Playback mode, a Voice Memo option records as much as 30 seconds of sound to accompany still images. The S5000's Movie mode records movies with sound at the 320 x 240-pixel resolution, for as long as the memory card has available space, at a full 30 frames/second.

Images are stored on xD-Picture Cards (a 16MB card comes with the camera). Image quality choices include three JPEG compression levels, and an uncompressed RAW option. An included A/V cable lets you connect to a television set for image playback and composition, and a USB cable provides high speed connection to a computer. (The included Windows-only PictureHello software also makes the S5000 into a webcam.) A software CD comes with the camera, loaded with Fuji's FinePix Viewer software for image downloading and viewing. Also on the CD is a RAW converter, for processing RAW data image files. Power for the S5000 is provided by four AA-type alkaline or NiMH batteries, and a set of alkaline batteries comes with the camera. As always, I strongly recommend picking up a couple of sets of high-capacity rechargeable batteries and charger.


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