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|Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD review by ePHOTOzine member Keith Henson.|
Fujifilm's new S Series camera falls into the category often referred to as a Bridge Camera. It's a step beyond being a straight forward point and shoot compact but doesn't quite have the ultimate freedom of a full blown SLR. However, if you're in the market for just such a camera, then you'd be a fool not to consider a Fujifilm, as this is an area at which they normally excel.
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Features
For your money you're getting a 14mp CCD sensor coupled to a 18x zoom which is a 35mm equivalent of 28-420mm. All the shooting modes of an SLR with Aperture/Shutter priorities, Manual and Program plus Fujifilm's Scene Recognition Auto, Scene Position Mode and Panorama. The S2800HD also captures HD video at 720p. There's the usual Face, Smile and even Blink Detection, Macro and Super-Macro and a even a viewfinder, albeit an electronic one (EVF). Fujifilm have also included a Live Histogram, Dual ISO/Sensor Image Stabilisation and much more besides.
There's a lot to play with.
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Handling
The S2800HD looks for all the world like a mini-SLR, in fact it appears on the Fujifilm website on their super-zoom DSLR page. It feels and looks well built and fits naturally into the hand; you immediately feel confident and comfortable with it. The Shooting Mode dial is on top, where you'd expect it to be along with the lens zoom control, Continuous Shutter Speed Settings button, Face-Detection on/off and the On/Off switch. On the rear is a 3in 230,000 dot LCD screen and the Function buttons including Exposure Compensation, Macro, Flash and an F-Mode Menu button, which is basically a short cut to a short menu, the most useful of which is the ISO settings. The batteries (4xAA) and memory card (SD/SDHC) are accessed from the base. In short everything is pretty much where you'd expect it to be.
Start up time is a little under two seconds and here's the first problem for the S2800HD. It's a minor problem, maybe no more than a niggle. The lens cap is a plastic pop-on type and you have the option of tethering it by a piece of string. If you don't like the idea of your lens cap dangling like a medallion, then you simply choose to keep it in your pocket or, as will one day happen, you turn the camera on in a hurry, the lens pops the cover off and it vanishes into the wind. I did say it was a minor niggle. So is the fact that you can't leave the camera switched on and replace the lens cap.
The menu is easy to access and understand and it changes depending on what is available in your chosen shooting mode and here is the second niggle. Whenever you make a change to a particular setting it kicks you back to the view screen and that can become annoying.
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Performance
The first big surprise from the S2800HD comes from the ISO performance – it's pretty impressive for a little camera. All the way up to ISO800 the sensor manages to keep things together, yes there's some degradation but nowhere near what I was expecting. At ISO1600, you get the sense that a touch of in-camera noise reduction is taking place and you can see the lack of sharpness falling away but it does manage to provide a level of usefulness that can equal many of its grown up SLR rivals. At ISO3200 and 6400 you lose 11Mps and pretty much any usable detail. It's a software induced makeshift but at least it's there if you just have to have a record shot.
|Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
Colours are produced faithfully and the wide gamut results in subtle graduations being rendered without any blocking occurring. The Auto White Balance handles most situations and for those tricky conditions or where colour rendition is critical, there is a Custom Balance.
Out and about the S2800HD was a pleasure to use, once you got used to some of its foibles. Firstly, I found that it tended to over-expose slightly when in Multi-point Metering with the lens at its widest. Personally I preferred to use Aperture Priority with a touch of Exposure Compensation. The frustrating thing was only having the choice of f/3.1 or f/6.4, f/11 only becomes available at the long end of the lens via a two stop in-camera ND filter, so anybody wanting to get a bit more depth to their wide angle work is going to be disappointed. Even in Manual, although I can use a shutter speed anything from 8 secs to 1/2000 sec, I can still only choose from the two apertures.
However, live with that and the images have great colour reproduction with a very good dynamic range, just don't go thinking of printing those 14mp too large and expect to be able to see a lot of detail past your focus point. You get the impression that perhaps the designers of the S2800HD had people and faces in mind rather than landscapes. To achieve a smaller aperture – I managed f/7.1 – you have to switch to Landscape Mode.
An interesting feature of this camera is Panorama Mode. You start with the first shot and then the camera will give you two marks to line up. Once you've lined them up, the camera takes the next shot in a series of three. In theory, no tripod is needed and what's more, the camera will process all three shots to give you the panorama.
In practice it's very easy to use but there are a couple of limitations. Firstly, you have to choose your starting point and framing carefully as you can only shoot left to right and only in landscape format. This means having to allow for the inevitable cropping that will occur from top and bottom. Secondly, moving objects can be a problem as can a wide variation in light as the camera clearly sets the exposure from the first shot, which can result in a panorama that goes from correct to over-exposed across the frame. Learn to live with these limitations and Panorama is a mode with which you can have some fun.
Contrasty scenes are handled to an acceptable level although the lens can exhibit flare when faced with direct or near direct light. Chromatic Aberration was non-existent throughout.
Like most other cameras in the S2800HD's category it has a Macro Mode, accessed via the Macro Function button on the rear of the camera or as I tested, the Auto Scene Recognition Mode. True enough, once I placed the camera about an inch from the subject it immediately flashed up the macro symbol on screen.
Focusing at this distance proved a little hit and miss and meant having to recompose and move back and forth until the lens locked on and I never really got to grips with it. Perhaps with a bit more time things may have become easier but initial experience was not good even though results were acceptable, despite using a relatively wide lens and aperture. One other drawback is the pop-up flash mounted on top of the camera. With the lens so close to the subject the flash casts a shadow of the lens across the bottom of the frame and this is why in Super-Macro Mode, the flash is de-activated by default.
Under normal circumstances the flash copes well and coupled with SR-Auto adjusts to the situation pretty intelligently...to a point. Having set Portrait Mode and Auto Flash the camera gave me 1/12 sec at f/5.0 at ISO400. I'm guessing that some users will struggle if the camera is not going to start working out some more realistic shutter speeds, as even with flash, 1/12 on an equivalent focal length of about 100mm is going to cause some users problems.
|Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD Performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
|Landscape mode.||Macro mode.|
|(Above) Aperture Priority with Exposure Compensation.
(Right) Portrait mode with auto flash.
As I've already stated Fujinon make good lenses. The 18x zoom on the S2800HD has a maximum aperture at 28mm of f/3.1 and f/5.6 at the 420mm end. So not astounding but just about where it would be on a middle of the range SLR lens from any of the major brands.
Tripod mounted and with an aperture of f/6.4 and the in-camera sharpening set at standard the results look fairly good on initial inspection. Centre frame and detail levels and sharpness stand up but at the edges that falls apart fairly rapidly. At around the 100mm mark things have improved and there's more uniformity across the image. By 420mm that across the image parity is still there but I did expect a bit of a crisper finish from the Fujifilm non lens and again, that shutter speed of 1/200 sec may not have been enough for some users without a tripod.
So to get the very best from this lens, in fact the camera as a whole, the user will have to choose when to step in and give the camera some assistance in the choice of shutter, aperture and iso speeds.
On the plus side, the focusing worked quickly, even the Auto Tracking Modes and you can combine that with a choice of iso and sensor image stabilisation or use both together. Tracking moving objects also becomes much easier when you switch to the electronic viewfinder with it set at 60fps.
|Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD Lens quality: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
|Wide-angle lens test.||Full zoom lens test.|
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Verdict
It's a good little camera that you have to accept the limitations of. If it's a DSLR in miniature that you're after then you may well be disappointed but if it's a compact with a few more creative possibilities and your budget is less than £200, then this just may be the camera for you because it seems to work best with a lot of user input. However, the S2800HD falls into a market that contains the Nikon Coolpix L110, the Pentax X90 and Olympus SP600 UZ - not forgetting Fujifilm's own stable of cameras that are not so far removed from their new S series brother in specification or price. This pitches it against some very stiff competition and it will need to continue to be competitively priced to compete as there is probably little to seperate the S2800HD from the cameras mentioned above.
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Pros
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Cons
Some Shooting Modes can feel restrictive
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD: Specification
|What comes in the box||4 x AA Alkaline batteries, USB/AV cable, Shoulder strap, Lens cap
Manual booklet, Warranty card and CD-ROM
|Lens||Fujinon 18x optical zoom lens, f/3.1 - f/5.6, 5.0 - 75.0mm, equivalent to 28 - 420mm on a 35mm camera|
|Sensor type||1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD Monitor||3.0-inch, approx. 230,000 dots, colour LCD monitor|
|Focusing system||Single AF, Continuous AF|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO64 - 6400|
|Metering modes||Mode Dial: SR AUTO, Auto, P, S, A, M, Custom, Movie, Panorama, SP SP: Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Natural Light, Natural Light & with Flash, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Smile, Zoom Braketing|
|White balance||Automatic scene recognition Preset: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Custom|
|Shutter speed range||(Auto mode) 1/4sec. to 1/2000sec. (All other modes) 8sec. to 1/2000sec., (with mechanical shutter)|
|Exposure modes||Programmed AE, Shutter Priority AE, Aperture Priority AE, Manual|
|Media type||SD / SDHC|
|Power||4x AA type alkaline batteries (included) 4x AA type Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (sold separately) 4x AA type lithium batteries (sold separately) DC coupler CP-04 with AC power adapter AC-5VX (sold separately)|
|Size (WxHxD)||107.5 x 72.5 x 80.0mm|
The Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD costs £189 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Fujifilm Finepix S2800HD