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The great thing about the S8100fd is that you can see things without having to actually go there. Perfect for the couch potato photographer.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Specification
- Optical zoom: 18x
- Focal length: 27- 486mm
- Resolution: 10Mp
- Sensor type: CCD
- Sensor size: 1/2.3
- Image size: 3648 x 2736
- Viewfinder type: Electronic
- Movie mode: Yes
- Screen size: 2.5in
- Card format: xD/SD/SDHC
- Battery model: 4 x AA
- Weight: 405g
- Size: 111.3x78.2x79.3mm
- Minimum focus distance: 1cm
- Exposure modes: 13
- Screen resolution: 230,000
- File formats: JPEG
- Connectivity: USB
- Flash type: Built in
- Shutter 1/4-1/2000second
- Sensitivity: ISO64-1600
- Face detection Technology: Yes
The S8100fd is available in the ePHOTOzine shop for £266 giving you 10Mp, an 18x optical zoom and plenty of manual overrides.
The Olympus SP-570 at £284 also has 10Mp, a slightly longer 20x optical zoom and the manual overrides. Alternatively, the Sony DSC H50 at £256 has 9Mp, a slightly smaller 15x optical zoom, but benefits from a superior Carl Zeiss lens.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Modes and features
The design of the Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd takes some getting used to. Ergonomically, it's brilliant as the grip fits your hand comfortably with the zoom at your index finger and function buttons in easy reach of your thumb on the back.
The Fujinon f/2.8-4.5 18x optical zoom lens has a 38.1mm filter thread on it which is nearly impossible to get accessories for. Unless you go to Fuji, that is.
Other than that, it's left alone with no buttons for manual focus or image stabiliser attached to it. Moving around the camera, the flash pop-up button is sat on the left shoulder just in front of the strap D-ring and it's a nice, big mechanical button so it's easy to find while you're still looking in the viewfinder.
Because it's mechanical, the built-in flash will pop-up whether the camera is switched on or not so this could be a pain if you catch it while putting it in or taking it out of your bag. The mode dial sits on the right shoulder just on the other side of the flash and electronic viewfinder (EVF). This is the most common place for this type of dial to be found as it's near the shutter release and also where the thumb naturally rests which is why it hangs over the edge slightly.
The top plate of the camera also holds the face detection and image stabiliser button along with the power switch which is on a lovely angle that fits your finger perfectly. The shutter release is circled by the zoom rocker which hangs over the front so you can use it easier.
Only a 2.5in screen on the S8100fd, which I assume is to retain a small body size. The screen is shunted over to the left of the camera sitting directly beneath the EVF and you can switch between these by pressing the EVF/LCD button.
A rubbery material is patched over the right side of the camera for you to grip onto and the remainder buttons can be found there. The usual macro, flash, continuous shooting, playback and menu buttons can be found as well as the 'f' (FinePix) button. This is what Fuji use as a function button for accessing the film simulation options of standard, chrome and mono as well as the resolution and ISO ratings.
A couple of interesting features can be found on the mode dial. As well as the usual PASM for creative control, the dial also has a zoom bracket mode which will place two blue boxes in the frame. Taking a photograph will store an image at the focal length you chose and two others at the edges of the blue squares in the frame. Which means you end up with three photographs that get closer to your subject consecutively.
The mode dial also has a natural mode which has the icon of an eye shape with the letter 'n' and this is to retain the natural ambience of the scenario. In addition to this, a natural mode with flash is also available and this will take two photographs: one with flash and one without so you can decide which you prefer.
Putting the camera into one of the creative modes will give you the greatest amount of freedom and if this is your first venture into manual photography, then an auto feature is there if it gets too much.
Program mode is signified by a P on the dial and does the same as the auto mode while freeing up more features in the menu. The shutter-priority mode (S) will allow you to choose the appropriate shutter speed for the camera (how fast the camera exposes onto the sensor) while the camera chooses the aperture. Aperture-priority (A) does the exact opposite of shutter-priority whereby you control the aperture (the iris in the lens) and the camera controls the shutter speed to cope with your selection.
Manual mode (M) allows you to control the shutter speed and aperture but a meter will let you know when the camera is exposed correctly.
The up button on the navigation pad has a cool feature which crops into the image before you've taken it. There are four separate options of cropping: two in landscape and two in portrait formats. After checking the file sizes of the images that were cropped, they're the same size as the original images so it's not simply a cropped version of the original.
The Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd has four continuous shooting modes: Top 3, Long period, Top 33M and Top 33H.
Top 3 is full resolution shooting but is capped at the capacity of the buffer so it can only take three images before needing to download to the memory card.
Long period shooting will shoot and download before taking another shot and at full resolution, you could have a cup of tea in between shots. Mercy has thrown you a life-line in the form of Top 33M continuous shooting which has a higher burst rate, but at a cost of resolution. In this mode the camera will knock down to 5Mp. If that's not enough for you and quality isn't an issue, then the fastest speed is Top 33H for ultra high speed shooting at 3Mp. Take a look at the performance section of the review for the frames per second (fps) results.
The fd found at the end of the cameras name is to signify the use of face detection and Fuji are very proud of this technology. First developed for printing services, it was designed to detect faces by locating eyes and a mouth then adjusting exposure, focus and white balance to ensure the face was as perfect as possible. The face detection on the S8100fd does work, though I found it a little sporadic in its handling.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Build and handling
The build quality is good across the board with a solid grip and little play in the lens. The flash feels solid with mild agitation but could easily be snapped off with a forceful knock. Similarly, the battery bay door is flimsy and bendy which could come apart or snap. The xD or SD memory card bay is on the side of the camera with the batteries in the bottom, so no need to disturb one to change the other.
The screen is smooth but suffers from purple banding in bright spots, but then they all do. The colours look a bit muted to me which I don't really like. They look richer in the EVF but the quality isn't as good.
The rubberised grip and thumb rest will ensure you don't drop the camera easily, but it doesn't look very good quality so it's your decision whether you prefer design over practicality.
I don't like the lens physically moving out when the zoom is activated, I find that very old-fashioned as internal zoom technology is established enough to not need it.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Flash options
The S8100fd has three flash functions which are auto, flash on and slow sync for low light situations. To use the flash off feature, simply press the flash down.
When activated, the flash has a range of 0.5-8.8m at wide-angle and 0.5-5.6m at telephoto which is a brilliant result.
Red-eye reduction is available on the S8100fd by rotating through the face detection options when the flash is up. Fujifilm have also opted for a red-eye removal programme similar to the one found on Nikon compacts which locates and removes red-eye using built-in software.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Performance
An impressive shutter lag test giving continuous results of 0.04 of a second means if you're shooting fast moving objects, a small lag from the camera will aid your own reactions increasing your chances of a successful shoot.
The top 3 continuous shooting mode managed to shoot and download in three seconds which is slightly faster than 1fps, but the long period mode managed five shots in ten seconds which is a terrible ½fps.
Luckily the camera has two high speed modes even if they do knock the resolution down. The top 33M took its shots in five seconds but then needed another 25 seconds to download. This isn't very good if you're needing the camera to be ready to shoot soon after using the feature.
The colour chart shows a massive boost in blue leaving the other primaries looking pale in comparison. The skin tone looks mild too, but the mono tones are nicely balanced.
The Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd has a close focusing distance of 1cm which will invade the personal space of any insects or flowers.
To take the shot of the Marguerite I had to move away from the flower because the lens blocked all the light and started to push the petals away which shows how close it can truly get.
For a number of years, Fuji have been adding a film simulation feature to the camera which converts the images to an effect similar to either normal film, chrome or black & white. The chrome simulation will give the effect that would be achieved using Fuji's slide film and a cooler tone will come over the whole frame. This is less effective these days. Older model cameras from years back showed a definite change in tone, but the samples here show little difference.
The landscape has a shallow depth of field and fringing on the balance beam of the lock.
The landscape image has good detail in the grass towards the bottom right of the frame but soon loses out towards the horizon. Looking at the EXIF data it looks like the reason behind this is because of the aperture landscape mode has chosen is f/8 which can't keep everything in focus.
Fringing is also visible on the balance beam of the lock. Where the white tip meets the natural wood colour, a purple line is visible.
The S8100fd has a massive 18x optical zoom which is a 35mm equivalent of 27-486mm. That's nearly 10x closer than what the human eye can see.
For the zoom example, the bridge has been completely removed from the frame allowing for a better composition of the barge.
The wide angle image.
The telephoto image.
Portrait mode has given a nicely balanced skin tone but the high sun has cast deep shadows that the camera couldn't cope with. Face detection has tracked the subject as I recomposed the shot. A burst of flash has solved the shadow problem by filling in the dark areas without blowing out the highlights. Lovely catchlights have been captured.
Portrait mode with face detection.
Portrait mode with flash.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Noise test
The Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd seems to control noise nicely until ISO400 where it starts to struggle. There's some colour displacement at ISO200 on the grey area, but it's not upsetting to the image. At ISO400, colours are starting to strengthen and detail starts to dissipate from the petals.
White spots of noise appear at ISO800 and the condition accelerates at ISO1600. Moving to ISO3200 and noise has been reduced thanks to a drop in resolution down to 5Mp. ISO6400 is the same resolution but is struggling to reduce the noise coming through.
The ISO64 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
The ISO3200 test.
The ISO6400 test.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Verdict
It's fair to say this camera is designed for the user moving up from compacts and wants more creative control but doesn't want too much fuss. The manual controls will allow just that and the large zoom in the compact body ensures you have more diversity at your fingertips without lugging a load of gear around.
It's still a bit basic compared to what some other cameras offer but the user friendliness of the camera is something that Fuji have excelled at for years and the S8100fd doesn't disappoint.
It's unusual to harp on about face detection now it's pretty much a standard feature on compact cameras but I suppose they need a marketing angle. And that's the problem with this camera: It has no outstanding features to set it apart from the rest.
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Plus points
Easy to use
Nice design on grip
Low ISO has outstanding quality
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd: Minus points
Bad noise at high ISO
BUILD & HANDLING
The Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd costs around £266 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.