The FinePix SL300, announced in January 2012, is a bridge camera from Fujifilm, with a massive 30x optical zoom lens. It also has a 14 megapixel sensor, 300 shot battery and it is available now, in black, for £234.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Features
The SL300 has a 14 megapixel sensor and 30x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 24-720mmm making it ideal for wide landscapes and zoomed in close-ups. The lens elements have been treat with multilayer Super EBC to reduce ghosting and lens flare. The lens also has a 45 step electronic powered zoom, making it easier to frame each shot with accuracy. When in Super Macro mode, the minimum focusing distance is 2cm. To help take sharp pictures, there is CCD-shift image stabilisation.
As well as auto mode, there is custom, manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and Program modes, as well as 6 Scene Recognition Auto, which chooses from Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Night Portrait and Backlit Portrait. Other scene modes can be chosen, which includes Natural Light, Portrait, Baby Mode, Smile & Shoot, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text. When shooting portraits there is Face Detection, Red-eye Removal, Blink Detection, Smile & Shoot Mode and Face Recognition. Motion Panorama automatically stitches together three shots in-camera. Other modes include Natural Light and with Flash, Tracking Auto Focus, Instant Zoom and Zoom Bracketing Mode.
You can prepare you images for sharing on Facebook and YouTube by tagging them. When you next connect the camera to your computer, images and videos will be uploaded automatically. You can also rank images between 0 and 5 stars so you can quickly search for your favourite pictures.
Movies can be recorded in 720p HD, if your're short on space on your memory card you can also record in 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixel resolution.
14 megapixel sensor
30x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-720mm)
CCD-shift image stabilisation
3 inch LCD screen
Scene Recognition AUTO
720p HD video recording
2cm minimum focusing distance
300 shot Li-ion battery
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Handling
The SL300 looks very much like an SLR, it is made of plastic and has a substantial rubberised hand grip and lens barrel with a dotted groove for your right thumb. The zoom can be controlled in two places, with the zoom rocker around the shutter release and also a button on the side of the barrel. The focal length is displayed on the lens, with the 35mm equivalent also shown. There is also a TTL hot-shoe so you can also use an auxiliary TTL flash. The SL300 comes supplied with a lens cap and camera strap.
There isn't a dedicated movie record button, video can be found on the mode dial and requires a press of the shutter button to commence recording. Other buttons include instant zoom, burst mode, function as well as other buttons which are typically found on most digital cameras. The SL300 has an easy to navigate menu systems.
The 3 inch LCD screen has a resolution of 460,000 dots, it is bright a clear and is easy to view, with a viewing angle of 160 degrees. If you prefer, there is also an electronic viewfinder, which is activated by the press of a button and is also extremely bright and clear.
The battery has a CIPA rating of 300 shots, we managed just over 350 during testing. We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting M
Continuous Shooting H
Continuous shooting records at full 14 megapixel resolution, with Continuous shooting M restricted to 7 megapixels and Continuous shooting H to 3 megapixels. Fujifilm claim the camera is ready to shoot in 1.8 seconds of switching on, the quickest time we managed was 2.75 seconds.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Despite it being a fairly sunny day, landscape mode hasn't done a particularly good job with the blues and greens. The SL300 can take pictures at three different exposures, the example above has been combined to create a HDR image. Portraits have decent skin tones, but the flash is strong enough to reflect on your subject. Colour reproduction is OK, but not as good many of cameras we have reviewed recently and we did find images are quite often slightly underexposed. When shooting close-up, there is clearly some barrel distortion, which can be seen in the ISO tests shows below.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Images have a decent amount of detail, although they are softer in the corners, which is visible in the wide-angle shot above. When shooting with the full zoom, chromatic aberration and purple fringing are present in contrasting areas of the image. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 2cm which allows the camera to get close enough to take an impressive macro shot.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - ISO 64 and 100 produces images which are free of noise, with only a very little appearing at ISO 200. Noise at ISO 400 becomes significant enough to cause the images to become slightly softer, with even softer images at ISO 800 that have lost quite a bit of detail. Images at ISO 1600 are full of noise and should only be used when completely necessary. The SL300 also has ISO 3200 and 6400, although the resolution is restricted to 3 megapixels.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - When using the AWB preset under the incandescent lights, there is a very slight magenta cast, with the incandescent preset performing slightly better. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB preset out performs all three of the fluorescent presets, with casts appearing in each of the three pictures.
Panorama | 1/150 sec | f/8.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 64
Panorama mode - Panoramas are good, although they aren't stitched perfectly, with the example above showing a slight mis-match in a couple of areas.
Wide Aperture | 1/220 sec | f/4.8 | 13.2 mm | ISO 100
Fast Shutter Speed | 1/1000 sec | f/5.0 | 15.3 mm | ISO 640
Trees | 1/105 sec | f/3.1 | 4.3 mm | ISO 64
Text | 1/110 sec | f/4.5 | 11.3 mm | ISO 64
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Digital filters
Digital Filters - When shooting you can choose between three colour modes; standard, chrome and black and white.
Video - Below is a video shot at 720p HD. You can use the optical zoom when shooting videos, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page.
The Fujifilm FinePix SL300's main selling points are it's 30x optical zoom lens, ample rubber grip, long life battery and electronic viewfinder, all available at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately image quality isn't fantastic, particularly as colour reproduction leaves them looking a little flat and barrel distortion is clearly evident when shooting subjects which are fairly close to the camera. If you are on a budget and need a travel camera with a good zoom range, the SL300 is certainly worth some consideration.
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Pros
Good battery life
Decent value for money
2cm minimum focusing distance allows for good macro shots
Versatile zoom range
Comes with a strap and lens cap
Rubber on grip and lens makes it easy to hold
Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Cons
Only 720p HD
Barrel distortion when shooting close-up objects
Poor image quality at ISO 1600 and above