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The Fuji FinePix S1000fd is very SLR-like in appearance and the added bulk of the battery-holder/grip does give it an assured feeling in your hands. Of course, this can be a disadvantage, and if you want a camera that you can just slip in-and-out of your pocket, then maybe a slimmer compact should be considered.
The 12x optical zoom is excellent and it equates to 33-396mm in 35mm terms - and if this isn't enough, there is a 5.7x digital zoom feature too.
The menus are friendly and easy to navigate, and there are helpful explanatory prompts that appear on thew LCD screen when the mode-dial setting is changed.
There are 15 preset scenes to choose from, each setting the camera to its optimum settings for the given scenario, but on top of this, the camera can be used like an SLR in Shutter Priority or Aperture Priotity modes, giving the user much more control over the image then many compact cameras, which insist on doing everything for you.
If I have one criticism of the S100fd, it is that it seems very slow compared to other cameras I've used. Every time you press a button or change a menu setting, there is a momentary lag that started to get on my nerves after a while.
The Panorama Mode is a nice feature and there are a wide range of resolution choices, some of which are enforced by the scene mode that is selected. Video is also available - 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 with mono sound.
Image Stabilization is available via the scene selection menu but is only digital, there is no Sensor Shift system that works across the scene spectrum.
Changing and charging individual AA batteries is a little tedious and I would have liked a dedicated Li-On battery with a charger but I do like the fact that the camera can accommodate XD, SD and SDHC memory cards - the latter of which, at 16GB, can store around 3200 highest-resolution/lowest-compression images.
There are several options available for continuous shooting but be aware that some of these will restrict the resolution of your pictures.
Also, there are a number of feature that may appeal to a more professionally minded user and that you might not expect to find on a digital compact, such as a histogram and a full range of ISO options - again, only available in certain modes/scenes.
In summary, this is an excellent camera for learning the basics of photography because you can start of with everything automated and then gradually take control of different aspects yourself as your confidnce grows. Of course, you could do that with an entry-level SLR, but not for this price. It is also nice to have a camera that produces quality pictures but is small and convenient enough to take to parties or on holiday.