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I bought the camera in Feb04 as a multi purpose camera to help me out as a freelance web and graphic designer.
The intention was to buy this as a step up from a canon digital ixus for use mainly on web, product shots, backgrounds etc and for general personal use. The idea then was to move upto a digital SLR but as it turns out, the only reason I'd need for making that move now would be the higher image quality, the S7000 has astounded me with the control I have and the amount of features available.
It gives me everything I need for a huge range of work that will be viewed mainly on web and is more than capable of creating an image quality suitable for a lot of small scale print work - flyers - brochure shots etc. Mainlt though I use it for web based work, product shots, people, abstracts, interiors etc. and it has proved to be a fantastic piece of equipment for this.
These are the main features that make the camera such a great support tool for a graphic / web designer -
Great handling. Before digital took off, the leading SLRs paid massive attention on designing all the camera features to be accesable when holding a camera to the eye. Because of the LCD screen many digitals have forgotten about this. The S7000 hasn't. You pick up the camera and have access to everything with 2 thumbs & a forefinger.
Range of features. Manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, presets (landscape, poirtrait etc) spot & multi meetering, manual auto & continuous auto focus, macro, super macro, exposure lock, focus lock, multi exposure, continuos shooting, exposure compensation, slow flash , red eye, a big zoom, an option for wide or tele lense adaptors, hotshoe for external flash. It's as close you can get to a digital SLR without having an SLR.
Favourite features. Macro / Super macro For web stuff it's amazingly useful to have a macro & super macro facility. I can get in to about 1cm from a subject which is amazingly useful for creating abstract backgrounds etc.
Raw jpeg comression is harsh @ the top end. I just avoid it for important stuff & use the Raw ( uncompressed) feature. You need big memory cos each shot's around 16mb & it takes a littel longer to store so no good for rapid shooting - ideal for static stuff. I just remind myself how long things used to take using film and the added 3 seconds fade away!!!
Slow flash have got some great effects - totally random but great - jsut bunging thecamera on a slow flash setting and taking early evening outdoors shots.
To conclude I'd say that this camera has proved to be by far the best purchase I've made to support me as a professional web & graphic designer. It isn't an SLR and if I turned up to take brochure shots of a new car in a very expensive studio I'd be laughed at - then fired.
Although Fuji claim 12M pixels, don't be fooled - you're not going to get an image quality anywhere near that of a digital SLR, for example, an EOS 300D. A compact camera, however laden with features, doesn't get as much light to the LCD as an SLR and due to the target market and RRP, cannot invest as much money into the qaulity of sensor. If you need this level of image quality, stop pretending this is the way to go and buy an SLR.
However, if you want something that gives you amazing control, a huge ammount of features and some very special unique features, and you want a superb all round camera that can give you all you need for high end amature / personal use or low to middle end BASIC professional, or if you need a support tool for web based work, then don't hesitate in buying this camera, especially now it's under £300, which for what you're getting is staggering.
You will also need at least 250MB to get around 15 raw shots on one card.