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Fujifilm FinePix S7000
I have always been an avid photographer, though I would not say I was a brilliant one at all! I love taking photos of a whole range of things from people to scenery and flowers, though up until a few months back I only had a small, though perfectly decent, HP Photosmart digital camera so I was not able to experiment with photography the way I would have liked. Now, I have a reasonably good relationship with my mother-in-law, though imagine my surprise when at a family BBQ, she handed over her Fujifilm Finepix camera to me as a gift as she could no longer use it! Suddenly, our relationship seemed so much nicer!!
************************ FINEPIX S7000 CAMERA ************************
This camera is not a brand new model, approximately four years old as far as I can tell, which to professional photographers might be a little too old, though for amateurs such as myself, it is a perfect camera to experiment and learn. I have checked online and have found this camera in a couple of different places such as Amazon, ranging in price from £70.00 up to £170.00, though in all cases, the camera is either second hand or refurbished second hand which leads me to believe that this camera is no longer being sold brand new due to its age.
I have never been one to read instruction booklets properly as quite often, they all may as well be written in Chinese for all the sense they make to me, and so my experience with this camera is based purely upon informative knowledge, research and my own experience. The instruction booklet which comes with the camera, though, has helped my husband fix a few problems which have occurred in the running of the camera such as the SD card needing formatting. The camera also originally comes with a USB lead though buying a camera second hand may not give you this extra. I personally do not use a USB lead to upload my photos on to computer as I have a built in card reader, though these USB leads are easy to pick up.
With those formalities out of the way, let me take you onto the review itself.
Most of these types of camera take on a similar look, and this one is no different. There is no spectacular new look to this camera, though at the same time, the design is quite attractive. The size is perfect to fit into two hands, though as it seems quite a bit lighter than most cameras such as this which I have held, it is possible to take photos one handed. On the right hand side, the design allows for your hand to grasp easily with your fingers curling around the side comfortably. The shutter button to take photos is also positioned on this area which adds to the ease of use. Also on this part of the camera is the mode dial with eight different options which I will speak about below, the command dial, continuous shooting button, exposure compensation button and the release socket. All of these are strategically placed so that your right hand can manoeuvre them without a problem. More over to the side than the buttons is a large flap which hosts the cards. Here you are able to use an XD picture card as well as a microdrive card. Above the viewfinder, on the top of the camera is the flash which uses a button for the pop-up mode. There is also an area to attach another flash if required, though I do not have an extra one. The left side of the camera is not built for hand comfort, though it is easy to rest the zoom of the camera on top of your fingers to aid stillness when taking a shot. This side of the camera also holds a number of features such as the macro button, shift button, focus mode selector, and a few different sockets such as the AV out socket, many of which are hidden under a small flap. Upon both these sides is the strap mount which occasionally gets in the way, though nothing too extreme. On the back of the camera you have the viewfinder which sticks out slightly to allow room for your nose which is situated just above the LCD monitor which is a 5x3cm area. I find this quite a small screen to work with, and being able to see detail on this is quite difficult at times, though on playback, you do have the option to zoom into the photo which helps, though I would have preferred a bigger screen to begin with so that I could see the detail when taking the shot. Also situated on the back are a small array of buttons and devices such as
Pictures of Fujifilm FinePix S7000
Photo I have taken using macro settings
the zoom buttons, AE lock button, indicator lamp, back button, menu button, photo mode options, and directional buttons. On the bottom of the camera is the battery compartment which takes four AA batteries, and the tripod mount which screws onto a tripod very easily. As already mentioned, I am not usually one to read instructions, though as I have good knowledge of using other, smaller cameras, I was able to work a lot out myself as it is all set out quite simply. There were certainly times in which I had to look into the booklet for aspects I was not clear on, though for the main part, I was able to understand through doing more often than not. Although quite a simple camera, I would not recommend this for total beginners into photography, as there are a lot of features in which beginners or casual photographers would really not need.
The one aspect in which I felt was too spread out on the camera was all the options. There is one main menu button, though this holds only a certain amount of options. Other options are geld on other buttons, and trying to remember where each one is, is a little frustrating. This would have certainly been better all in the one menu option. As for the menu option itself, this holds different things whether you are in photo taking mode or playback. The only option here when taking a photo is the self-timer. Here you have three options, the main setting being the off setting, and then the other two allowing you to take a photo within 30 seconds, and for some reason, the other letting the self-timer take in only a 2 second gap. This second option, in my opinion, is a too short a time for a self-timer apart from if you are a professional photographer and using a lead to enable you to take the photo when away from the camera. When in playback mode, you have the options to delete one or all frames, protect settings, playback settings and a voice memo which I do admit, I have never used. Apart from the menu button, you have other menu options on other buttons already mentioned. There are too many options to go through in detail, though I will outline the most important. The first is the macro button which allows for close-up photography. Here you have three different focal range modes;
Macro (10cm-80cm) Super Macro (1cm-20cm) Normal (50cm to infinity) (wide angle 90cm to infinity)
The flash has only a couple of options which, when the flash is popped-up, the options can be accessed via the small flash button on the right hand side. Auto-flash is the most used setting, though you are able to switch it to flash on/off at your choice, as well as setting the red eye reduction. The continuous shooting feature allows for a few different choice settings and has a handy viewing feature after the button is released to view all the shots at the same time and decide there and then which ones to keep. The only problem with this is that by viewing this way, the screen is even smaller and so is very difficult to see.
Onto the last most important feature button on this camera; The Mode Dial. As already mentioned, this has eight different settings, though some will obviously be used more than others depending on what type of photographer you are. These options are outlined briefly below;Still image shooting
Auto – This has the focal range specified in the normal feature in the macro setting above unless the macro is changed to suit. The auto mode works better on the S-AF selector switch mode though can be used on other modes. This automatically chooses your photo shot from all the other options. This Auto mode is handy for casual photos though at times, can choose the wrong setting for your preferences. Do remember to use the focus display feature when shooting in this mode to prevent blurriness. You also have the option to lock in the composition of more than one person/item at a time using the AF/AE lock. This is a complicated feature in my opinion, and although I have read the instructions, it is hit and miss with me as to whether this works.
Programmed Auto – This is quite like the auto mode and allows you to take photos in any settings other than the shutter speed or aperture. You are able to select different shutter speeds in this mode.
SP Scene Position – You are able to choose from four different types of scene; portrait (provides soft tone and background), landscape (flash not available in this mode – for settings in daylight only), sports (faster shutter speed) and night scene (priority given to slow shutter speeds up to 3 seconds though tripod needed!!)
Shutter Priority Auto – An automatic mode where you can select the speed of the shutter.
Aperture Priority Auto – an automatic mode allowing you to set the aperture, allowing for shots such as background out of focus (large aperture) or have both near and far objects in focus at the same time (small aperture).
Manual – Allows you to manually set the shutter speed and aperture.
Movie Shooting * Records 30 frames per second at either 640x480pixels or 320x24opixels depending upon the setting. Focal length of the optical zoom is approximately 35mm-210mm and maximum zoom scale is 6x. Focal range is the same as the normal mode of photography. The final mode in this mode dial section is the set up mode. This holds a whole variety of different settings for both taking photos, recording video and other things needed in the running of the camera. At first glance, this area is actually quite complicated, though once you read through the instructions and practice, then it becomes much clearer and is needed for those wanting optimum usage of the camera. The set-up menu options include; image display, media, power save, format, beep, shutter, date/time, adapter, frame no., ccd-raw, language, video system, USB mode, discharge and reset.
As already mentioned, there are a whole array of other aspects of the mechanics of this camera, though I have taken you through the most important. Now, let me take you on to my experience which is equally, if not more important!
************************** CAMERA QUALITY **************************
In my opinion, what is more important than the number of setting on a camera, is how the camera actually performs. A camera could have a thousand settings, though if the photo quality is poor, then it certainly is not worth buying. So how does this camera stand up?
I have been using this camera now for about six months and have taken a whole array of different photos, experimenting with different features and settings, and generally having fun with my new toy! At first, I used the auto feature all of the time, though realised that the capability of this option alone just did not allow me to take the photos I required, so I do recommend experimenting with all the features. In the main, though, most photos come out brilliantly clear and crisp. The colours are fantastic and really jump out of the image. I did not realise how drab the colours on my smaller camera were until I had compared the two and now I just can not go back. Scenery shots, as long as the right setting is chosen, look as though they are taken by a professional and I am certainly no professional! Of course, the ability of the photographer is a large part of the photo quality, the ability of this camera in this aspect really helps those who are not so great at photography simply shine! When I take photos of people, I quite often like to blur the background, especially when I am taking shots of my daughter for relatives, though I have found this feature a bit of a hit and miss really. Even experimenting with the different settings and options do not guarantee the background blur when taking a photo of a person.
Occasionally, I am able to take a photo of what I want, though a lot of the time the foreground blurs when it is not supposed to, or all of the scene, both foreground and background, are too clear for the option wanted. This is completely different in the macro mode, though, for close up photos such as flowers or insects. I have taken a wonderful photo of a bee on a flower which really impressed me, the blur of the background working perfectly as the detail of the bee jumps out of the photo. Perhaps I am doing something wrong in the people shots, though having experimented with all the settings; I do believe that this is a small problem with the camera itself. Another problem I have found with this camera is the night time shots. Whether you are taking a photo outside in the dark or inside a dance hall in dim light, the camera struggles to focus and take a picture. You are able to blindly take a photo and the exposure will brighten up even if you could not see what you were taking, though the blur is horrendous. Even using a tripod, the quality of night time shots are just not brilliant. Occasionally, as long as there is some decent background light, the photos will come out alright, though nine times out of ten, these night time photos are passed back to my old camera which does a much better job.
Video quality is much higher on this camera than on my smaller camera, though like the photo quality, it has a problem with dark shots. I have never had any problems with freezing frames and playback always works perfectly. If recording in daylight then the video quality is brilliant. Perhaps not as clear as the photos, though certainly clear and crisp. The sound on the videos is rather quiet, especially on playback on the camera. The sound does get louder when playing back on the computer, though still rather quiet.
When photos are taken, you are able to choose whether the camera automatically stores it or whether you preview it first before accepting it. Either option you choose, the camera lives up to the expectations.
Loading the photos onto the computer is simple. You can use a USB lead, which when new, is supplied with the camera, though I prefer to use the card straight into the laptop card slot. Uploading is reasonably fast though transfer from card to the internet takes quite a while so it is better to transfer onto your computer system first. I have only had one problem with the card in the six months of usage. Unfortunately I lost a few photos when the card somehow went wrong and specified non-initialisation. Although it was simple enough to format the card so that it was usable once more, the photos on the card were lost. I have no idea why this happened, and it has not happened before though I thought I had better mention this as a possible problem for those with more knowledge of the workings of cameras.
Battery life is quite poor with this camera when using the flash. Almost immediately, the battery starts flashing when you have only used the flash once. It does last for quite a while after this sign first comes up, though if you are going out for the day and may need the flash numerous times, you do need to take more than one set of batteries. Do not even attempt to use throw away batteries, either, as they simply do not have the strength to run this camera. Good rechargeable batteries are needed for this.
************************ AT A GLANCE ************************
Before I end this review, I will give you a few important specifications at a brief glance to aid your knowledge before purchasing this camera;
Effective pixels: 6.3 million Storage Media: x-D Picture card (16/32/64/128/256/512MB), Microdrive (340MB/1GB) File Format: Still image-DCF-compliant, compressed JPEG, DPOF compatible. Movie-AVI format, motion JPEG, Audio-WAVE Format, monaural sound Lens: Super EBC Fujinon 6x zoom lens Focal Length: 7.8mm-46.8mm Focal Range: Normal wide angle approx 50cm to infinity, telephoto approx 90cm to infinity, macro approx 10cm to 80cm, super macro approx 1cm to 20cm Shutter speed: auto/SP 1/4sec to 1/2000sec, SP 3-1/250sec, P/S/A 3-1/1000sec, M 15-1/10000sec, Bulb up to 15sec. LCD monitor: 1.8inches, 118,000-pixel low temp polysilicon TFT approx 100% coverage Flash type: Auto flash using flash control sensor, Effective range: wide angle approx 0.3-8.5m (to 0.8m macro), telephoto approx 0.9m-7.m Flash modes: Auto, red-eye reduction, forced flash, suppressed flash, slow synchro, red-eye reduction + slow synchro. Self-Timer: 2sec/10sec
Camera Dimensions: w-h-d) 121.0mm x 81.5mm x 7.0mm Camera Weight: 500g
********************* FINAL WORDS *********************
I am not the most technical minded, though hopefully I have covered all you need to know about this camera.
In my opinion, this is a great camera, though certainly not without its flaws. The ease of use is great for non-professionals, though the layout is a little more complicated than what it really needed to be. The design otherwise is great which aids in the ease of use, and the weight is average though certainly not overbearing. Photo quality is excellent though with some flaws with regards to certain settings or lighting as mentioned in the bulk of this review. Video quality is above average though again, with some flaws.
Professionals will probably want something a little more, well…professional! Though for novices and those with a keen interest in photography, especially scenery shots, this camera is an excellent buy and at a much lower price online that newer models!