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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution & sharpness
  • Very good results up to ISO 400, ISO 800 perfectly usable
  • Class-leading high ISO performance; might not be fantastic, but it's the best you'll get
  • Very low shutter lag
  • Comprehensive photographic controls
  • Excellent battery life
  • Highly versatile 28-300mm zoom range
  • Low distortion lens with excellent edge-to-edge performance
  • Good flash performance
  • Decent movie mode, can zoom whilst filming
  • CCD-raw mode and decent raw conversion utility
  • Fairly fast focus (especially towards the wide end of the zoom range)
  • AF illuminator
  • Fast, effective face detection system (bit of a novelty for the serious user)
  • Large clear screen
  • Threaded lens for optional wide / tele convertors
  • Good value for money

Conclusion - Cons

  • Really needs optical image stabilization
  • High contrast tone curve tends to clip shadows or highlights
  • 3-shot limit in continuous mode
  • Electronic viewfinder not great - low resolution and quite dim
  • Noise reduction and JPEG artefacts (when viewed at 100%) at all settings from ISO 200
  • ISO 1600 / 3200 JPEGS not as good as F30 (can be solved by shooting raw)
  • JPEGs slightly over-sharpened, can look a little 'over-processed'
  • Battery compartment doesn't lock - can pop open (well, mine did)
  • Plastic tripod mount
  • Control system for manual exposure modes a bit fiddly - needs a command dial
  • White balance, metering, raw mode and other options hidden in menus
  • xD-picture card not as popular or capacious as SD or CompactFlash

Overall conclusion

The demise of Konica Minolta's camera division has left Fuji as the only option for the buyer wanting a fully-featured big-zoom 'bridge' camera with a true wideangle lens. For this reason alone the S6000fd will be on many shortlists; throw in the fact that it shares the universally acclaimed 6.3MP Super CCD sensor found in the F30 and you have a very compelling proposition indeed.

And in many ways the S6000fd doesn't disappoint; the resolution is excellent, and at lower ISO settings it puts many of the more popular 'super zoom' models to shame. At ISO 400 and 800 it is quite literally in a class of its own. The high ISO output might not worry the SLR manufacturers (the sheer scale of the difference in sensor sizes puts paid to that), but it is better than most competitors by a fairly wide margin. It's also actually a very nice camera to use, and comes about as near to SLR-handling as any fixed-lens camera ever has - though the user interface could do with a little more work.

On the downside the JPEG output shows fairly strong noise reduction artefacts at anything over ISO 200, something you will see if you try to stretch the 6 megapixels to larger (say 8x10 inch) prints, and the processing is - for my tastes - too harsh, too contrasty and too sharpened. The saving grace is the inclusion of a perfectly usable raw mode (if you can wait the four seconds or so between shots) - with a little practice you can tease some truly stunning results out of these files. I was surprised to see that the high ISO output isn't as good as the F30 unless you shoot raw - this must be the fault of the new Real Photo Processor II.

Although prices are so variable that it's impossible to make a definitive statement, the S6000fd is also fairly inexpensive - certainly compared to even the cheapest DLSR with a lens/lenses to cover the same 28-300mm range. At lower ISO settings it can also produce output that for many people won't produce prints significantly different to a DLSR with a kit lens - and you get the added benefit of live preview and movie mode.

Ultimately the S6000fd's biggest problem is that - almost without exception - its competitors offer optical image stabilization, something that transforms the usability of the long end of the zoom. I found that too many of my shots - in daylight - came out with camera shake because I didn't want to shoot at ISO 800.

Put simply, whether the S6000fd is a better choice than, say the Canon, Sony or Panasonic super zoom models depends on the type of photography you do and the conditions you shoot in. If you tend to stick to the wide end of the zoom, do a lot of hand-held low-light work in situations where image stabilization doesn't help (basically if the subject you're shooting is moving) and don't need a really long zoom, the Fuji is ideal. If you want to do a lot of long telephoto work - especially in good light - I'd go for one of the alternatives. Do not, however, be seduced into thinking that the 6.3MP pixel count puts the S6000fd at a disadvantage compared to its 7,8 or 10MP competitors; the resolution is one of the best of any 'super zoom' camera, and at ISO 200-800 the S6000fd retains far more detail.

I must admit I didn't really know what to expect from the S6000fd (having used some of its predecessors), and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a well designed, well executed and surprisingly versatile photographic tool. It's probably not the best 'point and shoot' model in its class (you'll get better results if you know what you're doing), but the combination of features, output and unusually able high ISO performance means that - whilst far from perfect - it can easily hold its own against some of it's more 'high profile' competitors.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 8.0
Ergonomics & handling 7.5
Features 8.0
Image quality 8.0
Optics 8.5
Performance (speed) 8.0
Value 8.0

Highly Recommended (with some reservations)

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