Where previous mid-range FinePix bridge cameras gave a nod or two to SLR styling, the S6000fd goes the whole hog, right down to the prominent 'prism' bump that houses the electronic viewfinder and pop-up flash. And in fact from a handling point of view the S6000fd could teach certain SLR designers a trick or two; the molded grip is excellent and the proportions, balance and overall handling surprisingly good. Size-wise the S6000fd is also very 'SLR-like', though of course to get an SLR with a zoom range covering 28-300mm would mean a much bigger lens.
In your hand
The S6000fd looks like a compact digital SLR, and it feels like one too; if a little more lightweight. The build quality and finish of the all-plastic body is surprisingly good, and the camera feels well balanced and stable - and it's just light enough to use with one hand, if you really want.
The S6000fd runs on four AA's, and we found battery life to be surprisingly good - Fuji quotes up to 400 shots per charge on a set of NiMH rechargeables, which seems about right. The batteries sit underneath a rather flimsy hinged door that has a rather annoying habit of pinging open at the slightest knock (there is no lock). More than once I found myself scrambling on the floor attempting to retrieve the batteries after the door had 'popped'. Stupid, stupid design.
Like all Fuji's compact cameras the S6000fd uses xD-Picture Cards. There is also a derisory 10MB of internal memory (enough for a paltry 3 or 4 'Fine' quality shots) - no card is supplied.
The S6000's 2.5-inch screen has a high resolution (235,000 pixels), high refresh rate and excellent contrast, meaning it remains usable in fairly bright light. Of course once it gets very sunny you get the usual glare problems, at which point you have to switch to the eye-level electronic viewfinder.
Like all Fuji's bridge cameras the S6000fd has a small color electronic viewfinder. It appears to be the same unit used on the S5000/5100 - 0.3", 115,000 pixels. This means its a lot lower resolution (and is less bright) than more expensive 'super zoom' competitors - and is near useless for critical focus checking - but it is usable. A dioptre adjustment is included for spectacle wearers.
Hidden under a rubberized flap are the S6000fd's mini USB port, video out socket and a DC port for the (optional) mains adaptor.
The pop-up flash has an effective range of around 8.3m (27ft) at wideangle, dropping to 4.6 m (15 ft) at the tele end of the zoom (using auto ISO), fairly impressive (and due in no small part to the fact that the auto ISO goes higher than most cameras). The flash is fairly far from the lens, meaning red-eye is less of a problem than it is with smaller cameras. There's no hot-shoe or external flash option (which is a pity given the S6000fd's excellent overall specification).
The S6000fd has a 10.7x optical zoom ( It appears to be the same lens as the S9000/9100), which provides an equivalent focal length range (on a 35 mm camera) of 28 to 300 mm. The 28mm wide end makes a huge difference to the shooting versatility of the S6000fd over most of its competitors (which tend to start at around 35 or 38mm). The maximum aperture varies from F2.8 at the wide end to a less impressive (and camera-shake inducing) F4.9 at the 300mm end. The lens has a 58mm filter thread.
Unusually for what is essentially a 'budget' camera, the S6000fd's lens has a mechanical, fluid-damped zoom control (and a manual focus ring - though this controls focus electronically). It's hard to describe how much better a manually operated mechanical zoom is than one powered by little buttons - the level of control over framing is in another league altogether.
The main mode dial includes the usual auto and manual modes, plus two that rely on the higher sensitivity (ISO) settings; Picture Stabilization and Natural Light.
The shutter release sits at the top of the grip, in the middle of the main power/mode switch. The rather aggressive power saving system means that after two minutes of inactivity the camera doesn't merely go to sleep; it powers down entirely, meaning you have to turn it off and then on again to take another picture. Fortunately this 'helpful' feature can be turned off, or the time before activation extended to 5 minutes. Behind are the continuous shooting and AE-compensation buttons.
The rear of the camera is home to several more buttons and switches, including a prominent 'Face Detection' button, the ubiquitous four-way controller and the 'F' (Photo Mode) button, which offers a quick menu for changing image size, ISO and color mode.