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White Balance

The S8000fd offers six white balance presets (fine, shade, fluorescent day, fluorescent warm white, fluorescent cool White and incandescent) as well as the usual auto white balance and a custom (manual) setting. Outdoors we found the auto white balance to be excellent, though in artificial light (as our tests show) it rarely produces a 'neutral' result - even using the manual presets. If you don't like color casts when shooting indoors at night you need to switch to custom white balance.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 4.8%, Blue -4.9%
Average
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red 7.3%, Blue -11.6%
Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 8.5%, Blue -27.3%
Poor
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red 5.9%, Blue -7.6%
Average

Flash Performance

No complaints here; color and exposure are excellent and the range (using auto ISO) is a very respectable 8.3m (27.2 feet). The position of the flash is also high enough to minimize red-eye in most shots.

Skin tone
Good color and exposure
Color chart
Excellent color, good exposure

Intelligent flash modes

Like several previous Fujis, the S8000 offers some interesting extra flash modes including slow synch mode that combines a blast of flash to illuminate your subject with a slow enough shutter speed to allow light from the background to appear in the shot. This stops you ending up with too many "Here are my friends enjoying themselves in a coal shed" photos but benefits from the use of a tripod (though the camera will happily jump to ISO 800 in this mode, which helps preserve some of the atmosphere in the scene, but does bring noise issues).

The camera also uses a combination of pre-flash and in-camera processing to reduce red-eye effects, which appears to do a good job of producing good photos in social situations. A proper AF-illuminator lamp means that the Fuji does a reasonable job of focusing on nearby objects as the light fails.

It also has a scene mode called 'Natural Light & Flash', which takes two shots in rapid succession, one with flash, and one without flash at a much higher ISO setting, so you can choose which you prefer. Both shots are shown (side by side) in the instant review.

Macro Focus

The S8000fd has two macro modes; standard and 'super'. The standard macro mode lets you get as close as 10cm at the wide end of the lens (120cm at the long end), whilst the 'Super Macro' option reduces the closest focus distance to a very impressive 1cm (under half an inch), capturing an area just over an inch high. However, although the macro performance is pretty good, there is very little overlap between the focusing distances covered by Macro mode and those available in normal shooting modes, so you have to engage Macro mode to focus closer than 70cm at the wide end and 1.5m at the long end.

Note also that the minimum focus distance gets even longer (1m at the wide end) if you turn on the high speed focus mode. This is particularly annoying if you're trying to take 'across the table' shots in social situations, where macro mode is pretty much essential. Focus in macro mode can be quite slow, having a tendency to hunt for a while (then sometimes just give up) - something fairly common in super zoom cameras.

Wide macro - 98 x 74 mm coverage
31 px/mm (794 px/in)
Distortion: Average
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 27 mm
Wide Super Macro - 28 x 21 mm coverage
115 px/mm (2924 px/in)
Distortion: Moderate
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 56 mm

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

Considering the zoom range - 27-486mm equivalent - distortion is remarkably low (and a lot lower than many zooms with a third of the reach).

Barrel distortion - 1.0% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 27 mm
Pincushion distortion - 1.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 486 mm

Specific image quality issues

Perhaps unsurprisingly the S8000fd's output quality is something of a mixed bag; viewed at a reduced size the pictures actually look nice and sharp with typically bright and punchy Fuji colors. If your intended use is for prints at 5x7 inches or for viewing full screen on your PC you're unlikely to be disappointed. If you're a more serious user with more demanding image quality requirements - or if you like to do lots of post-processing, this probably isn't the camera for you.

At base ISO the S8000fd is capable of impressive results but the tone curve is pretty prone to clipping, and - at anything over ISO 100 - JPEGs show fairly obvious noise reduction smearing if you look too closely or go for a really big print. For prints at more normal sizes the JPEGs are sharp and punchy enough, and exposure is fairly reliable. But if you're the pixel-peeping type you can see at 100% on-screen a slight 'fuzziness' to low contrast detail outdoors (this is the same as we've seen with most cameras using an 8MP 1/2.5 inch sensor). There is also noticeable corner softness at the wide end of the lens and some contrast/resolution drop at the long end - again, to be expected with such an ambitious zoom range.

Purple Fringing and chromatic aberration

Purple fringing, a traditional Fuji characteristic, makes an appearance in quite a few of the images we've taken. It is clearly visible in quite a few shots, regardless of where the camera is in its zoom range. At the longer end of the zoom, this is augmented by chromatic aberration, which extends the fringing on the edge of objects to quite an extreme degree. Traditionally, we might have been willing to overlook this problem as being one of the compromises that you have to accept as a by-product of such a long zoom range. However an increasing number of cameras, notably including the Panasonic FZ18, are able to correct and compensate for CA and fringing as they process images, something that the Fuji would definitely benefit from.

100% crop 486 mm equiv., 4.4
100% crop 486 mm equiv., F4.9

Contrast / tone curve

Like several of its predecessors, the S8000fd has quite a steep tone curve to help it offer punchy, contrasty images. The down-side of this is that very bright colors can sometimes find themselves too near to top of this tone curve and end up being 'clipped.' In this instance, the red channel has clipped, rendering the bright red lorry a slightly disconcerting flat cerise. This was a defect that we saw occurring in quite a few bright scenes with strong reds in them.

100% crop 486 mm equiv., F4.4
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