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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good metering, pleasing color balance (very 'Fujifilm')
  • Six megapixel SuperCCD delivers detailed six megapixel, high res. twelve megapixel images
  • Good 6x optical zoom lens, large max. aperture at full zoom
  • Good build quality, feels good and solid, nice ergonomic touches
  • Very fast auto focus in good light
  • Unique 'last 5' continuous shooting mode
  • Implementation of manual focus ('focus check' zoom button, focus ring, one-touch button)
  • Superb movie recording capability, 640x480 @ 30 fps, but still not MPEG-4
  • High resolution EVF (although less useful in low light)
  • Relatively good macro ability (although super-macro suffers from barrel distortion)
  • Program AE has "program shift"
  • RAW file format (although locks camera during writing)
  • Extremely good write throughput using xD Picture Card (>2 MB/sec)
  • Decent metal tripod mount located intelligently
  • Fast camera to computer transfers thanks to USB 2.0
  • Good battery life (if slightly aggressive power saving)
  • Value for money


Conclusion - Cons

  • Barrel distortion at full wide angle, pincushion distortion at telephoto
  • SuperCCD image quality is often disappointing at default output size (12 MP)
  • Occasional strong saturation response to reds, can lead to clipping
  • "Super Macro" barrel distortion
  • Sensitivity at full resolution limited to ISO 400, ISO 800 only at 3 MP or lower
  • Selecting higher sensitivities affects image sharpness / adds strong noise reduction
  • Limited continuous shooting performance, 3.3 fps for just 5 frames
  • Impossibly slow play magnification mode, 11 seconds to full magnify
  • Supplied RAW Converter LE offers no functionality, a waste of the RAW mode
  • Still no direct adjustment of color saturation / tone image parameters
  • Limited low light auto focus capability & no AF assist lamp
  • Histogram not implemented in record review
  • No user settings / memories
  • No blinking highlights in histogram playback mode


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Zoom: (6 megapixel prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 7.5
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8.5

The S7000 is in a fairly unique position, it is the only prosumer digital camera with a six megapixel sensor. Indeed, until the announcement of Sony's eight megapixel DSC-F828 it was the highest resolution prosumer digital camera. Test results versus the Sony were mixed, our studio comparison shots showed better performance from the F828, however the S7000's 12 MP mode matched the F828 on the resolution chart.

From a speed point of view the S7000 is as fast as any extending lens prosumer level digital camera with fairly good auto focus performance (at least if you switch to Center AF area) and good shot to shot times. Slowest functions are power on, switching back to record mode if the lens has retracted and fully magnifying an image in play mode.

The S7000 feels limited by two things, firstly that it doesn't provide as much manual control as some of the other cameras it will be compared to (the Minolta DiMAGE A1 comes to mind), nor as many features. And secondly that the lens system is the still the same which was used originally in the FinePix 4900 Zoom (September 2000).

Overall however you can work around these limitations and stick to the 6 MP image mode which will deliver good images with fewer artifacts and a smaller file size. Where the S7000 wins is value for money, at around $600 it offers a lot at a lower price than the competition.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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