No major surprises here, as noted in our introduction the S7000 Zoom has the identical body to the S602 Zoom and S602 Pro Zoom, certainly closer to the S602 Pro because of its all black body. The S7000 has an 'SLR like' appearance with a deep hand grip and sculpted rear thumb grip. The body is made from a high impact plastic, the lens barrel is metal. The main control difference with the S7000 is the focus/zoom ring on the lens barrel which doubles as a zoom-by-wire ring in auto focus mode and a focus-by-wire ring in manual focus mode.
Side by side
Here is the S7000 beside its nearest resolution competitor the eight megapixel Sony DSC-F828. As you can see the Sony's large lens system and chunkier hand grip leave it looking quite big beside the S7000. The S7000 has six million effective pixels to the F828's eight million and a six times F2.8 to F3.1 zoom lens compared to the F828's seven times F2.0 to F2.8 zoom.
The S7000 has a deep, comfortable and well sculpted hand grip with a thumb grip on the rear of the camera. The lens barrel provides a natural grip position for your left hand with several controls on the left side designed to be used in this way. Because the four AA batteries are in the hand grip the overall weight balance of the camera is fairly neutral.
The S7000 has a 1.8" TFT LCD monitor with 118,000 pixels which is a slightly higher resolution than its predecessor. In use we found the monitor to be fairly bright and relatively easy to use indoors and in moderate outdoor conditions. Because of its shiny protective cover it does get difficult to see in direct sunlight. It would have been nice of Fujifilm to give the screen an anti-reflective coating. The LCD provided an excellent 100% frame coverage.
The S7000 uses a new 0.44" 235,000 pixel (30% more than the S602) LCD display for its electronic viewfinder. EVF's work by reproducing the same view you would see on the LCD monitor on a tiny LCD display, this includes overlaid information and even works in play mode (great for sunny days). This has to be one of the best EVF's used on any digital camera although it suffers from the same problem others do, they don't work very well in low light.
The S7000 is powered by four AA batteries. The switch to AA batteries occurred with the S602 Zoom and was at the time a welcome relief from the under-powered NP-80 used in the 6900Z. The S7000 now stands alone in the prosumer space as being powered by AA batteries, most of the others now use high powered Lithium-Ion rechargeable's and include a charger. There are positives and negatives to each.
Fujifilm added Compact Flash support to their top-line prosumer digital camera with the advent of the S602 Zoom. Since then Fujifilm introduced the xD-Picture Card storage format and of course this has now replaced the S602's SmartMedia slot. Thus the S7000 provides storage slots for both Compact Flash (Type I or II, including Microdrive) and xD-Picture Card.