The S602Z's lens has a pretty good range (although it is quoted at ISO 200). As you can see from the shots below white balance using the flash seemed to be spot on although I did feel that the default flash metering was a little underexposed. Luckily the S602Z offers flash exposure compensation up to +0.6 EV so you can easily control the flash power output.
The S602Z allows for long exposures of up to 15 seconds in manual exposure mode. Overall it performed relatively well, especially considering the camera does not have a special dark frame subtraction noise reduction system. There were a scattering of 'hot pixels' in longer exposures but nothing too distracting or obvious (especially if you're going to reduce the image size before publishing).
|ISO 160, 8 sec, F4.5|
|ISO 160, 15 sec, F4.5|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
As we'd experienced with the 4900Z and 6900Z the S602Z suffers from both barrel distortion at wide angle and pincushion distortion at telephoto. At both these extremes the distortion is more than we'd like to see but isn't uncommon for a lens with such a long zoom range.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.8% @ Wide Angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.8% @ Full Tele|
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
As we noted with the 6900Z the S602Z does suffer from some fringing, although these are limited to fairly extreme wide angle shots and the fringing itself is more blue in colour and produced in combination with blooming.
|Visible fringing in this extreme wide angle, high-contrast shot|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot|
Overall Image Quality / Specific Issues
There's no doubt that the S602Z can produce some really impressive images. There are lots of things to like about the images, good colour, good dynamic range, nice tonal balance and relatively good detail (considering the 3.1 million effective pixels the sensor is capturing). Having said that I don't see a significant improvement in quality over the 6900Z (at least not with some of the things we've previously noted about SuperCCD images).
The S602Z's default output size of six megapixels is twice the captured resolution, this will always lead to apprehension about the ability of the camera to actually resolve the detail it's "claiming to". Fujifilm don't like to use the word interpolation, but that is in effect what is happening here. They would also argue that all digital cameras interpolate (because of the GRGB Bayer pattern layout). The difference here is that in the traditional square pixel layout CCD sense there is at least one input 'photosite' to one output pixel. In the case of SuperCCD each photosite accounts for at least two output pixels, clearly you just can't make up that amount of resolution.
Examine 3 megapixel (2048 x 1536) images from the S602Z and they're at least as good as the best three megapixel digital cameras in the market. Unfortunately for Fujifilm the market has moved on from that point. Prosumers at this level are looking for five megapixel cameras, and they will undoubtedly be able to produce a more detailed image than the S602Z (although at a slightly higher price). Fujifilm are clearly very good at things like metering, white balance, colour processing, tonal balance and maintaining dynamic range. It's a shame we can't see that expertise put to practice on a traditional layout five megapixel sensor.
In several of my test and "every day" shots colours which should have been pure red came out looking very orange. This appeared to be caused by too much green in what should have been a clean red. I found this could be easily "fixed" with a reds selective colour -6 hue adjustment in Photoshop (but this shouldn't be necessary). Lastly it also seemed to be a little inconsistent, I also managed to take other shots where the red was fine (no pattern to this).
|Fixed (-6 hue adjustment on reds)|