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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good metering, good colour balance (although lose a point for the occasional orange reds)
  • Resolution as good as the best 3 megapixel digital cameras (loses out to 4 & 5 megapixels)
  • Good 6x optical zoom lens, large max. aperture at full zoom
  • Excellent build quality, feels good and solid, nice ergonomic touches
  • Probably the best Electronic Viewfinder I've used (so far)
  • Superb video recording capability (unlimited length, 30 fps, VGA - big files!)
  • Very fast auto focus in good light
  • Overall camera operation feels quick
  • Super high speed 5 fps continuous shooting mode (although flexible speed would be nice)
  • Unique 'last 5' continuous shooting mode
  • Wide selection of manual controls
  • Excellent implementation of manual focus (nice 'focus check' zoom button, focus ring, autofocus one-touch button in MF mode)
  • White balance works well, lots of pre-programmed and two manual presets
  • Can be used as fully automatic point-and-shoot, more advanced scene modes or fully manual
  • Flash hotshoe supports third party flash units
  • Addition of Compact Flash Type II slot
  • Logical, simple, menu system
  • All major controls on outside of camera (additional settings via SHIFT button)
  • Program AE has "program shift"
  • Good battery life (now takes four AA's)
  • Relatively good macro ability (although super-macro suffers from barrel distortion)


Conclusion - Cons

  • Orange cast to reds
  • Barrel distortion at full wide angle, pincushion distortion at telephoto
  • SuperCCD image quality doesn't live up to its billing
  • "Super Macro" barrel distortion
  • ISO 800, 1600 only at 1280 x 960 and only 94% frame coverage
  • Browsing through images in play mode can be frustrating due to the delay between each image
  • Normal sharpening level is too hard
  • EVF doesn't provide 100% frame view
  • Still no control over colour / tone camera algorithms
  • Poor low light auto focus & no AF assist lamp
  • Histogram not implemented in review mode


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Fujifilm FinePix S602 Zoom: (3 megapixel prosumer)

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

Once more Fujifilm has proved that they follow and implement requests made by owners and reviewers. They have addressed several of the issues which frustrated 6900Z owners, and in addition they have added a couple of new features and have improved the overall body design and layout.

The S602 Zoom is a good example of a well thought out and implemented digital camera, it provides a zoom range in combination with nice ergonomics, a strong case and flexible set of manual controls. Fujifilm do not need to prove that they can put together a good camera, the S602Z is proof of that.

What Fujifilm has to prove (improve?) is the viability of SuperCCD. When the S602 Zoom was announced it was proclaimed as being one of the first digital cameras to use the new third generation SuperCCD. And while it does deliver excellent video capture ability (one of the SuperCCD III features) it comes up short one the one item we were all hoping for, improved image quality. To my eye the only slight improvement there is a reduction in flat area noise.

Using the S602 Zoom, and looking at images at full screen on a monitor (1280 x 960) you'll be more than happy, indeed at this magnification the camera can take excellent looking images. However, delve in and look a little closer and it's clear that this 3.1 megapixel SuperCCD digital camera just can't compete with the ever expanding range of four and five megapixel conventional CCD digital cameras.

I really wanted to give the S602 Zoom a Highly Recommended rating (because as a photographers camera it is nice to use), but I'm still not convinced or happy with its SuperCCD images viewed at 1:1. Nor am I happy when we see features such as high sensitivity ISO 800 and ISO 1600 with the caveat of shooting only at 1280 x 960. The S602 Zoom has a street price of $800 (although it has been seen for $700), at that level it really should be delivering more.

If you shoot mostly for the web, email or printing below 8 x 10" then the S602Z is still a very good camera (as you'll see from the web reduced images in our gallery - next page). The trouble Fujifilm have now is that the four and five megapixel competition have leapfrogged them as far as image resolution is concerned.

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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