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Design

The S602Z has the same 'SLR like' appearance of its predecessor, however the entire design is 'chunkier' with a bigger, deeper grip and larger sculpted finger / rear thumb grip. Despite its looks the body is made of plastic (with a metal substructure), the only solid metal elements are the fixed part of the lens barrel, focus ring, strap eyelet's, flash hotshoe and tripod mount.

The use of four AA batteries (instead of the smaller NP-80 used on the 6900Z) has no doubt contributed to the size of the hand grip, as has the addition of a CompactFlash shot. The S602Z definitely has a more professional look than the previous model with a smart looking two tone finish and tactile, rounded corners.

The control layout is logical enough, with the mode / power dial now surrounding the shutter release (gone is the rear push-button power switch) as well as the angled zoom controller, rubberized exposure mode dial and the newly relocated command wheel (which is just under your thumb when you need it). The same lens implementation as the 6900Z means that the metal focus ring which sits on the front of the fixed part of the lens barrel is actually a focus-by-wire device.

Side by side

Here you can see the S602Z beside Canon's EOS-D30, this is just for a size comparison. You can see that although the S602Z is large by prosumer digital camera standards it's still not as bulky as a full D-SLR with lens. And don't forget the S602Z provides you with a 35 - 210 mm equiv. lens too!

In hand

The S602Z now has a deeper, sculpted hand grip and a new thumb grip ('hook') on the back of the camera. This all adds up to a very comfortable one-handed hold with the metal lens barrel providing the natural position for additional bracing. Weight balance is also good, the batteries are in effect sitting in the palm of your hand which helps to balance out the weight of the lens on the other side of the camera. Overall I would say the S602Z has one of the most comfortable grips of any consumer level digital camera.


LCD Monitor

The S602Z has a slightly smaller 1.8" TFT LCD 110,000 pixel monitor (the 6900Z was 2.0"), the screen is fairly bright and relatively easy to use indoors and in moderate outdoor conditions but 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 new LCD provided an impressive 100% frame coverage. This means that you see EXACTLY what will be taken in the final image (a notable improvement over the 6900Z).


Electronic Viewfinder

The S602Z uses a new 0.44" 180,000 pixel LCD display for its electronic viewfinder. EVF's work by reproducing the same view you would see on the LCD monitor on this tiny LCD display, this includes overlaid information and even works in play mode (great for sunny days). The view is notably sharper, brighter and more detailed than almost any other EVF I've used so far. This year we also get a dioptre adjustment. The only problem with the EVF is that it only provides 92% frame coverage.


Battery Compartment

One of the more notable changes with the S602Z is that power is now provided by four AA batteries rather than the (previously under powered) NP-80 of the 6900Z. This means three things (1) battery life will be improved, (2) the ability to use 'off the shelf' rechargeable (and Alkaline should you wish) batteries and (3) overall camera weight will be increased slightly.


Storage Compartment

Thank goodness! Fujifilm has listened to its users and realized that 128 MB SmartMedia cards are simply too limited in capacity for the 2.2 MB six megapixel JPEG's the S602Z produces. The S602Z has both a SmartMedia (who will use it?) and Compact Flash Type I/II slot *. The S602Z also fully supports the IBM Microdrive. The camera will by default use which ever slot has media in it, if you have a card in both you can choose between one or the other via the Set up menu.

* Despite mis-information being give by Fujifilm's own technical support line I can confirm that the S602Z is fully compatible with both Type I and Type II Compact Flash cards.

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