Fujifilm FinePix S2000 HD
10.0MP | 28-414mm (14.8X) ZOOM | $270/£165
Fujifilm has been one of the key players in the 'big zoom' market for several years now, carving a nice little niche out for itself at the 'affordable' end of the market. The FinePix S2000HD was announced last August as an upgrade to the S1000fd, and is the latest in a line of very similar models going back to the S3500 back in 2004. The zoom range has been expanded from 12x to 14.7 times and the lens now also features a real wideangle at 27.6mm equivalent. The 'HD' element of its name denotes its compatibility with high definition television systems - it can record 720p HD video as well as being able to display its still images on an HD set. This 10MP camera with 15x zoom (which starts at around 28 mm) also includes features such as Dual Shot Mode, dual image stabilization, Zoom Bracketing and Face Detection.
- 10 effective Megapixels
- 27.6-414mm equiv lens with 15x optical zoom and 5.7x digital zoom
- 2.7 inch LCD with 230,000 dots resolution
- Electronic Viewfinder with 97% Field of View
- Dual Image Stabilizer
- ISO sensitivity up to 6400
- 12 shooting modes, 13 Scene Modes including Zoom bracketing Mode
- Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual Exposure Mode
- Real Photo Processor, Face Detection, Intelligent Flash
- 1280 x 720p HD recording mode
- Optional accessories available
- Battery life: Alkaline 300 shots, NiMH 400 shots
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The S2000HD is one of the smaller cameras in this test, despite its long zoom, large screen and use of AA batteries (all of which place limits on just how small the camera can be made). There can be no doubt that this is a less expensive relation to the S8100fd - it resembles its big brother in almost every respect, from its comfortable grip to the positioning of its buttons - but the use of less refined plastics hint at where some of the costs have been saved. A lower spec electronic viewfinder is another area in which costs have been reined-in.
The S2000HD has a good selection of exterior buttons which means that there's less need to delve around in menus than on many smaller compact cameras. It retains Fujifilm's slightly peculiar menus - the setup menu is itself the last menu option of the main menu - but the additional external controls mean you rarely need to use them. There are also enough external buttons to allow the manual and semi-manual (aperture and shutter priority) modes to be usable, if not quite as quick and simple as on most DSLRs.
Image quality and performance
Like its bigger brother, the S8100, the S2000 is a solid performer without any specific weaknesses. The camera's AF is not the fastest in this group but it always works reliably, even in low light. It takes approximately 0.4 sec to lock on a subject at wide angle and 0.8 sec at the tele end of the zoom. These figures can, especially at tele settings, increase to more than a second in low light conditions, but the focus still locks just fine.
Like on most cameras in this test the shutter lag is hardly noticeable and the time it takes to capture a first shot is approximately 2.5 sec. Shot-to-shot time is at the slower end in this comparison at 2.6 sec, but still well within acceptable limits. When using flash this figure increases slightly to 2.9 sec and, due to the pre-flash, to 5.4 sec when the anti-red-eye mode is activated. If you're worried about flash recycling times make sure you use good batteries. Browsing in review mode works at an average speed, but image magnification is a bit slow. It's all within acceptable limits though, and there's no need to worry unless you have the habit of checking the focus on every single one of your images.
In terms of image quality, the S2000HD is the only camera in this test to have problems serious enough to ruin the results even at standard print sizes. There are three major problems that mar its images - repeated overexposure, inconsistent focus and poor color rendition. As you would expect from a camera with such a small sensor, the ability to capture a broad range of tones is limited (it has limited dynamic range capabilities). This is exaggerated by its tendency to overexpose, meaning that bright areas that would be challenging for all these cameras are more likely to appear as harsh white 'clipped' highlights, rather than there being a smooth transition to white (which is less distracting).
Extensive noise reduction and rather unreliable focusing mean that an unreasonable number of its images appear soft and lacking in detail or texture. The limited dynamic range can also tend to render the color red as magenta. Essentially, the S2000HD is a bit of a let-down by just about every measure you might care to choose - not terrible, but noticeably below the level of its peers here.
The S2000HD's real strength should be the high definition video referred to in its name. And its 30 fps, 1280x720 capability is matched only by the Panasonic FZ28 in this test. The video quality is reasonable, though not the cleanest we've seen, thanks to some heavy compression in its MPEG movies. The files end up being around 1MB/sec. The camera can zoom while recording movies and is pretty quick at doing so, though it can take up to two seconds to refocus when you change zoom or focus distance. Only digital image stabilization is available during movie recording, which may mean having to use a tripod for long-distance cinematography.
On paper the S2000HD promises much, and we can see why it would be an easy choice for the budget conscious buyer wanting to get the most camera for the smallest outlay. The problem is that the results it produces often fail to deliver on that promise, certainly when compared to the other cameras in this group. There's much to like here: the S2000HD handles well, is relatively responsive and very compact considering the zoom range on offer, plus it has a surprisingly comprehensive feature set. But ultimately the output was disappointing, and the automatic systems aren't reliable enough (we had a lot more success once we started to take control of it more manually, but that kind of defeats the purpose of all those clever features).
The S2000HD by no means a terrible camera, and - as mentioned above - it has many redeeming features, but ultimately it was at or near the bottom of the pack in pretty much every test we threw at this group, meaning it's hard to recommend by any measure.
- We like: Nice design, very compact, decent feature set, low price
- We don't like: Inconsistent exposure and focus systems, poor pixel level quality, highlight clipping, ineffective image stabilization, small, low resolution viewfinder, slow lens (F5.4 at long end)