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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S5200

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix S5200 Review

Review Date: Nov 8, 2005

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S5200

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 Award

HANDLING & FEEL

The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 is easily one of the best looking long zoom digital cameras around. Pick it up and your fingers wrap comfortably around the adequately large handgrip, with your index finger naturally poised over the shutter release button, and the thumb over the zoom lever. It comes in a mostly black (with silver accents) solidly built plastic composite body. Startup time is fast at around 1 sec. and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise.

STYLE
- Colours: overall black with silver accents
- Looks: professional, SLR-look, very attractively (and ergonomically) designed
   
FEEL
- Comfortable to hold and operate
- Non-slip textured handgrip
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Best way to carry this camera is slung over the shoulder or around the neck
- Dimensions: 113.5 x 85 x 112 mm / 4.5 x 3.3 x 4.4 in
- Weight: feels lightweight at 370g / 13.1oz. (excluding batteries and xD-Picture Card)
- Takes 4 AA type alkaline batteries (included) or 4 AA rechargeable NiMH batteries (optional)
   
SPEED OF OPERATION
- Fast startup - no lens extension required and LCD turning on in about 1 sec.
- Shot to shot time in less than 1 sec. (including time to write to card)
   

Included in the box are 4 AA Alkaline Batteries.

Controls

Many of the most important functions are accessible via dedicated control buttons. The Mode Dial has the standard AUTO, PASM (Programmed Auto, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and Manual) modes, plus Movie mode and 5 Scene Modes: Anti-Blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Night.

The Mode Dial can be rotated with the thumb and has a positive locking click to it. During an actual shooting session, there is not much risk that the Mode Dial is inadvertently switched to another shooting mode.

The Natural Light Scene Mode is currently unique to Fujifilm. It disables the flash (even if it is popped open) and takes full advantage of the low-light capability of this camera (made possible by the use of Fujifilm's 5th Generation SuperCCD HR image sensor and Real Photo Technology) to capture an image that retains the natural ambience of low-light photography (indoors, by candlelight, in restaurants and museums).

The Anti-Blur scene mode is a new scene mode. Anti-Blur tells the camera to use a fast enough shutter speed to minimize camera shake (generally, the slowest shutter speed required is approx. the reciprocal of the 35mm equivalent focal length in use). Having decided first on the shutter speed required, the camera then figures out the appropriate aperture and ISO required for a correct exposure. This works quite well in the Fujifilm S5200 thanks to the low-light capability of its image sensor.

You can record movies with monaural sound at either 640 x 480 pixels 30fps (you'll be able to record about 14.9 min on a 1GB card) or 320x240 30fps (record about 29.3 min on a 1GB card). You must zoom beforehand as you cannot zoom during recording.

Fujifilm FinePix S5200 - Top View

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (Top of Camera)
- Mode Dial (AUTO, PASM, Movie, Anti-Blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Night)
- Exposure Compensation
- Continuous Shooting
- Focus mode (S-AF/C-AF/MF) selector with a lock switch
   
CONTINUOUS SHOOTING
- Top 3-Frame: allows you to shoot up to 3 frames at 2fps
- Auto Bracketing: takes 3 shots of the same image with different exposure settings (correctly exposed, over-exposed, under-exposed). The Auto bracketing settings can be specified in the MENU as ±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, or ±1 EV
- Final 3-Frame: This is an incredibly useful feature for increasing your chance of catching action at just the right moment. Press and hold the shutter release button down as the action nears the point where you want to take the shot. The camera will take up to 40 shots as you follow the action. When you let go of the shutter release button at the right moment (say, as the puck or soccer ball goes into the goal), the camera retains the last 3 shots.
- You select a Continuous Shooting mode by pressing and holding down the Continuous Shooting button and using the LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys
   
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION / HISTOGRAM
- To access the exposure compensation, you press and hold the Exposure Compensation button down and use the LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys to select a value.
- There is no live Histogram display during Record mode, but if you press the Exposure Compensation button during Playback, a histogram will display, together with other exposure info.
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when mode is changed or camera is turned off (so remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
   

In MF mode, you press and hold down the Exposure Compensation button, and use the zoom lever to manually focus. It's quite slow but the LCD resolution is enough to see the image come into focus. The center part of the image is not magnified, but to aid in the focusing, a yellow focus indicator mark (yellow arrow) sometimes appears on one or the other side of the AF Frame to indicate that focus is close. The best way to use MF is to first set the focus mode to S-AF (Single-AF) and half-press the shutter release button to lock the focus; switch to MF; then, use the focus indicator marks to finesse the focus.

Playback is on the power switch around the shutter release button between OFF and ON (which Fujifilm calls, Photography Mode).

What looks like a zoom ring around the lens is for esthetics only -- but it looks great!

There is no flash pop-up button. That's because the flash automatically pops up when it is deemed required. You can however turn the flash off (RIGHT Arrow), so it won't pop up.

The silver metallic dome on the left of the flash is the microphone.

Fujifilm FinePix S5200 - Back View

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from the Zoom lever)
- Zoom lever (really 2 separate buttons)
- EVF/LCD monitor selector
- Low-Light View (press this button to temporarily increase the LCD monitor brightness)
- 4 Way Arrows (Macro, Erase, Flash)
- MENU/OK
- DISP/Back
- Photo (F) Mode (Image Quality, ISO, Color)
- Exposure Compensation
   

Fujifilm FinePix S5200 - Left View

SIDE VIEW
- Flash (no manual pop-up button; pops up automatically if you set it ON using the RIGHT Arrow)
- Microphone (silvery white dome just below the flash)
- Memory Card compartment (accepts xD-Picture Card)
- Speaker (the slits right in front of where the notch of the memory card compartment door is)
- Rubber Terminal Cover (A/V, USB, DC IN) underneath the Memory Card Compartment
- Lens barrel (just for esthetics and to provide a good grip, does not turn)
   

LCD & Menus

There is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a large eyepiece and diopter correction, as well as a 1.8 in. LCD monitor with a standard 115,000 pixels resolution and approximately 100% coverage. The LCD has a fast refresh rate for a smooth display. It gains up slightly in extreme low-light situations to permit you to compose.

There is also a Low-Light View button which will increase the brightness of the LCD monitor (and, by extension, the EVF). This is not the same as the LCD 'gaining up' in low-light; you are literally adjusting up the brightness of your monitor. This feature is also useful when the sun is shining on the LCD, and increasing the brightness of the LCD helps you to view the image.

The circular projection between the flash and the handgrip is the AF-assist illuminator. The AF-assist illuminator (green light) is quite effective, but you have to remember not to get your fingers in the way; also, the relatively long lens barrel can be in the way of the AF-assist light illuminating a subject that is very close (e.g. in macro photography).

There are 2 MENU screens and 4 SETUP screens. The user interface is well implemented.

Depending on your type of photography, some of the functions that are often used in the MENU screens are:

- Photometry (Multi, Spot, Average metering)
- White Balance
- AF mode (Center, Multi, Area)

A great feature is the AF Area focusing mode with (7 horizontal x 7 vertical =) 49 positions. You can move the AF target point to any of these 49 positions and the camera will focus where the AF target point has been moved. I find this very helpful in macro photography and whenever the subject is off-center.

Depending on your type of photography, some of the functions that are often used in the SETUP screens are:

- RAW
- Format

Advanced photographers will be glad to know that it is possible to save images in the RAW file format. It takes about 6 sec. to save an image in RAW. Continuous Shooting is not available for RAW.

The flash is the kind that pops up automatically when it is needed. Point-and-shoot photographers prefer this so they don't forget to use it when it's needed. For those who, like me, prefer to decide when to use flash and when not to do so, you can disable the flash using the RIGHT Arrow.

MENU 1 of 2

- Self-timer: 10 sec. or 2 sec.
- Photometry: Multi, Spot, Average
- White Balance: AUTO; Custom; Fine (Sunny); Shade; Fluorescent 1, 2, 3, Incandescent
- High-Speed Shooting
- AF: Center, Multi, Area

MENU 2 of 2


- Sharpness: Hard, Standard, Soft
- Auto Bracketing Setting: ±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, ±1 EV

SETUP 1 of 4

Image Display
Shutter Volume
Beep Volume
Playback Volume
Frame No.
LCD Brightness

SETUP 2 of 4

- Digital Zoom ON/OFF
- RAW
- Zoom Position (Resume, Reset)
- AF Illuminator
- Auto Power OFF
- LCD Power Save
- Format

SETUP 3 of 4

- Date/Time
- Time Difference
- Language
- Background Color
- USB Mode (DSC/PictBridge)
- Video System (NTSC/PAL)

SETUP 4 of 4

- [Ni-MH] Batteries Discharge
- Reset

Photo (F) Mode - Image Quality

- Ships from factory set to 5M N

Photo (F) Mode - ISO

- Ships from factory set to ISO 200

PROGRAMMED AUTO MODE

Clockwise from Top Left:
- Flash OFF
- Macro ON
- Multi AF
- High-Speed Shooting ON
- Image Quality 5M F
- Available frames: 6
- ISO 64
- Camera Shake warning
- AF target point (bottom right)
- Shutter Speed and Aperture values with Program Shift indicator
- Exposure Compensation

NATURAL LIGHT MODE

- Camera disables flash and selects a higher ISO for correct exposure

ANTI-BLUR MODE

- Camera selects a fast shutter speed to reduce camera shake (aperture and ISO are adjusted accordingly for correct exposure)

AF AREA

- Select AF Area in the MENU

AF AREA

- You can move the AF target point to any of (7 horizontal x 7 vertical =) 49 positions on screen
- Very useful anytime your main subject is off center, esp. in macro photography
- Framing Guide displayed
- Exposure Compensation displayed
- Low-Light View feature UP

HISTOGRAM (Playback only)

- Displays when you press the Exposure Compensation button in Playback mode
- Besides a Histogram, Highlight Warning will flash the areas that are overexposed

The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 is a well-designed long zoom digital camera with excellent handling and super fast operations. It wins hands down where looks and handling are concerned. It is also choked-full of features that are well implemented for a frustration-free use.

The camera feels relatively light for a long zoom camera. I like that Program Shift is defaulted, and the availablility of selecting the Natural Light scene mode right on the Mode Dial is a plus, especially for a camera with outstanding low-light capability. Beginner amateur photographers will find this camera easy-to-use and producing great images; serious amateur photographers will like the versatility and full exposure flexibility it provides.

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