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Fujifilm FinePix S5200 Review
Date: Nov 8, 2005
to Serious Amateur
Wednesday, Oct 19, 2005 - Here's what I receive
in the box:
- FinePix S5200
- 16MB xD-Picture Card
- 4x AA type Alkaline Batteries
- Shoulder Strap
- Lens Cap and Retaining String
- USB (mini-B) and A/V Cables
- Documentation (English only): QuickStart;
- Software CD: FinePixViewer 5.1 (3.3 for Mac),
ImageMixer VCD2 LE for FinePix, RAW File Converter
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 is targeted
to beginner and serious amateur photographers,
providing full exposure flexibility. It is a major
improvement over the S5100. The body shape is
more sleek and pro looking and the use of Real
Photo Technology and the 5th Generation SuperCCD
HR image sensor means that its image quality is
now excellent with a wide range of ISO values.
Fujifilm has wisely limited the resolution to
5.1MP and incorporated its new 5th Generation
Super CCD HR image sensor, Real Photo Technology
Processor and quality Fujinon lens to provide
true low-light capability to this camera.
You can go up to ISO 400 without being too much
bothered with noise. ISO 800 is very usable, and
ISO 1600 is an added bonus.
The Fujifilm S5200 is a fast camera! I clocked
startup at around 1 sec. There is no practical
shutter lag, with shot to shot time at less than a fraction
of a second if there's enough light, and taking
less than 1 sec. to lock focus in low-light (normal
One great thing about this versatile digital
camera is that it uses AA Alkaline batteries.
I would recommend that you purchase 4 rechargeable
AA Ni-MH batteries and an optional battery charger
(Fujifilm makes available the Battery Charger
BCH-NH2 which can charge 4 AA Ni-MH batteries
There is no optical viewfinder, but an electronic
one (EVF) with a comfortably large eyepiece and
easy-to-rotate diopter adjustment wheel on the
left side of the eyepiece. The LCD monitor is
1.8 in. with a standard 115,000 pixels resolution.
A fast refresh rate makes viewing images smooth.
One feature I was glad to see is that the LCD gains up slightly in extreme low light to permit composing.
Press the DISP button repeatedly and a Framing
Guide of horizontal and vertical lines overlays
on the screen. This is very helpful if you take
lots of pictures of buildings or pictures with
lots of horizontals and/or verticals.
There is an AF Illuminator and the AF is quite
fast and precise at all times. Even in extreme
low-light, at wide-angle focal length, it locks focus in less than 1 sec.
without hunting. In a room lighted by 2 compact
fluorescent lightbulbs on the ceiling, with the
lens zoomed max., focus locks in less than 2 sec. One thing to remember is that
the normal minimum focusing distance is 90cm (3ft),
so if you intend to move in closer than this,
you need to turn Macro ON to get a sharp image.
The Fujifilm S5200 has 10x optical zoom (38-380mm,
35mm equivalent). There does not seem to be any
optional conversion lenses available from Fujifilm,
though the lens is threaded (55mm diameter) and
should therefore accept optional filters. As usual,
don't buy on faith, it's well worth to pay a visit to
your friendly retail camera store and try a filter
on for size and fit.
I was also pretty glad to see among the optional
accessories all the card adapters available for
the xD-Picture Card (CompactFlash adapter, USB
Reader Drive, PC card adapter), which means that
you can use the xD-Picture Card pretty much with
any device, such as photo storage viewers (which
usually accepts CF or SD media cards).
In the field, the Fujifilm S5200 performed extremely
well. There was no fumbling with the controls,
no frustration trying to set the functions you
want, and the camera was point-and-shoot simplicity.
I really liked the fact that the Natural Light
scene mode is included right onto the Mode Dial
together with PASM. Whenever, I was in a low-light
situation, I simply rotated the Mode Dial to "N"
and snapped away. No fumbling into the MENU/SETUP
to find the option.
As currently implemented, you have to go into
the MENU and select AF Area mode everytime you
wish to move the AF target point to a new position
on the screen. That's 9 button presses everytime.
Once set, the AF Frame remains at that new location
until you move it elsewhere. To return to center
position, go back into the MENU - AF mode - Center.
Note that the exposure does not follow
the AF Frame but always measures the center of
the screen. Not a problem if you are using Multi metering, but if you are using center-weighted average or spot metering, and your subject is way off center, remember to lock AE first.
I use a 1GB xD-Picture Card and it accepts approx.
412 2592x1944 5M-F images, or 819 2592x1944 5M-N
images. A 128MB card can save approx. 51 5M-F
images and 102 5M-N images. So, depending on how
many pictures you usually take in one photo session,
you may be able to get away with a mere 128MB,
256MB or 512MB media card, which are quite cheap these days. It is interesting to
note that Fujifilm ships the camera from the factory
with Image Quality set to 5M-N and ISO set to
Though RAW is available, this option is buried
quite deep into the MENU: it takes 17 button presses
to select RAW.
The Fujifilm S5200 is comfortably carried in
one hand, though you would probably want to attach
the shoulder strap for hands-free carrying.
The Terminal Cover is an L-shaped rubber flap
that opens up wide for easy access to the terminals.
Transferring images to your PC is simply a matter
of connecting the USB cable and either using the
FinePix Viewer to index the images or simply drag-n-drop
in Windows Explorer.
The FinePixViewer software is still one of my
favourite because all the information is contained
in one screen. Each image's filename is clearly
visible and you do not need to launch another
window to view the EXIF info. You can do basic
image editing, re: brightness, saturation, hue,
sharpness. In the above image, we selected the
Folder Tree View; see the Fujifilm
E900 review for the Menu Panel View.
The Fujifilm S5200 Owner's Manual is well illustrated
and written, though the print font is very small.
Surprisingly (for Canada), there is no French
version included (the Quick Start Guide has a
Spanish version), so be sure to request French
documentation if this is what you desire.
Anti-Blur Scene Mode vs. Image Stabilization
How effective is Anti-Blur compared to Image
These are different from each other. Image Stabilization
is a real technology that works effectively to
usually give between 2 and 3 f-stops gain in exposure.
Anti-Blur is a scene mode that cleverly adjusts
the shutter speed/aperture/ISO to obtain a fast
enough shutter speed to prevent camera shake.
In a long zoom digital camera, both Anti-Blur
and Image Stabilization has the same goal: reduce
camera shake when hand holding the camera with
the lens set at the long end of the focal length
(i.e. zoomed max).
Image Stabilization does that by stabilizing
the lens or image sensor; Anti-Blur accomplishes
that by using a higher ISO so a fast enough shutter
speed can be used. And, where other cameras fear
to use a high ISO because of the resulting high
noise, the Fujifilm S5200, with its low-noise
image sensor, can boldly do so.
So, though Anti-Blur is definitely not the same
as image stabilization, it can nevertheless be
effective when used in a situation where a fast
enough shutter speed can be selected by upping
the ISO. It seems to limit the ISO to not go above
Anti-Blur is a clever scene mode that works quite
well in the Fujifilm S5200, though it would have been
perfect if it also offered image stabilization
(either of the lens or image sensor).
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 is easily the
best looking long zoom digital camera as well
as being very comfortable to hold and use in the
field. It is extremely fast in operations and
consistently gives excellent image quality, including
low noise up to ISO 400, with very usable ISO
800. ISO 1600 is a bonus, no noise visible at
4x6 in. or even 800x600 pixels displayed on screen. It's one of those cameras that you just pick up and start using right away -- "so easy even mom can use it. (c) Copyright Photoxels 2005 :)"