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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S5000

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix S5000 Review

Review Date: Oct 17, 2003

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S5000
Photoxels Awards
OriGenial

User's Experience

Monday, Sep 29, 2003 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • FinePix S5000
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card
  • 4 AA Alkaline Batteries
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Interface Cables: USB and Video
  • Lens Cap
  • Adapter Ring
  • English and French Instruction Manuals: QuickStart; Owner's Manual
  • Software CD: Software for FinePix 4.0g

The Fujifilm FinePix S5000 is undoubtedly one of the best well-designed consumer digital camera available today. Instead of going for the rectangular box or some funky design, Fujifilm has opted for a "SLR-look and feel" body. The result is an elegant design with clean lines and controls placed where you would expect them to be.

Add a nice-sized handgrip, a shoulder strap for a convenient way to carry it, a lightweight body and a lens adapter ring -- and you've got one camera that is not only good-looking (and professional looking in its textured black body), but also one that is very easy to hold rock steady. Which is what you need to do if you plan to hand hold long zoom shots without image stabilization. Now if you are among the "shaky hand" crowd, the use of a tripod at long zoom is highly recommended.

The FinePix S5000 comes with 4 disposable standard AA Alkaline batteries. Battery life is good, better than most digital cameras using AA batteries, though not by any means spectacular. Using flash or continuous focus drains the batteries fast. I believe most people would want to get rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger. There is scant advance warning when the battery power is getting too low. That is why it's a good idea to have 4 extra fully charged batteries in your pocket. So, I recommend buying the optional battery charger and 2 sets of rechargeable NiMH batteries (4 in the camera + 4 spare). Since these NiMH batteries can lose charge even unused, I always carry 4 new AA Alkaline batteries as spare just in case.

Fujifilm recommends that your batteries are fully charged when transferring images from the camera to the PC. Using almost depleted batteries, there is the danger that you suddenly run out of power in the middle of the transfer. Don't risk losing precious images or damaging the camera. Either use fully charged batteries or, better, get the adapter. I would recommend the adapter if, like me, you transfer images every chance you get. Using the AC adapter also means you don't use up precious battery power to transfer your images from the camera to your computer.

As far as software, I find that the FinePix Viewer is excellent in ease of use, providing a user-friendly interface and detailed EXIF info. ImageMixer VCD from Pixela allows you to create a Video CD and a web album, but I find its GUI (Graphical User Interface) the opposite of FinePix Viewer, i.e. very un-intuitive.

Being here in Canada, all documentation comes in both English and French versions.

The handy Quick Start Guide is all I need to get the FinePix S5000 up and ready for picture taking. Read this card first before you put in the battery and memory card.

The Owner's Manual is well illustrated but the font used goes from small to tiny. Otherwise, I find the Owner's Manual well written and I was able to find all the information I needed to operate the camera.

I take the time to set the FinePix S5000 to the way I would like to use it:

Photo mode (f):

  • Quality = 3M
  • ISO = 200

MENU:

  • White Balance = AUTO
  • AF Mode = CENTER
  • Photometry= SPOT
  • EVF/LCD = Adjust brightness to my liking
  • Power Save = OFF
  • Beep = 1
  • Shutter = 3
  • Sharpness = NORMAL

For Shooting Mode, I mostly leave it at Programmed Auto because I use Program Shift quite a bit, either selecting a higher shutter speed to freeze action or a smaller aperture to increase depth of field.

Note that in Auto mode, ISO 160 is the minimum, whereas in Programmed Auto, ISO 200 is the minimum that can be set.

A Quiet Moment: 1/200 sec., F4.8 and ISO Auto
Sunset through my home office window:
22mm, Shutter Priority, Multi-Pattern, 1/60 sec., F6.3 and ISO 200

First impressions:

The FinePix S5000 is lightweight, well balanced and with the lens adapter screwed on, it is possible to securely hold the camera rock steady. First off, let's talk about the long zoom, which I guess most of you reading this would be interested in.

Here's the scoop: if the shutter speed is fast enough, I [you might be different] have absolutely no problem hand holding a shot at the maximum 10x zoom. However, at slow shutter speeds, I am not able to hold the camera steady enough at max. zoom (though I usually can at 3x or 4x zoom), and the results are invariably blurred images. Using the FinePix S5000 at its maximum zoom (focal length of 57mm, or 35mm equivalent of 370mm), a fast shutter speed for me is 1/150 sec. and above; a slow shutter speed is 1/150 sec. and below. Therefore, use a tripod (or monopod) for stability at long zoom and slow shutter speeds.

The FinePix S5000 is well-designed with control buttons and dials at the right position. The zoom toggle is at the back of the camera and I find that at first I inadvertently press it one way or the other as I take a shot. Likewise I take some getting used to holding the camera with only the four fingers of the right hand, with the little pinky hanging in the air; eventually I rest it against the bottom of the camera to obtain even more stability.

A welcome feature is the 3x3 grid that can be displayed on the LCD or EVF to facilitate composition (like getting the horizon level). This reminds me of the interchangeable focusing screens in professional 35mm film SLRs.

Operation is quite fast, though there is a slight shutter lag. The key is to pre-focus by depressing the shutter release button half-way, wait for the right moment and then fully depressing it when your subject gets into position. This is not always possible in certain cases, especially in fast action and candid shots.

The LCD is very clear, has adjustable brightness and is usable in bright sunlight. At 113K pixels, the LCD resolution is very good: I can use it to judge the quality of a picture. Sometimes, if the picture is just slightly out of focus or slightly under exposed, it might still look good on the LCD. In fact, I've missed some shots this way thinking that they came out OK, but once transferred to my PC, I notice thay are slightly blurred or slightly under exposed. Wish list to Fujifilm: a slightly larger, say 1.8 in., LCD.

Transferring images from the FinePix S5000 to my PC is just a matter of connecting the USB cable into the appropriate slots, and then turning the camera on by moving the Power Switch to Playback mode. At the computer screen prompt, I select "Viewing images using FinePixViewer" and the images are transferred. Sometimes I see the count being performed as each image is transferred; sometimes, the screen just seem to freeze, but the transfer still proceeds OK. Once done, I click on the "Safely Remove Hardware" drive icon, click on "Safely remove USB Mass Storage Device" and close the USB drive. When I get the "Safe To Remove hardware" message, I unplug the cable at both ends, and I'm done. I set the FinePix Viewer to automatically erase the pictures from the camera when transfer is completed (though come to think of it, it might be safer to not do so, but erase all in camera only after ensuring transfer is successful).

Besides full Auto mode, the FinePix S5000 also has Programmed Auto, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority, full Manual, plus easy to use Scene modes. Program Shift in Programmed Auto mode makes it a snap to influence the shutter speed and aperture up or down, while still maintaining correct exposure; this feature should be mandatory in all digital cameras. There are three autofocus choices: single, continuous and manual. You can dial in exposure compensation, use Auto Exposure Bracketing in difficult lighting situations; and there are two incredibly helpful shooting modes:

  • Top Five allows you to take five shots in a row (as short as 0.2 sec apart).
  • Final Five allows you to press the shutter and follow the action until you release the shutter; the last five shots just before you release the shutter are recorded.
  • Together, these two shooting modes help in "catching the moment" in action shots. (Imagine trying to catch your soccer son or daughter shooting at the goal net and recording the last five images that led to the goal.)

Wish list to Fujifilm: Exposure Compensation is such an important function that it must be made easier to adjust than having to keep it depressed while dialing it in. Make the Exposure Compensation button a toggle: press to set on, press again to set off.

The dedicated Macro button makes it easy to switch back and forth into that mode. There is even a Manual Focus mode for those who want to use this. And the flash won't fire unless you first manually pop it up.

If you are just starting out in digital photography today and fancy a long zoom lens, be sure to include the Fujifilm FinePix S5000 on your holiday wish list.

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