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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S7000

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Review

Review Date: Aug 23, 2004

Category: Prosumer - Advanced Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S7000

HANDLING & FEEL

Flowers: 1/15 sec., F3.5 and ISO 64
Train Ride:
8mm, Programmed Auto, Pattern, 1/140 sec., F4.0 and ISO 200

The Fujifilm FinePix S7000 is an ergonomically designed prosumer digital camera with the great looks and feel of a SLR. The camera fits well in the hands, especially with the large handgrip and lens barrel. It looks very professional in its all-black high-impact plastic body. Overall construction feels solid and the build is excellent.

I like the large viewfinder, with a comfortable eyecup, and the diopter adjustment dial that works effortlessly. [In fact, you can actually see the back viewfinder lens move as you rotate the diopter dial.] The electronic viewfinder itself is very clear and comfortable to view, and I reserve the 1.8-in. LCD monitor for image review. All information displays clearly on screen and you can also superimpose a grid at the press of the DISP button. All in all, this high resolution EVF (at 235,000 pixels resolution) is one of the best I've used so far.

It's a small thing but since it is one that gets used everyday, perhaps even more than once a day -- I am talking about the terminal cover -- I appreciate the S7000's plastic Terminal cover that opens wide and stays open, allowing easy access to the USB socket.

Another small thing that makes the S7000 such a pleasure to use is the placement of the shutter release button at the far tip of the hand grip. It is angled just right and has the right tension. The shutter noise is also very pleasant (or you can turn it off completely). It's a good thing that the power switch around the shutter release button has to be moved quite firmly so you won't mistake it for a zoom lever.

A ring around the lens barrel does double duty as Zoom ring (zoom-by-wire) when Auto Focus is used, and Focus ring (focus-by-wire) in Manual Focus mode. Though it will not match the precision offered by a manual zoom/focus ring, the ring moves quite smoothly.

Unlike some digital cameras that have almost all the buttons on the back (which can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing), the S7000 divides its control buttons to three areas: top, back and left of the lens barrel, all strategically positioned for intuitive use.

One welcome feature is that the Program Shift function is always ON by default in Programmed Auto mode. Just rotate the Command Dial to shift the shutter speed and aperture setting combinations while keeping the proper exposure setting.

There is a dedicated macro button that toggles between Macro and Super Macro modes. In Macro mode, you can get as close as 10 cm (3.9 in.); in Super Macro mode, you can get as close as 1 cm (0.4 in.). This is real close. Unless you are taking macro shots of inanimate objects, you may find it quite difficult to cover a small area without getting "in your face" with the lens. The problem with this is two-fold: 1) live subjects will scurry away if you get too close, and 2) lighting the subject properly and avoiding the shadow cast by the lens is a major difficulty. I have come to appreciate macro implementations that allow the camera to cover a small area at a comfortable distance.

One feature that is especially well implemented in the S7000 is the AF target point. This target point can be moved anywhere on screen allowing for easy off-center focusing. This is accomplished by holding down the AF button and using the arrow keys to move the AF target point.

Manual focus is usually not implemented in a very practical way in most digital cameras. You have to turn, turn, and turn the focus ring to finally obtain focus. Fujifilm has implemented a very original solution: the best way to use manual focus on the S7000 is to first press the One-touch AF button to obtain a quick focus using the camera's own autofocus; next, press the Focus Check button to enlarge the central portion of the screen; last, adjust manually using the focus ring (forget about the directional arrows hinting at the direction to turn the focus ring). This method allows for surprisingly precise manual focus with just a slight turn of the focus ring. Kudos to the S7000 designer(s) for that Eureka! inspiration.

If you leave the camera in Continuous AF mode, the motor makes a continuous audible whirring noise. I leave it in Single AF mode since autofocus is very fast and precise, plus it saves on battery power.

There are three Image Display modes:

  • ON (image displays for 2 secs)
  • OFF (no image display)
  • Preview (image is displayed on screen (EVF or LCD monitor) and you have to decide to keep it or delete it. Then the screen (EVF or LCD monitor) clears to allow you to take the next picture. This all takes place exclusively on the EVF or on the LCD monitor, depending on the mode you have selected.

I was surprised to not find a QuickReview button to switch between Record and Playback mode. You have to move the power switch from ON to PLAYBACK (the next stop is OFF). The problem is you may inadvertently go one too far and switch the camera off instead.

When you switch to PLAYBACK, the LCD monitor automatically switches on to allow you to review your images. Reviewing your images is painfully s-l-o-w. Switch back to ON mode (the Owner's Manual calls this the "Photography" mode), and if you were previously using the EVF, the display automatically switches back to EVF.

The tripod mount is in line with the center of the lens, making it easy to use a tripod in taking panoramic shots.

Another nice touch is that the shutter release button has a socket for attaching a cable release for long exposures. A remote controller would have been even nicer!

Areas for improvement:

  • Provide a B&W high-gain option for extreme low-light situations. As it is now, the EVF is not too useful in extreme low-light situations.
  • Provide a swivel LCD. I find that hung around the neck with the S7000 at hip level, the right thumb naturally falls on the shutter release button making it easy to take pictures comfortably and/or unobtrusively. However, without a LCD that swivels up, it is at best a hit and miss proposition.
  • Provide a QuickView button to switch between Record and Playback. Currently, you do that by turning the power switch, and risk turning off the camera instead.
  • Make the Mode Dial stiffer or provide a locking mechanism. Currently, the Mode Dial moves from its set position a bit too easily, allowing inadvertent mode change.
  • Provide a dedicated button for switching between memory cards. Currently, switching between the CF card and xD-Picture Card is manually accomplished via SETUP, which has to be accessed from the Mode Dial.
  • Remove the 1 sec. delay in the use of the SHIFT mode. A SHIFT button allows you to set metering mode, WB, Self-Timer and LCD monitor brightness. Hold the SHIFT button down for about 1 sec. to engage it; then press down the appropriate button and rotate the Command Dial to set a value. I'm not sure I agree with the 1 sec. delay. If the idea of this dedicated button is to speed setting values, then the 1 sec. delay kind of defeats that purpose. One second is a relatively long time when you are trying to quickly switch metering mode, for example. And it's not like by inadvertently pressing that SHIFT button you are going to switch setting by mistake since you still need to press the appropriate control button and rotate the Command Dial.
  • It's difficult to take off lens cap just by touch and feel; a slightly raised release mechanism would certainly help here.

The Fujifilm FinePix S7000 simply feels very comfortable and the controls don't get in the way, making it a very intuitive digital camera to use. This is apparent from the moment you pick it up and hold it to your eyes. I hope Fujifilm keeps this design for a long time to come.

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