Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Review
Date: Aug 23, 2004
- Advanced Amateur
HANDLING & FEEL
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!
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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.