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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

USER'S EXPERIENCE

Thursday, Jul 29, 2004 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • FinePix S7000
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card
  • 4 AA Alkaline Batteries
  • Shoulder Strap
  • USB and A/V Cables
  • Lens Cap and Retaining String
  • Adapter Ring
  • English Instruction Manuals: QuickStart; Owner's Manual
  • Software CD: Software for FinePix SX v4.1d

This Fujifilm FinePix S7000 review nearly did not get done because I was having such a good time taking pictures with the S7000 that I forgot about reporting the results! It's one of the most intuitive digital camera I've used; it gets out of the way, allowing the photographer to concentrate on the picture.

Even though it's not a compact camera, its all-black body and quiet operation make it an unobtrusive camera to use in street photography. Small things, such as a well-placed shutter release button, an excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF), and intuitive controls make this camera enjoyable to use.

The S7000 takes four AA Alkaline or rechargeale NiMH batteries. It comes with 4 AA Alkaline batteries and no recharger. The batteries last quite a long time (in Single AF mode), probably due to the LCD monitor automatically turning off after only 30 sec. of inactivity (though there is Power Save at 2 min and 5 min to control power off, this auto off LCD after 30 sec. seems to be out of the control of the photographer). A slight tap on the shutter release button switches the LCD on immediately.

I sorely miss a swivel LCD monitor on the S7000. Without it, macro shots are very challenging.

The S7000 accepts dual memory cards: xD-Picture card and CF cards, including the IBM micro drive. Interestingly, Fujifilm specifies that the S7000 uses xD-Picture card and the IBM Microdrive. No mention is made of CompactFlash memory cards per se, though I used a CF I for this review.

The great thing about having 2 memory cards in your camera is that you can effectively double the amount of pictures you can take without having to physically switch cards in mid process. I only wish Fujifilm had provided a dedicated button to do that without having to go into Setup menu. Both the battery compartment (the S7000 uses 4 AA batteries) and the memory card compartment open wide for easy access.

There is no CF card supplied with the S7000. I recommend you purchase at least a 512MB CF card, or as large a memory card as you can afford. For example, a 256MB CF card will allow you to record about 51 12M (output) Fine images (4048x3040 pixels) or 166 6M images or 19 RAW images.

There are three light metering modes: Multi, Spot and Average. The S7000's metering is very responsive, so much so that I find the Spot mode (my favorite, usually) tends to overexpose highlights. So for scenes that combine bright and dark areas, be careful when using Spot mode. I find that on the S7000, the Multi mode is perfect for most situations, and reserve Spot mode for super macro shots.

A histogram can be displayed live in Record mode (press the INFO button on the left side of the body), but only when you are using Single AF. It is also available in Playback mode in all AF modes.

1/480 sec., F7, and ISO 200
If everyone leaves the top of the slide at the same time,
shouldn't they also all arrive at the bottom at the same time?
17mm, Programmed Auto, Spot, 1/480 sec., F7, and ISO 200

The S7000's weak points are:

  • somewhat noisier images than average in this category
  • a painfully slow Playback
  • no B&W high-gain EVF/LCD display in extreme low-light situations (also no AF Assist Illuminator)

A couple of Whys:

  • Why is SETUP accessed on the Mode Dial instead of via the MENU button?
  • Why is RAW set in SETUP, and not thru the Photo mode (f), i.e. part of Image Quality (where it seems to make more sense)?

Strong points:

  • Ergonomic & intuitive
  • Very fast AF in good light; not much problem focusing in low-light
  • Excellent EVF (though useless in extreme low-light)
  • One of the best menu system

With Windows XP, you don't need to install any software to transfer images from camera to PC. Just plug the USB cable into your camera and PC USB socket, switch the S7000 to Playback Mode, and turn the camera on. The S7000 is automatically configured as an external drive.

There is a difference in writing time and transfer time between using CF I memory card or the xD-Picture card.

It took me about 8 sec. to transfer a 12M Fine image from the camera to my PC (P4, 1.60 GHz, 512MB RAM). The S7000 comes with high-speed USB 2.0, though my PC only has USB 1.0 ports, and so you will get faster results with a high-speed USB port:

Image Quality

Transfer Time (sec.)
(USB 1.0 port instead of USB 2.0 port)

Media: xD

CF I

12M Fine 5.4 8
6M 2 2.6
RAW 15.5 21

A converted TIff file (4048x3040) saves at about 36MB; A RAW file (4048x3040) saves at about 12.8MB; a 12M Fine image (4048x3040) saves at about 4.5MB; and a 6M image (2848x2136) saves at about 1.6MB. If you intend to print very large prints, use the 12M Fine image quality; otherwise, the 6M image quality is perhaps the best choice, though the output is severely compressed. So, try them out both yourself to decide which one you prefer.

It takes about 2 min to convert a RAW file to TIFF using the RAW File Converter LE. The latter does not provide any functionality other than the RAW to TIFF conversion, which kinds of defeat the purpose of using RAW. We recommend that you use your own RAW conversion software or purchase the optional RAW File Converter EX.

Here are approximate writing time when saving images to my CF type I memory card (timed from when the shutter is depressed to when the green/orange light stops blinking and lights steady). However, thanks to the S7000's internal buffer, you won't have to wait the full time to take another shot; the number in parentheses is the number of shots I was able to fire off one after another before the camera locked up writing to memory card:

Image Quality Writing Time (sec.)
12M Fine

4 (CF=5, xD="no lag")

6M 2 (no lag)
RAW CCF=10, xD=5 (2)

At 12M Fine image quality, I was able to take 5 images in rapid succession using the CF I card; thereafter, I can take an image after every 3 sec. Using the xD-Picture Card, I can keep taking pictures. In RAW file format, I can take 2 images in rapid succession before the camera locks up writing to memory card; thereafter, I can take an image after every 8 sec. (5 sec. for xD-Picture Card). At 6M image quality, there is no shutter lag or writing lag, i.e. you can take as many shots as you want one after another. Power up is fast at about 3 sec.

DinePixViewer

I love the FinePixViewer software 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. There is some valuable screen real estate wasted along the rightmost column with the "Register Now" ad. You can do basic image editing, re: brightness, saturation, hue, sharpness.

The S7000 Instruction Manual is well illustrated and written, though the print font is very small, and the paper is cheap newsprint.

Other features I have not touched upon: Final 5 saves the last 5 shots, Top 5 saves the first 5 shots, and Long Continuous allows up to 40 continuous shots at intervals as short as 1 sec.

All in all, the Fujifilm FinePix S7000 is truly one of the most enjoyable prosumer digital camera I've used. Some cameras just seem to be like that and I find the S7000 to be especially ergonomic, intuitive, and so simple to use -- almost point-and-shoot simple! And the manual features are there, a simple button press away. The EVF is one of the best (though Fujifilm needs to add extreme low-light capability to it) and the large viewfinder makes a huge difference in how easy it is to compose and concentrate on the images you want to take.

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