Fujifilm FinePix S6500fd
A competent and versatile camera for anyone who wants to learn the finer points of digital photography.Unveiled at Photokina in September, Fujifilm’s latest enthusiast digicam, the FinePix S6500fd, is the first to include a new LSI-based ‘Intelligent’ Face Detection technology (hence the ‘fd’ in the model name). Equipped with a 10x optical zoom lens (28-300mm equivalent) and sixth generation 6-megapixel Super CCD imager, it also boasts the second generation of Fujifilm’s Real Photo Processor technology. Taken together, these features promise the performance and versatility many enthusiasts require. . . [more]
Unveiled at Photokina in September, Fujifilm’s latest enthusiast digicam, the FinePix S6500fd, is the first to include a new LSI-based ‘Intelligent’ Face Detection technology (hence the ‘fd’ in the model name). Equipped with a 10x optical zoom lens (28-300mm equivalent) and sixth generation 6-megapixel Super CCD imager, it also boasts the second generation of Fujifilm’s Real Photo Processor technology. Taken together, these features promise the performance and versatility many enthusiasts require.
The inclusion of raw file capture puts the S6500fd into the ‘Advanced’ category and increases its appeal for enthusiast photographers. However, selecting CCD-RAW is somewhat limiting. It disables all signal processing functions so you can’t record JPEGs simultaneously and you can’t use the digital zoom, continuous shooting and Post Shot Assist functions. Nor can you store images in the 10MB internal memory and raw shots can only be converted to TIFF or JPEG files with the supplied FinePix Viewer software.
The provision of P, A, S and M shooting modes and the rotating zoom ring will also please enthusiasts. A button on the left side panel lets users choose from single and continuous AF modes or manual focusing. To satisfy point-and-shoot users, 14 ‘special-scene’ pre-sets cover most of the common shooting situations. This is a camera novice users could buy and ‘grow’ with as the supplied instruction manual is comprehensive and easy to understand.
Although SLR-like in styling, the FinePix S6500fd is a digicam at heart with a small sensor (7.6 x 5.7 mm) and non-interchangeable lens. Build quality is varied, with some good and not-so-good features. On the plus side are the generous grip and easy-to-operate zoom ring. The mode dial is easily accessible by your right thumb and switching from shooting to playback via the ring switch around the shutter button is quick and easy. Negative factors include a card compartment door that opens too easily and a battery compartment that can be difficult to close and provides no way to stop the batteries from falling out when you load them.
The rear panel sports a 2.5-inch LCD with an arrow pad and five button controls squeezed between it and the large, textured thumb grip on the right rear panel. From the top, the buttons access the Intelligent Face Detection function, EVF/LCD switch, digital zoom, display and Photo Mode (“F”). The F button is used to set ISO, quality and colour. The EVF has reasonably good resolution and is diopter-adjustable. Pressing the DISP/BACK button lets you call up a rule-of-thirds framing grid on the display.
The left panel carries the memory card compartment, which has a slightly protruding lip that’s easy to open inadvertently. The camera won’t work if the card door is open or if no card is inserted. Below it is the USB/AV/power port, which has a rubber-like cap that is not very well attached.
A well-designed lens hood is supplied for the zoom lens, which does not rotate during zooming. A lens cap is also supplied, with a tether that has to be attached to the camera strap (a slightly awkward solution). The built-in flash pops up above the lens axis. No hot-shoe is provided. On the base of the camera are the battery compartment and a tripod socket that appears to be made of plastic.
The Intelligent Face Detection function works with most shooting modes but requires the single AF setting and subjects must be close enough and facing the camera. It can be used for both vertical and horizontal shots and can detect up to 10 faces in a shot. A green frame is displayed around the face nearest to the centre of the frame and this face is given focusing priority. Other faces are identified with white frames.
In promotional materials, Fujifilm highlights ‘Picture Stabilisation’ technology as a key feature of the S6500fd. A setting on the mode dial makes it easy to access. However, it’s based on increasing sensitivity levels so shutter speeds can be increased to prevent camera shake or freeze subject movement. The ISO must be set to Auto in this mode. This system is no substitute for genuine optical or CCD-shift image stabilisation.
ISO boosting is also used for the special ‘Natural Light & With Flash’ setting on the mode dial, which allows the camera to capture a shot with and without flash with one press of the shutter. Users can review both images and save one or both pictures. This function works best with backlit subjects and makes it easy to provide effective flash fill.
Access to camera controls is clearly split between point-and-shoot and enthusiast users. Adjustments that are only available in the P, A, S and M shooting modes include ISO settings, metering patterns, white balance, AF mode, sharpness, flash output adjustment and bracketing. The FinePix Colour settings, which let users select from standard, ‘chrome’ and B&W, are also blocked when users set the Portrait, Landscape or Special Scene modes.
The S6500fd makes image playback easy by providing access through the same ring switch that powers up the camera. The standard single and index views are provided and users can opt to view single shots with or without shooting data overlaid. A thumbnail image can also be viewed with a brightness histogram and key shooting data. When Intelligent Face Detection has been used for the shot it is played back with a frame identifying the face used to set focus and exposure. Users can swap to different faces by pressing the Intelligent Face Detection button or zoom in on the selected face with the arrow pad buttons.
A novel Post Shot Assist display that shows the last few shots taken (up to three shots) can be accessed via the DISP/BACK button. It’s handy for checking the composition of your last few shots. Playback zoom is related to image size, with the maximum magnification (4.5x) available at the highest resolution and only 2.5x available at 2M resolution.
A date sorting command lets users view all shots taken on a particular day and users can erase images or movie clips selectively or totally to free up space on the xD-Picture Card. It takes just over a second to erase a single frame. DPOF image tagging for printing is also provided, along with facilities for rotating, protecting, copying, trimming and adding voice memos to individual ‘frames’.
Overall, the FinePix S6500fd turned in an impressive performance. The metering system placed exposures to retain as much highlight detail as possible without compromising shadow detail so our outdoor test shots were significantly better than many digicams deliver. Imatest showed resolution to be high at low ISO settings, with little difference between the centre and edge of the frame. Resolution was maintained up to ISO 800, after which it declined slowly and shots taken at ISO 1600 remained sharp, although with visible image noise.
Image noise was very noticeable at ISO 3200 but well contained and barely visible between ISO 100 and 800. Colour accuracy was also good in Imatest tests, with minor shifts in magenta/blue and increased saturation in red. Lateral chromatic aberration was also low but we found noticeable purple fringes towards the edges of frames in shots taken in bright outdoor lighting.
Digital zoom shots were slightly soft but close-ups were detailed, with slightly elevated saturation when the ‘Flower’ scene mode was used. The auto white balance mode failed to correct the colour casts produced by both fluorescent and incandescent lighting but the pre-sets and custom measurement modes produced better colour accuracy, particularly with incandescent light. Flash performance was competent, although ISO 200 was required to illuminate an average-sized room.
We measured an average capture lag of 0.6 seconds, which reduced to 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. The continuous shooting mode has four settings: top three, final three, long period and auto bracketing. The first two recorded three shots in 1.5 seconds, while the long period setting recorded three shots at 1.6 second intervals then slowed to a shot every two seconds. It took less than three seconds to process a burst of six shots.
Image sensor: 7.6 x 5.7 mm Super CCD HR with 6.3 megapixels effective
Lens: Fujinon 6.2-66.7mm f2.8-4.9 lens (28-300mm in 35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 10.7x optical, up to 2x digital
Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2), CCD-RAW (RAF); Movies ““ AVI Motion JPEG/WAV (VGA/QVGA at 30 fps with monaural sound)
Image Sizes: 2848 x 2136, 3024 x 2016, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
Shutter speed range: 4-1/4000 sec. (to 30 sec. in Manual mode)
Exposure Compensation: -2 EV to +2 EV in 1/3 EV-step increments (P, A, and S modes only)
Focus system/range: TTL contrast-type AF; range: 40 cm to infinity; macro 10 cm to 3 m; Super macro 1-100 cm
Exposure metering/control: TTL 265-zone metering with Multi, Average and Spot modes; P, A, S, and M plus 14 scene pre-sets
White balance: Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent (x3), Incandescent, Custom
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro; range 60 cm to 8.3 m (ISO Auto); 30 cm to 2 m (Macro)
ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Sequence shooting: Top-3/Final-3 max 2.2 fps; Long-period max 0.6 fps
Storage Media: Approx. 10 MB internal memory plus xD-Picture Card expansion slot
Viewfinder: 0.33-inch low-temperature polysilicon EVF with 115,000 pixels
LCD monitor: 2.5-inch Amorphous silicon TFT colour LCD with 235,000 pixels
Power supply: 4x AA batteries (alkaline or NiMH)
Dimensions (wxhxd): 130.7 x 97.2 x 119.5 mm
Weight: 660 grams (including batteries and card)
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Rating (out of 10):
- Build: 8
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Image quality: 8.5
- OVERALL: 8.5