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The 602 is chock full of features for the serious amateur photographer. I picked the camera for sports photography because of the 6x zoom lense, pretty good shot to shot times, and 3 meg resolution. The camera uses readily available NimH batteries and compact flash or SD memory cards. I bought an IBM microdrive (1 gig drive) which allows me to store 868 3meg, jpeg - fine resolution images. No problem to take the camera on vacation for two weeks! I recharge the NimH's using a cigarette lighter adapter on my charger. The camera has a host of features. You can change the ISO setting from 160 all the way up to 1600 for poorly lit indoor shots. The camera has a pretty decent flash thats good up to about 20 feet, and a hot shoe if you want to buy an external flash. The 602 also has a decent video mode. The only slight downside of this camera is the lens. Although the Fujinon f2.8 lens is 6x and reasonably fast, it does show exhibit some bending of lines at both telephoto and wide angle. The only thing stopping this camera from being a classic would have been an f2 lense that renders images flat to the edges. Other than that, not much to gripe about. Really a great camera.
Pentax cameras used to have an advertising slogan: Just hold a Pentax. The point was that the camera felt good to hold; solid, ergonomic and well-built. It fit your hand well, and felt comfortable. Hold one in a camera shop, and you would be well on the way to buying it. The slogan has gone, but the advice behind it remains. If you're going to spend money on a camera, make sure you get it in your hands first, that it's comfortable, well-built and that it suits you. If it feels good, and assuming all the features are what you're looking for, then chances are you'll be happy with it. OK. Lecture over, and on to what this opinion is actually about: My latest photographic acquisition, the Fuji Finepix S602 Zoom. 'Not a Pentax then?' I hear you ask, in a puzzled sort of way. No, not a Pentax, but a camera that begs to be held, handled and used all the same. A camera that looks and feels solid, reliable and well-built. A camera with a 6x optical zoom, full automatic and manual control over shutter speed, aperture and metering, not to mention focussing, and above all - a DIGITAL camera. I was looking for a new digital camera to replace my Sony DSC-S50, which, though fine in its way, had too many limitations for the work I wanted to produce. I had done the homework, and had all but settled on the new Nikon Coolpix 5700. However, when it came to the time to get my wallet out of the timelocked wall safe (Well hey! I am Scottish after all -we're SUPPOSED to be careful with our money) and go shopping, I found myself drawn more and more to the Fuji. I handled both cameras, and a couple of others besides: Minolta's Dimage 7i and another offering from Sony: the DSC-F707. All had roughly the same features in terms of mega pixels, lens and control, and all fell roughly into the same price band. But it was the Fuji that came home with me, and I've not had a moments regret! The Nikon was a little pricier, but had a bigger optical zoom (8x), the others didn't feel right, and that left two. Time to waken the Scots genes - price would be the decider. Not quite as simple an equation as "which is cheaper?" - more a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and judging the value of the difference...sort of thing. The Nikon was being offered at £799.99, and the Fuji at £699.99 Some haggling later (I learned from Connoisseur Haggler- she is the BEST) I had got the Fuji down to £645.00 with a 128Mb card thrown in, and the Nikon hadn't budged, due to the fact that it had just been launched. No contest - hand me that Finepix! Naturally, as soon as I got it home, it was out of the box, and put straight to use. I then had to go back and read chunks of the manual, as this is not a simple camera. Indeed, non-digital SLRs look positively primitive alongside this beast. Firstly, the camera is quite large, compared to a point-and-shoot digital camera; about the size of my old Olympus OM-2 with a speedwinder attached, if that comparison makes any sense to you. It weighs about 600g with the batteries (4 AA) installed, and fits nicely into the hand, with the necessary controls falling neatly under your fingers. More on the controls in a moment. The next important thing is the viewfinder. My old Sony suffered from the lack of an optical viewfinder, relying instead solely on the LCD screen on its rear. The Fuji also lacks an optical viewfinder, but has instead an electronic eyepiece, which serves the same purpose. The point being that even in the brightest possible conditions, you'll still be able to see what you are shooting. There's also an LCD screen, so you can take a look at your efforts, or you can, if you choose, use this for framing your picture. The lens; Another very important factor. I was looking for a decent optical zoom range (as o pposed
to digital zoom, which leads to poor definition) and the Fuji comes, as mentioned, with a 6x zoom Super Fujinon lens, with a further 4.4 x digital zoom, which you can use if you really want to get close, and the definition isn't an issue. Which leads us nicely to the all-important mega pixel thing. Like processor speeds, the megapixel rating of digital cameras goes up and up with each passing month. The current 'top end' for the non-professional user is about 6mp. The Nikon weighs in at a healthy 5.0 million effective pixels, and the Fuji at 3.3 million. This should have had me scurrying in the Nikon direction, but Fuji have managed to do something extraordinary with the conformation of the CCD, which allows you to shoot (at the highest definition available) at an effective 6.03 million recorded pixels - which is fine! Recording media is another area worth some serious consideration, as there are quite a few variations on the market. Some are more expensive than others (Sony Memorystick is pricey, for instance) and some are less widespread, and so can be less well supported than others. The good news is that my Fuji takes not one - not two, but THREE kinds of media: Smartmedia (a 16Mb Smartmedia card is included) Compactflash (I negotiated for a 128Mb card to be pitched in - you can but ask) and IBM Microdrive, which can be had up to 1Gb, for a price. You can use both Smartmedia one of the other two at the same time, should you choose, and you can select which is the primary storage, and to which your images will be stored first. A few techie things: Metering is available in average, spot or multi modes, so even the most contrasty or backlit subject can be accommodated. Exposure can be fully automatic, shutter or aperture priority, white balance can be left on auto, or you can look after it manually should you desire. Focus too is automatic, or manual, and if you choose the autofocus (it's quick, believe me) you can
set any one of 49 focus sing points in your viewfinder. You can also enlarge the central area of your viewfinder to check focus. Controls: These are arranged in three areas. Top, back right and front left. On top of the camera, and in an entirely orthodox position, is the shutter button, coupled with the power, record and playback selector dial. Buttons for flash (built-in, but external flash can be used too) and exposure compensation, and another for multiple and sequential shooting. Towards the rear, but still on the top panel is the mode dial, for selection between auto and all the various versions of manual, as well as the movie selector and a set-up setting. Finally a rotary dial used for selections in various menu options. Back panel controls include the zoom rocker switch, the auto-exposure lock button, the focus check button and a four-way selector, used for a variety of functions which require selections. Alongside the LCD screen there?s a button for selection of LCD or eyepiece viewfinder, and a display button, also for use with the LCD. By the way, for those whose eyes are a little less sharp than they might like, the eyepiece viewfinder comes with a dioptre adjuster. On the left of the body, as you hold it, are the final three buttons. The one-touch auto-focus button, coupled with the manual/auto focus switch, then there's the Shift button, which allows the user to monitor various settings currently in place, and a button for macro (close-up) photography; it'll take pix as close as 10cm, or about 4 inches. There's more -but that's most of the controls covered in brief, and I hope it shows how flexible this camera is. If all this leads you to believe that this is a camera beyond the capabilities of a 'snapper', then think again. This can be the ultimate 'point-and-shoot', but at the other end of the scale, it can satisfy the most anal-retentive tech-head photographer
on the planet. And if that's not enough, it also takes short movies...and lets you record voice-notes...and takes up to 5 frames a second...and can automatically take three shots, bracketing the exposure...and...well, a whole lot more! I'm glad I opted for the Fuji. I'm sure the Nikon is every bit as good, but I have no regrets whatsoever about opting for the cheaper, but frankly just as sexy Finepix S602zoom - shame about the name though! If you need more info than I could squeeze in here, take a look at www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/FujiFilm/fuji_finepixs602z.asp This is a great site for the review or comparison of almost any digital camera, and has galleries of sample pictures too.
The reviewer above meant 5 Stars. No camera is perfect but this one comes closer than any other at this price range (or even a lot more). You have to look at ALL the features and the quality to believe what you get. The value is incredible. Some of the feature that was important in my decision to buy it was: 6x Zoom 15sec to 1/10,000 sec shutter speeds 5FPS mode Last 5Frames mode Auto Bracketing Both Smartmedia and CF/Microdrive Memeory Slots Uses 4 AA batteries (I use NiMH rechargables) View last picture before saving incl. multiple frame modes 640x480 30FPS Movie mode with sound (Can fill memory) Best of any camera VERY short lag time from shot to shot. You can add filters, Wide/Tele lenses The list just goes on and on. And on top of it all, great quality pictures with up to 6MP resolution (interpolated but comparible to at least 4MP on other cameras) and has gorgous printed pictures. Still not sure, browse around the Fuji Forum at http://www.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1012 and read the comments by its owners and see comparisons with other cameras (even pro models like the S2) and view tons of sample pictures taken by everyday people. Buy this camera and you will not be sorry... I'm not :)
The S602 is an amazing camera. It has full function SLR stlye controls with shutter speeds from 15 seconds to 1/10,000th. It has full manual controls with Aperture and shutter priority settings and a fullyAutomatic setting. It has a built in flash which I have so far found to be excellent. It has fully controllable White Balance settings with various presets and a couple of spaces for manual settings you can save. It handles just like any SLR and the hand grip is really comfortable. A good feature of this camera is the dual memory type slots. It will accept both CompactFlash II and SmartMedia cards. The features of this camera are far too numerous to mention here but include burst mode shooting, multiple exposures, auto and manual bracketing. The picture quality is second to none with a good range of picture quality settings to choose from. A 6 mega pixel shot will cost you around 17MB of card space, where as the main setting I use to print up to 10x8 inch photos will use around 1.3Mb, fitting around 50 pictures on a 64Mb card. The camera comes supplied as standard with only 16Mb SmartMedia. Cards are not expensive though. You can pick up a 64Mb CF or SM card for around 15 pounds if you shop around! I really cannot rate this camera highly enough. I use it as a professional photographer and traded in two Canon EOS kits at the time of purchase in May 2002. I have not picked up a film camera and taken any pictures with one since! I can guarantee if you buy one of these cameras you will not be disappointed. The only point I would make though is that if you're an action photographer you may struggle with this camera as the auto focus is a little slow in such situations. For example you may struggle to take close up pictures of race cars etc... unless you spend time setting up a manual focus on a certain point of the race track. The zoom is good on this camera and the zoom equates to about 210mm on a
normal SLR camera and the lens quality is excellent. The noise filter works wonderfully in low light situations and you can take some very good astrophotographs with this camera too. Please note though that the only minor items I have found so far is the fact that the autofocus system struggles a bit when light conditions are low. But when I say this I mean like after sunset! Also, you don't get any warning when the batteries are dying. The camera will just die! However, battery life for this camera is astounding! It takes 4 AA batteries and I use rechargeables. The 1700mAh ones I use will take around 280 pics assuming half are with flash. If you don't use flash you can do around 600 pics on one charge!!!! Simply amazing! The only thing is with the basic kit you don't get rechargeable batteries or a charger or a mains adapter but they aren't expensive! My complaints really are nothing to moan about! I have taken over 10,000 pictures with this camera since I bought it in May and have had NO problems at all. All I can say is if you think you'll like the camera, YOU WILL! Don't take my word for it though, go buy one, you won't regret it! Like I said, I'm a pro and I haven't picked up a film camera since May 2002. I take this everwhere! Update: Based on comments about my review I would just like to add a few things. Someone asked if it was easy to use as I was on about using it as a semi-pro. YES any one can use it!!! No disrespect but even my missus can use it and she can't even set the video!!! If you wish you can just set it to Auto and point and shoot. Or as I said, you can fiddle all day. It's all driven by easy to follow menus which can be viewed through the viewfinder or on the LCD. The menus are accessed via one of the thumb wheels on top of the camera and also buttons on the side. They are clear and easy to follow and they are all t
itled so you know exactly what you have selected. The advantage of digital is that it doesn't cost a penny to develop! You can start of simply by using Auto settings and just play around. You can't hurt it! Go and buy one!