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Fujifilm FinePix S7000
I have always been an avid photographer, though I would not say I was a brilliant one at all! I love taking photos of a whole range of things from people to scenery and flowers, though up until a few months back I only had a small, though perfectly decent, HP Photosmart digital camera so I was not able to experiment with photography the way I would have liked. Now, I have a reasonably good relationship with my mother-in-law, though imagine my surprise when at a family BBQ, she handed over her Fujifilm Finepix camera to me as a gift as she could no longer use it! Suddenly, our relationship seemed so much nicer!!
FINEPIX S7000 CAMERA
This camera is not a brand new model, approximately four years old as far as I can tell, which to professional photographers might be a little too old, though for amateurs such as myself, it is a perfect camera to experiment and learn. I have checked online and have found this camera in a couple of different places such as Amazon, ranging in price from £70.00 up to £170.00, though in all cases, the camera is either second hand or refurbished second hand which leads me to believe that this camera is no longer being sold brand new due to its age.
I have never been one to read instruction booklets properly as quite often, they all may as well be written in Chinese for all the sense they make to me, and so my experience with this camera is based purely upon informative knowledge, research and my own experience. The instruction booklet which comes with the camera, though, has helped my husband fix a few problems which have occurred in the running of the camera such as the SD card needing formatting. The camera also originally comes with a USB lead though buying a camera second hand may not give you this extra. I personally do not use a USB lead to upload my photos on to computer as I have a built in card reader, though these USB leads are easy to pick up.
With those formalities out of the way, let me take you onto the review itself.
Most of these types of camera take on a similar look, and this one is no different. There is no spectacular new look to this camera, though at the same time, the design is quite attractive. The size is perfect to fit into two hands, though as it seems quite a bit lighter than most cameras such as this which I have held, it is possible to take photos one handed. On the right hand side, the design allows for your hand to grasp easily with your fingers curling around the side comfortably. The shutter button to take photos is also positioned on this area which adds to the ease of use. Also on this part of the camera is the mode dial with eight different options which I will speak about below, the command dial, continuous shooting button, exposure compensation button and the release socket. All of these are strategically placed so that your right hand can manoeuvre them without a problem. More over to the side than the buttons is a large flap which hosts the cards. Here you are able to use an XD picture card as well as a microdrive card. Above the viewfinder, on the top of the camera is the flash which uses a button for the pop-up mode. There is also an area to attach another flash if required, though I do not have an extra one. The left side of the camera is not built for hand comfort, though it is easy to rest the zoom of the camera on top of your fingers to aid stillness when taking a shot. This side of the camera also holds a number of features such as the macro button, shift button, focus mode selector, and a few different sockets such as the AV out socket, many of which are hidden under a small flap. Upon both these sides is the strap mount which occasionally gets in the way, though nothing too extreme. On the back of the camera you have the viewfinder which sticks out slightly to allow room for your nose which is situated just above the LCD monitor which is a 5x3cm area. I find this quite a small screen to work with, and being able to see detail on this is quite difficult at times, though on playback, you do have the option to zoom into the photo which helps, though I would have preferred a bigger screen to begin with so that I could see the detail when taking the shot. Also situated on the back are a small array of buttons and devices such as the zoom buttons, AE lock button, indicator lamp, back button, menu button, photo mode options, and directional buttons. On the bottom of the camera is the battery compartment which takes four AA batteries, and the tripod mount which screws onto a tripod very easily. As already mentioned, I am not usually one to read instructions, though as I have good knowledge of using other, smaller cameras, I was able to work a lot out myself as it is all set out quite simply. There were certainly times in which I had to look into the booklet for aspects I was not clear on, though for the main part, I was able to understand through doing more often than not. Although quite a simple camera, I would not recommend this for total beginners into photography, as there are a lot of features in which beginners or casual photographers would really not need.
The one aspect in which I felt was too spread out on the camera was all the options. There is one main menu button, though this holds only a certain amount of options. Other options are geld on other buttons, and trying to remember where each one is, is a little frustrating. This would have certainly been better all in the one menu option. As for the menu option itself, this holds different things whether you are in photo taking mode or playback. The only option here when taking a photo is the self-timer. Here you have three options, the main setting being the off setting, and then the other two allowing you to take a photo within 30 seconds, and for some reason, the other letting the self-timer take in only a 2 second gap. This second option, in my opinion, is a too short a time for a self-timer apart from if you are a professional photographer and using a lead to enable you to take the photo when away from the camera. When in playback mode, you have the options to delete one or all frames, protect settings, playback settings and a voice memo which I do admit, I have never used. Apart from the menu button, you have other menu options on other buttons already mentioned. There are too many options to go through in detail, though I will outline the most important. The first is the macro button which allows for close-up photography. Here you have three different focal range modes;
Super Macro (1cm-20cm)
Normal (50cm to infinity) (wide angle 90cm to infinity)
The flash has only a couple of options which, when the flash is popped-up, the options can be accessed via the small flash button on the right hand side. Auto-flash is the most used setting, though you are able to switch it to flash on/off at your choice, as well as setting the red eye reduction. The continuous shooting feature allows for a few different choice settings and has a handy viewing feature after the button is released to view all the shots at the same time and decide there and then which ones to keep. The only problem with this is that by viewing this way, the screen is even smaller and so is very difficult to see.
Onto the last most important feature button on this camera; The Mode Dial. As already mentioned, this has eight different settings, though some will obviously be used more than others depending on what type of photographer you are. These options are outlined briefly below;
Still image shooting
* Auto - This has the focal range specified in the normal feature in the macro setting above unless the macro is changed to suit. The auto mode works better on the S-AF selector switch mode though can be used on other modes. This automatically chooses your photo shot from all the other options. This Auto mode is handy for casual photos though at times, can choose the wrong setting for your preferences. Do remember to use the focus display feature when shooting in this mode to prevent blurriness. You also have the option to lock in the composition of more than one person/item at a time using the AF/AE lock. This is a complicated feature in my opinion, and although I have read the instructions, it is hit and miss with me as to whether this works.
* Programmed Auto - This is quite like the auto mode and allows you to take photos in any settings other than the shutter speed or aperture. You are able to select different shutter speeds in this mode.
* SP Scene Position - You are able to choose from four different types of scene; portrait (provides soft tone and background), landscape (flash not available in this mode - for settings in daylight only), sports (faster shutter speed) and night scene (priority given to slow shutter speeds up to 3 seconds though tripod needed!!)
* Shutter Priority Auto - An automatic mode where you can select the speed of the shutter.
* Aperture Priority Auto - an automatic mode allowing you to set the aperture, allowing for shots such as background out of focus (large aperture) or have both near and far objects in focus at the same time (small aperture).
* Manual - Allows you to manually set the shutter speed and aperture.
* Records 30 frames per second at either 640x480pixels or 320x24opixels depending upon the setting. Focal length of the optical zoom is approximately 35mm-210mm and maximum zoom scale is 6x. Focal range is the same as the normal mode of photography. The final mode in this mode dial section is the set up mode. This holds a whole variety of different settings for both taking photos, recording video and other things needed in the running of the camera. At first glance, this area is actually quite complicated, though once you read through the instructions and practice, then it becomes much clearer and is needed for those wanting optimum usage of the camera. The set-up menu options include; image display, media, power save, format, beep, shutter, date/time, adapter, frame no., ccd-raw, language, video system, USB mode, discharge and reset.
As already mentioned, there are a whole array of other aspects of the mechanics of this camera, though I have taken you through the most important. Now, let me take you on to my experience which is equally, if not more important!
In my opinion, what is more important than the number of setting on a camera, is how the camera actually performs. A camera could have a thousand settings, though if the photo quality is poor, then it certainly is not worth buying. So how does this camera stand up?
I have been using this camera now for about six months and have taken a whole array of different photos, experimenting with different features and settings, and generally having fun with my new toy! At first, I used the auto feature all of the time, though realised that the capability of this option alone just did not allow me to take the photos I required, so I do recommend experimenting with all the features. In the main, though, most photos come out brilliantly clear and crisp. The colours are fantastic and really jump out of the image. I did not realise how drab the colours on my smaller camera were until I had compared the two and now I just can not go back. Scenery shots, as long as the right setting is chosen, look as though they are taken by a professional and I am certainly no professional! Of course, the ability of the photographer is a large part of the photo quality, the ability of this camera in this aspect really helps those who are not so great at photography simply shine! When I take photos of people, I quite often like to blur the background, especially when I am taking shots of my daughter for relatives, though I have found this feature a bit of a hit and miss really. Even experimenting with the different settings and options do not guarantee the background blur when taking a photo of a person.
Occasionally, I am able to take a photo of what I want, though a lot of the time the foreground blurs when it is not supposed to, or all of the scene, both foreground and background, are too clear for the option wanted. This is completely different in the macro mode, though, for close up photos such as flowers or insects. I have taken a wonderful photo of a bee on a flower which really impressed me, the blur of the background working perfectly as the detail of the bee jumps out of the photo. Perhaps I am doing something wrong in the people shots, though having experimented with all the settings; I do believe that this is a small problem with the camera itself. Another problem I have found with this camera is the night time shots. Whether you are taking a photo outside in the dark or inside a dance hall in dim light, the camera struggles to focus and take a picture. You are able to blindly take a photo and the exposure will brighten up even if you could not see what you were taking, though the blur is horrendous. Even using a tripod, the quality of night time shots are just not brilliant. Occasionally, as long as there is some decent background light, the photos will come out alright, though nine times out of ten, these night time photos are passed back to my old camera which does a much better job.
Video quality is much higher on this camera than on my smaller camera, though like the photo quality, it has a problem with dark shots. I have never had any problems with freezing frames and playback always works perfectly. If recording in daylight then the video quality is brilliant. Perhaps not as clear as the photos, though certainly clear and crisp. The sound on the videos is rather quiet, especially on playback on the camera. The sound does get louder when playing back on the computer, though still rather quiet.
When photos are taken, you are able to choose whether the camera automatically stores it or whether you preview it first before accepting it. Either option you choose, the camera lives up to the expectations.
Loading the photos onto the computer is simple. You can use a USB lead, which when new, is supplied with the camera, though I prefer to use the card straight into the laptop card slot. Uploading is reasonably fast though transfer from card to the internet takes quite a while so it is better to transfer onto your computer system first. I have only had one problem with the card in the six months of usage. Unfortunately I lost a few photos when the card somehow went wrong and specified non-initialisation. Although it was simple enough to format the card so that it was usable once more, the photos on the card were lost. I have no idea why this happened, and it has not happened before though I thought I had better mention this as a possible problem for those with more knowledge of the workings of cameras.
Battery life is quite poor with this camera when using the flash. Almost immediately, the battery starts flashing when you have only used the flash once. It does last for quite a while after this sign first comes up, though if you are going out for the day and may need the flash numerous times, you do need to take more than one set of batteries. Do not even attempt to use throw away batteries, either, as they simply do not have the strength to run this camera. Good rechargeable batteries are needed for this.
AT A GLANCE
Before I end this review, I will give you a few important specifications at a brief glance to aid your knowledge before purchasing this camera;
Effective pixels: 6.3 million
Storage Media: x-D Picture card (16/32/64/128/256/512MB), Microdrive (340MB/1GB)
File Format: Still image-DCF-compliant, compressed JPEG, DPOF compatible. Movie-AVI format, motion JPEG, Audio-WAVE Format, monaural sound
Lens: Super EBC Fujinon 6x zoom lens
Focal Length: 7.8mm-46.8mm
Focal Range: Normal wide angle approx 50cm to infinity, telephoto approx 90cm to infinity, macro approx 10cm to 80cm, super macro approx 1cm to 20cm
Shutter speed: auto/SP 1/4sec to 1/2000sec, SP 3-1/250sec, P/S/A 3-1/1000sec, M 15-1/10000sec, Bulb up to 15sec.
LCD monitor: 1.8inches, 118,000-pixel low temp polysilicon TFT approx 100% coverage
Flash type: Auto flash using flash control sensor, Effective range: wide angle approx 0.3-8.5m (to 0.8m macro), telephoto approx 0.9m-7.m
Flash modes: Auto, red-eye reduction, forced flash, suppressed flash, slow synchro, red-eye reduction + slow synchro.
Camera Dimensions: w-h-d) 121.0mm x 81.5mm x 7.0mm
Camera Weight: 500g
I am not the most technical minded, though hopefully I have covered all you need to know about this camera.
In my opinion, this is a great camera, though certainly not without its flaws. The ease of use is great for non-professionals, though the layout is a little more complicated than what it really needed to be. The design otherwise is great which aids in the ease of use, and the weight is average though certainly not overbearing. Photo quality is excellent though with some flaws with regards to certain settings or lighting as mentioned in the bulk of this review. Video quality is above average though again, with some flaws.
Professionals will probably want something a little more, well...professional! Though for novices and those with a keen interest in photography, especially scenery shots, this camera is an excellent buy and at a much lower price online that newer models!
I received this camera as a hand-me-down from my stepfather.
I am a complete novice at Photography and wanted to learn about the different features and functions of a digital SLR camera without breaking the bank. (Knowing me I'd spend hundreds on a digital SLR and then only use it once or twice!)
This was the perfect compromise, okay, by modern standards the MegaPixel is nothing to write home about (only a 6.3), but for beginners, and people who are looking for something to take a decent picture with, without completely emptying their pockets, this is the ideal solution.
Since getting this camera I've spent about 2 hours reading the online manual (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilms7000/page5.asp, for those who are interested in reading up on the technical specifications) and fiddling about with the various settings, it doesn't come with some of your more fancy settings you might get on a Nikon D40 (My boyfriend has one of these- eternally jealous!) such as 'Dog and child' detection, but it comes with the normal manual, semi-auto and auto settings, as well as specific auto settings for sports etc.
The only downside to this camera is that it uses the old xD card format which is irritating as the majority of cameras these days use SD (or in Sony's case MSPD), and the majority of computers don't have xD card readers.
This camera is extremely reliable, my Stepfather has had it since 2004, and it is still in perfect working condition today.
Anyway, anyone looking at something ridiculously cheap, have a look on eBay for one of these, to get started with, it's a perfect beginners camera.
I have had my Fujifilm Finepix s7000 for about 3 years now it has always proved itself to be a reliable companion. I originally bought it after my tutor at college recommended the Fujifilm finepix s5000 as a great camera for shooting stills of my embroidery pieces (I am a textile artist). The s7000 had not been out long then so being a bit of a gadgeteer I had to have it!
My favourite feature is the super macro setting is great for taking very detailed close up shots of stitches and it even captures the weave of fabric perfectly with beautiful clarity. I also find that the picture quality excellent and have used enlarged close ups of my work for posters etc. with no problems at all.
I am not a photography expert yet I have always found that this camera takes beautiful shots with no technical knowledge. I only really use the automatic settings but have just begun to explore its manual settings and have been delighted with what I am producing. It is a great all rounder which will grow with you no matter how involved you choose to get and I highly recommend it!
During the last 2 decades technology advances have seen no bounds, striving further and further forward making everyones life supposedly easier and convenient from wind up radios to handheld satellite navigation systems, so where does that leave the good old point and click camera.
Well the camera certainly didnt miss the boat thus entering the world of mega pixels and mega bucks. Choosing the right camera for you depends entirely on how adventurous you are, how much time you have on your hands to learn the array of functions they have to offer and not forgetting how much your budget will stretch to.
Liking a gadget or two, I considered the more functions the camera offered the better and I decided upon the Fuji Finepix S7000.
The S7000 made its debut in July 2003 and had a recommended retail price of £599, I purchased mine one year later for £399 and now three years on you can expect to pay £280. Neatly packed into a box measuring 8.5 inches x 6 inches and 8.5 inches deep, it seemed a small package for £399 but upon opening and viewing the jet black beauty that resembled those more professional looking cameras, I felt like David Bailey and soon forgot about its price tag.
Accompanying the camera is the inclusion of a 16 megabyte xD memory card, 4 AA sized alkaline batteries, shoulder strap, lens cap and holder, a USB cable, cd rom containing Fuji Finepix software and a 119 page user manual.
So what were the headline grabbing features that drove me to part with my hard earned cash? Well, a 6.3 effective mega pixel and 12.3 recorded mega pixel camera was bordering top of the range in 2004, it had the ability to shoot moving video with sound at 30 frames per second, it could store 2 different memory formats at the same time and finally it boasted a 6 x optical zoom lens.
--- The Look ---
The S7000 resembles yesterdays non-digital camera, big and bulky but with an air of professionalism about it and is a far cry from the small compact man from uncle type cameras that are commonly seen. A huge 6 x optical zoom lens dominates the front of the camera. There is a large handgrip, which is required when steadying the camera but its size makes for comfortable handling. The whole casing is finished in black, which adds to its uniqueness. The flash is hidden away but with a touch of a button pops upright when required. Just behind the flash is a hot shoe allowing for the fitment of an external flash and both flashes can function at the same time. To the right of the flash is located the Mode Dial and at the rear of the camera can be found a very respectable 1.8 inch lcd monitor capable of displaying a resolution of 118,000 pixels. To the right of the screen on the side of the camera is a compartment that holds CF and xD memory cards and on the opposite side can be found the power input socket (mains adapter sold separately), Audio visual output socket and the usb 2.0 port. Unsurprisingly on the underbelly of the camera can be found the tripod mount.
--- The Offering ---
The camera boasts a multitude of functions and has a mass of buttons, skipping the manual and going for broke is really not an option and is probably why a quick guide leaflet was not included. The manual is lengthy and I soon found I could not possibly retain all the information it offered in a single sitting. There is so much to remember its best to take it one step at a time and the manual has been written specifically with this in mind and includes many diagrams to complement the instructions.
The control centre of the camera is the Mode Dial and has 8 different options and I will briefly run through each of these:
Set This is the set-up option, here you can set the time and date, which memory card you would like to use, power save options, image format, video format (NTSC/Pal) and volume setting ect.
M Manual mode, youre on your own with this mode both the shutter speed and aperture settings are user definable.
A The camera is put into automatic mode but allows the user to set the aperture.
S The camera is put into automatic mode but allows the user to set the shutter speed.
P This setting allows the user to change any other settings other than shutter speed and aperture.
AUTO Point and Click, its all done for you.
SP This setting gives access to 4 types of shot, which are, Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night scenes.
The last setting is depicted by a small movie camera and gives the camera the ability to record moving images with sound.
---- The Use ---
I spent a considerable amount of time familiarising myself with the camera during the first month, as there is just so much to understand and master. Initially I found the 16mb xD card wasnt nearly enough to hold photos and video without running back to the pc every 5 minutes to download them via the USB cable, so wallet in hand I splashed out another £150 on a 1gigabyte CF card and a 512 megabyte xD card.
The software that accompanied the camera was easy to install and not only allowed you to transfer the images and video from the camera to the pc but also gave you the ability to manipulate and retouch the images if you desired. As soon as you attach the camera to the PC the software program loads immediately and finds all media stored on the camera.
The camera is very impressive; although bulky the weight is evenly distributed allowing for ease of use. The electronic zoom glides in and out effortlessly making it easy to keep the camera steady whilst zooming in on your target. You can manually focus each shot or by pressing the shutter half way down, will allow the camera to auto focus for you. The auto focus was extremely quick and effective, which is essential to capturing that one off picture. I played around with many of the settings, a few of them by trial and error and some of the results were absolutely superb, detailed images captured in pure vibrant colour, lifelike skin tones with exceptional clarity.
Continuous mode shooting produced some great shots of the kids, lining the cross hairs on the viewfinder on your target, kept the subject in focus whilst capturing motion in the background. The flash being mounted high away from the lens reduced red eye to a minimum during night time shots and the macro mode produced some truly amazing results. The 6 million mega pixel resolution produced excellent quality and created an image size of about 1.5 megabytes meaning the 1 gigabyte memory card could hold around 750 pictures.
The video capture caught me by surprise; it was both detailed and smooth and I wasnt expecting such good quality. Unfortunately the zoom does not function when in video capture mode, which means to close in on the subject you will need to walk nearer to them and by doing that its virtually impossible to avoid camera shake. Video mode allows you to capture in 640 x 480 or by 320 x 240 resolutions at 30 frames per second. This roughly means you can capture about 15 minutes of video at the higher resolution and about 30 minutes at the lower on a 1 gigabyte memory card.
When capturing video, battery life is appalling and I recommend anyone buying this camera to use high-powered rechargeables, otherwise you will be forever replacing the normal AA alkaline batteries.
The only real stumbling block I found with this camera was myself, 5 months of not using the camera, left me struggling to remember all the settings. I became lazy and now use auto mode all the time. Dont get me wrong it still takes great pictures but I am not utilising the camera to anywhere near its full potential.
--- The Conclusion ---
The S7000 is a superb camera and in the right hands will produce stunning results time and time again. I consider it has been designed for the long term experienced amateur or semi-professional as opposed to your normal everyday user. The auto mode does allow the lesser experienced like myself to operate the camera and produce some good photographs but I could have purchased a cheaper camera, with fewer features and probably produced comparable results due to the way I now operate the S7000.
Highly recommended for those in the know, for your point and click amateur a cheaper less technical offering should do just as well.
Full specifications can be found at www.fujifilm.com
Thanks for reading.
When Mrs GUMMO says that she doesn't want anything for Christmas it can mean only one thing; namely that what she wants is quite expensive, and that she daren't ask in case I say 'NO'.
This is exactly what happened at about this time last year, when I plucked up the courage to ask 'SHE who must be obeyed' about what she wanted. There then ensued a couple of weeks of dodging and manoeuvring by SHE, before she managed to catch me in the right disposition to drop the bombshell request.
"A New Camera".
Apparently, despite having had a 5MP digital camera bought for her not a full year previously, it wasn't 'camera-like enough'. This struck me as a very strange explanation, and it took me some time to ascertain that what SHE had meant was that she wanted an SLR-type system.
So, the hunt was on, with a few stipulations to throw the search into a wide degree of chaos. These were:
It had to look like a proper (SLR-Type) camera.
It had to take more pixels than her current camera.
It had to be able to be modified with different lenses/filters etc.
After much trawling through the assorted mail-order catalogues, and multitudinous trips around the local photographic supply shops in Doncaster, SHE finally announced that she had decided upon the Fujifilm Finepix S7000 Zoom.
It soon became obvious that a major reason for SHE's choice was the complete lack of stock in any of the normal haunts around the area. It is an inescapable law of shopping with my wife that, should she ever make a decision, the item in question will either be out of stock, discontinued or 'the last one in the shop' with 'only a little scratch'.
Finally, having travelled over two hundred miles in search of one of these particular cameras, I managed to pick up what was, at that time, seemingly the only one in the UK, somewhere near Nottingham. Admittedly, I could have probably bought a dozen online, but despite the terrifying ability of Mrs GUMMO to strike fear into the hearts of statues, SHE has quite small hands, and SLR-Type cameras tend to be a bit bulkier than the standard digital snapshot type. When I'm spending around £400 on a camera for SHE's use, I want to be certain that her dainty little talons can actually wrap themselves around the device properly, which means being able to handle the camera at some length, thus needing an offline store.
Assured that SHE could handle the machine, I bought it for her, and almost managed to get it out of the shop before SHE started to pester me to take her somewhere to try it out. Somewhat patiently, I thought, I suggested that we head home, and take the time to read the instructions, before we plunged headlong into breaking the machine. Reluctantly, SHE agreed.
And so, my journey into the world of F-stops and ISOs began.
Inside the box, there are various bits of kit.
My suggestion to anyone buying this camera is to sort through these bits, identify them against the picture in the instruction book, and put aside the various parts for the shoulder strap (which is tricky to fit). I would also suggest that you attach the lens cap cover immediately, to avoid greasy finger prints or scratches on the lens.
If you have done as I suggested, you should be left with:
16 MB xD Picture card - enough to take 33 pictures at 1MP or 3 pictures at 12MP.
4 AA-size alkaline batteries - these go in the bottom of the camera, but I would advise the purchase of Ni-MH rechargeable batteries.
A/V cable - for direct connection to the TV
USB cable - for connection to a computer
CD-ROM - software for picture transfer.
Instruction manual - self explanatory
Just to clear up the peripheral items quickly.
I have only used the A/V cable once. In short, you plug one end into the camera, and the other end (or two ends) into the TV, change the channel on the TV and look at your pictures or video. The quality of the picture naturally depends upon the resolution of the photo, the quality of the TV and the size of the screen. (Don't expect a masterpiece if the photo was shot at 1MP and you are trying to play it back on a ten-year-old 50 inch CRT screen).
The USB cable and CD-ROM, which are for use with a computer, are relatively obsolete nowadays, with the increasing number of desktop computers that have built-in card readers, and the easily accessible card reading devices for the normal laptop. I have never had cause to use these bits of kit, although I can see there value for someone out and about who does not have card slots (or adapters) on their laptop.
So, on to the camera itself.
The camera has an old-school look to it, setting it apart from the more usual silver rectangle of today's snapshot digital cameras. This means that it has a somewhat cumbersome and unwieldy appearance to it, which belies the truth of its handling comfort. It also means that it is heavier than its silver-slab rivals, although the extra weight is well distributed over the entire camera, giving a good balance in the hand.
The first thing you will notice about the camera itself is the lens (or sticky-out bit at the front), which moves in and out when the zoom button is pressed. Zoom is an important factor on a camera for most amateur photographers, and the S7000 has a 6x optical zoom with a further 3.2x digital zoom. For more professional photographers, there is the option with this camera to disable the built-in zoom facility and attach separate 55mm lenses, via an adapter ring (sold separately at about £25).
Above the lens housing, you will find the pop-up integral flash. Again, this will probably be sufficient for the average amateur, but the S7000 also has a 'hot-shoe' attachment built in, should the need for an external flash arise.
The next, obvious aspect about the camera is the LCD view-screen at the back. At 1.8 inches, there are cameras on the market with larger screens, but I have found that this size is perfectly adequate. Should you wish to go down an old-fashioned route for viewing your vista, there is also a rather good viewfinder, situated just above the screen which you can use.
So, you've identified the large parts of the camera, but just what are the buttons and dials.
Whereas it is true that the S7000 has more buttons than the Cadbury factory, the amateur photographer will probably only use a couple of them. My advice is to familiarise yourself with all the buttons, even if the intention is to not touch them.
The truth is, that with so many buttons, dials, knobs and switches, I could spend the rest of my life writing in great depth about their uses and relative merits. The fact of the matter is that, any amateur would be bored to death by the technical jargon, and the more experienced pros would be more interested in the specifications (which I am including at the end of the review). In short, I am not going to go into any great detail about these buttons. Except the MODE dial.
The S7000 is a truly adaptable, flexible camera which allows the user to vary just about everything. Thankfully, however, there is also the option to allow the camera itself (or its software) to do everything for you. This is taken care of by the MODE dial, on top of the camera.
The M setting is for manual control ie the user doing everything.
The A setting allows the user to vary the aperture, whilst the camera controls the rest.
Likewise, the S setting is for varying the shutter, leaving the rest of the parameters on automatic.
P, is the setting which allows you to select different, preset combinations of aperture and shutter speed.
Auto, is pretty much self-explanatory.
SP is for selecting the programmed settings for various conditions and types of photo, such as portraits of night scenes.
And finally, the movie option (designated by a picture of a little movie camera), which allows the user to record short bursts of video.
The only other setting on the MODE dial is the SET position, which allows access to the on-screen menu of the camera for setting things such as date and time etc.
For the normal, family photo-taker, the standard setting will always be AUTO, whereby all you need to do is point the camera and press the button. Simple.
The S7000 will accept both xD and Compact Flash II/Microdrive cards. The supplied 16Mb xD card will hold 33 pictures at 1MP or 3 pictures at 12MP. I would recommend buying a 1Gb (or larger) Compact Flash II card, which holds 2190 pictures at 1MP or 217 pictures at 12MP. This should be all the storage you need for a long time to come.
One word of caution, however. When I purchase a SanDisk 1GB CF II card for SHE, I found that the batteries wore down extremely quickly. This turned out to be a hardware fault with the particular batch of cameras that SHE's belonged to and was rectified, by Fuji, free of charge and very speedily.
This is a very confusing subject that very few amateur photographers seem to understand. The Fuji S7000 camera takes up to 12 million pixels, but compresses them into 6.3 million 'effective' pixels via software. This allows for larger pictures to be printed from the images stored on the camera. It does not mean that smaller images are going to have any better resolution.
Recently, my brother-in-law purchased an 8MP camera, and insists that it is better than the S7000. However much I tried to explain to him that a sheet of A4 paper will only take about 5MP print, he wouldn't listen.
Of course, if you only intend to print out 6x4 snapshots, then the lower settings will be perfectly adequate. In fact, you may even consider buying a cheaper, less professional camera.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS (amateurs look away now)
Effective Pixels 1/1.7-inch Super CCD HR
File Format DCF-compliant
Compressed: Exif Ver.2.2 JPEG
Lens Super EBC Fujinon 6x Zoom, F2.8-F3.1
Focal Length 7.8mm-46.8mm
Focal Range Normal: 50cm to infinity
Macro: Approx 10cm to 80cm
Super Macro: Approx 1cm to 20cm
Shutter Speed 3 sec to 1/1000 sec
Aperture F2.8 to F8
Exposure Compensation -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps)
THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL.
This booklet is, if you do decide to purchase the S7000, going to become your busom buddy. At 118 pages long, it is 'WAR and Peace' compared to other instruction books, but despite its length, it is easy to navigate your way through. Inside, it holds the secrets to many different tricks and techniques for great photograph taking, all written in simple, understandable English.
Truthfully, I would recommend that, before even picking up the camera itself, any new purchaser of the S7000 should spend at least a couple of hours reading, and trying to digest, the contents of this manual. It will be worth it.
And Finally .
This is an opinion, and therefore it demands a conclusion.
Writing a review of a camera is always tricky, because people, on the whole, want to know whether it will take great photographs. The answer to that question, with regard to the S7000 is a resounding YES. However, in photography, the camera is only one quarter of the whole process. Without a good photographer and scene, the shot can easily be ruined, and without a good printer, no matter how good the other three-quarters of the process are, you will never produce a great picture.
This camera has the flexibility and functionality to allow truly great photographs to be taken with it. However, in order to use all the available power of the S7000, the user has to be either a very experienced amateur or a semi-professional. To these people, I whole heartedly recommend the Fuji S7000.
For the amateur snapshotter, whose sole need for a camera is to take quick pics of 'the kids', the S7000 is very advanced and could be intimidating. There is, of course, the AUTO setting which can be used, but at over £300, this camera is a waste of money unless you intend to utilise the features it offers.
Ok so it's only 6.3 megapixels interpolated to 12 but at around £350 compared to the £700 you could pay for an 8 megapixel model who would complain.
The camera is quite large and heavy and, therefore, may not be suitable for small hands but the build quality is very good and the camera certainly feels very solid to hold.
You view the image through the lens using the electronic viewfinder although the camera also has the usual LCD colour screen on the back (1.8 inches in size).
The camera also has the advantage of a cable release socket in the shutter button as well as a hotshoe on the top of the camera.
Auto focusing is very good and there's a super macro mode to allow the camera to focus from a distance of just 1 cm.
In the auto focus mode you can use the ring on the front of the lens to move the zoom back and forth although this operation is not as quick as on proper SLRs. This camera is described as SLR-like. In the manual focus mode this rings serves as the focusing ring.
The camera has 2 auto focus modes - continuous where the camera is continually focusing without you needing to press the shutter button half way and single auto focus where the camera will focus once when you press the shutter release button half way down.
The autio focus is a hybrid system using both a passive auto focus system as found on SLRs where focusing is done through the lens and an infra red focusing system used on some compacts where the camera uses infra red beams to calculate the correct focusing distance. The Infra red system is used to assits the passive system in low light conditions.
The built in flash has modes such as auto flash, fill-in, slow syncro and red-eye reduction. The flash does not pop up automatically, however. You pop it up by pressing a button on the side of the flash unit.
The camera has dual storage slots to use both xd picture cards and the cheaper compact flash cards.
The photos themselves are of excellent quality. I would recommend this camera to anyone who can afford it.
I've had several digital cameras over the past few years, and with each one the features and the quality has got better. My existing camera is a Canon A70 - an excellent camera, but I felt the need for something more sophisticated, and my partner wanted something with more manual options. We decided on the Fuji Finepix S7000 after reading lots of online reviews. I ordered from Amazon because it was the best price at the time (£356) - they excelled themselves by delivering next day. The camera comes with a pathetically small memory card (Fuji's own type - XD Picture Card) but I'd ordered a 256MB additional card as 16MB is barely enough for half a dozen photo's at 6M pixels. The camera can also use Microdrives if you want loads of storage. You don't get a case with the camera, but again I'd chosen one on Amazon with it - I decided that it was worth protecting. The camera is very easy to use - the screen on the back is very clear and bright, and if you prefer you can switch to using the viewfinder - its electronic, colour and shows all the same information. The pictures it takes are stunning - its hard to beat the fully automatic mode and my partner has played with most of the manual modes, but to be honest 90% of the time automatic is fine. The camera appears on your PC as an external storage device via USB - the transfer of images is extremely quick - a lot faster than the Canon A70 ever was. Not really much else to say, but I will amend this review with some links to a couple of online reviews as they cover the technical aspects in loads of detail.