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This camera is superb. For a low price tag it offers amazing control over images with very accessible manual controls as well as perfectly good automatic/ scene settings. The 18x zoom is great and the camera also performs quite well at macro distances (I would guess a minimum focal distance of around 50cm), the S1800 also has an easy to use in built flash and the usual pre-set modes of use. I use this as a quick and easy alternative to my DSLR and am rarely dissatisfied, only occasionally do images appear a little colourless, but this, I'm sure is often as much the photographer's fault as the cameras! Easy to navigate and quick to flip between viewfinder and the (reasonable quality) LCD display. Lacks a straight to video button that is present on some Lumix compacts and I have occasionally been bothered by a slightly lower than desirable fps count, but this is overall a very complete package for a small camera.
Ideal if you want to get those close up shots but don't want to be carrying extra lenses around with you.
Quick at loading up and taking the picture, also uses a button which opens the flash bulb allowing you to control when you have flash (and is easy to make sure there's no accidental flash when taking photos in museums and art galleries).
Really easy to use while still allowing you to adjust settings for the more expirenced phtographer. A good priced camera for high quality photos!
It comes with many different settings for different photo types without being too confusing and also has a handy mode which lets you swap between close ups, extreme close ups and landscapes. Can swap between taking photos using the screen or the more traditional approach of looking through the small window, whatever your preference might be!
Overall, a simple camera but with the quality of many professional cameras.
I'm by no means a professional, in fact I'm very much a beginner, but I enjoy technology and taking photos with my point and shoot compact digital camera. So decided now was the time to take the plunge and buy something that little bit more advanced. Something I could take out of 'automatic' mode to try to improve the pictures I take. The Fuji S1800 was the camera I chose, and this review should hopefully give an insight into things from a beginner's perspective.
After spending several months keeping an eye on the refurbished cameras section of the Fuji online shop (https://secure.fujifilm.co.uk/shop/consumer/digital/digital-cameras/view-all), I decided to take the plunge on the Fuji S1800. Available for £99.99 when selecting the refurbished option, this was quite a saving over buying it new. Although if you check out www.hotukdeals.co.uk, there are discount codes posted regularly for the Fuji shop which helped bring the cost of this delivered, down to £89.99.
The S1800 is what is commonly called a 'Superzoom' or 'Bridge' camera. This basically means it bridges the market between a standard compact 'point and shoot' camera and the more advanced, and much more expensive DSLR (Digital Slow Lens Reflex). This being an ideal type of camera for those wanting to take the step up and play with manual settings, but without wanting to spend the earth on a professional DSLR camera, that might end up being an expensive door stop if you get bored of your hobby quickly!
These cameras also have a much bigger optical zoom than the standard compact camera, ranging from 12x zoom to 30x zoom. The only downside of this is that the camera itself is less portable due to the larger lens barrel required to house such a zoom. The camera itself looks like a miniature DSLR, and that alone gives the impression that it has a little more under the hood than the standard digicam.
**In the Box**
As this is a refurbished product, you benefit from a much lower price than buying new. I had purchased a previous camera that was Fuji refurbished, and never had a problem with it. If I ever do with the S1800, you get a full 1 year warranty to cover any problems which is reassuring to know.
The camera arrived in a white box which is similar to the retail box except that it had the words 'refurbished' printed on it. Inside the box you get the camera itself, fully wrapped in a brand new, sealed plastic bag. There is a plastic Fuji branded lens cap which just clips onto the end of the lens barrel, and a length of cord to attach it to the camera strap, so you don't lose the cap when you remove it to take pictures. A basic Fuji shoulder strap is included, as well as an installation CD, a cable to attach to a PC or Television and a basic instruction manual and warranty card. Not forgetting 4 standard batteries just to get you started.
A more detailed set of instruction which delves deeper into the cameras options and capabilities can be found on the supplied CD or can be downloaded on a .pdf file from the Fuji website.
The camera instantly made me feel a little more professional, even though I hadn't switched it on yet! It feels comfortable in the hand, although people with larger hands may find it a little cramped. The buttons are nicely placed on the top right and back right side of the camera, and feel natural to control. The 3" LCD screen is big enough for the overall size of the camera. It automatically dims after a short period of inactivity, and has manually adjustable brightness to help save on batteries.
The impressive 18x optical zoom extends from 28mm Wide Angle to 420mm Tele-photo (35mm equivalent). ISO sensitivity can be changed from 64 upto 6400 but anything over 400 tends to be affected by noise on the pictures (basically pixilation along edges and lines in the photos). The camera also has a pop up flash which can only be operated manually by pressing a small button on the left hand side of the camera. The flash already seems much more effective than the small one found on my compact Sony digicam.
Despite being made primarily from plastic, the camera has a weighty, solid and well built feel to it, coming in at 337g before you've put the battery and SD Card in. The dimensions are; 4.3"(W) x 2.9"(H) x 3.2"(D) inches (excluding accessories and attachments).
Initial photos have been mixed, but I was trying to stay away from automatic mode as much as possible. Instead, trying to read up and learn about the effects of shutter speed, aperture setting, ISO setting and exposure. This way, when you do get a good picture, you feel as though you've actually 'made it', rather than it just being given to you by the cameras artificial intelligence.
**The Good and Bad**
The S1800 takes 4x AA batteries and suffice to say, you'll be going through regular batteries like nobody's business! It's my advice to get a few sets of high capacity rechargeable batteries to carry around in your case. Good rechargeable AA's (recommend over 2000mAh) can last for a few days worth of shooting in my initial experience, and several 'experts' recommend Sanyo Eneloop batteries amongst others, for power-thirsty digital cameras.
The S1800 and others in this 'S' range do not have the initial ability to accept additional lenses and filters such as UV, Neutral Density and Lens Hoods. Bear this in mind when making your purchasing choice and decide if it's going to be a factor. However, there is a workaround! There is a screw-on 58mm and 72mm lens adapter available:
This seems to get favourable reviews and helps take your camera's ability and potential up another level. I think I will probably purchase this product once I've got to grips with the camera a bit more.
The camera has several shooting modes to make sure you can always get a good picture. As well as the usual ones like; Auto, Custom, Movie, Panorama, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod) and Fireworks, there are a few that many beginners won't have encountered:
SR AUTO - Automatically recognises the conditions and changes settings accordingly
S - Shutter Priority (set the shutter speed, camera sets aperature for correct exposure)
A - Aperture Priority (Set the aperture size, camera sets shutter speed for correct exposure)
M - Manual mode (set both shutter and aperture, adjust exposure if desired)
P - Program Auto Exposure (Camera determines the exposure automatically when pointed at a subject)
Sunset, Snow, Natural Light, Natural Light & with Flash, Beach, Party, Flower, Text and Smile modes are fairly self explanatory.
Shutter speed and Aperture are basically settings used for achieving better depth of field (how much of the field of view appears in focus) and creating intentional blur (waterfall effects maybe) or freezing the action as it happened (Sport/Live action). It is however, so much more complicated than this, but it's a good area to start and experiment with!
A little tinkering (and reading up on settings) can produce some really good pictures. A basic tripod might be a good additional purchase for long zoom shots or close macro shots in my opinion.
For the price I paid, this camera is exceptional value for money and I'm very pleased with the purchase. I now want to take my camera everywhere I go, just in case I find something I can practice on.
The camera size feels just right, and with a bit of squeezing can just about fit in a pocket if you have no case.
The pictures (when you get the settings right!) can be made to look very good indeed and without spending hundreds and hundreds of pounds, I feel this camera is very much on my level.
If I improve, or find myself enjoying this new hobby even more, who knows, I may move on to a DSLR eventually!
*Why did I want a new camera?*
I have never been one of those people who want a dream camera, something that can do everything and everything. Mostly because I am not a good photographer and only use point and shoot ones for the purpose of catching special memories.
That was until I started my own business, with me taking pictures of all my products my previous digital camera Nikon Coolpix was not working for me in the high quality department. Close up shots we're a no, no and if I could get close enough the pictures looked blurry and none professional. This was when I decided this camera was not enough and I needed some more.
I remember searching and searching for a new camera, I first searched for DSLR cameras but soon realised these little beauties cost a pretty penny and it was a pretty penny I couldn't part with so I kept looking.
*What did I find?*
Looking in the Argos catalogue my focus soon turned to a Fujifilm. I first noticed model S1730 and first thought what a great price, this model was priced at £149.99, because it was such a great price I started hunting online for a better model for the same price or cheap and this is when I came across model S1800.
*About model S1800*
it is known as a new super zoom digital compact that looks and feels like a DSLR.
S1800 seems to have everything I wanted in a high performance camera without the DSLR price tag. S1800 comes with 12.2MP, optical zoom of 18x, 3in LED screen, anti blur option that can be used while in digital or optical photography, 10 face detections, storage media comes in SD and SDHC or internal memory of 23MB and 28mm wide angle lens.
Wight comes in as 337g, which is 11.9oz.
S1800 comes well packaged in its cardboard box that has a picture of the camera from the front. Background colours of black and dark green compliment the camera. Top of the box sees the camera on a side and top angle.
The side of the box sees the camera from a back angle where you can see the LED screen and buttons on the right hand side.
*Opening the box, what do you see?*
S1800 is sitting securely in a cardboard box that has been moulded to fit around the contours of the camera for a perfect fit, also surrounding the camera for extra protection is a plastic sheet. To the front you will find your USB cable that you use to connect your new camera to your PC, lens cap and the camera strap all in their little plastic sleeves. CD that carries your owner's manual with Finepix Viewer software and warranty booklet and four AA alkaline batteries.
I was surprised to find no instruction manual but it is installed on the FinePix CD for you to download. I found this a bit annoying as sometimes it is nice to carry the manual with you if you're going away and still unsure of your new device.
(Please Note: SD cards don't come supplied with this camera)
*How does the camera look?*
I am not one to say, wow look at that beauty of a camera. It either does the job or it doesn't, but in this case I can honestly say it is a lovely design that is practical. It looks and feels like a DSLR, the front sees your lens that is covered with the cap. The right hand side of the camera is something I had to get used to, which is apart of the camera that sticks out and this is where you cup it with your hand to take a picture, it is for easy of use while using the camera, which feels comfortable and something you do naturally when taking a picture.
The top sees six controllers, which include slide on/off button, intelligent face detection/red eye removal button, burst mode button, zoom control, shutter button, mode button and of course the flash.
The back sees on the left hand side a 3inch LED screen that has Fujifilm written in white at the bottom, the top sees the electronic view finder. The right hand side you will find six controllers, which include EVF/LED display section button, playback button, photo mode button, selector button (has the ability to delete photos, monitor brightness, menu/ok button, macro button, instant zoom and flash). Display back button and exposure button.
*To do before first use*
You need to insert four AA alkaline batteries that come supplied into the compartment at the bottom of the camera, at the same place I inserted my 8GB SD card.
Attach the strap to either side of the camera and attach the cap lens. These are all easy to do and the instruction manual shows you how to do them.
*Using the camera for basic photography*
After going through all of the digital instruction manual and having a rough idea of how it works I couldn't wait to get stuck in and found it quite easy to use.
Sliding the on button you will hear a little sound to tell you it is on and the lens will extend automatically to take a picture. You can also start your basic setup via going into the menu, here you can set up clock, date and if you want battery displayed.
You can then take a picture from a shoot and point, point of view or what Fuijifilm call Auto mode. Simply find your target in the view finder or LCD screen and hold down the shutter half way so it focuses (you will hear a double beep) and then press it down all the way to take the picture where you will hear a click.
To see what you have just taken press Playback Mode, here you have the option to delete the photo you have just taken.
*Other camera options*
Avoiding a blurry picture can be a pain in everyone's life. This can be avoided by using Dual Is Mode option in the setup menu.
Intelligence Face Detection and Red Eye Removal is a great feature to have, this allows the camera to automatically detect a human face and focus anywhere in the frame for shots, this also helps the camera from focusing on the background. This feature also offers blink detection and red eye removal caused by the flash.
Macro and Super Macro is something I use often and find it a great feature. When macro mode has been enabled the camera is able to focus on subjects near the centre of the frame. In super macro mode the zoom control and flash are disabled.
Intelligence Flash instantly analyzes the scene based on the factors of brightness of the subject, the position in the frame and distance from the camera. It adjusts itself to ensure the main subject is correctly exposed while preserving the background lighting.
Continuous Mode is to capture a series of photographs in one shoot.
Instant Zoom is great and used widely for moving children, pets and sports events as an example.
Panorama Mode gives you the ability to take up to three pictures and joining them together creating one big picture.
Recoding movies, you can shoot short movies at 30 frames per second. Sound is recorded via the built in microphone. I have used the recording mode on 1280 HD, both picture and sound quality is fantastic.
*How easy is it easy to use?*
As a beginner on this type of camera I found it really easy and an absolute joy to use. I didn't find the weight too much of a problem and this is something I got used to very quickly.
Even though I found the user manual very useful I also found just using the camera in general and seeing what this button does a lot more helpful to be able to feel competent with using it.
*Transferring pictures from camera to PC*
Once you have installed Finepix Viewer on your PC or laptop you are ready to connect your camera up and download your pictures or videos. Turning the camera off and connect the USB into your computer and A/V part into the side on the camera. Pressing the Playback button turns on the camera and instantly starts Finepix Viewer, this starts to automatically download pictures and videos to a folder of your choice. Once downloaded Finepix Viewer will tell you when you can disconnect both USB to the computer and your camera.
All pictures will have a file format of JPEG and video is motion JPEG with sound.
You also have the option to view all your pictures and videos by connecting your camera to your TV.
*Price and availability*
This camera is currently priced at Argos.co.uk for £159.99
Amazon.co.uk for £139.99
ukdigitalcameras.co.uk for £117.99
*What other cameras can I get like this?*
S18000 mains rivals are currently:
- Canon Powershot SX20 IS
- Kodak Easyshare Z980
- Nikon Coolpix P100
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 and
- Samsung WB5000
For the money this is a fantastic camera, since I'm not a fantastic photographer and not really interested into photography I am surprised at how much I enjoy using this camera, whether it will be for the business or personal use.
I am always on the look out of photographing the smallest things, seeing how close I can get and how the picture quality comes out and I am always amazed at how wonderful it looks. The pictures always look sharp, bright, with the main subject in perfect focus as well as the background. With Macro options the subject is perfectly focused while not interfering with the background.
Although I haven't used all of the available features yet on this camera it is always there for me to enjoy.
Battery power for this camera I also find brilliant and a lot better than my digital camera. Four re-chargables can last me at least three weeks and that is with use everyday.
*Would I recommend?*
Without a doubt, it is a great camera for beginners or professional photographers alike. You won't be disappointed in this beauty.