This camera is a little gem.
Around five years ago I started to become interested in photography and needed to move up from a compact to something I could learn with. For my birthday, and shortly before I went travelling for a year, my parents bought me the S5500 for my birthday.
I was obviously pleased at the gift, but unsure whether it would be right for me - I didn't want to get really into photography and find that I'd outgrown the camera very quickly, and I'd been considering a full SLR.
But I started using the camera, playing about with the controls - using the set features and learning about the different combinations of ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, White Balance and framing.
I found that I didn't know as much about photography as I thought I did.
I took the camera away for the year travelling, and it was the best thing I packed in my backpack. The image quality of the photographs was brilliant, and shooting at 4 million megapixels gave as good results as some other compact competitors of the time who claimed higher megapixel capability. When we returned I was able to blow pictures up and put them on canvas around four times the size of A3 without any loss of quality. Skin tones normally came out perfectly (although some low light with flash washed them out a bit), and the colours were dynamic and generally enhanced the image. The size of the files wasn't huge either, which was handy when trying to upload pictures in internet cafes with dodgy connections, and trying to save to CD to take home. It also meant that you could get a lot of pictures on the XD format cards that the camera takes. I had a 1GB card, and two 512MB cards and could get hundreds on those so you need never be caught short, particularly with the price of XD cards now. The only downside to the cards is the physical size of them - they are pretty easy to lose, which could be really annoying if you have all your prize photographs on them! (luckily this never happened to me!)
The camera never let me down. Despite being pretty light for a camera like this, it was solid enough that even being bashed about on a backpacking trip it didn't fall to pieces. The battery life was good too. It takes 4 AA batteries, but the package I got came with a recharger and a spare set. So I'd always keep a set in the camera and a set charged up or on charge.
The 10x optical zoom is good, providing enough zoom to be able to assist with those far away pictures and close up photography, but without getting you into bad habits of forgetting to 'zoom with your feet' (as any photographer will tell you, it's better to move yourself physically to get a better shot than rely on the camera). The focussing is solid even in relatively low light, and the images are sharp. The camera was soon superceded by the S5600, but from what I could make out the only difference was an extra 2 x optical zoom (so 12x in total) and I wouldn't think that was necessary for any extra expenditure.
The camera has the option of Lanscape, Sports, Portraiture, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority and full Manual. Although the Manual settings are not that sensitive, and you will never get the same flexibility that you will on a full SLR, there is enough there to help the developing photographer learn how to handle these settings correctly. I found that just by noticing how the camera adjusted itself during different conditions I was able to learn a lot.
The ISO (film speed) settings helped me to learn when adjustments needed to be made to improve quality, and the sacrifices in digital 'noise' when going up to the higher setting. (For those newby photographers, The lower the ISO, the less noise but higher ISO's let you take photographs in low light.) The ISO options only extend up to 400, and now that I've moved on to a full SLR this seems pitifully small, but like everything else on this camera, it is more of an introduction - it isn't an SLR, and the features are scaled back accordingly.
The screen size on the back is quite small, and sometimes it's not clear if you've shot a perfectly sharp image or if it is slightly blurry. If there was a criticism, it would be that other cameras in this class have a larger LCD screen. But you tend to only use this as a quick review, because when you are shooting you'll want to be looking through the viewfinder (isn't this why you want a camera like this ;) )
Having used this everyday for a year when backpacking, I found that I was ready for a move to a full DSLR, and felt confident paying out more for a higher range model than I would have. In short, I felt like I'd skipped a stage of buying a 'cheaper' introductory SLR because I wouldn't learn much more than I had already before I'd want to move on. I'd done this stage but for a whole lot cheaper with the S5500.
I've since bought a D300 and found that this step was comfortable, having found my photography legs with the S5500 and proven to myself that photography is a passion, and not just a passing fad.
I guess that there are probably a lot of people like me, who think they may be interested in photography but who are nervous of taking the step to shelling out hundreds on an introductory SLR. For those people, I would wholeheartedly reccomend this camera. You'll find out if you love photography, and even if you don't - you won't have spent too much finding out (I think this retails at under £70 now), and you'll still have good pictures and a decent camera to show for your efforts.
And if you are considering backpacking, or any other active type holiday, you should consider this - it won't let you down, and it's a whole lot less 'stealable' and bulky than a full SLR.
Overall this is a fabulous little camera that has served me really well. I'd definitely reccomend it.
Fujifilm FinePix S5500 - Digital camera - 4.0 Mpix - optical zoom: 10 x - supported memory: xD-Picture Card, xD Type H, xD Type M. This is a fine camera packing a lot of punch. If you are looking to move up from a compact but not ready for a digital slr this is the one for you.
It has full automatic control so you can just point and shoot, It is simple to use and gives great quality pictures. You can alter the settings so that you can control the aperture, or the shutter speed allowing you to experiment with different lighting effects.
The instructions with the camera are easy to understand and written clearly. A complete novice could take this camera and get very good results within minutes of taking it out of the box.
The plastic casing is sturdy but light, and gives it the feel and look of an expensive slr. The many features in this camera allows the user to push their photography to new levels.
It must be remembered though that this is not going to give you the same quality pictures as a more expensive digital slr but for the price and the features it contains it has a lot going for it.
This DSL type camera is an excellent buy. Useful for those stepping up from a compact but not able to afford the current top of the market models, this will be a great introduction to more advanced photography.
Packed with features, it contains everything a budding photographer will need. Using this camera I have managed to have my photography used in a vast array of places, from published books, in art shows and online.
I've had mine for a fews years now and its become an essential part of my lifestyle. It is strong and durable, I had an accident once where the camera fell off a tripod from quite a height onto a concrete floor, and the camera came out completely unscathed. The picture quality is superb, as is the video quality. 4 megpixels may seem low compared to newer cameras, but its unlikely you'll need more than this camera provides.
The only problems I have found is when compared to later models which have a fixed lens rather than an electronic optical lens, start-up is delayed minutely. The screen is also rather small and not ideal for those with bad eye-sight.
To further expand my options, I purchased a (0.45) wide angle lens and (x2) telephoto lens which can be bought cheaply for this model from abroad.
This SLR styled camera from Fuji is excellent value and a perfect model for amateurs who take digital photography more seriously and want the creativity and shooting options of an SLR camera without the expense.
Camera feels good in the hand rubberised grip and handle just like traditional SLR's. Options allow control over shutter speeds, aperture, priority settings, full manual and a selection of auto modes. Shutter speed from 15sec. to 1/2000 provides a good enough selection for most users. Zoom is excellent 10x optical. I have produced images of excellent quality for this camera and unless you regularly want to produce images above a4 size the 4mp will suffice. Image quality is good, colours are produced accurately and clearly.
The screen is average and sometimes condenses pictures to such an extent they look considerably worse than then are when viewed properly on a monitor. The viewfinder is electronic - so cannot be used if camera is off or without switching from the LCD - a negative to those users liking traditional viewfinders however it does have the advantage of showing shutter-speed/aperature so you can change this without looking away from the viewfinder.
The camera offers a 55mm adapter tube - a great design feature for a camera of this class. This allows the use of all filters and telephoto extensions x2/x3 to the zoom, and also macro lenses which may be necessary if you like macro work s the camera's inbuilt macro setting is average at best.
Tripod mount as standard and XD memory - takes 4 AA batteries.
As the camera is a "super-zoom" compact effectively zoom control is limited to button control rather than lens-barrel focus. This means manual focus is very tricky whilethe auto-focus will leave you frustrated sometimes especially in not perfect lighting or at the far end of the zoom. I would also not recommend using it above ISO 100 and ISO 64 is possible [adjusting exposure to compensate] - noise can be a problem.
The camera is an excellent introduction to the next level of photography and will offer all the capability to take perfect shots in a range of situations and allowing SLR levels of control over shooting. It will occasionally need patience to use due to auto-focus annoyances and shutter-lag however this camera is capable of producing 1st class photo's - I have sold some of my work taken using this camera.
In my line of photography I needed something tough, and was recommended this beasty: the FujiFilm FinePix S5500 Zoom.
It's survived being chucked out of windows (don't ask), rain, water, dust, snow, etc. The tough polycarbonate shell takes practically ANY punishment, so who cares if it looks a little cheap?
Picture quality is generally good, especially if you use a tripod and fiddle with all the settings - it's a great first step to a professional camera as it'll teach you to do more than just pointing and shooting. 4 megapixels isn't much compared to many current cameras, but you don't really need mega megapixels unless you're printing over A3 size. In low-light conditions on high ISO some "burning" occurs in the lower left corner of the picture and it's usually pretty noisy, not too serious though and can be hidden in post-editing.
The new S5600 takes all the S5500's qualities and adds higher ISO, noise reduction and image stabiliser. The perfect hard-wearing camera!
Good digital camera with professionl capabilities.
It has got good lens and good zoom.
I was able to get good macro zoom with the lens. I also used to shoot the images at night and the results were marvelous.
The battery life is surprisingly good.
The memory is also good.
you may feel that the camera is some bulky.
It is somewhat expensive. The camera does not come with case. I purchased one good case. The zoom lens is very effective and I got really sharp pictures.
...The Fujifilm Finepix S5500 is one of or the best digital cameras out there in its price class. I have used it in capturing portrait, still and motion shots in a vide variety of locations from oceansides to hiking and traversing through rainforests and in all kinds of lighting from indoors to outdoors at sunrise, midday and sunset and no matter what the subject is you can be guaranteed of a clear, crisp and warm photo.
The finepix speedily and accurately adjusts to changes in lighting so in the auto setting it is easy even for a begginer to take exellent photos anytime anywhere. Some might complain about the so called slow write speed but it will only slow down after taking about 12 pics in the rapid shot mode, plus in the normal single shot setting it takes literally no more than a second to write so you can use the 1 shot setting almost just as fast as the multiple shot setting without worrying about write delays.
Night photography is great also especially if you use a tripod plus there is a viewfinder light that will help you center your subject in dark areas. Dont forget about close ups and macros, becaus the finepix will take exellent pics of flowers and even insects with unbelievable clarity.
The exterior of the camera is very resistant to moisture unlike most other cameras and mine has dropped so many times i have lost count and it does not have a scratch.
I use my S5500 on a semi-pro basis; freelancing on occasion in hot spots like the Gaza Strip in Israel. I've covered PR tours and suicide bombings; shot desert landscapes and indoor portraits, still life and wildlife.
In my opinion, this camera offers most of the options of a true-SLR digital camera and isn't held back by its small size.
At low ISO's the shots are excellent and landscapers will be very pleased with its top colour renditions, minimal noise and overall image sharpness.
Autofocus is accurate [useful if you are a near-sighted parrot-beak like me].
RAW captures are possible.
The only gripes I have relate to the slow write-to-card times. This is a problem for action photographers / photojournalists. Combined with the S5500's slight shutter lag you will end up missing some of the action while waiting for the shot to be saved to the card. A faster card won't help you, no matter what the salesman says!
Bear in mind, that at this price you'd be hard-pressed to find anything that comes close to this kind of quality performance. Value for money? Yes, indeed.