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I got this camera when I was about 15 years old as a Christmas present from my parents, I had been nagging them for a while about getting me a camera as I wanted to get into photography. Obviously I couldn't use a compact camera to get some real depth and understanding about photography and a DSLR was too expensive for someone of my age at that time, so they settled for this bridge camera. A bridge camera is basically the camera that has all the functions a compact camera has with additional settings that can be found on DSLR cameras, allowing someone in my situation to test whether I like using manual settings or if I'm better off using a compact without having to pay out hundreds of pounds for camera bodies and lens.
When the camera first came out my parents bought it for around £350 from a catalogue, however now it's an old model I believe you can purchase it on eBay or other outlet retailers for under £100! I'm a but gutted by the price drop but it is a great bargain at that price.
APPEARANCE AND EASE OF USE
This specific bridge camera tends to fool a lot of people who aren't familiar to semi and professional photography, the design of the camera is to have the same shape and colour as a typical DSLR camera, however be aware that this is not a DSLR you cannot change the lens, choose manual focus or do many other things a DSLR can. I can really appreciate the design of the camera and I think it's quite clever how they've made it look so much more sophisticated and expensive than bridge cameras typically do.
Although it may keep a similar shape to DSLR cameras the weight and size is significantly smaller, I'd say its about two thirds the size of a typical DSLR so more compact and easier to transport which is great for those who don't take too much of an interest in photography and just want a better looking camera or one with a few more special functions. The camera comes with a free neck strap to make it the more easier to transport when you're out and about, the strap itself is fairly comfortable which is a bonus.
I found the camera quite challenging to understand when I first got it however a few glances at the manual and some googling got me to terms with the basic functions camera within a week, however if you only want the camera for its auto function then it's pretty much straight forward. There are considerably more buttons on this camera than there would be on a compact camera which can make this camera too confusing and complicated for those who want basic functions, if you're one of these people then I would recommend sticking with compact cameras.
There are many functions to this camera which you will be able to find in the product description above, I'll just describe the main ones and the ones which I think are most relevant to this product.
Auto- The auto function performs generally well, the focus seem to produce a very clear depth of field which creates a nice blurred out background and makes the subject really pop. It will generally use auto flash when you're inside, this is handy at ties but when its daylight inside it can make people's faces look a bit greasy. If you're like me and prefer no flash you can suppress the flash but it does reduce the image quality.
Macro- This is my favourite setting on this specific camera, it performs beautifully and produces great images effortlessly, even your Gran could produce a professional looking shot with this setting! The macro setting is for close up shots, this camera does close up and extreme close up (portraits-bugs). just select the setting then hold the camera close to the subject and press the shutter release, couldn't be easier. This setting is a must for all those create buyers out there.
Manual- the manual setting is when you take control of the camera and decide how long the shutter stays open and how wide the shutter will open (aperture). This is the tricky setting if you're new to this sort of photography, there is a good selection of functions you can control and the arrow keys make it easy to move from one selection to the other. The manual setting is well put together, however it will only be useful if you do a little bit of research before hand to get a grip on what needs to be done.
Zoom- This camera has 18x zoom which is very very handy for all of us that is lazy and can't be bothered to move closer to the subject. The zoom can go very far however the further you zoom the lower the quality so it may be worth taking that into consideration.
Film- The filming on the camera is pretty average, the focusing is good and keeps up with movement, the zoom function isn't available whilst filming which can be a bit of a pain at times. The picture quality isn't as good as the photographs but is still reasonably clear.
Timer and multiple shooting- This camera allows you to take more than one shot in one press of the shutter release by holding it down and continually shooting. I was surprised by how fast the camera was and how sharp the movement was also. This is a great feature for sports photographers or picking out a best shot from a bundle for a portrait. There is also a self timer on the camera with two options, 2 second delay and 10 second delay, unfortunately there is no remote so you have to hope that the camera focuses right and that you get in front of the camera on time!
In our family we have had a few Fujifilm cameras and the generally seem to be of great quality, some better than similar models by brands such as Canon and Nikon. This camera is no exception, I have had absolutely no problems with the camera at all, it has performed and looked as good as new since I bought it those many years ago.
This camera runs on 4AA batteries and the battery life depends on the batteries you buy, I bought rechargeable batteries which tended to last 3-4 hours of camera time, so definitely worth taking a spare batch of batteries on a photo shoot.
The picture quality is very good from this camera especially with the pictures taken in daylight, the built in lens struggles to compensate for light when indoors so the better pictures are always the ones taken outside. However compared to the cameras on the market today the quality is pretty average for a bridge camera.
When taking the photographs you can go into the settings and select what size you want your pictures to be, obviously the higher quality you choose the bigger and clearer it will be on the computer screen or printed out. The ability to choose the size of your image is great for those who use eBay or want smaller file sizes for Facebook etc. as it takes great photos and doesn't take two hours to upload!
The screen on the camera shows the pictures very well and is very vibrant, however I'd say the camera screen shows it better than it actually is, the quality always seems to go down when you view it on a computer screen.
I was very happy with my first 'big' camera and it did set me up with some very valuable skills for when I purchased my first DSLR. This is a great starter/ tester camera for those who wish to dip the toes further into the pool of photography!
This camera takes a bit of getting used to but once you understand it's quirks, the results are astounding.
First thing I noticed was it's weight compared to other cameras of this size, a lot heavier. Switching it on the lens cap pops off and the telephoto lens extends.
You have the choice of either LCD screen display or the electronic viewfinder, I find this best as it helps to keep the camera steady.
In Automatic mode, on sunny days, it takes incredible images, but once the light starts to fade, unless you pop up the flash, beware, the camera will choose a very high ISO resulting in a very grainy picture.
Switch to P mode, set the ISO to 100 and the story is very different, although the flash will not fire automatically unless you pop up the on board unit first.
Be brave and learn to use Aperture or Shutter mode, the story changes again as you can begin to capture images you never thought possible, dreamy flowing water, motion blur, Depth of Field etc.
Super Macro mode, will blow you away with its clarity of the smallest detail. Burst mode can take frames at near video speed.
At 18x optical zoom you never need to miss a single shot.
With a high-performance 18x optical zoom lens that offers an extremely wide focal range of 27-486mm, the FinePix S8100fd covers everything from wide-angle landscapes to super-telephoto portraits and sports photography.
The FinePix S8100fd offers a high-speed continuous shooting mode that captures up to 13.5 frames per second in a burst, perfect for moving subjects.
The FinePix S8100fd offers various useful features such as Micro-Thumbnail View, Versatile shooting modes, and 2.5" LCD with Wide View Film.